Imagine a mechanic without a toolbox. This kit allows the mechanic to have all his instruments at hand. In much the same way, a professional services automation (PSA) software offers service industries a toolbox—where you don’t need separate software solutions for each part of the project lifecycle.
In this article, we look at the top 3 professional service automation software—monday.com, Wrike, and BigTime—to see how they stack up against each other. We’ll look at their strengths and weaknesses (if any) to help you decide which solution best makes sense for your organization.
A PSA, often called the ERPs of service industries—see our analysis of ERP software—fulfills the role akin to a Swiss knife in a professional service industry. While you can certainly have an array of discrete software for project management, time tracking, resource allocation, billing, and others, a PSA offers a more consolidated alternative where all—if not most—of these features are built into the platform.
The rapid adoption of cloud technology, SaaS, and the impending arrival of a mature 5G technology, coupled with edge computing, will all make PSAs more relevant and commonplace in the coming years. By 2024, studies place it to reach a US$1.56 billion market size.
The changing demands of industries, the creation of new fields, and the young demographic that now make up the workforce will also open up avenues for more widespread adoption of PSAs. To illustrate, let’s look at the top 3 professional services automation software on our database to find a trend of what would likely become industry requisites in a fast-paced, digital world.
Our top-rated PSA solution is monday.com. It’s an all-in-one solution that allows you to streamline the contribution of your team members and optimize teamwork. With monday.com, you can add members, assign tasks to them, enhance your workflow, and monitor how each project or task is progressing using milestones. As a collaborative tool, its main focus is on making things simple, even enjoyable, for those contributing to the project.
From the outset, you will probably notice that monday.com’s interface is all about visual language. You can simply glance at your dashboard, and you’ll get what’s happening at any time. It uses the same visual cues and design conventions of social media, allowing team members to participate with the project and interact with each other as they normally would elsewhere.
The vendor offers a comprehensive free trial to get you up to speed with the features. You can sign up for monday.com free trial here.
The most distinctive feature of this app is its scheduling capability, which has earned it our top project management software award for 2019. Apart from the smart tools and collaboration built-in, allowing users to have all their conversations and interactions in one place, monday.com is also customizable. This makes using the software a unique experience for each member, depending on how they want to utilize the app to their style.
Second on our list is Wrike, a project and resource management software hosted in the cloud. Its feature set is designed specifically to make you manage and track the delivery of your client services, whatever the project, and do it easily and effortlessly. Wrike allows you to automate certain processes, shorten planning time, and reduce instances of redundant work by making projects and tasks transparent for everyone.
As a project management software, using Wrike means all stakeholders in a project are apprised at every stage. You can monitor the status of work through its easy interface, and you can assign tasks using templates or customize your own. With dashboards and reports that drill down into every facet of performance, you have a bird’s eye view of what the project really needs and how to streamline the process to get your deliverables quickly and efficiently out the door.
You can easily sign up for Wrike free trial here and get to know the features firsthand at no cost and without commitment.
Wrike has additional features that allow it to adapt to whatever the need of the team using it. From marketing, creative, to logistics, Wrike has several tools at your disposal. It can track approvals, monitor in real-time, and employ document proofing. It can also be used on the go with native mobile apps for iOS and Android.
BigTime is often branded as a simple billing software, but it’s not just that. It’s a custom-built solution designed for any professional service industry. It gives you the tools to manage not only billable services and hours but projects as well, making it particularly useful for professionals who need a 360-degree solution for all their operations and client-facing work.
As a billing software, it’s fully integrated with an invoicing capability. As a result, your billing becomes easier and faster. But, as mentioned before, it’s not simply a billing software. You can keep track of tasks and workflows and compile the information you need to optimize your deliverables.
If you want to investigate the features closely you can easily do so when you sign up for BigTime free trial here.
BigTime also features a robust time tracking capability. With it, you make lost and unproductive time a thing of the past. Other nifty features include expense tracking, real-time WIP management, and resource allocation.
It’s easy to simply tabulate the features of these applications and decide that one is better simply because they have more features. This is too simplistic, however, as what makes a better software isn’t how many things it can do but how well it can do what it can. To illustrate, let’s dive deep into each important feature a PSA should have and compare how each solution does it.
One of the must-have features of a PSA is to let users manage their company’s projects. You can certainly use any project management tool, but why use one when you have an all-in-one solution in a PSA? In this article, the top 3 professional services automation software on our list have all your project management needs covered—just in different ways.
Monday.com makes project management easy and fun—something that not all project management software can claim to do. It has a short learning curve, allowing your users to use it right away. Its main design uses a customizable Board View, which is further divided into Columns that you can customize as well. This is not simply eye-candy; however, as under the hood, it gives you all the bells and whistles of a full-featured project management suite, integrations, and mobile access in one platform.
On the other hand, Wrike is a relatively simpler beast, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t have what you need in terms of project management. Central to Wrike are its dashboards and widgets. Dashboards show projects, while widgets can be attached to dashboards to show various things like files, folders, or tasks that are relevant to the dashboard. Finally, Wrike has a Document Editor so you can modify files right on Wrike without having to download, edit, and reupload them.
Finally, BigTime’s billing solution belies its project management capabilities. It uses Gantt charts to track the status of your projects and timelines. A project manager can simply assign and define tasks for each user, and the onboard billing software allows businesses to manage billable tasks for each segment of the project. BigTime can utilize project templates for easy project creation and assignment, or you can create a new template for your own unique use.
Monday.com’s customizable board views and easy and fun project management is simply too good to pass up. Project management is often both painstaking and tedious, but the software tries to inject it with your personal touch to make it more relatable and familiar.
Any PSA should have collaboration tools because no project will ever be done by a single person. An excellent collaboration suite can distribute workload and enhance communication, putting your project on a fast track to deliver milestones and completion.
The design of monday.com is built upon the idea of fast collaboration and sharing knowledge. Any action or discussion can be changed with a single click via a contextual collaboration concept. Users can discuss or attach notes at any stage of the project and upload files, even participate in a Facebook-style discussion feed that updates in real-time. With its search everything feature, centralized file sharing, and drag-and-drop functionalities, collaboration is as easy as pie.
Wrike’s ability to organize your projects according to categories and subdivide each into tasks and subtasks points the way for users where they can jump in and contribute. You can tag other people in the project using the “@” tag, similar to monday.com’s, which would notify them. Also, Wrike offers file sharing for all stakeholders, even for clients who are normally outside your work processes. You can access collaborative tools even while on the go; start in desktop and finish in the app, for example.
Collaboration, however, is BigTime’s weakest feature. This software doesn’t have much in the way of collaboration tools, as it’s simply meant for a manager to track the project and for billing and invoicing.
monday.com’s collaboration capability is better than Wrike’s, but only slightly. What has edged it over its closest competitor is monday.com’s contextual collaboration. The search feature is also better than its contemporaries and something that Wrike doesn’t support that well.
Tracking billable hours and tasks should be one of the pillars of a PSA. After all, a professional services automation software should be your one-stop shop for making sure all your projects are done in a timely manner, you deliver all that’s needed at a certain sprint, and that you get compensated for the tasks that you’ve done in a period.
monday.com’s billing and invoicing is a simple Formula column plus Time Tracking column combo. monday.com comes with all the equations that you need to calculate the billable hours, which you can share with your client outright. This column can log your tasks in real-time, where you can attach a formula to compute billable hours. You can even export your time log to an Excel spreadsheet, either for one task or the entire column.
Wrike doesn’t offer that much invoicing capability, however. It does have a time tracking feature, but not a billing calculator. Like monday.com, though, it can also integrate (via Zapier) to a stand-alone billing software.
In this area, BigTime is a much better solution. Not only does it offer time tracking, but it also provides other functionalities like flexible billing rates for each staff, task, or project. BigTime has an online portal where employees can submit their expenses and timesheets, with the option to attach invoices or receipts. In addition, BigTime has an invoice creator (with a customizable invoice template), incremental invoicing, and WIP billing.
Clearly BigTime. The other two have the most rudimentary billing built-in, although they can both connect with Zapier to integrate with other billing software.
Report generation gives you data to see where your performance is lacking, and how you can improve it. As we’ve shown in our analysis of business intelligence purposes, these figures can allow you to see an objective and a bigger perspective of how your projects measure up. Are you up to the task? How much are you ahead or delayed? And what can you do about it?
As far as reports go, monday.com delivers. Like any PSA software, monday.com can collect and relate multiple projects and tasks. Board views don’t just happen to be useful on your projects; you can also use them, alongside filters and dashboards, to find the data that’s relevant for you. In fact, these combinations can even allow you to project or forecast sales or costs. Plus, you can export them to an Excel spreadsheet and view administrative statistics like board changes and modifications.
Wrike, however, can customize your reports. It offers a reports dashboard that updates in real-time and a report builder where you can include all the data that you require. The report builder is a full-fledged document editor suite that can accommodate any type of media.
BigTime’s reporting features are similar to Wrike in that you can customize your reports.
Additionally, BigTime can export to three file types—PDF, Excel spreadsheet, and Word document. While Wrike lets you have full control of the report data, BigTime, however, is limited to filters and category options, and the resulting report isn’t as attractive or as relevant as that of Wrike in terms of building a report for a specific KPI.
Wrike is the winner here. Monday.com and BigTime offer reports and analytics in abundance, but Wrike’s report builder makes all the difference.
Finally, pricing can make or break anything, and software is no exception. Most people, however, will excuse a higher price if the solution gives most of what they need. The level of pricing means how much the developers are invested in maintaining, supporting, and improving the software. A right balance is key to win in this category.
Monday.com starts with a $39 plan per 5 users per month, billed annually. This plan comes with unlimited viewers, boards, 5 GB of storage, and a history of up to 1 week. Their biggest paid plan is $1,599 for 100 users and unlimited storage and unlimited history, but they also have a custom enterprise solution if you think you need a customized package.
Wrike is a more modestly priced software, which starts at $9.80 a month per user for 5–15 users. You can optionally upgrade to a 200-user package, which is $24.80. The vendor offers three quote-based plans and a lifetime free plan. The latter has all the basic features if you have fewer than 5 users.
BigTime starts at $10 per month per user, with only three paid plans. The top dog is $40, all of them billed annually. The first two plans have a free trial, but the $40 plan only comes with a free demo.
Wrike isn’t just the more reasonably priced, but it covers all your needs. It has a free plan, two paid plans, and three quote-based enterprise packages. This means the vendor’s pricing is more flexible, allowing it to anticipate all uses of the software.
This concludes our analysis of the top 3 professional services automation software. A PSA should do all things any professional in the service industry requires. It should manage projects, keep track of time, and integrate with billing and invoicing. In addition, it must have a reporting function so you can have an objective view of where your efforts are best done and least effective. And with PSAs’ growth, as evidenced by our PSA statistics report, a professional service automation software should make your life easy, if not easier.
There’s no surprise that monday.com is our top choice, and for a good reason. It does look beautiful, and customization is a great part of it, but this is simply not for superficial reasons. Under the hood, monday.com offers a powerful project management suite and in-depth collaboration. After all, services are best managed when they’re streamlined, and the entire team pitches in. And monday.com does both so well that your operations become fun and interactive. You can check the solution closely when you sign up for monday.com free trial here.
Some users, however, want a PSA that can also function as a CRM. Not all PSAs have this feature, though, of course, they can be integrated into one. You can look at our CRM platforms list to find one that will work for you.
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