A Professional Services Automation (PSA) software helps you to run your IT support department at tip-top standard, serving customers according to their SLA, managing a complex corporate IT environment, and empowering technicians and IT staff with greater visibility and control over service and support.
Ready to splurge on new PSA technology, but too many options on the market to make an informed choice? Cut through the bells and whistles and learn what features really matter with this list of top ten PSA must-haves.
Customer relationship management
In today’s fast-paced environment, it’s more essential than ever to be able to manage all of your customers from a single view. Make sure that your PSA can store and organize all of your customer or colleague information into a single view, such as contacts, contracts, SLA information, assets and endpoints, and tickets – both open and historical. At Atera, you can integrate directly with Azure Active Directory, so that all contacts in AD are automatically updated within the Atera PSA. Smart, eh?
By integrating PSA with CRM tools, you’re adding to the efficiency of the way that you work, and you don’t need to leave one platform and open another in order to get the answers you need in real-time. In terms of resource planning, an integrated CRM is also a smart move – as you can compare open tickets to customer contracts and SLA, and understand exactly what the next move should be.
Ticketing and helpdesk functionality
Talking about tickets – this is the cornerstone of your PSA, the way that your customers or colleagues will send in challenges and IT issues for fixes and support. Gone are the days where an email inbox met this requirement, and today’s IT pros need a centralized location where they can see all incoming and open tasks, and delegate them accordingly, following them through to completion.
Look for a tool which offers smart visual tools to keep on top of tickets, for example a traffic light system so you can see which tasks are overdue, or which are unassigned. Aded bonuses could be the ability to merge tickets, or automatically create tickets from emails, chat conversations, or RMM monitoring alerts. For MSPs, as you’ve integrated with your customer’s SLAs, you’ll be able to manage the criticality of tickets and helpdesk items without adding more working hours to the day.
With multiple customers or IT department needs across the business, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all for contracts. Your PSA will pull in information from customer contracts to make automated decisions about criticality of tickets, or to warn you about looming deadlines.
Make sure that each contract can be differentiated by a wide range of factors. For example, one customer might want to work with a break/fix approach, where they simply pay for what they need when they need it. In other cases, you’ll want to set up a managed service contract where customers can pay for a block of hours or a set budget at the start of each month, and you define the services covered by that single price. You also might want to create contracts for specific services, such as backup or cybersecurity.
When you’re managing a busy IT environment, scheduling events is just part of the job. Choose a PSA that connects your account with your calendar, whether that’s Google Calendar, or Office 365, and you’ll be able to see all of your ticket-related events from inside your tickets, and view events on your calendar, too. Any changes you make to the calendar will be shown in the ticket it’s related to, and vice versa.
This functionality has a wide range of use cases, including scheduling meetings, assigning technicians tasks at a convenient time, and setting reminders so that nothing slips through the cracks.
AI-driven ticket tagging
The more time you spend dispatching, delegating and deciding on which technician is right for which task – the less time you’re spending on higher-value strategic tasks. When you’re browsing the market for the right PSA tool, look for third-party software providers who can take the load off.
For example, AI-driven tools can scan incoming tickets for specific keywords, and then route requests to the correct member of staff to deal with the query. If one stakeholder in security is responsible for password management, then password resets can always end up in their queue. The same is true for hardware procurement, cloud challenges, and a wide range of other tickets which require targeted skills.
Automated productivity tools
A lot of work as an IT pro is pretty repetitive, and any manual and repetitive task is a great opportunity for automation. For example, look for PSA tools which offer templates for quick replies when common service requests or queries pop up. Automate replies for out of hours, to let a user know a ticket is being handled, or on ticket-completion, giving you peace of mind that your communication is always up to scratch.
How you use this automation is up to you – but the world really is your oyster. For example, we’ve seen customers send feedback surveys automatically when a matter has been resolved, to support teams in improving and iterating their service, and to let colleagues or customers know that they are being listened to.
Integration with RMM software
Your PSA tool works best when it’s integrated with your Remote Monitoring and Maintenance (RMM) technology. In the example above, you could create tickets directly from an RMM alert, for example if your RMM tool flags that CPU is too high, an alert can be created and sent to the right technician for a quick fix, before the customer or colleague ever notices a problem. By pulling together the remote monitoring and the helpdesk, you have a symbiotic relationship between the two.
This is also true with additional software, such as Remote Access technology. Let’s say the RMM flags something suspicious on a particular endpoint, opening a ticket for attention using the PSA. If you’re also integrated with Remote Access, your technician can quickly remote into the specific device to investigate, without the need to leave the dashboard or add friction by adding more credentials and tools to the process.
A feature-rich customer portal
As part of Professional Services Automation, look for a robust customer portal offering. This will be a single place where your customers or your colleagues can go to track their support, and self-serve additional questions or help. For example, you can host all of your knowledge-base posts here, including webinars and how-to guides, which is helpful for not just customers or colleagues, but your own technicians, too!
A sophisticated customer portal can be white labeled to fit your brand or your customer’s brand, and will also provide an always-on view of open tickets across teams, so that you reduce the number of “is this issue dealt with, yet?” messages coming into the system.
Keeping PSA and billing separated means you’re channeling data through at least two separate systems. You have your contracts and SLA in one system, and then you’re manually copying information for billing and invoicing. This isn’t just a time suck, it’s also poor data management for compliance reasons.
A PSA that integrates with your billing and accounting software, for example QuickBooks or Xero is going to be a lifesaver, and add valuable hours back to your accounting cycle. If your RMM and PSA are connected – even better, as that means you can track billable hours or tasks, and then generate a complete invoice ready to send to the customer in a single click.
Reporting and auditing
When it’s time to respond to compliance regulation audits such as PCI-DSS, SOX, HIPAA, and GDPR, you’ll want reporting that shows you’re doing your due diligence. Reporting and auditing functionality provides a robust data trail of all activity, and relying on a single platform for communication ensures you aren’t managing sensitive customer information via disparate insecure platforms such as email, SMS, or WhatsApp.
Finally, make sure that you have the reporting you need to meet your KPIs, and to continue to grow your business with the facts at your fingertips. For example, you can ask your vendor if they offer customer satisfaction reports, information on the most lucrative customers, or the support load for any given month, plus a comparison to the historical baseline. This data helps you make intelligent decisions to streamline operations and support business success.
Not to blow our own trumpet, 🎺 but Atera checks all the boxes! Ready to see how it works for yourself? Your 30-day trial is waiting, get started here.
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