Too many eggs in one basket? Juggling too many balls in the air? There are lots of great sayings that describe the way things sometimes feel in the professional services world.
And the 9.9 million people working in professional services would probably agree with you about the challenges of juggling multiple accounts, managing a full spread of different team members, and dealing with wildly differing expectations.
But if you’ve got the right professional services software solution, you can keep day-to-day workflows tight and on track. Great tools will give you key features like time tracking, automated invoicing, and handy checklists, which will help you free up time to actually do the work.
So what is professional services software all about? Let’s break it down.
What is professional services software?
Professional services software offers an all-in-one space for providers, consultants, and agencies to manage client projects from start to finish.
Typically, your professional services software will have a handful of features that make it easier to close deals, allocate resources, track time spent on projects, and manage billable hours so you can properly fulfill the lifecycle of every client engagement.
Everything is stored in one place, giving stakeholders and participating team members (and outsourced parties) the chance to get a birds-eye-view of what’s going on at any given time.
OK, but how will professional services software help me?
Lots of ways! The truth is that the current market for professional services automation software is already quite large — and it’s expected to reach $16 billion by 2025, with an annual growth rate of 11.7%.
In other words, many organizations are finding PSA tools incredibly useful. We’ll highlight some of the biggest perks below.
Fewer mundane and manual tasks
Here’s the big one: Professional services software should put everything in one spot. That lets you eliminate the need for multiple spreadsheets and stop using Excel for project management. Instead, keep all relevant assets in one easy-to-access hub.
Optimize resource use
Professional services software should make resource utilization and allocation easy. Keep track of your staff, their skills, and what they’re working on to ensure that you’re making the most of each team member's strengths.
Get deeper insights
These tools should help you keep a close eye on project profitability and spending. Use a tool that offers detailed reports, expense management and expense tracking, and greater visibility into project financials.
Increase billable hours
With professional services software, you can relieve team members from mundane tasks by automating things like time tracking and reporting. Ultimately, that means team members spend less time on non-billable tasks, which leaves more room for billable hours.
Drive revenue growth
When using a professional services app, it’s all about organization plus access to insights, project overviews, and detailed reports. All of that combined helps you tighten up processes and workflows so you’ll enjoy bigger profit margins.
Finding the right professional services software
The right professional services software for you will depend entirely on your team, projects, and clients. For example, a lone architect is likely to have different needs than a full-scale graphic design agency working on multiple accounts at once.
That being said, there are some key features you should look out for when choosing which professional services software to use.
Ideally, you want the software to:
Include resource availability information (including future availability)
Document team member skills and areas of expertise
Track financial data around resource costs and project milestone rates
Monitor the time spent on each billable segment of a project
Common features of professional services software
In professional services software, most have similar features designed to make planning and tracking projects easier. Let’s explore some of those features next.
Automated project setup
Automated project setup is useful for large agencies who work on similar projects among clients, or even for the same clients — like a marketing agency that does monthly or quarterly ad campaigns for their clients. Automating the setup process makes it much easier to pull in all relevant team members, schedule your project kick-off meeting, and get the latest project off to a great start.
Project planning features
The path to success is paved with a solid plan, and most professional services apps will offer robust project planning tools. This way, you can lay out objectives, goals, and deadlines. On a more granular level, you should be able to create, schedule, and assign specific tasks to team members. You should also have good visibility over your project plans to see broad timescales or zoom in to see things in the near term.
Progress tracking and alerts
Having a plan is great, but you need a way to track progress once it's in place. Fortunately, most tools include tracking tools so you and your team can stay on top of tasks. They should even offer alerts for approaching deadlines and completed tasks.
Project reports and financial dashboards
No one wants to see a project go over budget, which is why financial tracking tools are a key part of most professional services apps. But financials aren’t the only metrics your app of choice should track; you should also be able to generate reports based on key analytics pertaining to your project.
Professional services software should also be well-equipped to handle your time-tracking needs. You should be able to see how each of your team members' time (and thus, their skills) is being utilized, and you should also be able to quickly access breakdowns of billable and non-billable hours.
7 essential professional services software options to kickstart 2023
Looking to get 2023 off to a great start? New software that helps you and your team optimize planning, workflows, budgets, and more is a great way to do it. Here are some of our top picks for the coming year.
If you’re using professional service software and a time tracking tool and a project management tool, it might be time to consolidate your toolkit.
While many of the big players offer billable hours, invoicing capabilities, and resource tracking, they don't have a complete suite of features to help you with everything from project tracking to managing customer inquiries.
Teamwork combines professional services software with powerful project management capabilities to give teams a centralized hub to work together, share, and collaborate.
You don't just get time-tracking features, workload views, and billable hours with Teamwork. Instead, you own a full-scale project management solution with Kanban boards, Gantt charts, project templates, in-take forms, project overviews, profitability reports, and so much more. Teamwork also works with several professional services agencies around the globe to ensure we're providing the features you actually need and use every day.
Key features and benefits
Unlimited client users
Built-in templates to scale high-performing processes
Powerful time-tracking capabilities
Kanban boards, Gantt charts, calendar and table views that let you visualize each project
Collaboration capabilities, like file storing, chat, and message threads
Built to help accountants, architects, engineers, IT services firms, and management consultants, BigTime allows you to budget for projects and track and bill time. Easy integrations with commonly used finance software make it easy to send automated invoices. Some of the most popular features include resource allocation, workflow management, and task lists.
Users enjoy BigTime's intuitive and user-friendly approach and reporting features.
Key features and pricing
Time and expense tracking per project
Project management and workflows with built-in Gantt charts
Scheduling tools and skill-matching features
Billing, invoicing, and payment processing
Reporting and analytics
Packages start at $10 per month per user for a minimum of five users.
Accelo offers agencies and teams a client management system with features that track client work, allocate resources, and send invoices. Its biggest selling point is its automation capabilities that help streamline and integrate all the moving parts that come with project work.
Users can track sales, projects, invoices, and CRM while saving time on admin work. Some of the issues are around its flexibility and ability to find data quickly.
Key features and pricing
Develop automated timesheets.
Create custom reporting.
Invoice projects based on budget or progress.
Keep client interactions centralized on the platform.
Optimize resource planning, allocation, and management.
Accelo’s basic tier gets you started for $24 per user per month for a minimum of five users.
4. Planview AdaptiveWork (formerly Clarizen)
Web-based software Planview AdaptiveWork helps agencies and professional services connect employees and stakeholders in one central hub. Through the dashboard, teams can create documents, build reports, and automate the project workflow using the suite of powerful features.
It was made specifically for multiple teams working across a company to help manage task allocation and tracking. The intuitive interface makes it simple to get started with quick access to project visibility features.
This is ideal for those who want to measure the efficiency of a project's resources. But it has some issues generating longer reports and limited custom fields.
Key features and pricing
Bird’s-eye view of projects and resources at the enterprise level
Connected platform for maximum business agility
Large-scale project portfolios management
Agile planning software for easily scaling Planview
Planview AdaptiveWork offers 30-day free trials for AgilePlace and ProjectPlace. For all other apps, you’ll need to get custom quotes.
5. Kantata (formerly Mavenlink and Kimble)
Kantata combines features that aid operational management, resource optimization, workflow automation, and key integrations with other cloud-based apps and software. Its goal is to help services businesses find the best team for a project and track real-time progress against pre-set timelines and budgets to ensure projects run smoothly and profitably.
Users enjoy its simple reporting structure, automated emails, and pre-filling capabilities to speed up time logging. Some concerns surround its lack of a daily total hours view and difficulty searching for tasks.
Key features and pricing
Leverage APIs for easy integration with other tools in your tech stack.
Optimize and automate project accounting.
Access real-time project, team, and financial analytics.
Project and budget planning tools
Team and client connectivity tools
You’ll need to contact Kantata for custom pricing, but prices are based on industry, company size, and country.
This app is geared entirely toward attorneys. TimeSolv is a web-based billing solution designed to help legal professionals streamline and automate time tracking and billing. It lets you create custom invoices, purports to help you get paid by clients faster, and offers best-in-class ACH and credit card processing.
This app works well for firms of all sizes — and it even features some pretty stringent security standards to help keep data and financial information safe. Not only does the platform encrypt data, but it also backs data up many times per day at multiple locations.
Key features and pricing
Multiple ways to track time online and offline
Flexible billing and invoicing templates
Easy budget creation
Task tracking and management features
Dashboard for key performance indicators
TimeSolv Pro starts at $27.95 per user for between one and nine users.
7. FinancialForce PSA
FinancialForce is a professional services automation software that leverages the ever-popular Salesforce platform. Users can easily manage teams, clients, projects, and finances all from one integrated app. It comes equipped with all the key features of professional services software but with the added bonus of automated workflows and reporting for extra insights and efficiency.
This makes it easy to manage projects and resources in one place. Its powerful reporting features help teams visualize the impact of data accuracy. But its limited invoice capabilities and complex interface make it challenging for some to adopt.
Key features and pricing
Automates sales opportunities into project plans
Offers a complete business view with revenue and resource forecasts
Keeps sales teams and project teams connected
Assists with skills planning via resource management
Tracks resources, budgets, tasks, etc. easily through dashboards
Allows you to customize expense tracking
Packages are customizable, with pricing available on request.
Choosing the right professional services software means asking the right questions
There are plenty of professional services software out there to choose from. The key is to pick one that meets your needs as an organization and is equipped with features that enhance your team’s efforts to increase project efficiency.
Consider asking yourself:
Does this software meet my team’s requirements?
Would my team enjoy using this software every day?
Does the software allow stakeholder access?
Does the software integrate with the other apps my team uses?
What can I track with the software and how well can I track it?
How easy is it to build custom reports?
How does the software display information?
For the sake of simplicity, look at these five deciding factors when choosing the right software for your needs.
Does the price increase with the number of stakeholders accessing the software? That can be a key consideration — and you should also look at what features you get for the price. Some software is geared toward enterprises, and if you’re a small business, you’ll pay more for features you don’t need.
Features that cater to your organization’s needs
Do you need enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools or other specialized features? Think carefully about what you need the software to do, and then check your options to see which apps fit the best. In particular, look for time-tracking features, project management, invoicing capabilities, and reporting.
Integrations with other tools
You’re probably already using a number of other tools and apps to manage parts of your business, like QuickBooks, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and so on. Check professional services software options to see whether they integrate with these tools for ease and simplicity.
Ease of use
It won’t be just you using the software. In all likelihood, it’ll become a key tool for stakeholders, team members, and clients. It’s important to pick a tool that is easy for everyone to learn and use.
Oversee your professional services effortlessly with Teamwork
PSA software can be a valuable addition to your professional services firm toolkit. There are lots of tools out there, but few offer the simplicity and core functionality that Teamwork gives you.
Want to give it a try? You can sign up for Teamwork here and get started in minutes.