Field Service is a dedicated app for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and in post we are looking at its main capabilities.

Contact Preact if you want to learn more about implementing Field Service for Dynamics 365 in your organisation.

What is Field Service?

This is traditionally where a field technician completes work at a customer's business or a home.

There are 3 main types of field service.

  • Installation of equipment. Examples of installed assets could include a security alarm, or an air conditioning unit that are 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 Resource Productivity

When field service teams spend more time on-site, customer satisfaction might improve but this is often at the loss of productivity as fewer jobs are completed.

Field Service for Dynamics 365 has capabilities to help field service organisations to simultaneously strengthen both metrics. This is achieved through increased first time fix rates, smarter scheduling, resource optimization and further improvements.

Creating Field Service Work Orders

As we've highlighted, Break Fix jobs are a frequent example of Field Service.

All Dynamics 365 apps are connected which means that a service representation can escalate a support case by raising a field service work order request from a case record.

In this example, the agent has determined that a site visit is needed to resolve this issue.

From the Case record a Dynamics user has raised a Work Order which is associated to the Case and Account:

Using connected Dynamics 365 apps this new unscheduled work order created in the Customer Service app will come to the attention of to a schedule manager in the Field Service app.

Work Order Records

An example of a Work Order record will show:

  • Current status of the order
  • The type of incident. Using defined rules this selection has also populated the estimated completion time
  • Each reported incident specific to this order
  • Scheduled bookings for the work order

Managing Field Service Resources

Service managers have access to the Dynamics 365 field service scheduling board that lists all resource personnel:

From this view, managers can see the current scheduling situation at any time across each resource.

See at a glance which jobs have been completed, what is in progress, and what jobs remain to be completed.

Move over any block to see headline detail about each job including start / finish time, actual arrival time and work order number.

Use colour coded blocks to immediately assess the status of each job including in progress, travel status and completion.

The timing of each field service job block shown in the schedule represents both the on-site duration as well as the travel time.

The geographical distribution of each field service resource is shown on a map view:

Each field service resource is colour coded with pin representing the location of scheduled field service jobs.

The optimum situation is for pins of each resource to be clustered in a small area to reduce travel time.

The map above shows this has been largely achieved but a new scheduling challenge has arisen. An unscheduled work order shown in grey has been pinned.

Scheduling Work Orders

As highlighted, the schedule board displays unscheduled work orders.

Zooming in the schedule manager can see the precise location for these jobs and view an overview of the work to be carried out:

Now it's time to launch the Field Service Scheduling Assistant that will help the schedule manager identify the best resource for each work order.

The first component in the scheduling assistant is to search for resources based on available time slots.

If a job is estimated to require 2 hours this duration is automatically applied as a filter.

Using additional filters schedule managers can search across a range of dates and define a radius to reduce travel time for resources.

Depending on the type of booking, available resources can also be filtered based on certifications and resource type which makes sure that only people with the correct skills are considered.

Matching available resources are then listed:

A resource manager can adjust search criteria, or select one of the matching resources to schedule an individual for this job.

To avoid resources appearing in the schedule finder on days when they are not available due to holiday or other scheduled absence, Time off Requests are stored in Dynamics 365.

On The Road with Dynamics 365 Field Service

Using the mobile app, Field Service personnel are instructed about their jobs and can provide progress updates.

In the calendar view, technicians can click through to see a summary of each job which includes background detail about the job and associated customer information:

Via the mobile interface field service technicians also have to a location map with driving directions for their next job and and a service task list itemizing each item which must be carried out during the visit.

Using the mobile app, either working online or offline field service personnel can work through these task lists to update and complete each item.

If a follow up visit is required, a scheduling manager can be notified directly from the mobile interface together with any other relevant notes about the work carried out.

To complete the visit the Field Service app will capture the clients signature:

Consistent with all the data entered, job completion detail is stored in Dynamics 365 which makes this immediately accessible to head office users, or upon synchronizing data if field based staff are using the mobile app offline.

Tracking Customer Assets

Field Service often involves tracking assets that are installed at a customers premises or home which are subject to a service agreement.

Here we are using the example of an installed security camera.

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.

This record can also be used to store an image of the asset:

Stock Management

To keep track of stock items available for field service jobs, Dynamics 365 includes a product inventory that includes warehouse stock as well as items on a van.

Field based personnel can update the inventory for their van / warehouse by tracking the consumption of stock items on each work order through the mobile interface.

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.

Licensing Field Service

As well as being licensed as an individual app, full Field Services 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 licensing is often be sufficient for users in a field based role.

If you have any questions about the licensing, or capabilities of Field Service for Dynamics 365 please contact Preact to find out more.

Preact are a UK based Microsoft CRM Gold Partner implementing and supporting CRM solutions since 1993.