The rise of Professional Services Automation (PSA) in the late 1990s was a direct response to professional services organizations (PSOs) seeking a better way to deliver projects and efficiently bill customers. Primarily sold as operational tools, over the last 20 years, PSA solutions have provided full-suite solutions to marry the Front Office (namely CRM) demand with the critical Back Office (Accounting/Finance) systems to effectively run a successful professional services business. With the evolution of the marketplace extending to a more competitive global workforce and the adoption of ubiquitous mobile and cloud technology, the PSA industry has stayed true to its original “raison d’être” to facilitate the optimal running of a professional services practice. It is fair to stay that in 2018, the PSA industry is mature. However, with maturity comes new responsibility.
What the PSA marketplace has sold in the past as great value, today is seen as a given. The centralization of business data, automation of work processes and the pervasive access to information are expected by today’s successful knowledge-based businesses. Moreover, like many other industries, the professional services industry has changed. According to recent TSIA Benchmark Report, over 51% of professional services projects are fixed-fee. So, what does this mean to the industry? The down trend of “Time and Material” projects will ultimately lead PSOs on a path to better manage margins in order to remain profitable and competitive. In turn, PSA solutions need to deliver strategic capabilities to help their clients remain successful. A first step in this direction is to facilitate better decision making, by delivering real-time reporting and analytics built for project-centric organizations.
That being said, only until recently, have few PSA solutions invested heavily in delivering robust analytics native to their offerings to effectively deliver on this promise. A large part of the successful deployment of analytics for PSOs comes down to delivering the industry specific metrics and reporting necessary to remain competitive.
Native analytics delivered by a PSA solution will not only provide custom reporting and dashboards to their customers with ease, but also effectively solve the challenge traditional Analytics face, in tying varying Organization Breakdown Structures (OBS), Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) and data sources of PSOs to mission critical reporting.
Now with the option of a native analytics engine embedded in PSA, these requirements are built-in ensuring an effortless connection between the capturing of data and the strategic reporting PSOs crave.
About the Author: Neil Stolovitsky has over 17 years of IT experience with end-user, consulting, and vendor organizations, along with extensive expertise in business development, software selection, and channel strategies. He has published numerous white papers and articles covering Professional Services Automation, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for service industries, Project Portfolio Management, IT Governance, and New Product Development to a global audience. Neil currently holds the position of Senior Solution Consultant with Upland Software.