Among the key software tools used by MSP’s and IT service providers is an application known as a PSA which means Professional Services Automation.
There are a number of PSA tools around such as PacketTrap from Dell. Some PSA’s are aimed at certain types of service providers and some are more generic in nature, while others such as CommitCRM are more focused specifically on the IT services market. PSA software can be desktop or server based or sometimes even in the so called ‘cloud’ and in either case a mobile front end is a popular feature these days.
But what exactly is a PSA? What does it do? The precise feature set does in fact vary somewhat between the different PSA applications out there but core features typically found will include the likes of customer accounts/contacts (CRM), support ticket management and email handling, employee time logging and calculating labor utilization, an alerts/notification system, calendar/scheduling, contracts, billing, reporting, project management, asset tracking and more.
Another important feature in a PSA is integration with external systems which are commonly used in the industry. For example integration with accounting software (ie. QuickBooks), remote monitoring and management systems, etc. Such integration is often done using an API on one or both sides. An API in the PSA application also allows users to build custom add-ons and tightly integrate the PSA with their existing or custom systems, providing even more value and efficiency in workflows and business processes for those that choose to go down that path.
Using a PSA allows a service provider to work more efficiently, automatically assigning tickets and tasks to technicians, responding to client support requests in a timely manner, keeping tracking of billing, generating complex reports on all aspects of the business, while having all relevant information easily to hand, which combines to produce more billable hours for the company and also happier customers who are getting a better level of service.
Once a PSA tool has been properly implemented in a business it quickly becomes the core application or hub around which all others are built and integrate with. Customers, vendors, employees and even sub-contractors all interact with it in symbiosis. In effect it is the nerve center of the service providers business without which the company simply isn’t able to function to anywhere near capacity.