Unless you’ve grown large enough to where you can have an in-house or even an outsourced accounting department to handle your accounts receivables functions for you, odds are it’s you who looks forward to that dreaded end of the month where you have to set aside a day or two (or even more) to compile the billable hours into your client’s monthly invoices.
It can be quite a process. You need to review and verify the work detail, creating accurate reports of the service, creating the invoices themselves, and unless you’ve moved onto electronic billing, you still have to stuff the envelopes, stamp them and get them in the mail.
It’s a tedious, time consuming process that sucks your time away from more productive processes such as developing new client projects, marketing for new business, or just doing the billable work that can be making you money.
Unfortunately, it’s a process that can’t be avoided. But it can be sped up… dramatically. Simply by implementing a new ticketing system or PSA (Professional Services Automation) application.
Ticketing systems used to be just that – a system for recording the details of the service calls performed for the client. When it was time to do the invoicing, these service call details were then manually transferred onto the invoices, which were created in separate billing software.
Today, PSAs have gotten not only more sophisticated, but a whole lot less expensive (and some are even completely free!)
The most important benefits of PSA systems are:
- Web access to calendars, allowing you to easily schedule service requests
- A secure hub where you and your clients can track support requests
- Simple remote ticket submissions (from web-connected computers – or even smart phones)
- Service reports that can be customized that allow you to create accurate records for your clientele
- Many PSAs integrate nicely with your remote monitoring management systems
- Many PSAs also integrate seamlessly with your billing software
- And several will easily creates invoices within the application itself, reducing the time for invoicing from days to just hours.
Besides having the benefit of dramatically reducing the time needed for invoicing, there are many other great benefits a quality PSA can provide.
When your consultants are able to enter their service reports immediately upon completing the service provided (especially for remote support that wasn’t performed at the client site), and an alert is sent from the PSA directly to the client, that level of instant communication keeps the client apprised of the work you’re doing, the value you continuously provide and greatly enhances the client/consultant relationship.
When you give clients web access to your billing portal allowing them to easily monitor service detail, they get a greater level of confidence in knowing exactly what service is being performed on their network. And having instant access to this information is always appreciated.
Besides the benefits your clients will receive, and the improvements you get to your invoicing process, there are still more benefits you’ll get from implementing a quality PSA.
By making the PSA portal accessible to your clients on your website, you also give yourself the advantage of promoting regular return visits to your website (which gives you a great opportunity to put attractive offers for additional services in front of your customers on a regular basis.)
Most consultants know, when we don’t immediately enter our service call detail after doing the work, the longer we wait to enter the call, the greater the chance we won’t accurately recall the amount of time spent or what the detail of the support call was. Not entering service calls on time can result in lost revenue. Lots of lost revenue.
When you or your consultants can easily enter service call detail from the client site or immediately following remote support work, there is a dramatic reduction in the possibility of losing income due to not billing for services performed. Accurately and promptly recording your time is one of the biggest areas of improvement you can implement to immediately improve revenues.
When looking for a PSA to buy, look for one that will give you access so you can do your ticketing from anywhere, whether it be your home, office, or from your cellular phone. Once you are confident that your time is being appropriately accounted for, you will be able to fully track your performance as well as your income expectations before you reach the end of a given month.
You will also improve your professionalism because whenever a client has a question, wants a billing statement, or has a question or a dispute, you can quickly and easily pull up the information and get them what they need.
Implementing a quality PSA will give you improved marketing opportunities, improved revenues and profitability, greater relationships with your clients, improve your professionalism and, let’s not forget, greatly reduce the time needed for one of the most tedious, time sucking tasks you have to deal with each month - your invoicing.
Considering the financial investment is minimal – or even free – it’s hard to imagine why any MSP wouldn’t implement a PSA today.