MSPs and IT resellers should be looking to PSA tools

As channel firms grow, many back-office systems that manage invoicing and payments can often struggle to operate efficiently and accurately. This is because many businesses are unknowingly using inefficient systems, however, these poor invoice and billing practices have a knock-on effect on profitability. Instead, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and IT resellers can benefit from PSA (Professional Service Automation) tools to enable them to better plan, monitor and implement faster billing cycles for their customers and teams.

Rob Hancock, Head of Platform, Giacom emphasises the importance of investing in PSA solutions, as better billing not only enhances productivity and is more cost-effective; but it also frees up staff resources to focus on what’s important.

Convergence drives greater billing requirements

Some of the major shifts impacting the industry include the convergence of IT and telecoms, where connectivity and voice come closer together. MSPs need to handle increasingly complex billing processes and there is a mix of fixed cost licenses and variable cost items to manage. To succeed, channel businesses need to be able to bill for both scenarios from the same system accurately; and to provide customers with real-time visibility on their in-month usage. This way invoices can be clearly understood when delivered to clients, with no unwanted surprises.

Investing in Professional Service Automation 

Billing shouldn’t be a challenge for MSPs and their employees to manage. Equally, associated systems should be easy for customers to access and understand too. By introducing modern PSA (Professional Service Automation) software into the mix, profitability can be enhanced for MSPs, along with greater customer satisfaction and retention, simply by streamlining and simplifying the billing process.

Additionally, managing licencing is often a frustrating task for MSPs when it comes to billing. This is because customer licence information changes as the client’s business changes. A PSA tool can bring all these areas together, so the end-customer ends up with a clearer bill; and so that the MSP ends up with fewer functions to manage. 

Automating not just your billing 

In many respects, a PSA acts as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool too. It provides a ticketing system to manage technical processes and acts as a whole business process model for MSPs to benefit from, automating complex multifaceted business processes. Further, PSA is all about improving the visibility of each project, for each customer and cutting the bureaucratic burden that accompanies many laborious manual processes.

Responding to changing billing environments 

Another key transition in the market to consider is the maturity of SaaS pricing models. With new portals and invoicing models entering the market, such as Microsoft’s New Commerce Experience, this will change the way MSPs have to provision and bill clients for software licenses. 

With this new model, an MSP will have to balance the cost benefits of different licence lengths against the flexibility their clients’ need to increase or decrease the volume of software licences demanded in real-time. Therefore, the capabilities of supporting billing systems must change to facilitate this trend.

APIs enable effective PSA integration between CSPs and MSPs

Creating a solid MSP-CSP partnership with the support of PSA means resellers can manage a single bill, broken down by customers, with the details of all the services they have paid for. When dealing directly with cloud distributors, MSPs can also integrate their PSA with the CSPs Application Programming Interface (APIs), so any discrepancies can be easily identified in licence counts between the platforms. This helps free the MSP from the monthly management and manual processing of invoices too, so they can focus on client care instead. 

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