We obviously believe in the benefits of operating your business with a well-run PSA solution, but if you are new to this space and want to share those benefits, where do you start?
If you’ve not looked into this market before, you may not realise that there are two distinct solution footprints both described as PSA. One is a group of applications targeted at MSPs and a second is a group targeted at ISVs and PS businesses, roughly following the venn diagram above. The first job is to decide which functional footprint suits your business best and then look at the solutions that target that space. I’m afraid the comparison sites are not much use here as they don’t make this distinction clear. Even more confusing, there are areas on the boundaries that may or may not be relevent depending on what your actual business does.
Then there are the non-footprint questions to consider and here you should include future growth intentions or you will end up with a PSA tool that inhibits your strategy. These include:
- Do you sell (and or buy) in more than one currency (ISVs often do, MSPs rarely do)?
- Do you operate sales through more than one brand?
- Do you operate multiple companies where work is shared across the legal entities?
With these questions (and the venn topics) answered as a tick list, you have a basic map for what you need. Remember, you don’t need to implement it all at once, but make sure your choice includes everything you will need as it is far easier (and cheaper) to implement areas from a current platform than to replace a limited PSA tool.
When you engage with vendors with your functional list, ask about modules. Many vendors will tell you they cover the full map, but they do so with multiple integrated applications they have acquired (and rebranded) over time, not from a single database and core solution. Not only will these add-on modules cost more, they are often poorly integrated. Read the blogs for comments on integration issues.
Then ask how you undo mistakes. Using PSA systems as they are demo’ed is easy, but real employees make real mistakes, often. The difference between a system that empowers and one that restrains is often about how easy it is to rectify user errors, mid-workflow (for instance, can you edit an approved timesheet?).
Now confirm your data integrity will be OK. As the world rushes into the cloud, are you allowed by your contracts to place your data there? In many countries we see government contracts restricting the use of cloud storage or foreign hosting locations. If that is the case, you’ll need it in a local cloud or on-premise - make sure that option is available.
Next, consider your data. If you are moving from spreadsheets, I doubt your data will be clean enough. Plan time and money to clean it up and only load it once it’s been independently checked.
Lastly, the big issue is one of change management. Is the board committed to this change, is every department behind the move and most importantly, do they have a clear idea of their needs? In a similar manner to failed ERP implementations, PSA solutions can struggle if one of the stakeholders isn’t bought in and ready. This change will need an internal champion with the time to dedicate to making it a success. Of course the vendor will help, but the drive for change has to be internal or the project will fail. If you are departmental as a business, a free trial is essential as each department will need to get their hands dirty before you make a decision. This represents a real investment in time on your side. Buy a solution without it and you could live to regret it.
HarmonyPSA is unusual in that it delivers to both verticals, so no matter what you do, we can help. We know that buying a PSA solution is a consultative and collaborative project - one that can so easily go wrong. Before you decide, talk to us and we can share those experiences to help yours be a positive one.
About the Author: Harmony Business Systems Ltd (HBS) is the company behind HarmonyPSA, the most complete cloud PSA software on the market. Developed with functionality to cater for even the most complex needs of MSPs, VARs, ISVs and Professional Services organisations, HarmonyPSA truly is the next generation of PSA systems. Follow HarmonyPSA on Twitter, LinkedIn or Website