Without a doubt, when it comes to discussing software for the MSP market, the question, the one I get asked most frequently is, "Robert, what Ticketing System would you recommend?"
After all, whether you're implementing a PSA for the first time, or you're transitioning to a new one, the investment you stand to make is pretty large. And not necessarily just financial.
There's the time you'll need to invest in the initial installation and configuration for your specific needs, the time required for migrating in (and likely massaging) your existing data, time required for you and your staff to learn the app and training your clients to use it for entering and tracking their calls.
Plus, if it turns out you're not happy with the product you've chosen, you'll need to repeat the process when you move to something new and hopefully better for your needs. And hopefully, migrating the data won’t be a massive undertaking.
In fact, the actual cost of the PSA could well be one of the least significant factors.
Prices for a reliable and feature-rich application range from totally-free to a several hundred bucks or more per month, depending on your number of users and specific needs. Several popular applications you could check out are:
- osTicket (http://osticket.com/)
- ShockeyMonkey (http://shockeymonkey.com)
- TigerPaw (http://www.tigerpawsoftware.com/)
- BlueFolder (http://bluefolder.com)
- WorkETC (http://www.worketc.com/)
- Autotask and Autotask Go! (http://www.autotask.com/)
- ConnectWise (http://www.connectwise.com/)
I am a current ConnectWise customer myself. What I personally find most useful is how it cut down the time I spend doing invoicing by a staggering amount.
As long as everyone’s time is entered on time (I’ll get to this in a minute), what used to take two of us a couple of days to get done now gets done by one person in less than an hour.
In the past, I’d have to run reports time reports for each of my consultants, review for accuracy, manually enter the calls into QuickBooks to generate my invoices, separately print the invoice and service report for each client, print the postage on the envelope (which could be a job in itself), stuff the envelope and head to the mailbox.
Not my most productive or enjoyable activity.
Now, with ConnectWise (and I know several others have similar capabilities), assuming everyone’s time is entered, the invoice will already be created for the current time period, located under my “Invoices” tab. I open it to review, if all looks good I click, generate invoice and it’s automatically emailed along with the included service report directly to the client. Awesome!
And as awesome as it is for a PSA to be able to essentially eliminate one of my most dreaded monthly tasks, it’s not necessarily its best feature.
Several years ago (when the price of quality PSAs started to fall within my price range), I was tremendously excited about the prospect that my consultants would now be able to enter their time directly from the client site. This would be a massive improvement for me over my previous method of tracking hours via triplicate, “carbon-copy” forms.
Back then, consultants had to come back to the office with their service call sheets and re-enter their time into the system. Needless to say, I rarely had an accurate picture of how we did that month until, way too often, the very last day of the month.
This method of tracking time harmful and dangerous to a growing service company on so many levels, I’m amazed I made it through.
Now, consultants are easily able to access the cloud-based system from any workstation or even their phones, and get their time entered before leaving the client.
However… just because my consultants can enter their time before leaving the client, doesn’t mean they’re gonna do it!
I don’t know what it is that makes techs universally allergic to entering their time, but man, figuring out how to motivate my guys to getting this done consistently has become one of my “life’s greatest challenges.”
But I’m getting off-track here. What I can tell you, if you too are having trouble getting your consultants to enter their service calls (I work with hundreds of MSPs and I know I’m not the only one!), a quality PSA can be a very effective tool for getting this job done more effectively.
If you can figure out how to get your guys to use it!