Professional Service Automation (PSA) software has the potential to revolutionise your organisation. By consolidating all business functions and processes into one coherent whole, you gain massive strategic and operational value and total control of your operation.
If you’re planning on installing PSA software or revamping your existing set-up, you may be wondering about the best way to go about it. Conventional PSA software setups involve firms acquiring their own hardware and software and setting the system up locally.
However, web-based PSA is an increasingly popular option. It involves locating the system off-site and accessing it over a network via a web browser. Essentially, the browser becomes the client. Using such web-based PSA software delivers many advantages but also some drawbacks.
The most obvious advantage is that of lower hardware costs as there’s no need for investment in powerful servers. And as everything can be done on a web browser, costly workstations are unnecessary. This means the initial investment in web-based PSA tends to be far lower than for the on-premise model.
Moreover, PSA set-up will be much faster as hardware installation requirements are much reduced. You’ll experience less disruption to your business operations, too. What’s more, your new system will be highly scalable as your host offers virtually limitless capacity in his dedicated facilities.
The web-based model also allows business owners to take a more hands-off approach. The hosting company takes care of physical server maintenance as well as maintaining the software through installing upgrades, service packs and security fixes. This obviates the need for the firm to keep its own IT staff to take care of the PSA system.
The other great benefit is that the system can be accessed from anywhere using any device with a web browser. Such devices include tablets, phones and laptops as well as desktop computers, whether running Windows, Android, iOS or any other operating system.
This device independence offers great flexibility. A project manager in a client’s office could fire up the iPad to get vital data for a project, for example. Likewise, a manager on the studio floor could check and update time tracking in real time on his smartphone.
In fact, firms can access web-based data from anywhere in the world. This is vital for firms with multiple locations such as multi-national organisations.
Disadvantages of Web-Based PSA
On the other hand, deploying your PSA software system to the cloud does have a few drawbacks. Most importantly, web-based PSA requires payment of regular SaaS (software as a service) fees. Over time, these costs can mount up and eventually even surpass the investment costs of an on-premise system.
Another possible problem is that of reliability. Though today’s networks are rock solid, slowdowns and outages do occur. Downtime could be very disruptive and costly. Data security and integrity is another concern. Most data networks are extremely secure and feature powerful encryption, but breaches do occur.
Finally, many organisations experience a feeling of loss of control by storing their data offsite. In such cases, the idea of off-site PSA might clash with corporate culture.
Local or Web-Based?
Ultimately, each organisation must consider its own circumstances when deciding whether to opt for local or web-based PSA. Factors to consider are the size of the organisation, number of IT staff, business model, corporate set-up, resources for initial investment and so on.
If you’re facing this choice, the prime consideration should always be to identify a system that’s right for your business, both now and in the future. This is best made in consultation with your PSA systems provider who has the requisite experience and technical knowledge to deliver the expert advice you need to make an informed decision about the right PSA software.