There are lots of moving parts when it comes to digital project management. The intricacy of planning, tracking, and completing digital projects demonstrates the need for the best professional services automation (PSA) software.
But why a PSA tool, Journey? Isn’t it what professional services firms, consultants, auditors, and IT service providers use to automate their business processes?
As a digital project manager (DPM), you are tasked with breaking down projects into plans, creating milestones, following the progress down to each task, and ensuring you spend your resources optimally. While professional services automation software is not a go-to tool for DPMs, the major functions of PSA software include project management, documentation, time tracking, and about 10 more. It goes without saying that PSA systems can support your processes in planning-slash-executing your projects.
But PSA is not a one-size-fits-all software solution. Some specialize in time-tracking features, while some focus on resource-management capabilities. Read on to learn about professional services software and how it can help you. I’ve listed some of the best PSA software and summarized their features so you can save time finding the one that best matches your needs.
What is Professional Services Automation (PSA) Software?
Professional services automation software or PSA software is initially designed for professional services organizations to run their business using a consolidated tool. Essentially, PSA software is grounded on the idea that using one solid platform is better than using many separate tools.
As its name suggests, PSA software allows professionals to automate specific manual processes through machine learning and artificial intelligence. It provides easily accessible and valuable data and helps you save time as it streamlines and automates repetitive and work-intensive processes during the entire project lifecycle.
Professional Services Automation Software Comparison Criteria
A DPM’s responsibilities include nudging a project along and keeping things on track. Hence, any powerful PSA software should allow you to easily input data and effortlessly see the progress of each task.
So what do I look for when I pick the best professional services automation software? Here are the selection criteria that I’ve used in picking out the best PSA tools today:
- Functionality: What is the use case that the software is best for? Does the software live up to its purpose and primary functionality?
- User-Friendliness: Is the software easy to use and navigate? Can you efficiently manage your calendar, expenses, work time, and invoicing?
- Integrations: Can you easily integrate the software with your other project execution tools?
- Value for Money: Does the software meet your budget and provide a good ROI?
PSA Software Key Features
Here are some of the key PSA software features that you should look for:
- Scheduling: PSAs have scheduling capabilities that DPMs can use to manage their team’s time effectively. With the help of an excellent scheduling feature, digital project managers can prevent scheduling conflicts and ensure that all assigned tasks are completed on time.
- Project Management: This is probably the most critical feature for a DPM because it allows you to launch projects and easily manage them until completion. A project management feature can help a DPM optimize resource utilization and ensure that a project gets completed on time while staying within budget.
- Document Management: This feature allows a digital project manager and other team members to quickly share project-related documents within one storage location to avoid missing documents and allow for quick access to them when needed.
- Reports Generation: DPMs often need to generate reports to present a project’s impact on a company’s finances. A reports generation feature can simplify reporting so DPMs can save time while generating accurate reports.
Aside from helping professionals with project delivery management, documentation, and reporting, PSA systems also have the following features:
- Full project accounting & project financials management
- Calendar management
- Team collaboration
- Proposal generation
- Customer relationship management
- Resource management
- Expense tracking, expense management, budgeting
- Invoicing and billing
- Business intelligence
- Revenue recognition
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Overviews of the 10 Best PSA Software
Here’s a brief description of each PSA software on my list, showing what it does best and a few screenshots to showcase some of the features.
Celoxis is an all-in-one professional automation software with enterprise-class features, beautiful dashboards, powerful reports, and tons of customizations. It helps your team plan and tracks their portfolios, projects, tasks, resources, timesheets, issues, and risks from one place. It has extensive collaboration features, including a customizable free client portal. It offers a 360-degree view of your projects with its customizable dashboards. Celoxis has a stellar team adoption rate and has been the platform of choice for brands like HBO, Bombardier, KPMG, and the University of Washington.
Celoxis boasts all the features you would expect for a professional service software. Users will have access to project request tracking, project planning, critical path analysis, project accounting, portfolio management, resource management, dynamic dashboards & reports, team & client collaboration, time & expense tracking tools, and an optimized mobile interface.
Celoxis costs $22.50/user/month (billed annually with a 5 user minimum) and comes with a free personalized demo to get you started. They offer a free 30-day trial.
Hubstaff is a full-featured, free time tracking + professional service software (with freemium upgrades) tool that’s best for remote or distributed teams. It’s a lightweight, native time tracking tool that includes screenshots, time tracking, and project management. Its simple interface and design make it really easy for your team to enter their time and for you to track their progress.
Budget management is straightforward—using Hubstaff you can easily set time limits and budgets for your team to bill against with a maximum number of hours you want a member to be able to work in a week and the app will automatically prevent them from exceeding the limit.
When you’re working with a distributed team it can be hard to verify exactly what people are doing and how they’re spending their time so Hubstaff has some pretty handy tools to give you insight into what your team is doing in the time they’re logging to your project with screenshots and activity levels. Now you can also see which applications your team members are using and what URLs they are browsing while they’re tracking time.
Integrations are well supported across stacks of different tools including project management tools Asana, Jira, and Basecamp, payments, accounting, and invoicing integrations including QuickBooks, Paypal as well as Salesforce and Zendesk among others.
Hubstaff is free to use for 1 employee. Paid plans cost from $7/user/month and come with a 14-day free trial.
Mavenlink is an all-in-one PSA tool, but its core features include project management and resource management. For effective project management, you can use the built-in Gantt tool in the software. The Gantt charts allow you to drag and drop tasks and see their progress in specific periods. Additionally, the charts let you create “dependencies,” which help you manage the relationships between tasks. These allow you to manage your project timeline efficiently because the dates of “dependent” tasks change as the dates of “predecessor” tasks change.
Mavenlink’s resource allocation management feature has four other sub-features or sub-stages. These are Estimating, Planning, Executing, Analyzing & Optimizing. For Estimating, you can access project templates to outline estimates of your resource needs (including hours and budgets). For Planning, you can view your active projects and your resource pool to easily plan the assignment of tasks. In Executing, the project’s timeline automatically changes by looking at your resource schedule, allowing you to easily make appropriate adjustments. Lastly, in Analyzing & Optimizing, you can see trends on your resources, making forecasting your resource needs easier than usual.
Mavenlink offers a 10-day free trial and a free demo. Their pricing is customized for specific company needs and is provided upon request.
Kimble is PSA software available in AppExchange, which is the app store of Salesforce. Since Kimble runs within Salesforce, it can be an ideal software for those who are already using Salesforce. Digital project managers who use Salesforce can access Kimble via a Salesforce tab for a smoother workflow. Salesforce integration can also help minimize clutter since you don’t need a different app to manage your projects.
Suppose you are a digital project manager who manages your own team. In that case, you may love Kimble’s wide variety of resource scheduling tools because it allows you to determine which resources you will use to fulfill business requirements. Kimble also comes equipped with Smart Insights that alerts users to issues that require immediate attention so you can prioritize more pressing matters.
Kimble pricing is by request, so there is no available data on how much the starting price is, and they also don’t provide free trials.
Deltek’s Workbook is a tool created for agencies but can benefit digital project managers as well. Workbook has management features like Kanban boards and calendar integration to have more flexibility in managing tasks.
Deltek’s Workbook also helps foster client collaboration so you can build a stronger relationship with your client. Workbook’s Client Portal promotes transparency and allows clients to submit job requests and view the progress of an ongoing project. Workbook’s Client Portal also provides DPMs with a way of centralizing client communications and documents within a particular job so you can avoid misplacing documents or other pertinent files. With this feature, you can work faster and swiftly respond to clients since you know exactly where to search for a particular file.
Deltek Workbook pricing starts at $20 per user per month with an option to add more features for a higher monthly fee. They also offer customers a free trial.
Workfront is an all-around PSA software that you can use to manage workflow, projects, and portfolio. Workfront can help you manage both resources and tasks in just one software so you can declutter your workstation by removing redundant programs. Workfront has its integration platform to work freely across other systems like Slack, Jira or Adobe, which means that you can increase your team’s productivity and efficiency.
If you manage multiple projects at any given time, Workfront can help you manage those tasks using merely one app. With the help of Workfront, you can view the progress of projects using customizable dashboards, so you are always on top of everything. You can also use Workfront to create workspaces specific to each team member to understand their tasks and deliver optimum results easily.
Workfront pricing is customized depending on a business’ needs and available only by request. Workfront does not provide a free trial.
Upland is a cloud-based enterprise work management software that can supplement services automation with the help of proposal automation and knowledge management. If you’re working with a large team (around 51-1000+ members), Upland makes it easier for all team members to access information by providing your entire team with a centralized location where you can collate, store, and share documents. This centralized location is also an excellent records-keeping tool and can help you avoid losing documents.
Upland allows you to coordinate all the resources required to complete a task successfully. The software’s Reports/Dashboard lets you keep track of the real-time progress of several ongoing tasks so you can make necessary adjustments to ensure favorable results. You can also use Upland to track the amount of time that a team member spends on tasks so you can monitor your team’s efficiency.
Upland PSA costs from $20/user/month and offers a free trial upon request
Netsuite OpenAir is a cloud solution meant for services companies with at least 1,500 customers but can also do wonders for DPMs. Many reviewers believe that Netsuite Openair is ideal for small and mid-sized businesses because it can help increase a project’s profitability by providing real-time and data-driven insights.
The project management feature is one of the strongest suits of OpenAir and can help you efficiently manage any project by helping you assign resources and track project progress and completion. If you are working on a limited budget, you can use OpenAir’s time and expenses tracker to ensure that you won’t overspend or go beyond a project deadline. You can also use OpenAir to create summaries and charts that can help your client easily visualize results and project completion.
OpenAir’s starting price is $399 per user per month. There is no free trial, but there is an available product demo for prospective users.
Projector is a cloud-based PSA that acts as an Employee and Management Portal and is accessible to users via a browser that allows users easy access to the application as long as they have an internet connection. One advantage of being browser-based is that users can use Projector on the go; they can use other computer terminals and mobile devices without installing an application.
Projector PSA makes collaboration between team members easier by providing them with a workspace accessible merely to designated project members. This feature is beneficial to project managers working on a sensitive project since it can prevent non-team members from accessing sensitive information. Projector also has a Task-Scheduling feature that makes designating specific responsibilities easier while allowing the project manager to track progress.
Projector PSA is available at a starting subscription of $15 per user per month. Users can request a free 30-day trial of Projector.
Changepoint is offered both on-premise or in the cloud. It can integrate into CRM and ERP systems that can help a company effectively manage customer lifecycle. The primary use of Changepoint is in enabling users to manage demand, forecast financials, and conduct profitability analysis for a company to serve their customers better. Changepoint has built-in mobile functionality so users can access and use the software wherever they are.
The software can help digital project managers in resource management as it allows you to match projects based on the team members’ skills and capabilities. Changepoint can also help a digital project manager monitor the financial health of a project to help keep it on track and within budget.
Unfortunately, there are no pricing details for Changepoint. You can reach out to the vendor to request a quotation.
Best Professional Service Software Summary
Other PSA Software Options
Here are some more powerful PSA tools I came across that didn’t make the top list but also offer great functionalities:
- BigTime – Best for managing timesheets
- Clarizen One – Best for centralized document management
- NetSuite – Best for complex accounting and billing
- Wrike – Best for generating accurate reports plus actionable insights
- ConnectWise – Best for data-driven reporting
- Accelo – Best for customization options
- FinancialForce PSA – Best for financial reporting and tracking sales
- Easy Projects – Best for real-time team collaboration
What’s the Ideal First Step in Picking the Right Professional Services Automation Solution?
A typical buyer’s guide would tell you to list down the features that you want from a tool to select the best PSA software. But I suggest that you first list down the major business outcomes that you want to see for the next months or so.
If you want to have a comprehensive resource planning strategy or have a centralized location for all your documents, let those factors drive your selection process. You can then match these outcomes with the features of the project management tools. This way, you can make sure that you will be able to achieve your business goals using the PSA solution.
What Do You Think About These PSA Software Options?
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