A Guide for Successful PSA Implementation
PUBLISHED: MAY 2019
Professional services automation (PSA) software delivers significant benefits in terms of increased revenue, reduced administrative cost and on-time and on-budget project delivery. Many of the world’s largest and most dynamic services organizations make effective use of PSA software. Important benefits of PSA include accurate forecasts, a more predictable business, and better project delivery. This in turn helps to build a stronger relationship with customers.
Achieving these benefits as swiftly as possible requires selecting, implementing and adopting the PSA in a timely and effective way. Some services organizations get there quicker than others. This guide sets out a strategy for achieving a successful implementation, focusing on some specific aspects of the implementation – employee adoption, reporting and configuring and integrating the PSA.
KEYS FOR SUCCESSFUL PSA IMPLEMENTATION
Step One: Employee Adoption
Build consensus- even before selecting a PSA
Employee adoption and utilisation of the PSA is critical to deliver the benefit. Have a clear benefit statement of what the reason is for adopting Professional Services Automation. What are the benefits to the business? Are you looking for scalability, revenue enhancement, cost reduction, increased business predictability? Be clear about what the implications are for the different departments and what each role can contribute. It is important that the reasons for the move to PSA are shared and understood across the whole company, and it is isn’t just perceived as belonging to one group.
Take every role into account in the initial project plan
Once you start the implementation project, make sure you include representatives from every area and department as you need to consider how each role will be affected by the change. They need to be part of the project planning. If the project planning team haven’t included all of the different roles and secured buy-in, it can have negative implications for the implementation, such as late identification of critical requirements when the project is already underway. Make sure the implementation team are aligned with the project plan and what the PSA is supposed to achieve.
Decentralize - encourage decision-making and accountability at every level
Push accountability and decision-making down the organization. One of the advantages of PSA is that it creates the opportunity to bring multiple functions and departments together. It gives everyone a single source of the truth and the creates new possibilities. It is no longer just the finance team who can eventually work out the profitability of projects – the project managers can see what was the base margin at which each project was sold, how it is performing against that and how their decisions affect it. Make sure they get the benefit of the tool. They should be able to see the information and are supported to make decisions that can make them more successful. To learn more about how PSA can help project managers succeed, read this article.
Embed adoption through training, mentoring and leadership
Training has to be offered through the implementation and adoption phase. This is not generic system training, but business process focused on how to do your job better using the PSA tool. It should be quite specific about how people can make use of the PSA to succeed in their role. People will need to refresh their training, and have easy access to training materials when they move roles or join the company. It is also very important that senior management model and encourage the right behaviours. It takes time and plenty of positive reinforcement for this to bed in.
Step Two: Reporting
Focus on drawing out the information you need to run your business better
Reports and dashboards are going to give some of the major benefits to the business that the PSA implementation can offer. They are the tent poles over which the canvas will be stretched. So think about what reports and dashboards the business needs at an early stage – even at the selection process. It should never come as a surprise three months down the line that a particular report cannot be created. Consider what implications design decisions will have for the reports and dashboards. Focus on the reports which will help you to run your business better.
After go-live ensure that all key meetings use the reports and dashboards
Once the PSA solution is live, the system, including live reports and dashboards should be used in every meeting. Then, when you are discussing an issue such as resource management, you can alter the resource allocation in the system and immediately see the effects of that on other aspects of the business. If errors are spotted in the data, fix it in the system during the meeting. By doing this, people will soon realise the importance of their data in driving business decisions. If people try to keep control of their own information, or if they start copying information into spreadsheets, the implementation will be set back.
Curate the reports and look for opportunities to improve them
Be ready to go-live with a set of reports that show the core information that the business needs. But after that, look for opportunities to improve and evolve them. The PSA will provide visibility into information that hasn’t been available before. For example, it will become possible to create more accurate forecasts. Have someone whose role it is to curate the reports. Continuously review and be prepared to change them in line with the functionality the PSA offers and the needs of the business of your business evolves. Look for ways in which you can expand the dashboards to include information that can drive the business forward.
Foster reporting skills in-house
Creating, curating and testing reports is not simply a technical skill. It requires business knowledge. For this reason, it is a sensible step for many businesses to develop the skill of building reports in house. One of the strengths of using PSA is that it offers the possibility to decentralize and to drive accountability down through the company. People in different departments can contribute to making the reports work better. If they don’t create them themselves, they can hand over what the requirements should be to more technical people. These reports have to be tested and peer-reviewed, with edge cases considered. It is vital that the reports which are used to run the business remain accurate, up to date and relevant.
Step Three: Integration and Configuration
Select a PSA that integrates well with the other applications you use
A successful implementation project starts with selecting a tool that will integrate with other tools that you use. Ask vendors – ‘have you integrated to my CRM or ERP solutions before?’ Reference with other customers who have used it and check if they are happy with the integration. Be careful if the vendor says that just because you are on the same platform integration will be perfect. That doesn’t necessary come hand-in-hand. Is data being copied from the CRM to PSA or are they both sharing a common database? Look for tools that take a declarative rather scripted approach to integration. A declarative approach is easier to test, the cost of ownership is lower, it is easier to do modifications, and there is a much higher chance that your teams will be able to build skills rather than have to learn coding language that is complex to test.
Consider the integration requirements at the planning stage
The integration requirements will have an impact on project design decisions, Make changes in other systems that allow you to get the benefit from the PSA. Sometimes too late in the project you realise there are limitations in the ERP or CRM configuration that prevents the full funciatility of the PSA being used and which could have been addressed earlier on. Be aware you may want to change your CRM or ERP tool over the life of the PSA.
Plan for the right degree of configuration
How much configuration is the right amount of configuration? The answer is the minimum that is compatible with delivering the benefits you are looking for. There may also be a need to rethink the business processes. Simplify the process in a way that helps configure the app to your needs. This will bring cost of ownership down, and make the PSA easier for your team to understand and maintain. What makes your business process work? What is you secret sauce? Why do we have to do this this way? Is there a better way? When it comes to configuration. look through the lens of total cost of ownership. Push decisions to embark on costly configurations upwards to senior level and make sure the implications are understood. Use trusted advisors. PSA systems are sophisticated – there maybe more than one way of solving the same problem. This takes business knowledge as well as technical and functional knowledge.
Go live with the minimum viable configuration
You want to go live with the minimum viable product, plan to test and iterate that and make sure it give you the functionality you need. Be careful not to demand real time interfaces until you have kicked the tires on that requirement.
Don’t forget about phase two
The PSA implementation project which kicks off in a blaze of glory and investment, goes live in a matter of weeks with the minimum functionality and immediately delivers real benefits will likely be judged a success. But it is almost certainly the case that some of the areas, such as integration or analytics will have been pushed out to later phases. There can be a danger that the movers and shakers who implemented phase one will be pulled back into the operational whirlwind. But in order to get to all of the benefits that were identified at the start, phase two will have to be proposed, planned and executed with the same efficiency. Treat Phase Two as its own implementation project – and head to the top of this guide for useful tips.