Welcome to my next post containing the information needed when preparing for the MB2-714 exam, by the time you reach this stage in your preparation you will have learnt all about cases, SLAs and entitlements. As well as how to route and queue cases. Meaning you are getting pretty knowledgeable on the subject of service management. So let’s see if this post can help progress that knowledge ….
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 contains a module for service scheduling which allows you to find qualified resources that are available to conduct specific services for the customer. This is achieved via an entity we haven’t looked at yet, service activities.
You can think of a service activity as an “appointment” to conduct a service. The scheduling module has inbuilt capabilities that will search for available / required resources, facilities and equipment or users.
In this post I will dig into the capabilities provided in the area to create, schedule and modify service activities. If you haven’t reviewed the service schedule options before get ready for some “fun” as this post may introduce quite a few new concepts.
The scheduling options can be used to dispatch “engineers” from a centralized point. A consolidate view of jobs / schedules is seen in the service calendar. Benefits include;
- Ability to schedule appointments
- Improves service quality
- Prevents double booking / over scheduling
- Gives predictable workloads to staff
- Ensures reliable (repeatable) estimates for customers
Service scheduling is flexible and can therefore be applied to many situations, including;
- scheduling appointments (e.g. patient appointments or treatments at a beauty salon)
- field service work (e.g. maintaining an air conditioning unit)
- arranging training courses (maybe a CRM training course)
- organising repairs at your work place (maybe an annual car service)
Service Scheduling – Set up
In the service management options under settings you will find a group of options that relate to service scheduling, lets quickly look at each one in turn;
The business closure option lets you create a calendar of closure dates. These can be whole days or parts of days.
To create a new business closure date simply click new and complete the details. Here you can see I’ve decided to close the business on my birthday. (I wish!!!)
Services are jobs you will want to schedule. They include the rules that will be used when selecting available resources. Below you can see that I have defined a service for a standard car service.
Notice the initial status reason, this will define the status of schedules when they are first created. Options include pending, reserved, in progress, arrived, requested and tentative.
I have also defined the length of the service, how frequently a new job can be started and what time of day I will accept booking from.
Having saved the service, I can now add selection rules. Here I can list which resources can be used and what rules will be applied.
You have three options for selecting resources, including;
Random (default) — Using this will simply offer available resources with no particular preference.
Least Busy —- Using this option will first offer the least busy resource. Use this option to evenly spread the work amongst the resources. You might use this approach if you have a team of service engineers and you want them all to be as busy as each other.
- Most Busy — Using this option will prefer the busiest resource. Meaning the same resource would keep being suggested until its capacity if full. You might use this approach when allocating something like a van. Say I have three vans, each one can make 5 deliveries. Using this approach, I would fill one van before starting to use the next. Meaning if I have 6 deliveries on one day I would dispatch two vans. But if I used the least busy approach I would dispatch all 3 vans which would be wasteful.
Notice as well that you can opt to select only resources from the same site or multiple sites. Say you are sending a field engineer on a job and she needs a specific piece of equipment you’d want to schedule both the equipment and the engineer from the same site. Meaning if you had an engineer based in Manchester who needed to take a pump with them. The pump would logically need to also be found at the Manchester site. It wouldn’t make sense to send the engineer from Manchester but assume they can take a pump from Brighton!
In the selection rule you also define a quantity. It might be that you need 1 trainer to run a training course but you need 6 computers for the delegates to use during the course.
When allocating resources, you can choose individual resources or resource groups.
Hopefully you can see that service selection rules can be quite flexible. This does mean that in a real world example you’d need to give their construction some thought.
Facilities / Equipment
The facilities / equipment option simply lets you define the equipment that might be required to complete a service. Below you can see that I have defined a piece of equipment that is a hydraulic lift. And also (optionally) stated which site it exists at.
Resource groups let you define one or more “resources” that can be grouped together. In my example I have created a resource group of “Car Service Equipment” and added a lift and rolling road. As both of these need to be available when I’m booking a car service.
Resource groups don’t have to be equipment. You can add users, teams, facilities / equipment and even other resource groups.
The site option simply lets me add details for the sites at which equipment might reside.
Some customers may express a preference regarding the services they receive. These may include a preferred resource or specific times. On both account and contact you can add preferences in a “service preferences” section.
Adding the preferences may need a form customization change to add the fields to the form. (The customization process is outside of the scope of the MB2-714 exam; you just need to understand these fields exist.)
The operator will be presented with these customer preferences on the scheduling screen.
Having created your resources, services and associated selection rules you can now schedule activities. This is done using the service calendar and is the way users manage their scheduled activities.
From the service calendar you can search for resources by the different kinds of activities schedules, by the resources themselves or by specific services. Users can view, edit and create items directly from the calendar.
The colours on the calendar give a visual indication of the status of activities. Making it easy to see pending, confirmed and cancelled activities.
When adding a new service activity to the calendar, you first select the service to be performed and the customer. You can also define the preferred start time etc. Fields such as duration will default based on the selected service.
You can now use the schedule option to obtain recommendations on possible resources based on the rules you defined on the service and any customer preferences.
If your selection has any scheduling issues the operator will be warned of any problems. Notice that you can ignore these issues which might create a scheduling conflict.
Now you will see the appointment in the service calendar. Notice that it shows against all of the resources needed to complete the job.
The colour is grey because the time is reserved. The possible colours include;
If you create overlapping appointments, clicking the conflicts button in the ribbon bar will outline any potential conflicts in red.
The reschedule option can be used to help resolve any conflicts.
It is very important to understand that service activities are very like appointments. You can see service appointment in Outlook and it will take into account any other CRM appointments already tracked from Outlook. Meaning that scheduling process doesn’t just look at the service calendar.
From the service calendar you can use the zoom option to govern how much information is viewed. You could zoom to see an hour by hour breakdown of a given day or a full week with a single column for each day. (Right down to 15 minute intervals)
You can also use the month, week and day options to quick “zoom” in on a period of time.
Capacity can be used in two ways.
Firstly, for example, a workshop may have a capacity that you can only repair four cars at any moment in time.
But you can also use capacity to reflect skill level. For example, a junior engineer might perform one car service every hour. (Capacity of 1.) And a senior mechanic might be able to perform two. (Capacity of 2.) By setting the capacity on the resources you avoid over committing.
The required capacity is defined when you create the service scheduling rules on the service.
Then the capacity of a resource is defined in working hours area. You can see below that when defining the working hours, you can click “show capacity” button to define the capacity for this resource. If this resource was a meeting room, for example, the capacity might be set to the number of people it can accommodate.
It is also worth note that there is an option to observe business closures or not.
With concepts of resources, services, calendars, business closures, capacity, service calendar, scheduling, customer preferences, I hope you can see that service scheduling is pretty flexible. But there are quite a few concepts to consider for the MB2-714 exam. You will benefit from some hands on time simply playing around with different options to understand the implications a little deeper.
WOW …. That was easy. I said Service Scheduling was “fun”. Well maybe not “fun” but hopefully you’ve learnt enough to pass the MB2-714 exam. If you didn’t find this post “fun” hopefully you can still look forward to the next installment when I’ll discuss the Interactive Service Hub.
You can find my complete collection of posts for MB2-714 here.
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