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The Professional Services Automation (PSA) for Incident Responders

Customer security incidents can happen many different ways: from a lost or stolen device, ransomware attack or a data breach notification from a trusted third party. Frequently, the first point of contact will be the IT service provider’s or MSP’s customer facing helpdesk or onsite resource - the “something’s wrong” call can happen at any time. 

For the IT service provider and MSP front-line staff the pressure to follow the right process can be considerable, especially when the customer is in near hysterics. Just like police or fire paramedics responding to a call, information needs to be rapidly acquired, documented and an assessment made as to the appropriate response. Over-reaction can cause additional stress and a misallocation of resources. Under-reaction, and the IT service provider’s or MSP’s staff may be accused of “not caring” about the customer. In most cases, the front-line staff have a short period of time to determine the right course of action. 

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Adding the second “S” into MSP

Increasing focus across the industry in Security as a Service is a massive opportunity to MSPs providing they can tool and skill up fast enough to take advantage of this wave.

This should be straightforward; they have the devices and data under management; they know the customers; and they probably already offer a certain degree of IT security services bundled up with their managed services contracts. However, that doesn’t make them an MSSP and so still leaves their customers vulnerable not only to attack but also poaching by security consultants who are approaching this market from the other direction. Also watch out for MSPs who have already managed this transition.

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The benefits of automation

How annoying is it when you find yourself re-keying something, or worse, making a mistake and having to do it a third time?

Just as annoying is being forced by your PSA system to do something unnecessary in order to achieve something necessary.

Why do people write software that contains pointless clicks?

Well, they do it to achieve high degrees of functional re-usability, to keep down the cost of production, reduce complexity in the code: there are many sensible reasons. None of which make it any better when you seem to be wasting your life feeding information into a system all day that it should know already.

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Why we're aiming for a touch-free work to cash cycle

When we set out to write Harmony, we had a dream.

To build a business process management tool where every key-stroke adds real value.

A system that self-administers through the work you do.

A system supported by smart product objects that understand their own accounting behaviours.

A system that automates referred revenue calculations.

A system where balance sheet management in general is fully understood by the business process and so doesn’t need manual intervention or spreadsheets. And finally…

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A short guide to using BlueSnap in Harmony

Taking payments using Bluesnap from within Harmony could not be simpler, it breaks down into just four stages:

Stage 1

Open a Bluesnap account. From this account set-up process you will get a Bluesnap API username and a Bluesnap API password.

Save these, you need them in step 2

Stage 2

Connect your Harmony instance to your Bluesnap account. To do this, you go into Finance/Setup/System/Financial Settings and at the bottom of the page you will see fields for the Bluesnap Account name and password you created in Step 1. Insert them and save.

Now you are ready to start collecting money immediately.

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Resource management by team

Generally, it really worries us when our approach to solving a common problem is radically different to the majority of other solutions on the market.

But not this time, because this time all the other systems are wrong.

Every professional service company we talk to is looking for resource management, even small ones who should be able to hold the data in their head.

But, actually, what they are really looking for is a combination of functionality centred on the answer to (potentially) three questions:

  • What’s my revenue forecast from pure services time, by period, for work in hand (i.e. contracted work) and how will that change given an understanding of the various jobs we may win in the near term;
  • How busy are the staff, in particular when are they running out of work, what capacity do I have; and possibly
  • When can Joe start on something new
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Resource management vs task assignment

If you’re running a services business (or just a services team), it is very common to want to know the answer to two (possibly three) discrete questions:

  1. What’s everyone doing?
  2. When do I run out of work? and
  3. If I get that new project or contract, who’s going to do it?

In order to address these questions, there seems to be a conflation of functionality in the PPM/PSA software market. Indeed, when you look at some systems, you cannot recognise them as separate questions at all. They are often addressed by simply placing employees on work for the planned duration and seeing how over or under-utilised they are.

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Harmony v4.13 Release Notes

Hi All

This is the first time we've created release notes on version 4 of Harmony.  From now on release notes will include changes also deployed to version 3 instances for customers not yet upgraded.

For a full change list on all our releases please regularly check out https://blog.harmonypsa.com/developer/release-notes

Just to refresh people's memories; the main differences between version 3 and 4 are:

  • Improved multi-timezone support
  • A split between Service Tickets (helpdesk) and Work Items (planned project work)
  • Task dependencies between work items 
  • Progress reporting process on work items
  • Project and global gantt
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What features do IT Service Providers look for in a PSA solution?

What features do IT service providers need from a PSA solution? Clearly, different systems have different strengths so it’s important to have a clear understanding of your business needs before starting the process of selecting the right PSA tool for your organisation.  As a part of our internal marketing research we surveyed our customers, asking them what factors brought them to their final buying decision. The list of features below is by no means a comprehensive list of Harmony's features (you can find that here) but is based on what our customers told us made HarmonyPSA stand out from the competition. If you are in the process of researching PSA solutions at the moment you may find this checklist a useful way to start to compare what's on the market.

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6 PSA requirements for a MSSP

This year a new acronym has grown in common parlance: MSSP, short for Managed Security Services Provider.

This seems to have arrived from the trend in “Security as a Service” to replace the security consultants equivalent of break/fix, where they move in once everything is already in deep trouble.

The functions these firms offer cover round-the-clock monitoring and management of intrusion detection systems and firewalls, overseeing patch management and upgrades, performing security assessments and security audits, and of course, at the end if the protection service has failed, responding to emergencies and cleaning up the mess.

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