What's New in Dynamics 365 for Field Service - October 2018 Update

Microsoft has shared an updated road map for its Business Applications including Dynamics 365. This covers the next major cloud update that is scheduled to roll out between October 2018 and March 2019. 

In previous posts, we focused on the Sales and Customer Service apps and we'll now take a look at what's next for Field Service by highlighting a selection of functions that are expected to be available in the Autumn.

As with any pre-release information, these points are subject to change.  

Crew Scheduling

There are many instances where organisations need to schedule multiple resources for field service work. In v9 and earlier, the Field Service app was designed for booking individual resources per job, though we've previously shared an example to demonstrate how this can be adapted to handle for multiple resources.

In the new update, individual resources can be teamed together to meet on-site or work together remotely to fulfil work orders.

Crews can be structured as defined resource groups who will be together and be scheduled for the same work during a period of time. This will fit a scenario where a crew will meet up, share a vehicle and remain together all day from job to job. For example, this could include cleaning services, technician and apprentice, garden maintenance and moving services.

Facility Scheduling

A new option will enable service jobs to be scheduled away from the customer’s location which can include a service provider's own facility.

The preview guide uses examples to demonstrate facility scheduling for a physical space (reserving a room or bay at mechanic workshop) or reserving an appointment with an individual at a facility (booking a tutor in a focus room or fixing a laptop in a store).

Resource Pools

Another new option for bookings allows resources to be associated with resource pools. Resource pools can represent facilities, pools of accounts / contacts / users, or pools of equipment. 

This will enable schedulers to book requirements to a generic pool without initially needing to decide which resource(s) will deliver this work. By avoiding booking specific resources up front, central schedulers can leave the precise detail to local resource managers. 

Whilst specific resources are not named in the first instance, capacity is established from pool members to avoid over-commitment though Microsoft say this will be configurable to allow for an element of overbooking to account for expected cancellations.

Resource members can be permanently or temporarily assigned to pools determined by selected dates. 

Multi-Resource Scheduling 

Schedulers can dynamically assemble groups of resources that will to converge at the same time and location which enables multiple configurations for how a team can be assembled.

Resources can be mixed and matched between pools and individual resources, individuals and crews as well as between people, equipment and facilities. These configurations will consider resource availability and current commitments with travel time predicted

Schedule Board Split View

Schedulers will be able to drill into the schedule board without needing to load new screens or lose the thread of where they are by splitting the board view in two.

For example, the bottom half can be dedicated to display crew members, a resource pool and its members, or a set of resources assigned to work on the same job.

Fulfilment Preferences

To save time when scheduling resources, new preferences can be applied for:

  • Preset intervals to offer appointments, consultations or phone calls every hour, half hour, every 15 minutes or another frequency
  • Time groups for defined availability windows of availability e.g 9am to midday, 2pm to 4pm
  • Only show top results to declutter the scheduling screen by limiting results

Capacity Scheduling

How much effort each work order will demand from a resource can now be specified. The Schedule Assistant will then look at a resource’s defined capacity to check if the necessary capacity is available.

Within the Schedule Board visual indicators will show when a resource has remaining capacity, even if there is a booking at this time.

This could potentially be used for work carried out a facility where a technician could multi-task between jobs during defined work hours, or to reflect highly experienced personnel who have capacity to complete more work than junior members of the team.

Further capacities could reflect physical capacity where requirements are allocated to a specific space.

Entitlement Management     

Previously exclusive to the Customer Service app, the Entitlement function will now be available within the Field Service app.

This enables levels of support which individual customers are entitled to to be specified within a field service context. As a result, entitlement rules can now be applied to work orders. 

Service Level Agreement Management

The next update will also bring Service Level Agreement capabilities into Field Service.

SLA's can be established for customers with these details populated into work orders. As a result, the scheduling process will take into account SLA commitments.

Background Location Sharing (Public Preview)

The mobile Field Service app is being adapted to enable technicians to share their current location.

This will create a location data stream in Dynamics 365 that will track an individual's location on the schedule board that enables events to be triggered based on their current location. Potentially, this could help to detect situations where technicians are running late so that work orders could be reassigned to another technician nearby.

Push Notifications (Public Preview)

To improve the timelines of actions, location sharing through the Field Service mobile app will allow field service technicians to receive push notifications.  These will be fully configurable and could occur when a booking is assigned, or when a work order booking changes.

For example, upon arrival on site, a push notification can be sent reminding an engineer to update their status.

Microsoft Bot Framework Integration

Often, field service work involves repetition of the same steps before commencing a job. This includes updating travel status, opening directions and viewing service tasks.

Rather than requiring technicians to manually tap through these actions on their mobile, these experiences can be hands-free and conversational via the Field Service app. This can be achieved by surfacing any bot developed with the Microsoft Bot Framework within the mobile app as well as template bot code that interfaces with Dynamics.

Extensible Resource Availability (Public Preview)

Organisations that have different business closures across their units will be able to query a table that tracks the days these are closed. For example, this can reflect different open / closed hours including Sunday openings to automatically remove resources associated with these units during closure hours.

In-Form Scheduling (Public Preview)

In some instances, service agents might want to quickly check availability for a requirement within the context of their current workflow without needing to open the schedule board. A new lightweight widget is expected to be available as a preview feature in the next update where users can see and select the top options from a list or calendar view.

External Scheduling Apps (Public Preview)

For organisations that want to schedule resources outside the Dynamics user interface, Microsoft will be offering a Universal Resource Scheduling PowerApp that will query real-time availability and apply booking details.

Self-Service Scheduling APIs (Public Preview)

Enabling organisations to embed self-service scheduling tools on their web application, Universal Resource Scheduler APIs will be available to the Dynamics community to create custom visuals and integrate with the Field Service app.

What Next?

These new capabilities for Field Service reflect Microsoft's investment in the product to help customers expand their service offering, increase predictive servicing and optimise resource scheduling. In our next post looking at what's new in the next major update for Dynamics we'll switch to the Marketing app.


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