Where did Professional Services Automation Software come from?

You wouldn’t believe but the conception of Professional Services Automation dates back to the earliest of days during the dot-com boom where first on the scene was the Ol’ grand daddy to technology, Netsuite. Netsuite created the first PSA tool which was targeted towards the North American Market specifically haphazard IT Professional Service Providers who were fumbling and bumbling about.

At the time these crafty life saving IT Professional Service providers had been using technology to help other firms become more efficient and more profitable but funny enough never actually tried to do the same for themselves.

IT shops were running sophisticated bird’s nests of operations that were filled with convoluted systems that incorporated lots of back-breaking paper pushing and systems that frequently broke down. It was akin to a nightmare and for veterans who remember how things were, they happily employ a short memory. Companies were keeping track of tools, employees, resources, contracts and partnerships completely by paper, fax and hefty computer software that hardly did its job.

It was a difficult time.

Owners were yelling at bosses, bosses were yelling at technicians, technicians were going home and yelling at everyone, especially poor innocent grocery store baggers.

Susie Sue the California State Champion Grocery Bagger at Whole Foods had had enough. Something needed to change.


Saving IT Support and Ol’ Susie Sue


When Netsuite came on the scene, things changed. The IT Industry quickly adopted the software and other big companies quickly joined in who also began to find success in the space.

Quickly saturating the niche of large ISPs, Netsuite and others began marketing towards the internal IT Professional Service teams of large companies in 2000. With success compounding faster than ever the big belly’d PSA providers kept reaching for more. By 2003 they were beginning to service all verticals of Professional Services. Owners were happy. Bosses were happy. Technicians were happy and Susie Sue at Whole Food was cheek to cheek with a grin.


A storm was a brewin’


Unfortunately, through the mid to late 2000’s Professional Services Automation began to meet their maker as they shifted almost entirely into large enterprise solutions which, with growing complexity, met troubles integrating with pre-established tools and processes of big enterprises.

It didn’t help the situation that PSA vendors were growing their suite of features via acquisition, rather than creating them in-house. Tools became a hodgepodge of functionality and lacked the seamless, efficient communication that was the whole basis of the industry when it was conceived in 1998.

Grand daddy Netsuite was letting Susie Sue from whole foods down.

These companies began to face greater hurdles as they found low sales near the 2008 crises at which point some companies who went bankrupt at the time even started pointing blame to the large PSA vendors for creating tools that were way too complicated and destroyed their efficiency.

How is that for a turn around.


A maelstrom of M&A


Around this time as PSAs faced difficulty with industry-wide growth, the large enterprise companies began to put their noggins together. M&As ensued like crazy and some began to pivot their greatest focus on ERP’s, Help Desks, CRMs and Project Management solutions which have risen in great popularity beyond PSAs.


Don’t call it a comeback


Since 2012 there has been a resurgence in professional services automation as professional service firms still exist and still have pains.

PSA tools have continued to play the role helping teams find a way to produce more streamlined business processes with added profitability and efficiency, saving owners, bosses, techs and grocery baggers all in one swoop.

The newest PSA vendors are now pushing themselves to avoid the issues of previous years and produce solutions that are simple and easy to adopt that still deliver on the original vision of the tool in 1998, making business more efficient and profitable in a short period of time.

Despite the impressive development in this space, if a company is reviewing new PSA tools, they should always be actively reviewing what their internal needs and what is out there to ensure they find what tool most perfectly fits their needs.


Click to get the entire PSA series in an eBOOK TO-GO

This is part of our eight chapter series on Professional Services Automation.

See the rest below.

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Andrew Frawley
By Andrew Frawley

Writing stuff that helps people grow their business