Best Salesforce Project Management PSA Tools

The best Salesforce project management PSA tools battle it out.

This post compares what I consider the four best Salesforce professional services automation (PSA) tools: Certinia, Kantata, Mission Control and Percursive PSA. I evaluate the four PSA tools against 200+ project management requirements and highlight the key differentiators between the tools. You can also download the scoring spreadsheets for the four PSA tools to apply your own priorities and perform your own evaluation.

Process Scores

The percentage represents the portion of the 250+ requirements the tool satisfies with all requirements being weighted evenly. Kantata SX has the highest overall score and the highest scores in both resource and schedule management.

CertiniaKantata SXMission ControlPrecursive PSA
Total Score53%61%60%52%
Communications Management9%9%9%9%
Cost Management65%78%86%62%
Integration Management50%61%61%48%
Procurement Management0%50%50%0%
Quality Management17%17%25%17%
Resource Management81%93%67%88%
Risk Management75%67%58%58%
Schedule Management62%67%61%62%
Scope Management13%13%44%0%
Stakeholder Management13%17%33%17%

Cost Management Key Differentiators

The largest single gap is that Certinia does not support invoicing customers directly within the app. Certinia creates a data set for an invoice, but the data has to be passed to an external invoicing system. All three of the other apps allow the creation, issuance and tracking of customer invoices within the apps. You must purchase Certinia’s Billings & Receivables app to generate invoices or use your financial system.

The second biggest gap is that Kantata does not support daily rates and overtime charges. This seems extremely odd, considering the breadth of Kantata’s functionality. I wasn’t able to install a copy of Kantata, so if you like everything else about Kantata, you might want to confirm this gap for yourself.

Key DifferentiatorsCertiniaKantata SXMission ControlPrecursive PSA
Sum planned costs to a releaseGapGapFitGap
Sum planned costs to a programFitFitFitGap
Define tax rateGapFitFitGap
Invoice customersGapFitFitFit
Daily/weekly ratesFitGapFitFit
Overtime ratesFitGapFitFit
Different revenue recognition methodsFitFitGapFit

Resource Management Key Differentiators

All these PSA tools do a great job of identifying resource needs and matching people with the correct skills to the resource openings. The key differentiators are related to secondary functionality.

Key DifferentiatorsCertiniaKantata SXMission ControlPrecursive PSA
Percentage allocation of resources to a projectFitFitGapFit
Control access by individual projectGapFitGapFit
Project-specific access to financial dataGapFitGapGap
Automatically assign available resourceFitFitGapFit
Publish resource openings for people to applyFitFitGapGap
Differentiate between soft and confirmed allocations in resource management viewGapFitGapFit

Percentage allocations of resources to a project – All but Mission control allow you to simply assign a person to a project for a percentage of their available time. This is useful in the early stages of the project when you can’t allocate people to the task level. All of these PSA tools also support assigning a person to individual tasks and rolling those hours to an overall project allocation.

Project-specific access – The ‘Control access by individual project’ and ‘Project-specific access to financial data’ are related to setting user’s access rights on a project-by-project basis.

  • On Certinia and Mission Control, if a user has access to one project, they have access to all projects. This could be a problem if you want to have some confidential projects.
  • On Kantata and Pecursive, you can block a user from specific projects and even vary whether they have read or edit access on a project-by-project basis.
  • Only Kantata allows you to control a user’s access to financial data on a project-by-project basis. The other three apps support global access rights, so if a user can see financials on one project they can see financial data on all projects.

Automatically assign available resource – Certinia, Kantata and Precursive each have functionality which either assigns or suggests the best suited resource with availability for a resource opening.

Publish resource opening for people to apply – Certinia and Kantata support publishing resource openings to all users, so that users can apply to the open position.

Differentiate between soft and confirmed allocations in resource management view – All four PSA tools have a resource management view which shows total allocations for each resource, so the resource manager can match available resources to open needs. However, only Kantata and Precursive use visual queues in this view to differentiate between ‘soft’ allocations versus confirmed allocations. This is important to a resource manager because ‘soft’ allocations can be shuffled around without consequences.

Schedule Management Key Differentiators

I believe Kantata has the best scheduling tool of all the PSA tools. In fact, it is nearly as good as the dedicated scheduling app Inspire Planner. It is just missing the ability to define constraints to tasks, such as, Must Finish On or Must Start On. The gap related to synching with external calendars can probably be addressed easily using a third party app or custom interface.

Mission Control’s inability to support unlimited task levels within the schedule would disqualify it for my use. However, it is a very popular app, so this gap must not be a severe limitation for most users.

Please note that none of these PSA tools support effort-based scheduling. They all use a fixed duration model. Suppose you have a task that takes 40 hours, 5 days and only one person is assigned. You then assign a second person, the duration will remain 5 days. It won’t automatically adjust to take 2.5 days.

Key DifferentiatorsCertiniaKantataMission ControlPrecursive
Unlimited task levelsFitFitGapFit
Calculate critical pathFitFitGapGap
Synch with Salesforce tasksGapFitFitGap
Synch tasks to external calendarsFitGapGapFit
Support all dependency typesFitFitGapGap
List inter-project dependenciesFitGapFitGap
Rank tasks/user stories in a product backlogGapFitGapFit
Kanban boardGapFitFitFit
Assign checklists to tasksGapFitFitFit
Update task assignments on a project templateGapFitGapFit
Hide internal tasks from clientsGapGapFitFit
Assign tasks to external team membersFitFitGapFit

Unlimited task levels – Mission Control has a severe limitation where you can only organize tasks into three levels: milestones, actions/tasks, checklists. This severally limits how you organize the work breakdown structure in your schedule.

Calculate critical path – Only two of the PSA tools will show the project manager the critical path on the Gantt Chart. I find this extremely useful to prioritize the tasks which must be completed on schedule.

Synch with Salesforce tasks – I think it is very important that employees can see all of their assigned tasks in one place. Employees are not going to open multiple tools each day to view/work their tasks. If your company works tasks in Salesforce, then you’ll want Kantata or Mission Control which synchs their tasks with Salesforce, so employees can work from the Salesforce home page and don’t have to open Kantata or Mission Control.

Synch tasks to external calendars – I think it is very important that employees can see all of their assigned tasks in one place. Employees are not going to open multiple tools each day to view/work their tasks. If your company works tasks in external calendars like Google Calendar or Outlook, then you’ll want Certinia or Precursive which synchs their tasks with the external calendars.

Support all dependency types – Only Certinia and Kantata’s scheduling tools support all dependency types (finish/start, start/finish, start/start, finish/finish). Mission Control supports all dependency types except start/finish which is rarely used. Precursive only supports the finish/start dependency which is the most common type.

List inter-project dependencies – Only Certinia and Mission Control will allow you to define dependencies between projects. This usually occurs in large programs and IT projects. For example, another project is upgrading a software tool, so you’re project can’t start your testing until that upgrade is complete.

Rank tasks/user stories in a product backlog – If you want to run Agile projects within your PSA tool, this is critical functionality missing in Certinia and Mission Control. The product owner needs to maintain a list of user stories and prioritize them within the backlog. I personally, don’t include user stories in my project schedules so this would not be an issue for me.

Kanban board – If you want to run Agile projects within your PSA tool, this is critical functionality missing in Certinia.

Assign checklists to tasks – In order to keep schedules clean, it is useful to be able to associate a detailed checklist to a task rather than having to detail all the steps as tasks in the schedule. Certinia does not offer checklists.

Update task assignments on a project template – If you create new projects from standard templates, you’ll want to assign the template tasks to standard roles and once you create the new project assign an employee to the role. You want to have all the tasks assigned to that role updated at once when the employee is assigned. You don’t want to have to open all one hundred tasks to assign employees. Certinia and Mission Control don’t support this functionality.

Hide internal tasks from clients – All the PSA tools have the ability to share the schedule externally with clients. However, only Mission Control and Precursive allow you to mark certain tasks not to be shared with the client.

Assign tasks to external team members – Mission Control is missing the ability to assign a task to a non-Salesforce user and have them update the task when it is complete. This is important if you work with lots of external team members and you don’t want to have to buy them all Salesforce licenses.

Pricing

The published pricing for all four PSA tools is similar. However, Certinia and Kantata publish only a minimum price and require a custom quote. Therefore, I suspect most companies will end up paying significantly more than the minimum published price for Certinia and Kantata.

CertiniaKantataMission ControlPrecursive PSA
User/Month$40$45$39$40
Minimum LicensesNot PublicNot Public520
Minimum/YearNot PublicNot Public$2,340$9,600

Other Considerations

Certinia

Certinia used to be named ‘FinancialForce’ and offers an entire suite of apps which would result in the most comprehensive solution if all the apps were implemented. Here is the list of other available apps:

  • Billings & Receivables
  • ERP Cloud
  • Revenue Management
  • Services CPQ
  • Procurement
  • Services Analytics
  • Order & Inventory Management
  • ERP Analytics & Reporting
  • Subscription & Usage Billing
  • Professional Services Quoting

Mission Control

Mission Control only supports very detailed planning, where you are creating tasks with specific assignments and hours and then rolling up these values. While this is a strength for companies that track every minute of a person’s time, I’ve never found this level of planning realistic for the business improvement and IT projects I manage. I think for general applications, project managers will find the level of detail required by Mission Control overwhelming.

Scoring Methodology

I’ve been evaluating all of the Salesforce project management software and sharing the results to help others save time in making an informed decision. I started the evaluation as marketing research for the Salesforce project management app I built: Project Lifecycle Pro. I’m doing my best to give a unbiased review, but I’ve attached the detailed Excel spreadsheet for each app I’ve reviewed so you can perform your own analysis. Here is the blog page where you can find the detailed app reviews. Here are detailed instructions on how to use the spreadsheet to weight requirements and compare multiple software packages side-by-side.

I structured the analysis around the Project Management Institute’s (PMI)© project management process. This is outlined in the PM Book of Knowledge (PMBOK)©. First, I listed the project management processes and then the activities within each process. Finally, I developed a list of requirements related to each of the activities. The list of requirements is based upon my thirty years of project management experience and experience evaluating project management tools for clients. When I come across novel functionality in the software I’m evaluating I add it to the requirements list. Of course, I’m sure I missed some requirements and welcome any suggestions.

I gave all processes and requirements equal weights, but you can adjust the scoring weights in the Excel spreadsheets to suit your needs. Each requirement was rated as either:

  • Yes – As Is – Meaning, the requirement is met with out-of-the-box functionality. This rating is awarded four points.
  • Yes – With Configuration – Meaning the requirement can be met with minimal configuration or no-code updates. Since, Salesforce is highly configurable I used this rating for simple things like changing picklist values, adding a field to an existing data object, creating a report, etc. This rating is awarded two points.
  • No – Not Available or Requires Customization – Meaning the requirement cannot be met without significant investment of time or money. I assigned this rating if custom coding would be required, or a new custom data object, or a new custom flow. This rating is awarded zero points.

Finally, the scoring spreadsheet totaled the ratings by process to show how the apps compare by process. Therefore, you can assess the apps based on which processes are the most important to you. To select the four best PSA tools, I focused on the following processes:

  • Cost Management
  • Resource Management
  • Schedule Management

Certinia Scoring Notes

I wasn’t able to install a copy of Certinia to test all of the functionality first hand. I had to rely on demos and documentation.

Kantata Scoring Notes

  • I wasn’t able to install a copy of Kantata to test all of the functionality first hand. I had to rely on demos and documentation.
  • There are two versions of Kantata:
    • SX which is a native Salesforce app.
    • OX is an external applicated which interfaces with Salesforce.
  • I wasn’t able to clearly differentiate the SX vs OX functionality from the demos and documentation. Therefore, you’ll need to work closely with Kantata to determine if you should purchase SX or OX.

Precursive Scoring Notes

  • Precursive has two products:
    • OBX which is a Kanban board.
    • PSA which provides resource and cost management.
  • I scored PSA integrated with OBX’s Kanban board.

PSA Tools That Didn’t Make the List

Here is a list of the Salesforce PSA tools that didn’t make the cut, with their overall score. You can research these other tools on my comparison page, and then follow links to the individual review posts.

PSA ToolOverall Score
Arrow PSA42%
Cloud Coach Ultimate51%
Klient PSA50%
Neilon Project Management10%
Salesforce Professional Services Automation21%

Conclusion

Kantata is the overall best PSA tool based on my requirements and scoring. If you are looking for a complete suite of solutions then you should consider Certinia.

However, I highly recommend you download the detailed scoring spreadsheets for each app so you can prioritize the requirements based on your particular needs. I also recommend installing the apps into a sandbox and checking my evaluations for your critical requirements before making a purchase. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve made a mistake.

If you found this evaluation useful, please leave a comment. Also send me a comment if you find any errors or missing requirements.

Regards,

Brian

Additional References

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