Detailed Review of Precursive PSA Salesforce App

Precursive writing in Japan as symbol for Precursive Salesforce project management software

Precursive PSA is reviewed against 200+ project management software requirements on a downloadable spreadsheet. Precursive PSA is scored overall for each of the ten project management processes. This post provides a summary of the key strengths and weaknesses for each of the processes.

Precursive PSA Summary Findings

First of all, Precursive has four product offerings for Salesforce project management. You can buy OBX as a standalone Kanban board scheduling tool. There is also PSA which adds resource and cost management functionality, and which can be installed in three ways:

  • Without OBX
  • With OBX, connected so OBX tasks feed the resource management tool
  • With OBX, unconnected so OBX tasks don’t feed the resource management tool

This review is focused on the connected version of PSA with OBX. I have a separate review of the standalone OBX version. I have a few notes on how functionality will differ in the unconnected version.

Overall, Precursive PSA is a robust, well-rounded PSA tool and is comparable to the other tools (i.e. Kantata, Cloud Coach, etc.). I really like the OBX Kanban board approach with the unique screen that allows you to enter task details directly on the board. It has a unique feature which allows you to use different revenue recognition methods for different projects, thus resulting in accurate financial estimates.

Precursive PSA
Total Score52%
Communications Management9%
Cost Management62%
Integration Management48%
Procurement Management0%
Quality Management17%
Resource Management88%
Risk Management58%
Schedule Management62%
Scope Management0%
Stakeholder Management17%

Download Precursive PSA Evaluation Spreadsheet

Click here to add the Precursive PSA Excel spreadsheet to your basket and continue reading. Visit the basket page to complete the download.

Precursive PSA Pricing

PSA’s lowest standard price is $40/user/month ($480/user/year). They have a 20 license minimum so starting costs are $9,600/year. They state that they do have different types of licenses for different roles. You’ll need to contact Precursive to get a custom quote.

Precursive PSA 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 which you can use to perform your own analysis. 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 spreadsheet 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 totals the ratings by process to show how the apps compare by process. Therefore, you can assess the Salesforce project management apps based on which processes are the most important to you.

WARNING: Unlike most of my reviews of Salesforce project management apps, I was not able to install a complete version of PSA to perform my review. I was able to install OBX (schedule management), but I wasn’t able to put my hands directly on the resource and cost management functionality. Instead, I based my review on online demos and the Precursive knowledgebase.

Here are some links to help you research the app and download the requirement spreadsheet. Please note, the ‘Get it Now’ link on AppExchange just creates a form for Precursive to contact you, so to perform your own review on a free trial you’ll have to contact them directly.

Download Precursive PSA Evaluation Spreadsheet

Click here to download the Precursive PSA Excel spreadsheet.

Communications Management

PSA only has three basic communication features: project status, chat, and external access. The chat feature is simply the standard Salesforce Chatter. I’ll explain the others below.

Strength: Project Status History

It is the first app I’ve seen that records a history of the project status. You create a project health record with explanations for the health rating. There is also an adjacent tab that displays risks and issues.

Strength: Share Projects with Customers

You can give customers access to the project’s Kanban board through a Force.com website. There are advanced settings so you can control which boards and tasks are published to the external website.

Weakness: No Change Management

It isn’t built or intended to support change management (i.e. communication or training). If your projects have significant training requirements then you’ll want to consider a learning management system (LMS).

Cost Management

PSA has all the basic cost and invoicing functionality a professional services firm will need. Two differentiators are: the ability to use different revenue recognitions models, and the ability to bill using day rates. Its greatest weakness is a gap in the ability to forecast an estimate at completion (EAC) based on actual costs and remaining tasks. This gap can be addressed with some custom configuration within Salesforce.

Strength: Different Revenue Recognition Models

PSA supports three revenue recognition models:

  • % of project completion (intended for fixed-price projects)
  • Equal per period (for example, 1/6 per month for a 6 month project)
  • Billable time submitted (i.e. timesheets)

The method of revenue recognition can vary by project. This allows the revenue forecast to correctly align to the actual revenue recognition method, resulting in accurate financial forecasts.

Strength: Day Rate Invoicing

When creating a rate card for a customer or project, you can specify to use day rates (i.e. $1,000/day) for a resource. This has become a popular billing method within consulting and IT services, and is not supported in some of the other Salesforce project management and PSA tools I’ve reviewed.

Weakness: Lacks EAC Calculation

PSA has the data required to calculate an estimate at completion (EAC) but it doesn’t provide this calculation pre-built. This is unfortunate, because this is a key project metric, telling you if the project is forecasted to be within budget based on the costs incurred so far and the progress. To build this, you will have to calculate the cost performance index (CPI) and then add the actuals to the forecasted values adjusted for the CPI.

Integration Management

PSA has some basic integration management functionality (dashboards, risks and issues), but not any unique strengths. It has major gaps around: scope management and grouping projects into programs.

Weakness: Lacks Detailed Scope

It doesn’t documented detailed project scope and it doesn’t support creating or approving change orders.

Weakness: Can’t Group Projects

It doesn’t support programs or portfolios. Thus you can’t aggregate project information to an overall program or use portfolios for aggregated reporting

Procurement Management

The only procurement management functionality is the ability to record expenses and project cash flows.

Quality Management

PSA doesn’t have any testing functionality.

Resource Management

PSA has great resource management functionality and I like the resource planning screen design. Its strengths are in the ability to forecast resource demand based upon the sales pipeline and the ability to differentiate between forecasted and confirmed allocations. I didn’t find any major gaps or weaknesses.

Strength: Forecast Resource Demand from Sales Pipeline

If you use standard project types with pre-defined roles, then you can relate the standard project type to a sales opportunity. You can then forecast your resource demand from opportunities still in the sales pipeline. This gives you a long term outlook of your resource requirements.

Strength: Forecasted Versus Confirmed Allocations

When viewing resource availability in the Resource Plan screen, the existing allocations are color coded so the resource manager knows which are ‘soft’ allocations based on forecasts or are confirmed allocations. This gives the resource manager the flexibility to adjust allocations that are not yet confirmed.

Risk Management

PSA has basic functionality to document risks. However, you cannot assign tasks to address the risks.

Schedule Management

PSA has basic functionality to create and schedule tasks. It has basic Gantt functionality. It has three unique strengths. First, it has a unique interface which allows you to add task details within the Kanban board. Next, it has a unique feature to create milestone metrics. Lastly, you can synch Precursive tasks with external calendars like Outlook or Google.

As for gaps, it lacks advanced scheduling functionality like different dependency types, critical path or constraints. It doesn’t support releases or sprint planning.

Strength: Kanban View with Task Details

I really like its Kanban board that allows you to enter task details like dependencies and checklists, right within the board.

Strength: Milestone Metrics

Unlike most scheduling tools, you don’t simply set a task’s duration to zero to create a milestone. You actually define a separate milestone record and then associate it with a task. This allows you to measure the elapsed time between milestones. This would be very useful if you wanted to track key stages across all of your projects, like how long does it take onboard the team from contract signing.

Strength: Synch with External Calendars

I’m a strong believer in giving users one source for all their assigned tasks. If your company uses external calendars rather than Salesforce, then this is a big feature. When a task is created or updated in Precursive, a task will be added to the assigned person’s external calendar. The only caveat is that the synch is only one-way. The user will need to log into Precursive in order to update or complete the task.

Weakness: Lacks Advanced Scheduling

If you are looking for a full-fledged scheduling tool like MS Project, Precursive is not for you. Here are some of the missing scheduling functions:

  • Only supports Finish/Start dependencies
  • Only supports ‘Must Finish On’ constraint
  • Doesn’t calculate critical path
  • Doesn’t support fixed work scheduling

Weakness: No Release or Sprint Planning

This is the biggest gap when compared with JIRA. Precursive doesn’t contain release or sprint objects, so you can’t organize your board tasks by release or sprint. Therefore, you can’t track progress against the release or sprint. I think you could work around some of this by configuring Precursive. You could have a separate board per release. You could add a custom field to assign tasks to a specific sprint.

Scope Management

PSA lacks most scope management functionality, like detailed scope items and change orders. However, it does support creating a detailed work breakdown structure with headers and subtasks. Unfortunately, creating a subtask isn’t as easy as indenting a task under another as in many other Gantt tool.

Stakeholder Management

PSA doesn’t have any stakeholder management or change management functionality. If you had a small list of stakeholders, you could create a ‘Stakeholder’ role and assign them to the project team.

In Conclusion

Precursive PSA has very solid PSA functionality. You should place it on your shortlist of options if you are selecting a PSA tool. It has an edge over other PSA tools if accurate forecasting of financial revenue is important. It also has an edge if you prefer to plan your projects on a Kanban board.

If you are looking for a generic Salesforce project management tool, like a PMO tool you should consider other options. This is because it lacks any change management functionality and is weak in overall integration management.

If you are just looking for a Salesforce scheduling tool, then you should also consider other options. PSA doesn’t come close to the functionality of MS Project, because it is missing advanced scheduling features.

Regards,

Brian

Additional References

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