Finding the right tools for your MSP - PSA or RMM software?  

Remote monitoring and management software and professional services automation software have been the cornerstones of efficiency and productivity in the MSP industry for a few years now. Modern PSA and RMM solutions offer a wide range of features to make processes and operations seamless. So, how are they different? 

RMMs make sure that you offer the best managed IT services by allowing you to manage and monitor clients’ networks and endpoints smoothly from a remote location. On the other hand, PSAs fine-tune your business operations to make them more efficient and streamlined. Both tools offer a set of services that come in handy in two different facets of your business.

Differences Between PSA and RMM

Both PSA and RMM work towards the same goal: enhancing the service provider’s productivity and efficiency. But they do it very differently. While the RMM acts as the scope and wrench of the technicians and helps them solve issues remotely, PSA solutions simplify and streamline business processes for managed service providers.

Naturally, the functions that both types of solutions cater to are different, which overlap sometimes. In addition, both the software prove to be instrumental in managing a successful MSP. Thus, listing their differences head-to-head isn’t right. Let us get to know about these solutions separately and find out how they are different.

What is remote monitoring and management software?

Remote management & monitoring software is a solution that allows MSPs to monitor and manage all activities on the systems/network, workstations, servers, or endpoints of a client, remotely. In other words, RMMs allow MSPs to manage technical components of client support with the help of remote monitoring capabilities. 

These solutions allow technicians to solve problems with the systems from a remote location. In addition, gapless remote monitoring ensures detection and resolution of potential issues and vulnerabilities before system breakdowns and downtime. Furthermore, an RMM solution enables effective patch management that allows the automation and exclusion of patches. Therefore, MSPs help their clients steer clear of many security vulnerabilities and hidden threats with the help of RMM software.

Here’s a look at the primary functions that an RMM offers:

  • Remotely monitor clients’ hardware, networks, and software using the management console

  • Ensuring gapless patch management in clients’ systems and eliminating security vulnerabilities 

  • Collecting information about clients’ systems and generating customized reports on system activity and health

  • Generating ‘issue’ tickets when any problems arise like an IT help-desk

  • Analyzing the health of networks and devices and delivering customized performance reports

  • Leveraging robust automation and scripting tools to automate routine tasks

  • Allowing technicians to resolve issues remotely with a remote access management control

What is professional services automation software?

Professional services automation software replaces a wide array of tools that help MSPs manage various functions throughout the project lifecycle. It offers a one-stop solution for project management, time tracking, invoicing, resource planning, business intelligence, and collaboration. More sophisticated PSA for MSPs also includes advanced features like knowledge management, password management, documentation management, revenue forecasting, and time logging.

In other words, PSA software is instrumental in managing client engagements throughout the project lifecycle. Core client engagements like resource planning and invoicing operations are managed efficiently on PSA systems.

Enterprises are increasingly leveraging PSA software to unify business processes and data. It allows them to ensure efficient and organized project delivery. Mundane and repetitive operations are simplified, streamlined, and automated. Professional services automation solutions support every aspect of project delivery, from planning and managing to measuring the performance of the projects.

Here are some of the core business operations that a PSA solution streamlines and simplifies:

  • Accounting

  • Billing, invoicing

  • Resource management

  • Client access (e.g., through a client portal)

  • Team collaboration

  • Document management

  • Project management

  • Proposal generation

  • Software integrations (e.g., to a CRM)

  • Time and expense tracking

Benefits of PSA and RMM software

Both PSA and RMM solutions have varying benefits that give MSPs a competitive edge and help them operate more productively and efficiently. By improving both the technical and business aspects of the service, PSA and RMM achieve the common aim of shaping flawless customer experiences. Let us take a look at how differently PSAs and RMMs benefit the MSPs.

Benefits of RMM software

RMM software is at the heart of offering proactive technical assistance to clients. It allows MSPs to monitor clients’ networks, systems, and endpoints in real-time which translates to early detection and resolution of issues. It also makes the clients’ IT architecture more secure and up-to-date by managing system updates and patches making them less vulnerable to hidden security threats. Have a look at the major benefits offered by remote monitoring and management solutions to MSPs:

1. Reduced downtime

Modern RMMs are increasingly getting more intelligent when it comes to detecting potential issues and risks. It monitors and manages the clients’ systems in real-time, actively analyzes their performance and health and improves service delivery. Thus, MSPs are capable of detecting and resolving issues before they cause system breakdowns or downtime. Consequently, MSPs build strong customer relationships by helping their clients avoid significant losses.

2. Gapless patch management

Prompt application patching is essential to avoid security vulnerabilities and malicious threats. RMM software helps MSPs track upgrades and patches on unified dashboards. They also allow MSPs to automate or block patches according to requirements. In other words, RMM is a one-stop solution for gapless patch management. 

3. Improved security

Shifting to home offices made organizations much more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Rightfully so, cybersecurity is increasingly becoming a priority for businesses, even small and medium-sized enterprises. RMMs allow MSPs to monitor and improve the security of their client systems by eliminating potential threats and security vulnerabilities. 

4. Increased profitability

We already know that RMMs save a lot of money for the end customers by reducing system downtime. They also increase the profitability of MSPs in a double-edged manner. By ensuring the resolution of issues remotely, an RMM reduces the travel costs because of fewer visits. Furthermore, it also results in higher profit margins by reducing the number of issues and tickets to be resolved.

5. Boost efficiency & productivity

Unhindered remote access offered by RMMs allow MSPs to manage their clients’ systems more efficiently. Features like early detection of issues, automation of routine tasks, automated maintenance & patch management speed up their operations. In other words, MSPs can scale their operations, get more clients on board, and manage them efficiently.

6. Improved flexibility and scalability

Modern RMM solutions with more sophisticated features offer greater operational flexibility to MSPs. It allows MSPs to monitor remote systems and solve issues even when their technicians are working remotely. Improved flexibility boosts customer satisfaction by easily and efficiently resolving issues, even the ones that come in after hours. RMM solutions also make MSPs more scalable. Proactive monitoring, efficient operations, and automated tasks translate to reduced costs and improved scalability for MSPs. 

Benefits of PSA

PSA turns business processes into a well-oiled machine, swift and seamless. It combines all the mission-critical functions of your business under one solution, thus enhancing project delivery. It allows MSPs to monitor key performance indicators for their business and offer actionable insights. These insights help in allocating resources more efficiently  to increase profitability and reduce costs

1. Less administrative tasks

The cumbersome and routine admin tasks are no less than a nightmare for service providers. Professional service automation solutions allow MSPs to automate and avoid these work-intensive processes and reduce unnecessary data entry points. Time-consuming processes like project planning and scheduling, financial reporting, workflow management are automated intelligently. Consequently, a great deal of time and energy is saved by eliminating various admin tasks.

2. Increased predictability

PSA tools leverage intelligence at every step of the way. Apart from simplifying every client management in a project lifecycle, PSA tools also aid seamless project delivery by predicting when projects can be delivered. They do so by leveraging AI and taking into account the resources that are available. It allows MSPs to look into the future and make timely and data-driven decisions. Tools like resource forecasting provide business leaders with effective scalability insights for the projects.

3. Centralized visibility, greater control

PSA software enables a centralized point of information by breaking down information silos and ensuring crucial data overview across all levels. It centralizes all service processes, tracks real-time data, and makes it accessible to your entire organization. More visibility naturally translates to more control. With increased transparency and centralized visibility, business leaders in MSPs can pinpoint and address strengths and weaknesses instantly.

4. Wider profit margins

PSA offers intelligent insights about your earnings and spendings and enables informed decision-making. It provides insights like which projects and clients bring more to the table when it comes to profitability. It especially helps in the resource distribution of projects by giving insights on revenue, cost, and profit per role. You can re-allocate resources more efficiently using these actionable insights and widen the profit margins.

5. Lower budget leaks

Professional services automation software has all the necessary functions for budget tracking. It allows service providers to track their planned vs. actual spending and get on top of their budget. PSA uncovers the areas where you’re overspending by analyzing non-billable time and expenses. It proves to be  instrumental in controlling and cutting down avoidable costs.

6. Increased scalability

Along with feature-rich back-end capabilities like billing and time and expense, more sophisticated PSA platforms help service providers scale their businesses to different heights. It brings sales, operations, financials, and projects under one solution. It simplifies the management of these operations across different levels. In addition, it also provides the organizational foundation to scale seamlessly.

PSA vs. RMM - which solution do you need?

Every MSP stumbles at this question at one stage of growth or the other. Both PSA and RMM impact and benefit a service provider’s operation very differently. A better question would be, “PSA, RMM, or both?” This question further requires you to answer four questions about your business operations and future plans.

  • Can you manage business functions in-house?

An MSP essentially needs only an RMM to offer managed IT services to its customers. But there are more operations to be taken care of for running a successful MSP. If you can handle HR, sales & marketing, finance, and other functions in-house for the time being, then you can continue with just an RMM. However, you will have to consider a PSA solution as you grow because efficient and streamlined operations become a necessity. A good PSA solution helps you achieve that.

  • How many clients do you presently support? More importantly, how many clients do you aim to get on board in the future?

The number of clients you support is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a solution for your MSP, be it PSA or RMM. In addition, you must also take into account the number of clients you aim to support in the near future. A reliable RMM solution allows you to manage clients efficiently, whereas a PSA ensures that your business functions run seamlessly.

  • What are your business goals?

Getting your head around your long-term and short-term business goals is essential for finding the solution you need. Both the software offer a wide range of benefits and allow you to achieve both your long-term and short-term goals more easily and quickly. The only difference is, an RMM prepares your technical landscape for growth, and a PSA builds the business infrastructure. 

  • How secure are your clients, and how secure is your business? 

A good RMM offers features like performance monitoring, automatic patching, multi-level security policies, and configurations. These features make your customers secure. But, focusing on the security of your business is as important as keeping your clients’ systems safe. Being a service provider, you are also at a threat of cyberattacks because of having sensitive customer information. A PSA streamlines your operations and helps you achieve business excellence. With all of this saved time, you can focus on the customer experience and security you are offering. 

  • How can MSPs make the best use of both? 

If you have the budget of getting only one solution, then only you should consider the factors given above. However, no matter what the answer to those questions is, your business needs both the RMM and the PSA to move forward. RMM and PSA tools perform functions in different landscapes which overlap sometimes, but all of those functions are essential to managing a successful MSP. So, the best way around the question, “Which solution is right for your MSP?”, is to use both solutions in conjunction. 

The only roadblock in using both the solutions is: How do you do it in a cost and resource-effective way? Separate solutions mean separate costs, which can impact your ROI negatively, opposite of why you’re considering buying these solutions. The solution is to use an integrated solution.

Modern RMM solutions are very flexible when it comes to integrating with PSA solutions. Using both the solutions in conjunction allows you to manage both the technical and business operations efficiently. Furthermore, an integrated PSA-RMM solution has a single interface for accessing the functions of both software. Thus, you get an all-in-one solution to help you deliver exemplary services with both RMM capabilities and project management, time tracking, invoicing, resource planning, and business intelligence features for phenomenal customer experiences.

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