For MSPs, professional services automation (PSA) platforms are pushing far beyond their original designs. Next stop: Total Business Management (TBM) software on-premises or in the cloud?
Admittedly, the headline is a bit dramatic. But hear me out. Traditional PSA (Professional Services Automation) software solutions have evolved quite a bit over the past five years or so. Looking ahead, you might even say they're becoming Total Business Management (TBM) solutions, either running as on-premises software or in the cloud. Here's the update.
While I can't speak for all PSA systems, I'll point to Autotask and ConnectWise as two examples of how the market is changing. Dramatically. Autotask, available only as a SaaS solution, is leaning more and more on a dashboard approach that links MSP data with business intelligence dashboards running in Microsoft Excel. ConnectWise, working closely with LabTech Software and Quosal, is evolving into an end-to-end solution that allows MSPs to manage the entire IT lifecycle within a customer setting. (The outcome: the Modern Office Suite.)
What are the potential implications? Let's look at two examples:
PSA Meets Business Intelligence
The Autotask Performance Dashboards currently track Service Desk Operations and Sales and Opportunity Management. Additional Dashboards, coming later this year, include Client Reporting (September), Financial Management (October) and Project Portfolio Management (Q4 2013). The Client Reporting dashboard is particularly slick, spitting out a multi-page PDF for MSPs to share with customers -- showing SLA data and other business metrics in an instant. Look down the road and you can imagine an MSP weighing his performance vs. the overall aggregate performance of Autotask's MSPs.
Managed IT Lifecycle Services
Meanwhile, I'm starting to think of ConnectWise and its sister companies as a TBM (Total Business Management) solution. Assuming all the pieces (ConnectWise, LabTech, Quosal) fit together, MSPs can deliver what I'll call Managed IT Lifecycle Services. The managed IT lifecycle includes:
- IT discovery, remote management and pro-active troubleshooting (LabTech)
- Sales quoting and proposal to help MSPs recommend network refreshes or innovative additions (Quosal)
- Business automation to ensure IT projects, CRM, managed services, refresh services and other initiatives are implemented properly (ConnectWise)
Or as the ConnectWise website puts it: "When these three are deployed together, you enable the technology to automatically detect revenue opportunities, quote them and implement them."
Basic PSA had its day. But the age of total business management (TBM) solutions seems to be dawning.