What comes first, PSA or RMM?

Eric Anthony

It’s the classic question: Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? In the world of MSPs this translates to PSA or RMM? Arguments can made for both. Many would say it comes down to preference. However, let’s look at this a little more methodically. This question comes up primarily when starting your MSP business, but can also occur at other points such as when you make the decision to transition from break/fix to MSP or to move from being a sole practitioner to hiring your first employee. These three events have one thing in common; they all involve the evolution of your business from one level to the next. So with that “business evolution” mindset, we can look at the core of what each does.

The PSA (professional services automation) tool

The professional services automation tool is, for certain, one of the cornerstones of any MSP business. In general it is what keeps track of your customer information, keeps track of your work and generates invoices from that work. If you lean towards the business side of things this may seem like a “slam dunk”. Obviously, the PSA should come first. Well, hold on a second, two of the three main functions of the PSA listed above are about the “work”. What is the work? Most of it is going to be things done and managed through your RMM (remote monitoring and management) tool. Now you see our quandary.

The RMM (remote monitoring and management) tool

While the PSA is the tool you use to track the work, the RMM tool is what you use to “do” that work. Your RMM tool monitors devices to “find” work, automates many of the tasks you include in your managed services contracts and gives you remote access to actually work on devices without a truck roll (sending a technician on site). So now what do we do? We need the RMM tool to do the work, but we need the PSA to record and (most importantly) invoice for that work.

My personal experience was to jump in with both feet. On one foot I had my PSA and on the other I had my RMM. Granted I was just getting started – so with fewer clients it was easier to commit to learning both platforms at the same time. If this is an option for you, I would highly recommend it. One thing to keep in mind though is to make sure the tools you pick do not have a long deployment schedule. If they have easy deployment with only minimal training needed to get started, I would advise doing both at the same time.

Which way to jump?

If you only have time to learn one then a little contemplation is in order. It should be a business decision based on where you are losing the most time or money. If your issue is cashflow, due to not having an efficient system for capturing and invoicing, then go with the PSA. If you are having trouble servicing all your clients because you don’t have remote tools, go with the RMM. 

If you need some more help, here are some key questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you experiencing cashflow problems because you can only invoice once a month?
  • Are large amounts of time and materials not being invoiced for because they are not being recorded properly?
  • Are sales opportunities slipping through the cracks because you have no way to track them?
  • Are recurring revenue items not being billed properly because contracts do not auto-update when new devices or services are added?
  • Are you doing too many “truck rolls” that could be solved with a remote support session?
  • Are you dealing with too many “emergencies” because little problems turned into big ones that an RMM tool could have alerted you to early enough to fix it easily?
  • Are you performing repetitive tasks that could be handled with automation rather than manual intervention?
  • Are you spending lots of time making sure the security options you put in place stay updated and compliant by manually checking them?

Obviously, the first four relate to a PSA tool and the last four relate to an RMM tool. Depending on where your business is and what your needs are, these are some of the questions that should help you solve this conundrum for yourself.