For managed service providers (MSPs), the blend of necessity, benefits and workplace trends creates a compelling case for incorporating remote work into their day-to-day operations. However, making remote work sustainable is a serious challenge and requires a shift from stopgap measures to a strategic, long-term roadmap.
The major hurdles on the path to successful digitalization that can support remote work include the challenge of integrating legacy systems with modern technology stacks, communication and information silos, insufficient budget, potential strains on IT teams and cybersecurity risks.
This is where automation comes into the picture as a savior, with professional services automation (PSA) software being one of the best tools to make the transition to virtual workplaces more efficient, cost-effective, risk-free and scalable.
Here’s how a PSA solution can help MSPs better manage their remote workers and reap the many benefits of automation in the long run:
#1) Centralizing all information.
Data is the most valuable asset in managed service businesses, but seamless access to information has proved a mammoth task in the remote work era. One of the main reasons is that a multitude of disparate tools are being used in most virtual work settings, which also opens the door for data security breaches.
A recent survey about the most frustrating aspects of working remotely found that, more than anything, remote employees “want quick and easy access to all of the data they need to get their jobs done, using mobile-friendly, responsive applications on reliable devices.”
Using cloud-based PSA solutions means all team members will have access to a centralized data repository as PSA tools can be integrated with popular solutions in other areas such as accounting, finance and operations—ensuring maximum control, accessibility and security.
An efficient PSA tool not only provides full visibility of the entire team and business but also makes data maintenance a breeze as it allows for automatic management of this crucial process.
By centralizing data storage and integrating different systems and functions into one source using PSA software, MSPs can also help save time while reducing the chances of miscommunication, errors and delays in project delivery.
The ability of PSA solutions to present information in a single view helps streamline collaboration, communication and the exchange of information across all departments. As a result, these solutions reduce the risk of communication and information silos, which negatively affect the collaboration and productivity of any team.
And, more importantly, a PSA tool turns data into valuable, actionable insights, which can inform decisions in important areas such as business strategies, resource allocation and resource use optimization, leading to an overall improvement in the team’s performance.
#2) Reducing administrative friction.
Professionals at managed service businesses spend a large amount of time every day on administrative work, much of which is low-level, mundane tasks that are done manually. Automating processes such as records management and billing with the help of PSA software will be an easy win in this respect.
Around 75% of IT leaders say, thanks to automation success, their employees are saving between 10% and 50% of the time they used to spend doing manual tasks. And 85% of business leaders believe automating the workload will enable them and their employees to better focus on what matters the most.
Cost-saving is another major benefit of automation, with nearly 60% of IT leaders saying that automation technology saves departments between 10% and 50% on costs. Along with improving the overall financial performance of the business, some of the money saved can be used to offer financial rewards to team members, which can motivate them to achieve the best results.
Automating manual tasks at managed service businesses has a direct impact on productivity as well. Studies show 78% of business leaders agree that it makes everyone involved more productive, which justifies why the adoption of automation has increased during the pandemic.
Nearly half of business executives say their adoption of automation solutions has accelerated moderately since the start of the pandemic, and about 20% have reported considerably increasing automation. So MSPs should make sure to not fall behind this fast-growing global trend.
#3) Tracking and evaluating team performance and profitability in real time.
Real-time performance tracking is vital for managed service businesses as it keeps managers informed of individual and project-level progress. It is only reliable input and data that can make this process more accurate, but many remote workers are facing challenges with time capture, causing enterprises to miss out on potential revenue every year.
Modern PSA solutions have time-tracking functionality that helps businesses keep close tabs on time-related aspects of all operations. This allows managers to find gaps between the actual time spent on each task against the forecasted time, identify the reasons behind them and reallocate resources from non-billable work to high-priority billable tasks if they encounter cases of underutilization.
Additionally, the ability of a PSA system to capture all interactions between clients and employees via ticketing systems as well as time tracking of workers can better equip account managers at managed service businesses with insights into how each project is progressing.
A PSA solution essentially helps them know whether the company is over or under servicing the client based on the stipulations of the contract and if there are performance deficiencies that need to be addressed immediately before the client takes notice.
It also enables managers to determine if a project is profitable as it can track contract profitability based on individual employee cost and the actual time spent, allowing for future adjustments to maximize profit.
Determining if a PSA solution is right for your business
By adopting a modern PSA solution, MSPs can bridge the gap between short-term and long-term solutions and between current and legacy technology, creating a central repository for organizing information, automating repetitive, time-consuming administrative work, and monitoring and evaluating team performance and profitability in real time.
Bypassing the negative effects of the hurdles typically associated with digital transformation means managed service businesses will be able to not only manage their remote workforce more easily and effectively but also enhance their bottom line in the best way possible.
A study carried out by SPI Research suggests that by investing about $200,000 in PSA software license costs and implementation professional service businesses can expect an estimate of around $23 million in increased revenue and reduced costs in five years. So it is an investment worth making.
Managing remote workers with CloudBlue PSA
CloudBlue PSA helps businesses track the time employees spend with clients, along with the cost of each employee per hour. As a result, the company can accurately track contract profitability and make adjustments to maximize revenue per contract. All of this is done in the cloud, enabling services businesses to quickly and easily track billable hours for remote employees.
Managers have a clear picture of which contracts are being over or under-serviced to better allocate resources, and centralizing mission-critical data securely in the cloud alleviates the need for remote teams to use complicated VPNs or download large data dumps onto their home PCs.
In addition, the solution helps modern managed service businesses streamline their business and reduce administrative friction by centralizing information from disparate systems, including sales, finance and operations, into a single pane of glass view for greater efficiency, productivity and financial performance.
About the Author: Steve Powell is the Product Owner of CloudBlue PSA. He has over 25 years of experience in software and IT, leading teams and striving to deliver solutions that make his users happy. In 2008 he made the leap from the banking and finance sector into the world of product development, driving the development of HarmonyPSA which was to become CloudBlue PSA. Follow Steve Powell on Twitter, LinkedIn or Website