I posted recently about OpenAir, NetSuite’s PSA offering. Hot on the heels of that I talked with Geoff McQueen, founder of Hiive Systems an Australian vendor who is bringing its own PSA solution to market later this year. Geoff gave me a deep dive into their offering, AfifinityLive and despite it yet to become generally available, I thought it worthwhile giving the marketplace a heads up. (for reference AffinityLive is in private beta and actively looking for professional services firms to trial the software.)

I first met up with McQueen in San Francisco during Google’s IO event, coming from the end of the world we both do we struck up a bit of a rapport and I got his thoughts on the PSA space. First some context. As McQueen puts it “Managing a professional services company today sucks. Other industries have great systems, but many service businesses are stuck using poor tools, with managers not in control and expensive staff wasting time.” Into this situation walks AffinityLive which focuses on helping professional services companies work, and doing so at cloud economies of scale therefore brining PSA to a lower price-point than was available before.

AffinityLive aims to allow businesses to manage all of their professional service work in one integrated, flexible and easy to use web-based platform. AffinityLive generally fits into the space between CRM/Sales and Accounts, for example:

CRM/Sales/Marketing > ERP/PSA > Accounting & Finance

With AffinityLive, the solution steps are:

  1. (optional) A lightweight CRM/sales feature for those companies that are very relationship driven and don’t need a fully featured CRM product
  2. Job tracking
  3. Issues & support tracking
  4. Timesheets & work logs
  5. Contract/Retainer management,
  6. Resource/staff Scheduling,
  7. Document and correspondence management around work and
  8. Productivity/Profitability reporting

Once time is logged AffinityLive generates an invoice, pushing it into a specialist finance/accounting package, including Xero, Saasu, MYOB or Quickbooks. They’re also looking to integrate with SalesForce, Highrise and Basecamp by the time of their October launch. Affinity live will have free users (those interacting with the software but not fee earning types, and paid users. Paid pricing is likely to be around USD50 per user per month but is yet to be finalized.

In something of a “secret sauce” feature for an integrated PSA offering, AffinityLive automatically captures all emails to and from clients, filing them against the work they relate to, and also provides integrated document management accessible through the web browser. Interestingly considering the space it plays in, AffinityLive also allows document management via the desktop as a network drive connection – an acknowledgement of the existing desktop-centric model.

In terms of go-to-market strategy, AffinityLive is initially targeting the consulting and creative industries that are growing, and who have between 5 and 100 full time staff. They’ve already amassed “hundreds” of trial users in Australia across a broad range of sizes from publicly traded down to SMB. Their October public release will see them try and make inroads in the US market through a “word of mouth” approach – I’m not entirely convinced that word of mouth will see AffinityLive succeed, the sad reality is that a channel partnership strategy is almost always required when selling these sorts of solutions – while initiatives such as The Small Business Web and the Google apps marketplace will give them some visibility, this is unlikely to translate into significant penetration. McQueen did indicate they’d be looking at a channel strategy leveraging existing Google apps resellers – while this is better than nothing I don’t see that the majority of Google apps resellers have the experience to run a PSA project.

AffinityLive looks like an exciting offering – Professional Services Automation is an emerging space and one where significant value can be generated by using an integrated system – it’ll be interesting to see how they manage to execute on their promise.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • Solid post – one point about our go-to-market challenge is that we’re working to reduce the friction/challenge associated with deploying PSA by making the product easier to use and configure, but your point about channels is well taken 😉

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