Microsoft’s Field Service for Dynamics CRM was originally launched as FieldOne. Microsoft acquired FieldOne a company that provided extensions to CRM to support organisations operating field service teams.
Whilst FieldOne and Field Service have a lot in common you should consider Field Service to be a different application. As many of the entity names and database relationships behind the scenes have been revised. Also Field Service has a revised mobile application that isn’t compatible with FieldOne.
Field Service for Microsoft Dynamics CRM is now an important component of CRM. (As of CRM 2016 Update 1 release.) But what is it and who would use it?? To help answer these questions I have created this overview of its capabilities.
Field Service is a cloud based application accessed from Dynamics CRM. It provides extensions to CRM to allow the creation and scheduling of work orders. And a mobile application to record work completed against the work order. Along with comprehensive MI capabilities to give insight into field service activities.
A work order is simply a request for service. A work order can then be scheduled and activities recorded against it to reflect tasks completed.
Field Service configuration allows for a high level of complex possibilities. Including managing services, resources, resource skills, territories etc etc. All of which contribute to the scheduling of work orders on a graphical scheduling board.
The use of Field Service can be thought of best by considering three types of operators …… dispatchers, field agents and managers.
Within Field Service, “dispatchers” create works orders, schedule them and notify the field agents that the order has been scheduled. Think of a work order as being a definition of the “essence” of the service / task to be performed. It defines the location of the work and any details required to carry out the service.
Each work order has an incident type which includes a definition of the service tasks to be performed, skills required, required parts and duration of the job.
Dispatchers can receive service requests from a number of channels, including phone, email, customer portals or even fax. These maybe entered directly as work orders or alternatively they may be created as cases and only converted to a work order once it is clear a field engineer is required.
Note: It is also possible to generate work orders from opportunities or from agreements. (Think of agreements as contracts to conduct regular ongoing maintenance.)
Having created work orders the dispatcher schedules them on the scheduling board. This gives a graphical representation of the status for scheduled work orders and resource availability, enabling informed decisions on when the work can be completed. Options exist for manual and automatic scheduling. The scheduling board can display work orders and resources in grids or in a map view.
Work orders can be booked manually by simply dragging them to resources on the grid or map views in the schedule board.
It is also now possible to book a resource without needing to create a work order. This is useful if you want to allocate someone’s time to show they aren’t available. Maybe because they are at lunch or have a meeting etc. These booking show as grey bars on the schedule bar and help you avoid allocating unavailable staff to work orders.
Alternatively, you can use the scheduling assistant which will make suggestions based on resource availability, travel time and resource characteristics. Again the scheduling assistant can show available resources as a grid or map.
Note: The characteristics of a resource might include their skills, education or certifications. It is also now possible to rate someone proficiency for a particular characteristic. Having define the skills of your resources each work order (or its incident type) can be linked to a characteristic. The scheduling assistant will then only suggest resources with the characteristic.
Note: Whilst considering booking resources it is worth knowing that bookable resources are shared between Field Service and Project Service within Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Field agents deliver services in the field making use of a mobile application. Which can be run from iphone, ipad, android devices or Windows phone / tablets. (So pretty much any mobile device.)
They receive notifications of work to be completed by either text, email or phone. Within the application they can see their scheduled of work orders, inspect the work order details, get driving directions, manage parts, take notes and pictures etc etc.
The field agent can control the status on work orders to show that they have accepted the order, are on route, have started work or have completed the job.
Other functionality within the application allows the field agent to reflect what part have been used, record photographs and notes about the work completed and capture a signature from the customer. They can also schedule follow-up work orders directly from the mobile application.
As the field agent changes their status or updates the job in the mobile application this is reflected on the dispatchers’ schedule board. Enabling the dispatchers to have a real-time image of current progress.
Managers use Field Service data to create “reports” to help analyze service data with the aim of improving customer service and reducing costs.
CRM dashboards can be created to help managers focus of their specific KPIs to manage work orders. Plus they have the rich reporting capabilities standard in CRM2016 available to them, including the ability to export data to excel, create views using advanced find etc.
Field Service is useful for anyone with staff working in the field. In particular I like the integrated approach as office based staff can see the status of jobs in real-time supporting a joined up approach to customer service.
Hopefully this post has given you an initial overview of Field Service.
I aim to make this part of a series of posts in which I will cover all aspects of Field Service.