ERP and PSA Software Purpose-built for Services Firms

Posted by Deltek on March 21, 2017

Gartner ERP and PSA for Services Firms

Enterprise Resource Planning software and Professional Services Automation software built for Services Firms

Deltek recently had the opportunity to interview Bob Anderson, Vice-President and Analyst at Gartner Research Inc., and Warren Linscott, Vice President of Product Strategy and Cloud Operations at Deltek, to get their insight on what is happening in regards to Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP software) and Professional Services Automation software (PSA software) for services firms.   This is the second in the three-part blog series that provides highlights from this interview. 

This interview is now available as an on-demand webcast:


So what exactly does it mean for ERP and PSA software solutions to be purpose-built for services?

When a software solution has been built to conform to the way you do business and the way your industry works, it is considered  to be “purpose-built”.  Purpose-built software does not need to be customized or altered to support your business processes and workflows. It’s been built specifically to work for you, not against you. This is where generic ERP and PSA systems have traditionally fallen short for services firms.  

Traditional or “generic” ERP systems were designed for “product-centric” organizations and don’t fit for the needs of services firms that deliver projects and consulting services. Generic ERP systems don’t understand the project dimension, which is necessary for managing projects and project portfolios effectively. Purpose-built ERP systems handle cross functional tasks with the project dimension at its core: project accounting, project billing, project management, project reporting, project resource scheduling and more.  

When a system is “purpose-built” for your industry it goes even beyond the project dimension. It is built to addresses all the specific needs and nuances of your service industry.  Warren Linscott provides the following examples of what it means for an ERP or PSA software solution to be “industry-specific”: “In the consulting world everything is “an engagement” and “client specific”. Consulting firms must be able to aggregate everything that’s going on with a client and manage from that perspective. For legal firms, everything is “a matter”, and they focus on matter management.  They need solutions that can tie everything they are doing back to “the matter” – be that documents, invoices, or what have you. They need to be able to go through that  matter from start to finish and report on it. For non-profit firms everything is about “the donor” and “funding levels” and how these funding levels change over time. They need to carefully manage how they allocate funding and how they raise more funding. They don’t work on profit; they work on fee. And that’s fundamentally different.”  WARREN LINSCOTT, VP OF PRODUCT STRATEGY AND CLOUD OPERATIONS, DELTEK

What it really boils down to is this: 

Do you want a one-size-fits all ERP or PSA software solution or do you want a system tailored to your needs?  The industry and project focus is becoming more of a priority for services firms. Services firms are beginning to realize that in order to lead in their market, they simply need to have it. 

How can a purpose-built ERP or PSA software solution transform your services business? 

When you use an ERP or PSA software solution that has been purpose-built for your industry and the way you work, it will start to transform your business. Your organization will no longer operate in functional silos.

  • Your billing staff won’t put a customer into collections when your sales staff is bidding on a multi-million dollar project with that customer. 
  • Your strategic planners and business development staff will have fast access to information that tells them which types of projects are most profitable for your firm and which types they should avoid due to a lack of resources or a history of low profitability. 
  • Your HR team will become a strategic weapon because they will know the types of people they should be recruiting and will be able to do it faster than your competition. 
  • Your resource managers will be able to accurately track resource allocation and forecast future resource needs for projects. They’ll be able to focus resources across projects more effectively on revenue generating work.
  • Your project managers will have dashboards they can access on-demand that provide accurate information to help avoid missed deadlines, cost overruns, and backlog problems that jeopardize project profitability.

When everyone in your organization has real-time visibility and access to the information they need, your organization’s productivity will improve tremendously.  Even if you are a small firm, you will be able to outpunch your weight against larger competitors.   That’s a tremendous advantage, and the real value that project-based, industry-specific ERP software and PSA software solutions deliver to services firms. 

Choosing an ERP or PSA software solution that is project-based and has been built for your services industry can significantly improve your ROI, profit and performance.  When you use a system that is purpose-built you’ll be able to accelerate in your marketplace.

That is why more and more services firms are asking for ERP and PSA purpose-built software solutions that are both project-based and industry-specific. Services firms no longer want to settle for generic solutions and waste time and money on expensive customizations and workarounds. 

 “Services firms need to begin to understand that the tools, processes, and technology that got them where they are today, probably won’t get them where they need to be competitively in 2020. New technology can help get you there and if you want to lead in your market today you simply need to have it. “BOB ANDERSON, VP AND ANALYST, GARTNER RESEARCH



PSA for Dummies

To learn more about Professional Services Automation software (PSA software) and how it can help you, download a free copy of the Deltek Professional Services Automation for Dummies book now!

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