I am currently revising for the MB-230 exam. This exam is for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and covers all aspects of customer service. As I revise I plan to publish blog posts that collectively will become a complete revision guide for anyone embarking on the same journey as me. In this post I will cover advanced scheduling concepts.
Below you can see an extract from the current skills measured statement for the MB 230 exam. You can hopefully see that scheduling is firstly a significant section of the exam and also that it covers numerous topics. Meaning this post is one of several that I will create to cover all aspects of scheduling. In this post I will discuss some of the advanced scheduling concepts such as fulfilment preferences, rescheduling service activities and more.
We can use the schedule assistant to find availability from the schedule board or via the book option directly on service activities. Without any fulfilment preferences the schedule assistant will “simply” display results based on resource schedules and their earliest availability.
Often a booking will be suggested exactly at the next available time. Meaning if the assistant is run at 9:37am, then a time slots starting exactly at 9:37 maybe suggested. Often time slots using “rounded” time values would be preferrable. It may be easy for the customer and the dispatcher if a job was booked for 9:45am or 10am, rather than 9:37am.
Also, we may often want to limit the number of appointments per time slot (or interval). As booking back to back appointments might seem efficient but it gives no margin to allow for overruns, late running, longer than expected travel times etc. Therefore booking in intervals can help to create a plan which is more achievable.
URS includes fulfilment preferences that allow us to choose how the schedule assistant results will be displayed. This can include two features;
- Intervals – intervals display schedule assistant results in time slots that dictate the start time of subsequent jobs.
- Time groups
– allow schedulers to search / view options as blocks of time. Often this could include morning / afternoon bookings or 2 hour windows etc.
Below you can see that if I try and book a 30 minute service activity, the schedule assistant is offering appointments literally every 30 minutes.
This might be find but what if I only wanted to book one appointment per 2 hour interval. Then this approach would not be correct!
Below you can see that I have created a “2 hour interval” using fulfilment preferences. Now for the same 30 minute job slots in blocks of 2 hours are offered.
To define a fulfilment preference to achieve this I used the fulfilment option. Below you can see that I have given my preference a name of “2 hour intervals”.
Next on the intervals tab I have stated that I want to have a 2 hour interval. And that my intervals will begin from 9am in the morning. I can also optionally restrict the number of results per interval that are offered to the dispatcher. If you have a large number of resources this might be a useful way to help the dispatcher work with a shorter suggested list.
If you limit the results you might want to think about the sorting logic applied on the service’s requirements. As suggesting the least busy resources first (for example) might become a useful tool to ensure you achieve the desired resource loading.
We can now edit the service definition. In the resource requirements tab you can add your fulfilment preference to the requirements.
In addition to editing the definition of our service we can edit any requirements record associated with a service activity and change the fulfilment preferences from there. Below you can see that I have navigated to the resource requirement record from my service activity. And that on the scheduling tab I can edit the fulfilment preference. (And other fields which might influence the scheduling of this requirement.)
Time groups do not dictate the start time of subsequent bookings! Time groups organize results but leave the start time/arrival time as is, based on the particular resource’s schedule. Before I can define my time groups I must enter a name and saved the record. Then on the details tab I can add my time groups. To do this I need to provide a name, start time and end time for my time group.
Important: The end time defines the last time that an appointment can start within the window. For example, if the time window is 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM, it is possible that an item that has a duration could be booked at 11:30 AM or 12:00 PM even though in both instances, the end time would be beyond the time window.
Intervals and time groups together!
You may want to use a combination of intervals and time groups together. It is possible to define a fulfilment preference that uses both intervals and time groups, but you cannot add a value for interval begins. (As the interval will begin at the time of the earliest time group.) Also, if the reset interval per time group detail option is set to yes, the intervals will reset once a new time group detail overlaps with an interval
Nothings always runs as expected! At some point you are going to need to reschedule a booking.
I can select a single booking and use the “Rebook Group” option to re-run the scheduling assistant.
This approach will allow me to change both the resource and booking time slot if required.
Having selected a new booking a new booking will be created. The old booking will be cancelled. You can see this on the schedule board as its colour will change to red due to having a cancelled status.
Another scenario is that you want to move all of the booking for a given day to another day. For that we can use the actions menu. (See the “move bookings to different day” option below.)
Having select the “move bookings to different day” option, a dialog will open asking me to enter a new day and also define what status I want these bookings to have. One limitation is that with this approach I can only move bookings forward in time!
From time to time you may need to change a resource on a booking. Maybe the current resource is ill or needed elsewhere urgently!
One option I have would be to use the rebook option described above. Although that will also be potentially suggesting alternative time slots.
Another option is to use the “substitute resource” option shown below. Here I can pick an alternative resource for the booking.
Tip: If I am unsure on which resource to pick I can use the “Find substitute” option which will suggest an alternative.
In this post I have covered quite a few concepts! You will need to understand all of these for your MB 230 exam …. So I recommend you experiment with these features to become confident in their use. Enjoy.