Field Service for Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides several approaches to scheduling work orders. One is manual scheduling on the schedule board, another is the scheduling assistant which will be the topic of this post.
The advantage of the scheduling assistant is that it tries to only offer time slots that meet the specific requirements of the selected work order. Meaning customer preferences, required characteristics (skills), travel time (etc) are all taken into account. This is why using the scheduling assistant is my preferred approach to booking resources for work orders.
You can access the scheduling assistant from the work order ribbon bar or by selecting a work order from a view of active work orders.
Once loaded you will need to enter the parameters you want to use to search available slots and the select search resources. Assuming that several slots are presented you will then simply need to select the required slot. Simple.
The first time I attempted this process no resources were ever returned! This can be for two reasons; you may have the radius set so small that no resources are close enough or it could be that the resources home / office addresses are not correctly entered. In my case the problem was that the country was incorrectly set to GB instead of UK. If you are using CRM online, changing the address will actually need to be done in Office 365 admin by a Global administrator.
Real time mode
Real time mode is may become of particular relevance is you are using a tracking device or glimpse to record resource locations. Selecting this option will grey out the start day, as it is assumed you are trying to schedule now. It then uses the last known location of the engineer to estimate the travel time based on actual location rather than the intended location.
This will default to the schedule duration of the work order and will then mean the system will be looking for a free timeslot of at least this duration. You can override the setting to look for larger (or smaller) time slots if required.
Selecting this option will look for resources that just have a free time slot regardless of the duration of the work order.
Ignore travel time
By default, travel time will be taken into account and added to the duration of the work order. Selecting this option will ignore any logic on travel time. Although the travel time will still be estimated and shown in list of available resources.
Honestly, I haven’t yet found out exactly what the purpose of this field is. So far the assistant has never suggested a work order should overlap another. If it does or if I find a proper explanation of this field I will update this post.
The is the distance to use to search for engineers. In my example only field agents with 20 miles will be suggested.
Start / end day
The date range in which the job should ideally be scheduled.
Next you can define what resources, characteristics and territories should be used. The presence / content of these fields will depend on the work order selected. For example: if the customer has expressed a preferred resource than the name of that resource will be displayed.
If there are any charteristics (or skills) required for this work order then you have an opportunity not only to find resources that have that skill but also have the required level of proficiany.
You can also opt to search all or selected resource types.
Once an available slot is selected a panel like the one below will open up. Here you “tweak” the start / end times and then click schedule if you are happy with the selected option.
Note: In this example the estimated travel time is showing as zero. This isn’t a bug but a symptom of the fact that I selected to ignore travel time whilst searching for resources. If you opt not to ignore travel the estimated travel time will be populated here. Plus, the duration of the scheduled time will be increased to allow for travelling. When viewing the work order schedules on the schedule board you will be able to see the travel time denoted by a coloured bar above the work order number.
Tip: When we schedule work orders manually directly on the schedule board travel time isn’t taken into account. But when we use the schedule assistant this coloured bar for the travel time is shown. And the length of the job increased to allow for travel. This is one of the reasons the scheduling assistant is my preferred approach to scheduling.
I hope this post has given you a flavor for the Scheduling Assistant as it is very much my preferred approach.