Many have heard the term Project Service Automation and have a slight understanding of Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation (D365 PSA). However, many do not understand what it truly is, who can benefit from D365 PSA, and when one should use D365 PSA and one should use D365 Field Service. This blog will provide that basic understanding for all to continue their quest in knowledge and understanding of all D365 PSA has to offer.
What is D365 PSA?
There is a misconception that D365 PSA is strictly to manage “projects.” I’m here to say that is only part of the equation. Yes, you manage projects; WBS, resources, costs, etc. with D365 PSA, but it allows for so much more. In one sentence, D365 PSA allows for management of all project-based activities across multiple roles within an organization. Roles such as:
- Practice Directors
- Account Managers
- Project Managers
- Resource Manager
- Project Team Members
Each of the stages represented in the above picture tie directly into D365 PSA. Let’s look at the how.
At an opportunity level, account managers provide the capability and visibility to see opportunities as it relates to potential projects. Users, such as practice managers can see important details such as:
- potential project costs
- project duration
- potential / projected profit
This allows the organization to gain insight into the upcoming pipeline and appropriate plan for projects.
Once an opportunity is “won,” it’s time to start the project planning process. In D365 PSA, we can link an opportunity to a project record. This is the stage where sales and project managers begin to collaborate on the upcoming work. Some of the details reviewed include:
- Duration of project
- value of the project to the customer
- needs of project are reviewed and outlined
Resource Management (Planning)
Once the project manager and sales teams complete their initial planning, then the PM can request the appropriate resources. D365 PSA takes advantage of the powerful Universal Resource Scheduling capabilities. Here, a PM can request/submit resources with a specific skill set and for a desired duration.
Based on those requirements, a resource manager can search for resources that best match the needs. In addition to skills and availability, D365 PSA allows insight into resource cost, resource location, and potential profit per resource.
D365 PSA provides the capability for team members to share information, deliverables, issues, challenges, and more among each other or those outside of D365. With D365, team members can take advantage of the powerful collaboration tools within Office 365. Team members can utilize Microsoft Groups to collaborate with team members in and out of D365. In addition, documents can be attached to the project but maintained/stored in SharePoint. Team Members can take meeting notes and capture other details within OneNote and attach it to the project record for all to utilize.
T&E, Billing, Analytics
D365 PSA allows each project team member to enter time and expenses (including attachments for expenses) that need to be approved (by the project approver). This allows for accurate tracking of time and expenses per SPECIFIC tasks (yes, T&E can be tied to a specific project task which helps understand and control project costs and task costs).
One of the items project managers need to understand is billings. With D365 PSA, project managers can track, review, update and approve all project related costs. Invoices can be generated for approved items, based upon an agreed upon invoice schedule, and emailed to the customer
D365 PSA also provides a robust interactive dashboard for practice managers and resource managers. Here, personnel in this role can review, based on their access, costs, revenue, resource utilization and other KPIs that are desirable for your organization to track.
Who IS D365 PSA Best Suited For?
D365 PSA is not for everyone. In general, D365 seems to be best suited for the following:
- Project-Based Organizations (PBOs). Sure this seems to be a gimme one, but many PBOs today are still not utilizing D365 PSA, or any PSA tool in general. D365 PSA provides these organizations the ability to manage the bid-to-bill lifecycle. This can give these PBOs a competitive edge.
- Integration between Sales & Delivery. Integration between Sales and delivery is crucial. Many times, traditional organizations draw dotted lines around sales and delivery. Many times, there is a hand-off between sales and delivery and then sales moves on. With D365 PSA, there is tighter collaboration from start to finish. This allows sales to foster relationships with the customer and internal teams.
- End-to-End Integration. This doesn’t mean system integration. This means process integration: from program / project management to project accounting and analytics. D365 PSA provides organizations to manage projects, resources, and finances all within one system.
- One-Stop-Shop Reporting. Real-Time visibility into performance and profitability is provided. Internally, we can see project delivery, project success reporting along with utilization and margins. Customers can be provided (manually or through automated reporting or a portal)
- Visibility & Control over Enterprise-wide Processes. D365 PSA is great for those organizations that require revenue recognition for a diverse revenue stream and also provide unified billing for those streams.
- Billing Models. D365 PSA enables omni-business model billing for service delivery from fixed fee, milestone and time-and-materials billing.
D365 PSA or D365 Field Service.
I get asked this question all the time: “Scott, when should we use D365 Project Service Automation and when should we use Field Service?” The answer is not always clear cut, and many times will require probing questions and analysis by your team to make the best decision for your organization or customer(s). The two share various features (such as the Universal Resource Scheduling functionality), but they also have distinct capabilities and features that are desirable based on needs. I’ve provided a chart to assist when you may want to use D365 PSA and when you may want to use D365 Field Service. This is not an exhaustive list, but should give you some insight into some of the common scenarios (and hopefully it helps you in your decision making process).
I hope this blog helps provides all with some insight into Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation, helps you with your understanding of when you may want to use it, the capabilities it provides, and fuels your quest to dive into all it has to offer.