Searching for software that’s actually helpful? Feeling a little confused? Seeing too many abbreviations? Trust us, we get it. In order to save time down the road, it’s important to spend the time now learning about the different options that are out there so you choose the right one for your professional services firm.

One of the questions we get asked all the time is what’s the difference between professional services automation (PSA) and project management (PM) software? And while these two types of software can sometimes be competitive, they can also be extremely complementary — providing your company with the resources and reporting needed to get projects and payments completed on time. 

Before deciding which one (or both) is right for you, let’s define each and go over the questions we get the most. 

Project Management (PM) Software

What is project management software?

Project management software is where you get into the nitty gritty of project planning. This software is meant for your internal team only, not client facing. It’s where you manage all deliverables and go a level deeper into tasks, subtasks and what resources are required to execute.

Why would I want project management software?

For services organizations that have many projects and deliverables to manage, project management software keeps your team organized. Think of it like a joint to-do list, and a place to share and collaborate on documents without assets getting lost.  

What industries/companies use project management software?

Engineering, marketing, creative, IT, architects, accounting, and consulting. Industries like IT Services that have specific project types and need a certain template to manage them, have specialized project management software, like Jira. These tools can integrate with PSA software, but more on that in a minute.  

Professional Services Automation (PSA) Software

What is professional services automation software? 

PSA software is designed to manage your firm, not just your projects. Built on the foundation of your projects, this type of software is where you budget, track time and expenses, allocate resources and invoice your clients based on the data collected. From there, management teams can view reports on important KPIs and manage the firm’s financial health in real-time. Read our PSA 101 Guide to learn more. 

Why would I want this?

For visibility into your firm current and future resources, whether that’s time, people, or money. By having your project plan and budgets in the same software that you track time and expenses against, you’re able to invoice clients with the information they need to see.

What industries/companies use professional services automation?

Hint: the name kind of gives it away. PSA is ideal for professional services like accounting, engineering, architecture, marketing & creative, IT services, legal, government contracting, and consulting.

A Side-By-Side Comparison of PSA & PM Software

A Side-By-Side Comparison of PSA & PM Software (1)

There’s Room for Both

Software doesn’t have to be one size fits all. That’s where the beauty of integrations come into play. Like we mentioned up above, being able to integrate different project management tools like Jira with a PSA like BigTime lets your team work in the tools best suited for them without missing important operational insights. (BigTime actually has a ton of integrations including QuickBooks, Salesforce, HubSpot, Slack, and lots more.) 

Project management is great for getting your team organized internally and keeping projects running smoothly but you might be missing out on key financial management capabilities as well as external-facing project reporting. Without a PSA, your company won’t have access to game-changing features like the ability to set custom billing rates, forecasting staff ability, budget tracking, knowing what value to associate with different staffer hours, automating the generation of invoices and collecting payment. 

Long story short, project management and PSA solutions can work together as a team to dot all the i's and cross all the t's, from beginning to end — keeping everyone in the loop, both internally and externally. 

PSA or PM: Still Not Sure? 

We know that was a lot of information. Let us walk you through it and figure out what’s best for you and your company. Give us a holler whenever you’re ready.