Your clients may soon be looking to you to find the best professional services automation (PSA) software solution for their growing enterprise. Are you prepared to address all the issues involved in finding the most complete solution?

To make sure you’re covering all the necessary bases, download our request for quote (RFQ) template for PSA software offered by Account4, a provider of Web-based PSA software and host to an educational Web site about PSA.

Analysts from the Aberdeen Group, a technology market consulting and research firm,project an annual growth of 77 percent for PSA through 2004. Further, they predict:

  • The shortage of IT specialists will drive the growth of PSA adoption.
  • PSA will become the cornerstone of the services supply chain, integrating professional services organizations (PSOs) with both customers and partners.
  • PSA will expand into other vertical markets over the next five years, including management consulting, architecture, engineering, construction, legal, accounting, finance, media, and government.

But even with the potential growth in the PSA space, consultants will still battle the recent reduction many companies have made in overall spending on IT projects. By using the RFQ template, you can help satisfy your clients’ needs for hard numbers and provide them with the best price and return on investment (ROI) to assure them you’ve found the best PSA solution for their needs.
If you’re interested in showing clients their potential ROI for PSA software, download our PSA software ROI spreadsheet provided by Account4 and the Amey Group.
Evaluating PSA software
The template, in Microsoft Excel format, provides six tabs to help evaluate clients’ PSA software needs and costs:

  1. Instructions
  2. Vendor list
  3. Business specs
  4. Tool requirements
  5. Bid costs
  6. Resource requirements

Dick Artus, a senior vice president at Account4 who helped develop the template, said it was designed for evaluating any PSA software solution. He said it could be used as a diagnostic tool for getting to the heart of a company’s needs.

“It provides a road map in helping determine what you think you want to do,” Artus said. “Oftentimes, someone will come to us and say they want a project management system. By the time you’ve gone through this template, you find that that’s really not at the core of what they’re looking for. This is a good way to help the consultant find what we like to call ‘the real pain’ of the organization. The organization must have some pain—if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be out looking for software to help solve a problem.”

Artus said the template could provide money-saving opportunities for the client because it allows them to better plan for the implementation of a new system. Often, he said, clients end up wanting the capabilities of PSA software once they see what it can really do.

“If they had even thought that those capabilities were there, they probably would have done better planning and been more prepared to do that more efficiently than as an afterthought,” Artus said.

Parts of the template
The instructions portion of the template provides a color-coding key and gives directions on how to enter the information. The vendor list provides a space for recording each PSA software vendor a client is considering.

The business specs portion of the template helps clients decide which software best integrates with their existing infrastructure. Artus pointed out that it might also call attention to significant changes a client may be making in the near future, such as implementing a new e-mail system or the addition of an intranet, that may affect the client’s PSA needs. All of these factors can help a consultant “maximize the price/performance ratio.”

“If a company has already invested a lot of money and has all of their database management administrators or DBAs trained with Oracle, they’re probably not going to want to change to a system that’s restricted to SQL server or [go] to Sybase,” Artus said. “What you’re trying to do is weigh the additional infrastructure costs, software costs, and training costs. It’s looking at the cross-section of the buyer and their needs and matching those requirements against the various vendors and the software packages they have to offer.”

The tool requirements sheet of the template is the diagnostic portion of the template. It provides a list of the needs PSA software may help fulfill, including:

  • Customer relationship management
  • Opportunity management
  • Resource management
  • Engagement management
  • Project management
  • Time and expense management
  • Partner relationship management
  • Knowledge management
  • Collaboration

The resource requirements sheet helps clients to begin a list of per-day costs associated with the implementation of the software. The resource requirements are divided into the following categories:

  • Consulting resources
  • Internal resources
  • Hardware and equipment
  • Any other costs related to purchase
  • Training costs

The bid costs sheet brings together the information gathered from the rest of the RFQ template. It breaks down the true costs of implementing a particular PSA software solution. The sheet details expenses in terms of per-seat license fees, maintenance, consulting fees, hardware, training, and other costs.
Do you have a similar spreadsheet, calculator, or form that helps your clients visualize savings? Would you like to share it with other TechRepublic members? Send us an e-mail or post your comments about it below.