Professional Services Automation (frequently abbreviated to PSA) is software designed to assist professionals, such as IT Service Providers and Systems Integrators, with project management and resource management tools to execute work or jobs for clients. Those familiar with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software you can think of PSA as an ERP system for service organizations. There are two very different facets to Professional Services in this type of business; there is the temporal nature of projects which stands in contrast to continuous operations which are repetitive, permanent or semi-permanent work to deliver services and products to a customer after the initial installation.
In practice the management of these two different operating models is often found to be very difficult to automate within the same piece of software. The problem is exasperated because identifying and acknowledging the differences is often not done. The same technicians are being utilized for both operating models so quite often the same processes are in place so neither is done well or efficiently. When viewed differently you can easily manage both delivery methods using metrics to quantify and qualify their basic business processes to maximize the utilization of resources and streamline and improve more complicated processes.
Typical Professional Services Automation functions include project management and documentation, time recording, billing, and reporting. These features are often integrated with accounting, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and payroll systems in order to improve efficiency of overall operations. As a result, in addition to better managing client projects, contractors can prevent lost revenue and slow billing cycles.
Ultimately PSA software suites allow users to integrate industry-appropriate metrics in order to better understand operations and, in turn, improve efficiency and profitability.
Typically technology integration businesses have had to cobble multiple applications together to manage the breadth of work across their business. They will have a stand alone PSA platform, a CRM, a material handling application and some sort of accounting application. As a business grows these disconnected systems will begin to cause pain and processes will break down.