Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service - A Walk-Through Tour
Field Service is one of the customer engagement modules available for Microsoft Dynamics 365, perfect for businesses that travel to customer sites/ homes to conduct work. As an end-to-end solution, you'll be able to handle everything from responding to customers and scheduling the best technician for the job, to asset management and invoice processing.
In this post we are looking at its main capabilities, and how they can help you optimise processes and provide excellent customer service. You can also watch a demonstration video covering some of the latest capabilities, including updates from 2021 Release Wave 1.
Contact Preact if you want to understand more about Field Service for Dynamics 365, and to discuss how to configure this app for your organisation.
What is Field Service?
Traditionally there are 3 main types of field service organisations, where a field technician completes work at a customer's business or a home.
- Installation of equipment. Examples of installed assets could include a security alarm or an air conditioning unit, which are then supported by a service agreement.
- Maintenance jobs including an inspection, or changing components on previously installed equipment.
- Break fix or repair jobs which are undertaken when a problem is reported and a technician is dispatched.
Often the source of break / fix jobs will be when a client has reported an issue, but with the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) these jobs could also be automatically triggered. For example, if a sensor monitoring an asset detects a problem, a field service job can be immediately scheduled if the defined operating parameters are breached.
In addition to field service scenarios that involve electronic devices or industrial equipment, other examples could include scheduling home care visits for elderly people, or perhaps a housing association scheduling field service jobs at one of its managed properties.
Whatever the type of job or industry involved, field service is about getting the right person / people, with the right skills and equipment to the right job, at the right time.
Client satisfaction vs resources productivity is often one of the main challenges field service organisations need to address. When field service teams spend more time on-site customer satisfaction might improve but this is often at the loss of productivity because fewer jobs are completed.
Field Service for Dynamics 365 has capabilities to help field service organisations simultaneously strengthen both metrics. This is achieved through increased first time fix rates, smarter scheduling, resource optimisation and further improvements.
Field Service Work Orders
Since all Dynamics 365 apps can be connected the customer service team, using the Customer Service app, can escalate a support case by raising a field service work order request from a case record. This is a common scenario for a lot of break fix jobs.
For example, a customer service rep has determined that a site visit is needed to resolve as issue for broken machinery. The case record is raised when speaking to the customer and, off the back of that, an unscheduled work order is created which the schedule manager can take over and allocate in the Field Service App. Both the case record and work order record will be associated to each other, and the relevant contact and account records.
On other hand, if there is a new customer, or a customer has requested the installation of a new piece of equipment, progress a opportunity in the Dynamics Sales app into a work order in the Field Service app. By "converting" an opportunity, the product associated will become an asset on the customer site once the installation is complete. Which in turn may require break fix support.
Work order records can be configured to show field data specific to your business situation, but also generic information such as a status, incident type, estimated completion time, each reported incident specific to this order and any scheduled bookings for the work order. Inspection templates can also be associated to work orders, these can include safety protocols, tests for customer assets or an audit of the site. Inspection templates ensure technicians complete all the necessary checks before a job is started.
Incident types are a way to template commonly required jobs, by defining categories, estimated duration, service tasks to outline each step of the job and characteristics of agents required for the job i.e. skills and certifications. Knowledge-based articles, can also be linked to incident types, to provide engineers supporting information and step-by-step instructions based on work required.
Managing Field Service Resources
With access to an intuitive drag and drop schedule board, service managers or team members in charge of resourcing can see what the current scheduling situation looks like, including completed jobs, what is in progress and jobs that need to be completed. These all can be coloured coded to provide dispatchers an up-to-date overview at all times.
Observe work orders through a table that shows what personnel are scheduled for by day, week or month, as well as on a map view to see where each scheduled job is located. This way schedulers can try and reduce travel time by giving engineers jobs within a small radius.
Resource utilisation is represented as a percentage under every listed agent and can be used to understand how well jobs are being scheduled.
Scheduling Work Orders
For work orders where jobs haven't been booked, schedulers can use the map view and the Field Service Scheduling Assistant to allocate the best agent based on location, skill and availability, using advanced filtering.
Firstly define the time period when the job needs to take place and the time it would take to complete the job, to remove those who are already booked or on holiday. If the work order itself already specifies when the customer would like the job done, this information will be automatically applied. However, it can still be adjusted.
Then depending on incident type and the job required, filter available resources by skills and certifications. Simply adjust the criteria if needed and select the best agent for the job.
Time off requests can be stored in Dynamics 365 to better track personnel availability.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Mobile App
Since field service agents spend most of their time on the road, the field service mobile app can help them stay organised, add progress updates, and access instructions and supporting information wherever they are. They can access the usual entities such as accounts, contacts and assets, as well as make time off requests via the mobile app.
When out and about, engineers can see a summary of their jobs, including background detail and associated customer information, a location map with driving directions and a service task list itemising each task that must be carried out during the visit. These tasks can be marked as complete as the engineers works through the tasks, and notes can be added regarding actions to complete after the job.
Images and videos can be added to the timeline of work orders via the app, to show tasks have been completed, or take evidence of any issues or other faults. Speech-to-text can be used to add written notes.
The mobile app, can be used online or offline, to ensure technicians can always access instructions, task lists and knowledge-based articles, as well as fill in any inspection forms required before the job is started.
Once the visit is complete, the work order can be updated with a client signature, details on any follow-up visits required and other relevant notes. Service reports can now also be created, to outline all the relevant detail within one form, once a work order is completed and the customer is happy. These reports can be then saved as a PDF to timelines.
Consistent with all the data entered, job completion detail is stored in Microsoft Dynamics which makes this immediately accessible to head office users, or upon synchronising data if field based staff are using the mobile app offline.
Customer Assets and Stock Management
Field Service often involves tracking assets that are installed at a customer's premise or home. The Customer Asset record in Microsoft Dynamics tracks each activity specific to this item including a work history covering all installation, service and repair jobs.
Using the Asset and Location functionality, you can track not only what assets have been installed on a customer site but also where on that site, such as building and level, the asset is.
To keep track of stock items available for field service jobs, Dynamics 365 includes a product inventory. This includes warehouse stock in addition to items on a van, and adjustments can be made when new stock is received.
Field based personnel can update the inventory for their van / warehouse by tracking the consumption of stock items on each work order. As a result, all staff working in an inventory role have the detail they need to make accurate and timely stock reorders and schedule managers can make sure that field resources are assigned to jobs who have the right parts needed to complete these tasks.
Once back office is happy that a work order has been satisfactorily completed, the status of the work order can be changed to "Closed" and the service processes will be completed. This will then produce a new invoice record with the related information such as customer, price list, and even the customer service case or opportunity that started the process.
Analytics and Insights
Once enabled, the analytics and insights tab can be used to view dashboards to better understand customer needs and performance. Built on the Power BI platform, improve processes and spot any issues with data in the form of charts, graphs and statistics.
At-a-glance see insights such as the most common incident types, average time agents spend travelling, how quickly break fix jobs are completed and customer satisfaction ratings.
Licensing Field Service
As well as being licensed as an individual app, full Field Service functionality is available to all Dynamics 365 users who are licensed with a plan. These permissions include using the scheduling assistant and creating work orders.
Light users of Dynamics 365 with the Team Members licence have full read access across all Dynamics 365 apps including Field Service.
This includes limited write permissions include time entries and tasks which means that Team Member licences are often sufficient for users in a field based role.
What's New in Dynamics 365 Field Service
In this presentation, we demonstrated the latest capabilities from the 2021 Release Wave 1 and shared a selection of recent Field Service feature updates. This includes the new Microsoft Field Service app, Inspections, Resource Schedule Optimisation and updates to the Schedule Board.
Ready to deploy Field Service?
If you're looking to get up and running with Dynamics 365 Field Service, we'd recommend browsing our Field Service Accelerator page, to see how Preact can help you complete a rapid deployment with a base build that is optimised with frequently requested features and customisations.
If you have any questions about licensing, features and functionality, or simply would like to start a conversation about your organisation's requirements, schedule a call or fill in a call-back request below.
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