2021 in review - the year of ERP and PSA in transition

Brian Sommer Profile picture for user brianssommer December 20, 2021
The first of our seasonal reviews of the year takes in the current and future state of ERP and PSA.


ERP is a transitional state. It’s way more than re-platforming solutions to the cloud. It’s dealing with a whole group of advanced technologies and their impact on operations and value creation. Likewise, PSA solutions are being impacted by similar forces. Here’s my look at the top stories looking at the new white space capabilities impacting both sectors.

World of PSA (Professional Services Automation)

The quest to make professional services better - assessing Mavenlink’s solution

Why? Resource managers are one of the most critical people in a services firm. They decide who goes on what project and, as a result, determine the profitability of the firm. Unfortunately, this process is often a mix of spreadsheets and manual efforts. It’s inefficient and, most importantly, not scalable.

This article looked at a powerful set of optimization technologies that PSA vendor Mavenlink recently announced. Their approach can produce happier employees and better chargeability, revenue and earnings. This is the future of resource management.

FinancialForceX - the evolution of FinancialForce and the professional services software space

Why? FinancialForce has been playing in both the ERP and PSA spaces for many years. Like Mavenlink, they’ve tackled another thorny PS problem: estimating service costs to improve firm profitability and other factors. The article also touches on another tough PS issue: customer satisfaction. Lots of new best practices in this piece.

Services CPQ - what Zimit has to offer in the services software space

Why? Deal pricing is tough to do in the services world. The sales team may not have visibility to all of the customer’s business complexities/process nuances. The proposed staff may not be available and/or more experienced and more expensive staff may be needed. A key staff person for the proposed project may already be included in another proposal. Service firms need something better than a bunch of non-integrated, one-off pricing and staffing models. Enter CPQ (configure-price-quote) for services.

Zero - the white space apps for professional services

Why? Zero comes at the professional services space from a completely different direction. It’s trying to free up service people from low/non-value-added time and keep them focused exclusively on billable (and client value creating) efforts. It’s a fresh approach that warrants a look-see and it uses AI, workflow and other advanced capabilities.

World of ERP

ERP’s new direction - it’s coming from the outside

Why? ERP solutions are undergoing a lot of change of late. It’s painful to watch. It’s like looking at a room of adolescents who are going through puberty. They are awkward, their voices are changing, etc. And, all of that change could impact how your firm is/isn’t getting value from its ERP provider.

What’s really triggering change is the confluence of almost limitless computing power, cheap processing capabilities, and, a maturing of advanced technologies like machine learning. Interestingly, some of the coolest innovations are occurring outside of traditional ERP. They’re in the white space around ERP.

These new solutions are coming from vendors that aren’t traditional ERP players. These new vendors aren’t building more general ledgers and payroll applications but they are making it possible to get piles more value out of those old-school, transaction-processing application software products.

Time changes & the impact on ERP, accounting and business practices

Why? The concept of time is changing and it may catch some ERP vendors and their customers by surprise.  We have rigid calendars for payroll and accounting but already things are changing. Many, if not most, payroll technology providers now offer a daily pay capability. Businesses are starting to implement continuous or daily closings of their books. Planning is no longer limited to an annual process. All of this is occurring because the business world now operates at the speed of electrons, not on the paper-based calendar that our grandparents used. The implications on software will be significant.

Esker and the quest for better back-office productivity & service level

Why? It’s been hard to find real value in ERP for more than a decade now. Many ERP vendors gave up the pretense that their solutions could deliver a positive ROI and instead opted for a lower TCO angle to pitch to prospects. For these reasons, the market started to shift and more buyers looked to vendors that could deliver ‘value’ and not just the appearance of lower costs. To that end, new market entrants emerged.

This piece covers a vendor, Esker, in this white space. In 2021, we also covered several firms in this new world including Celonis, Signavio, Automation Anywhere, and others. If you don’t know this part of the ERP market, your firm may be missing some high-value, competitively advantageous solutions/ opportunities.

End of an ERP era, start of a new one in a radically re-imagined world

Why? This piece illustrates the changes underway in the ERP space. The article uses a recent NetSuite show, SuiteWorld, to provide a detailed look into the future of work and business technology. It also marked a signal change in how we think of ERP and what ERP should be doing. This comes at a time when old ERP isn’t looking all that great. Old ERP didn’t change well. Change in ERP (and related sub-suites like HR, Finance, etc.) has often come at a glacial pace.


The key value in this piece may be for those considering a new ERP solution or a major upgrade of their current solution. There are a number of new solutions, new process possibilities, and, as a result, new value opportunities available to those smart ERP buyers to consider (and take advantage of now).

A grey colored placeholder image