PSA Software: Benefits, Features and How To Find the Right One

By Chelsea Williams
Senior Copywriter
Jan 30 2024 read

Professional services organizations are constantly seeking ways to enhance efficiency and customer satisfaction. This pursuit often leads them to the conclusion that they need to reshape their approach to service delivery.

Technology is the answer. But deciding on the right kind of platform isn’t always straightforward. 

Here, we’ll examine one popular category of software: professional services automation (PSA) software.

If you’re in the business of providing services and looking to streamline your operations and project management, a PSA platform like Accelo could be the avenue that gets you there.

We’re taking a look at:

What Is Professional Services Automation?

Professional services automation is an overarching term that refers to automating and streamlining the processes involved in providing professional services. In the project lifecycle, there are many opportunities to automate tasks and communication to enhance efficiency and ensure a high standard for deliverables.

What Is Professional Services Automation Software?

Most PSA platforms offer more than one way to automate redundant tasks and turn complex processes into seamless workflows. These software tools are superior to traditional project management methods because, unlike spreadsheets or to-do lists, they give team members full visibility over each step of service delivery rather than keeping them siloed.

Who Uses a PSA Solution?

Anyone whose services are project-based can benefit from using this type of software.

PSA tools are indispensable for service providers in a wide range of industries, including:

  • IT service businesses and MSPs
  • Marketing agencies
  • Architecture and engineering firms
  • Financial services and accounting firms
  • Consulting businesses

PSA vs. Project Management Tools

Both PSA software and project management tools are designed with similar outcomes in mind, but they serve different purposes and are suited to different organizational needs.

At its core, PSA software encompasses a broader spectrum of functionality — an umbrella that covers project management. Project management tools tend to focus on the planning, execution and tracking of projects, while a PSA takes a more holistic approach, integrating project management with other core processes such as time tracking, billing, resource management and customer relationship management. PSA solutions might also include advanced features like expense tracking and invoicing.

Despite their differences, these types of software share some overlapping features. Both enhance collaboration and increase the visibility of project timelines and milestones. They might both feature dashboards and reporting capabilities to monitor project progress and team performance. So, both can have a significant impact on organization and efficiency.

Why choose a PSA?

If you do anything beyond basic project management, a PSA is likely to be the better choice. Particularly if you have complex billing arrangements, including different types of retainers, a project management tool won’t cut it.

You’ll also achieve better accuracy and more support for business decision-making with a comprehensive tool rather than one limited to a singular function.

Benefits of PSA Software

PSAs offer an escape from manual, error-prone ways of tracking projects. Because your task assignments and tracking, time logs and other key factors of project tracking improve, you’ll see a number of other benefits arise.

Defined business processes

Running a business without processes is a recipe for inefficiency and costly struggle. It’s not possible to reach your maximum service quality standard without first taking care of how your team gets things done. PSA software is one tool for developing workflows with as little risk of error as possible.

On-time project delivery

Better workflows lead to higher productivity and efficiency. By automating tasks, organizing schedules and providing real-time updates, PSAs give everyone a consistent picture of where projects stand. When your team knows what’s going on, they can check off tasks more quickly. Fewer questions = a better chance of staying on track with projected timelines.

Optimized employee utilization

A core advantage of using automation software is measurably improving profitability via a positive change in utilization. People who spend less time searching for information can spend more time applying their skills to the job at hand. Without much additional effort beyond implementing the software, you could see a big jump in resource utilization — and, thus, in your bottom line.

More accurate forecasting

The ability to use today’s metrics to predict what you’ll see (and need) tomorrow is invaluable. PSA software excels in this area. Just as your project management is automated, so is the data that arises from that work. Many platforms offer financial management tools and built-in business intelligence or integrations that allow you to avoid pitfalls and capitalize on upcoming opportunities.

PSA Software improves your ability to scale

You may not be looking to scale your business now, but having the proper systems in place to do so later is key to maintaining adaptability. All of the above benefits combine to give you options: the flexibility to handle increased demand, a foundation to take on more complex projects and even the opportunity to sell your business. 

Core Features of the Best PSA Software

Your business is unique, but you’re likely to benefit from the same key features as many other service professionals. The following are six things that make a solid PSA tool.

Process automation

Presumably, every PSA will have process automation, as that’s the purpose of the type of software. However, not all process automation approaches will be equal. As you analyze PSAs, consider whether the way your team would need to set up and move through automated workflows is intuitive. Can they easily view and edit timelines and milestones? What about communicating with stakeholders without having to rely on siloed and manual communication?

An engineering firm might apply process automation to its project approval cycles and quality checks to continue meeting high standards without unnecessary delays.

Project accounting

Another essential feature is project accounting, which includes comprehensive expense management and insights into project profitability. You need real-time budget tracking and financial analysis to make informed decisions about each project and realize its impact on your overall business health.

An architecture firm needs accurate project accounting to closely monitor the costs associated with each phase of its building projects and account for all materials, labor and expenses.

Time tracking

Effective time tracking is vital for accurate invoicing. Your clients want transparency and accountability, and that starts with how you manage timesheets. A PSA with built-in time tracking makes it easy for your team to associate their time and billable rates with each client or project. Moreover, it gives you essential data about your billable hours.


An MSP could utilize automated time tracking to accurately bill for all support provided to clients and to optimize how they include support in future projects or packages.


Resource management

Good resource management is non-negotiable in service work. From scheduling your team to ensure work is completed on time to optimizing productivity and job satisfaction, resource allocation is powerful. Some PSAs feature advanced forecasting and automated task assignments to make this process even easier.


A consulting firm can leverage resource management features to allocate its team’s available time to the highest-priority work and ensure that each project has the right mix of skills without overburdening any single consultant.


Cloud-based system

On-premise software is outdated and inaccessible, but you’ll still want to check to make sure you select a cloud-based PSA. The cloud brings flexibility and scalability, as well as from-anywhere collaboration. This quick access improves response times and client satisfaction.


An accounting firm with multiple office locations can enable its team to access the same live client data and view documents from wherever they are.



While you don’t want to bog your team down with too many software solutions at once, you may need the ability to connect your PSA software to other tools. Many PSA systems integrate with CRMs, email marketing platforms, reporting tools and other SaaS services. Used wisely, integrations can reduce time spent on manual data entry.


An agency might integrate its PSA with a social media scheduling tool and a business intelligence platform to simplify posting and reporting.


Top PSAs for Service Businesses

Now that you have a sense of benefits and must-have features, we’ll dive into the specific offerings of some of the best PSA software platforms.

  1. Accelo
  2. Autotask PSA
  3. BigTime
  4. Kantata
  5. Productive
  6. Scoro

1. Accelo

Accelo Logo

Accelo offers a complete client work management platform specifically created for professional services providers to improve project management, visibility and profitability. Including everything from a proposal creation tool to detailed tracking of budgets, time and resources, Accelo unifies the experience for every stakeholder in a single platform.

Accelo Workforce Management Screenshot

Accelo recently launched the Accelo v4 beta. Read more about the exciting new UI.


  • Automatically synced email stream displays all client communication
  • Robust CRM
  • Detailed and automated time tracking
  • White-labeled client portal


  • Adaptable for any project management methodology and industry
  • Automated contract management for prepaid and postpaid retainers
  • Flexible enough for many use cases
  • Open API for custom integrations


  • May not be ideal for teams only in need of project management, as it offers functionality for all stages of the client lifecycle


Accelo offers four pricing plans that scale with your business. The Business, Professional and Advanced tiers help growing businesses manage client information, tasks, communication, retainers, tickets, workflows and more. The Elite tier is for those who want the full suite of client work features, premium support and more.

➡️ See why Accelo ranked #1 in customer satisfaction for professional services automation.

2. Autotask PSA

datto Autotask PSA Logo

Autotask PSA is a well-known professional services automation solution. The platform is generally used by managed service providers (MSPs) but can be used by other types of teams. Designed to be used with other Datto products, Autotask PSA auto-creates tickets and helps with creating workflows for default request responses, plus collects client survey data and generates detailed reports.


  • Ticket routing and prioritization
  • Contract management
  • Time tracking
  • Client portal


  • 170 integrations
  • Multi-currency add-on
  • Customized billing for multiple service types
  • Availability of extensive integrations



Datto does not share pricing for its Autotask PSA platform by itself, although it mentions tailored pricing based on each MSP’s needs. 

3. BigTime

BigTime Logo

BigTime is work management software focused on improving productivity. It streamlines operations with invoicing, resource management and real-time analytics and links billable time, budgets and costs to client work. Projector by BigTime, which is part of the highest tier of BigTime’s plans, is a more PSA-focused solution for those who don’t need the full suite of features.


  • Timesheets and expense management
  • Client billing
  • Custom reports and dashboards
  • Auto-scheduling


  • Invoicing and billing integrated with project management
  • Profitability and utilization reports
  • Complex project accounting
  • Built-in payment processing with BigTime Wallet


  • No granular view of project progress and budget
  • No free plan and no free trial readily available


BigTime’s pricing is as follows:

  • Essentials: $20 per user per month
  • Advanced: $35 per user per month
  • Premier: $45 per user per month
  • Projector: $60 per user per month

➡️ Find out how BigTime compares to Accelo.

4. Kantata

Kantata Logo

Kantata Professional Services Cloud, formerly Mavenlink and Kimble, offers project management, business intelligence, operations management, resource management and task management features. The newly merged platform touts its suite of integrations as a customizable solution for professional services firms.


  • Kantata OX (formerly Mavenlink): resource management tools
  • Kantata SX (formerly Kimble): project management and project accounting
  • Team capacity reports and scheduling tools
  • Task management with multi-assignee options


  • Proprietary integration platform
  • Budget change requests and approvals
  • Visibility of revenue and cost margins
  • Collaborative spaces for project teams


  • Lacks some essential capabilities to support the full client journey
  • Kantata SX requires a Salesforce subscription for CRM


Kantata offers four subscription levels:

  • Team
  • Professional
  • Premier
  • Enterprise

Kantata’s Premier plan is the most common choice for professional services businesses, starting at $59 per user per month with unlimited users. Actual pricing varies depending on individual business needs, and additional pricing details must be requested on their website.

➡️ Explore more with our breakdown of Accelo vs. Kantata.

5. Productive

Productive Logo

Productive is a project management platform and automation tool for agencies. Known for its modern interface and high-quality customer support, the platform connects a few stages of the client journey: sales, project management and billing. Founded by former agency owners, Productive is particularly effective in addressing industry-specific needs.


  • Time approvals and time locking
  • Sales pipeline
  • Resource planning
  • Task management


  • Fifty prebuilt agency-focused reports
  • Ability to invite clients into the platform
  • Custom reporting
  • Low price point for the market


  • No account setup with implementation services
  • Lacking in detailed automation (still requires a fair amount of manual steps)


Productive’s pricing tiers are as follows:

  • Essential: $17 per month
  • Professional: $24 per month
  • Ultimate: $32 per month
  • Enterprise: Custom quotes available

6. Scoro

Scoro Logo

Scoro is a systems-oriented project management and process automation platform that helps professional service providers manage complex projects. It improves team productivity with sales opportunity tracking, customized project templates and more, plus has ample integrations to support other stages of client work.


  • KPI dashboard for simple goal tracking
  • Task bundles to cut down on project creation time
  • Multiple languages for invoices, quotes, contracts and more
  • Customizable project templates


  • Recurring projects
  • Thorough quoting and project estimation



Scoro’s pricing reflects its robust set of features:

  • Essential: $26 per user per month
  • Standard: $37 per user per month
  • Pro: $63 per user per month
  • Ultimate: Custom quotes available

➡️ Make an informed decision using our comparison of Accelo vs. Scoro.

How To Find the Best PSA Software

Intrigued and ready to begin your research and vetting process?

Here are the three steps we recommend for determining what you need in a professional services automation solution:

1. Identify your business needs. The starting point in evaluating any PSA tool should be to fully evaluate your business’s unique characteristics and needs, including type and duration of projects.

The key lies in analyzing a typical client lifecycle in your company and envisioning your ideal way to get work done internally. Think about whether you need things like flexible workflows, a quick way to share updates with clients or specific customizations to projects. You may also want to make a list of current tools you’d like to consolidate so you can be on the look-out for platforms that can replace certain functions in a more cost-effective way.

2. Consider scalability and adaptability. How you do things today might not be the same as how you do them in the future. As you look at platforms, think about whether they can grow with your business. Will the given platform help you establish processes that will withstand future pressures? Can it accommodate more users, help you manage larger projects and manage tasks more efficiently as you grow?

Adaptability is just as important. Can you customize things like sale and project statuses to adapt a platform to the way your team works? While you want a platform that’s made for your type of business, it shouldn’t be so rigid that you can’t get the most out of it.

3. Scrutinize user experience and support. No matter how feature-rich a PSA is, its user-friendliness trumps everything. If you’re looking at more complex, all-in-one solutions, check into the software provider’s onboarding resources. At a minimum, look for a full implementation option, global and premium support and consultative services for change management guidance.

With these factors in mind, start your exploration by booking a demo of Accelo. Our product experts will show you what a flexible and powerful client work management platform can do for your business and why other service firms have chosen and stuck with the platform.


About the Author


Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.

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