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Marketing Automation – and the impact of WannaCry May 23, 2017

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, Cyber Security, Management, Marketing Automation, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Network Security.
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Simon the Hacker

As both an enabler and recipient of marketing automation activities, I’ve been very aware of the impact of recent cyber security events on email marketing, on both sides of the fence.

Being an avid photographer, angler and technologist, I belong to many groups and am the recipient of many marketing campaigns, many of them generated by marketing automation systems.

In my professional role of implementing Microsoft CRM and marketing systems I also see the world through the eyes of the marketers, help and assist with implementing the platform, and work closely with the related CRM data used in these campaigns.

Then all of a sudden along comes the big bad wolf. “WannaCry” malware has had an impact on the whole spectrum of e-mail based marketing automation activities. And again I find myself looking at this from both sides of the fence. There is a little bit of mistrust, often overdramatized by the press, but there is certainly a risk out there.

I open e-mails on my phone, my tablet, my work PC and my home computer, and probably like most people I skim the marketing material that I receive unless I have a particular interest and want to drill down – there is just too much content to read it all. But we are now cautioned to not open unknown e-mails or click on links we don’t recognize. Very good advice, but one can slip very easily, and the hackers often front the e-mails with names we know and trust.

These hackers make it more difficult for marketers to get information to me, as I might just be over cautious and ignore them, or even worse hit the spam button (when it is not spam) and then I stop receiving these e-mails.

From the other side of the fence, my customers are not happy, as their outbound campaigns can be hamstrung by a large event. I would imagine that any campaign distributed at the same time as this last worldwide malware attack would be severely impacted, which will have a direct impact as the returns of these campaigns may not be as high as expected.

Marketing automation, especially e-mail marketing using a nurture program to send out content or links based on background activities, or relating to data and customer interaction, may need to cater for “pausing” the program or branch activity should there be another world event. Email isn’t the only channel. CRM systems can produce mail merged documents that can be personalised, printed, folded, inserted into envelopes and posted.

Protecting your customer data and lists so that unscrupulous hackers do not gain access and use your lists to spam your customers should be a priority. And yet again as I sit on my personal side of the fence, I don’t want my monthly camera newsletter to stop, I want updates from my fishing club, and am happy to click on the links that they provide.

My original blog was going to be about deep predictive analytics in relation to marketing automation, and then this recent malware story broke. I’ll return to predictive analytics next time, and in the short term I’m expecting that the good guys will start to outsmart the faceless hackers in masks so we can all get back to normal.

 

 

That “Ah-ha”moment April 5, 2017

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Service, Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
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lampost (002).jpg

That “Ah-ha” moment happened when I saw Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service and Project Service working together harmoniously, It really made it come to life when we added some real data to the system for the first time.

I had seen and configured each of these components separately, but this was the first time we had configured them to work together.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service and Project Service are natural bedfellows. Often a business will create a project and the project itself will spawn multiple work orders. In order to really understand the complexities of anything, you often need to dig in and have a look at the lower level processes and detail, and view the whole process with real data.

Take for example an imaginary project that has been set up to replace all the old street lamps in a city precinct with a new range of eco-friendly lights.

The whole scope of work would be deemed a project. However the implementations through the various streets and shorelines would each be easily considered work orders or specific pieces of work to be undertaken by various teams or be termed a work breakdown structure.

Therefore there is a natural overlap between the field service component – i.e. the staff who will be on the ground physically removing the old lamp posts and replacing them with new ones – and the overall project, the project budget and the project service level agreement and reporting on progress so far.

There are natural dependencies in that the team who remove the existing lamp poles needs to be followed quite closely by the new team who are replacing these lights, and each of these teams may have separate reporting lines.

An electrician probably needs to be first on the scene to switch off the power or to ensure that the power has been isolated safely and the electrician may ultimately be a member of a different project team to the team performing the physical work as they all have different tasks.

However all the personnel will be responsible for capturing their time on a regular basis. The electrician probably of a shorter duration and the removal and excavation team considerably more. This also applies to the new light pole implementation team and then the electrician returning to the new installation to connect up the power and switch it back on.

There will need to be some element of Health and Safety and or traffic management to keep the team safe as well as protecting the members of the public from possible falling lamp posts. This all needs to be planned, then recorded and should there be a mishap, adequate capabilities in place to remediate such eventualities.

lamp post project

This scenario depicted above, although very simple, has a large number of working parts and components that are all tied up with the joint concept of field service and project service, this needs to extend to the mobile application used by the teams.

Obviously this example can be likened to many businesses performing various project tasks. Consider that for each of the items on this simple flowchart, it could be necessary to change a status, update a time spent, make notes about what was right or wrong. Then from a reporting perspective, the completion of this Work Order for the lights in this precinct would show as complete, but would only show as a task completed on the overall project.

The different components activities and collected data all form a malleable information source that can be reported upon and ideally shown in some form of business intelligence dashboard with highlights and indicators to ensure that corrective actions can be undertaken if things are getting off track.

When you see all of this working together harmoniously within the one system, like me you may also get the “Ah ha” moment.

Lead v Opportunity – What’s in a word? March 20, 2017

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in Change Management, CRM, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft CRM 2016, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Sales Management.
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Lead v Opportunity

Recently we have been having some interesting discussions about the difference between a Lead and an Opportunity. We also have customers who use the word Prospect as part of their sales cycle and others use the term Deal. Getting this right is terms of how it is applied in your CRM system is very important, as is ensuring that everyone actually knows exactly what each term actually means and how they are used.

I will be discussing these in terms of their general interpretation as well as how the Microsoft CRM system views these records.

For many companies a Lead constitutes potential business with someone who they have not done any previous business with over the years, so for example a list of auto electricians in the local area could be purchased and this would be a list of Leads if you had not sold to them before.

Therefore in a typical sales cycle, you would market to the business, and eventually qualify or disqualify the lead, and a qualified lead becomes an Opportunity, which in turn can be won or lost.

So when does a Lead actually become an Opportunity?

This is normally based on qualification. So what constitutes qualification? It is generally accepted that at that stage in the process where it becomes evident that there is a chance whatever the % of winning the business, so the Lead is qualified when you believe that you “could” get an order.

A Lead is disqualified when there is no chance of doing business, however if there is a longer term possibility for example 12 months, should the Lead be disqualified? Should a follow up be created or should a long term Opportunity be raised?

There are advantages and disadvantages for both of these scenarios, and primarily this relates to reporting, and the real possibility that long term potential is actually forgotten, with staff moving on, and day to day activities getting in the way.

The one vexing question is what about potential for new products to existing customers, good old Marketing 101, states “That it is easier and less expensive to sell to existing customers than generate new ones” therefore if you sell yellow widgets, and introduce a new range of lime widgets, should you be creating Leads or Opportunities for each of your existing customers?

The moment you split this up you are also more than likely going to be looking at two sets of reporting metrics across your new range.

So the big question, can you have a Lead for an existing customer?

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales is set up to accommodate this capability, the question is more, does this actually meet your business requirements?

There is no right or wrong way to do this, however the within the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 365 both options are available. Therefore I believe it is important to get in place a process and then stick to it. If the rule is Leads are only ever companies that you never deal with, then during the configuration the Existing Customer and Existing Contact fields could be removed from the Sales process so that users do not link these to existing customers

However the Lead functionality in CRM is very powerful, and if you elect to use this, when you create a lead for an existing customer, and then qualify this lead, the Opportunity inherits the “originating lead” field and this will allow for deep analysis on campaigns and the leads created.

A newly created Customer in CRM when a Lead is converted to an Opportunity also carries this data of the originating lead and therefore the source campaign. Over time you will be able to view the value of these customers based on the source campaigns. This can be valuable marketing material.

If you don’t set up a Lead and start the sales process at Opportunity, you potentially lose some of the reporting metrics that are related to the lead.

The term Prospect is also used by many organisations, if this is the case, it is possible to modify the naming conventions in your new system to reflect this, just as one could change Customer to Client if this is the terminology that you use.

Using a nurture marketing approach can also be quite helpful, where long term Leads or Opportunities are placed on a back-burner and the system will come up with a number of reminders in 8, 12 or whatever planned months time.

Over the years I have changed the term Opportunity to Deal for a few customers, where they felt they were chasing a deal and not an opportunity.

As mentioned above, there is no right or wrong, but take a minute, pause for a while and consider what is best for your organisation, and whether, if you change, will this change be easily accepted across the business. If you have been calling something “Prospects and Suspects” for many years and this in inculcated into the corporate culture, then it may well be a small price to pay to keep it this way.

 

 

Rating my Bank as a CRM Customer January 16, 2017

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
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bank-call-centre

Over the Christmas holiday I had the requirement to deal with my bank, where I have been a customer for over 15 years. I wanted to add one of my accounts to my Internet banking portfolio as well as conduct some other business relating to the business account run by my wife.

Banks as we well know were all early adopters of CRM systems however many banks still have lots of different systems and full integration is not a reality where silos of data do still exist within different departments.

I made my call, and as usual the bank employee needed to validate who I was, this is fully acceptable and a process I understand. Once they had figured out that I was who I said I was, things should really get easier, one would expect that all my information would be available.

Happily this seemed to be the case initially and they were able to add this existing account to my portfolio, however this is where it got more complicated, I had to be transferred to another department to handle my next query. CRM systems with contextual case data being able to be sent from one agent to another is something that has been around for a number of years, and I think my bank has more or less got this working, as the next agent I spoke to seemed to mostly understand what I was asking about.

They did however ask me some details about the business account just to validate again that I was who I said I was, This was not obtrusive in any way but probably unnecessary.

The outcome however is that they wanted to send us some documents to be completed, scanned and returned to them by e-mail, again a perfectly acceptable process and something that one would easily expect to find within a CRM system.

The documents were e-mailed to my personal e-mail address that I had confirmed on the call, however they were also e-mailed to my work e-mail address that the bank has an alternative. I did not ask for the mail to be sent to both accounts, there is no problem with this as I can access both e-mail accounts remotely. The CRM system should have sent content to only one e-mail address unless I specifically requested otherwise.

The documents had also been prefilled with certain information such as our address and full names etc. however some of the fields that they wanted completed is information that I know they have on hand and included my phone number and e-mail address, which shows that the mail merge was not as effective as it could have been. They also sent me a further document to be completed “If we are not existing customers” this was most bizarre as I am a customer and have been for many years.

So how do I rate them? I would give them 8 out of 10 for use of their CRM and other systems when dealing with me. Why only 8? Well I think the transition from one department to another could have been smoother, they get marked down on asking me to complete some information that they already have, and for supplying the extra form that was not needed.

I have not as yet received any survey or feedback form, but expect that will be the next action in this process if their CRM system is really comprehensive.

Overall however I think they are doing a good job, and hopefully many more companies will follow this example and be able to offer this form of comprehensive capability when dealing with a customer on the phone. Case management is very important, but it is very important to do it right.

 

Service Scheduling April 28, 2016

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in Change Management, CRM, FieldOne Sky, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft CRM 2016, service management.
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Schedule

Service Scheduling with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Field Service

Continuing with my theme of field service, today I want to concentrate on the subject of scheduling, which I find very interesting as there are a number of complex factors involved.

Imagine for a moment that you had 20 service vehicles, and your average service call lasted 1 hour. That is an incredible 3,520 one hour slots available in a month based on an 8 hour day. When you just factor into this equation travel time this 3,520 could be halved if travel time is thirty minutes each side of every call.

Add another level of complexity to this model where not all service technicians are qualified to work on all jobs, and where spare parts are not uniformly distributed to all vehicles and it is unlikely that all 20 vehicles will be on the road and staffed each and every day.

This is then the starting point for scheduling. As a business owner or manager, your primary role is to keep these technicians busy for as many hours as possible in the day, as well as maintaining a level of customer service that is within your service level agreements (SLA’s).

Managing leave, repairs to the vehicles, urgent issues requiring instant responses, on-boarding new staff, time overruns, unexpected technical difficulties on site, problems with site access and catering for rush hour traffic are some of the additional elements that can contribute to the complexity of scheduling. Couple all of this with the necessity to create invoices or take payments from customers which is commonplace in certain industries and you have quite a lot on your hands.

So how does this all work in practice?

It all starts with a case in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, where a record is created based on an incoming call, e-mail or other communication and where a decision is made to create a Work Order to send out a field service technician. The case will identify the “Who”, “What” and “Where”. Who are we dealing with? What is the problem? And where will someone have to go to undertake the necessary service?

Once the Work Order is created the system is able to schedule a field service technician and vehicle, based on the “who, what and where” associated with some rules and parameters. The rules engine needs to determine what skills, equipment and spare parts are required, which vehicles and technicians are available based on thier current or future location, urgency or status of job, the SLA agreed with the specific customer, distance from previous calls and how long the call is expected to take etc.

The Customer Service Representative should then be presented with a range of this information with different date and time options which may be suitable for the customer. Once a date and time is agreed the CSR can schedule the call, which then becomes fixed data to be used in further scheduling.

It’s all very well having a system that automatically can create scheduled calls, however the call time still needs to be convenient for the customer. For example if you have booked Bob from 08h00 to 09h00 in the city centre he will probably be available from 09h30 if there is another call from the same area, this can be used in the dialog with the customer at that time. “We have someone available from 09h30, would that be suitable?”

Emergencies and urgent calls are a fact of life for anyone in the service industry and “Things Happen” which just have to be dealt with, which means that flexibility is key in the world of scheduling. Often for example, when the technician arrives on site, the customer is not there, has had to go out and has not let you know. To all intents and purposes that call is dead time, especially if the technician is booked for a follow up call an hour or so later.

When a call is cancelled or there is a no-show, the system needs to allow you to reschedule that call and reschedule the whole day if necessary. If this can be done effectively, then there is the opportunity to win back the lost time.

These broken appointments can be mitigated once the booking is made by judicious use of automated text messaging from the system, one message sent the day before “Our technician is due to see you at 08h00 tomorrow” and one on the day, confirming that the technician is on their way.

And then there is the whole subject of time recording, billing for time and materials, invoicing etc. which are often additional work items that the service technician is meant to undertake at the conclusion of the call, good mobile systems are required to ensure that this does not become an onerous task.

There are still companies out there who undertake this form of scheduling using a large whiteboards in the office, Microsoft Excel workbooks and manual desk planning sheets.

The return on investment in a scheduling system is relatively easy to calculate, if the system can win back even a small percentage of the travel time by effective route planning this will be visible on the bottom line immediately.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Field Service certainly goes a long way toward automating these processes and it is evident, that having accurate and up to date data is a vital component for scheduling.

In my next post, I will go into some detail about how these rules actually work in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Field Service and discuss some of the practicalities of setting up the system to cater for different scenarios.

 

 

Marketing Automation: the importance of data and process April 22, 2016

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, Marketing Automation, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft CRM 2016.
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Giving a speech

I was recently invited to present a paper at the Marketing Automation Summit held in Auckland. This was a perfect opportunity for me to refresh myself on all the marketing automation capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

My given subject was “Tracking Progress and Hitting targets on time.”

A common thread across all of the sessions emphasised that “data” and “process” were  pivotal for successful Marketing Automation.

Underpinning all marketing automation efforts, irrespective of the sector, are robust CRM systems where customer data is housed, used, nurtured and updated. Unfortunately many organisations do not have the data quality they need to be effective. In my presentation I tackled this subject head-on, focusing on:

  • Best practices for data and processes
  • Time intensive tasks
  • Using marketing intelligence and analytics

No longer just a nice to have, good internal data ownership – encompassing best practices, structures, specific responsibilities and compliance – is now a business requirement. The position of Chief Data Officer is becoming more prevalent.

Microsoft CRM workflows can be set up to automate tasks, making those time intensive repeatable activities run automatically.

I took some time to outline that communication is very important when implementing marketing campaigns, all role players need to understand their responsibilities especially where many people are involved in the process. The campaign module of Microsoft CRM is an ideal place for recording important items and communications that all members of the team may need to access.

I always like to make reference to case studies when I give a talk in this format, and I shared some details about a large retail organisation that had used their customers e-mail address as the primary key on their data. They now have lots of duplicates in CRM mainly due to many people using different e-mail addresses when they visited the store each time. A mobile phone number may have been a better option.

Another case study I mentioned involved a business where the switchboard operator turned away potential customers as she was not really aware of the full product offering, No one had shared the details of the marketing campaign with her about the new product range.

We are all very much aware of that the subject of data science is growing within a number of industries, where the role of the data scientist is no longer a luxury it is now becoming a necessity. The following link is instructive: https://www.theta.co.nz/news-blogs/tech-blog/data-science-more-than-just-analysis

Your CRM system may well have a mine of very useful information that can be harnessed by a data scientist to give insights into your marketing automation efforts.

The truth about dashboards

Airliner Dashboard

I shared a picture of a flight deck on a commercial airliner which is probably the ultimate in engagement models. Any red light showing on this dashboard gets immediate and focussed attention.

I asked the question, how many managers are trained to work with existing company dashboards? Are there check lists available to identify what constitutes a red light in the business? And are your managers trained to react appropriately. (As is the case in the airline industry).

The standard dashboards in Microsoft CRM along with the capabilities of Power BI can deliver very effective visual information for users and managers..

So when considering setting up a Marketing Automation system get your data in order, manage your processes and above all listen to the market. Be flexible and be prepared to make changes to your campaigns on the fly as you keep looking at everything.

And…..“Keep your eye on those red lights”.

 

Are the people working on your system Certified? March 10, 2016

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, Microsoft CRM 2016, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Training.
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Beetle 700 by 438

As a young chap I had a 50cc motorcycle and then upgraded to a VW beetle, both of which I serviced myself, using the manual, plus some hints from my Dad I was able to change the plugs, adjust the timing and replace all the filters etc.

However today if I look under the bonnet of a new car, I can hardly recognise anything, and am sure that if I had a go with some spanners, screwdrivers and other tools I would make a really big mess. I therefore assume that the technicians at the garage actually know how to interact with this new technology.

Software has now reached an interesting juncture, products such as Microsoft CRM are now exceptionally complex with many very deep layers of functionality and when it comes to ERP systems such Microsoft Dynamics NAV again there is a staggering amount of capability inherent in these systems.

The software manufacturers are doing a wonderful job of trying to make complex software easy to use and intuitive. Hiding menus seems to be one of the methods that are used, the experts however do know how to get in behind the scenes.

On a smaller scale, just take for example Microsoft Word, how many of you have actually clicked on every menu at the top and investigated every single functionality? The product is bristling with features that many are just unaware of, unless you have taken an advanced course, or like me curiosity has made you go looking at all of the menus.

This brings me onto the subject of certification, to really get the best out of your CRM or ERP software you really need to be dealing with people who are certified in the product. I also encourage the end users of these systems to undertake advanced user training themselves. It’s not quite the same certification needed by your local doctor and not really a matter of life and death. However as is the case with my high tech motor vehicle, I feel much better when I realise that a certified person is actually doing the work, especially when he is working on the brakes.

 

Cases, Jobs and Work Orders in Microsoft CRM & FieldOne Sky March 8, 2016

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, FieldOne Sky, Microsoft CRM 2016, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, service management, Uncategorized.
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single van on move

This is the second in a series of posts relating to FieldOne Sky, the new Field Service module that is available within Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

The first post can be found here: https://ivorw50.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/field-service-management-in-microsoft-crm-fieldone-sky/

Right from the start, Microsoft Dynamics CRM has had a service module. It had basic case management and a knowledge base, in recent years this has been with the introduction of SLA’s entitlements, routing rules and case creation automation, and an overhaul to the knowledge base.

Case management is the natural pre cursor to service management, for example a customer calls in with a problem, a case is raised and thereafter a technician is despatched to resolve the issue. They are in effect complementary activities when looked at from the overall service perspective.

Case management can stand on its own, and the Unified Service Desk offering within Microsoft CRM may be all that some companies require where the case creates a simple job which may be handled by a service team. A good example of this is where every job is exactly the same and there is no need to specifically schedule the work. This could relate to someone who just has to read a meter at various locations during the day.

FieldOne Sky however is predicated on the notion of a Job or Work Order which is spawned by a case. There are obvious exceptions to this rule, however most of the scenarios outlined in the previous blog all could be linked to a case record. From the local government official sent out to inspect and report on compliance to the delivery person scheduled to deliver a new fridge, all of these work order records could be created from a case or incident record.

There is something that needs to be done, information about the work is recorded and the person undertaking the work will be obliged to update this information and probably indicate a time of arrival and departure in order to facilitate billing. This is what a work order is all about.

Let us look at two of the many fields that are found on a Work Order to explore the scale of the application.

Primary Incident Type

An Incident or Case can have a type for example “broken stove”, this incident type will have a number of characteristics associated with the type. These include the Default Work Order Type, the Duration and whether this incident must inherit data from agreements or contracts.

What this means is that just by creating a case of a particular type, the resultant Work Order is going to be populated with data that has been set up in the background.

The type of work order will be used to determine the specific resources that are required in order to complete the work, and are available to be scheduled based on current availability. The reality for many field service managers is that “everything is urgent” and a lot of flexibility is often required to manipulate the schedules to see that everyone ends up happy. Therefore the scheduling engine needs to be sophisticated enough to deal with this reality.

In order to highlight the deep drill down complexities of the FieldOne Sky application let us look at another field on the work order that drills down to other records which in turn drills down to more records.

Primary Incident Customer Asset

Another capability of the system revolves around the identification and intelligent recording of customer assets. The Asset record in CRM is the repository for data about a specific asset as can be seen below. Therefore a case and the resultant work order can be related to an asset.

Assets can have parent records and even be linked to a “Master Asset” and have “Sub Asset” levels to allow for granular componentry. Leveraging the standard CRM product module an asset can even be known and discovered with a price, unit of measure, and be linked to relevant price lists.

 CRM Asset

 

The preferred resource can be set on an asset. When you drill down to resource you are able to discern that it contains all the information relating to the capabilities, skills, rates, locations etc. of the resource to be used in the algorithm for scheduling. The preferred resource could be a vehicle with an inventory of spares, which could be classified as a warehouse from a system perspective.

Once configured correctly, a work order created as an outcome of a case has all of the metadata required in order to provide the person attending the call with all of the relevant information to perform the work, and report back, effectively closing the case once complete.

Therefore as can be seen, just looking at a small sample of the fields in this module of Microsoft Dynamics CRM there are deep functional capabilities that are available which will be able to address Field Service requirements for most applications.

However as is the case with the introduction of any new system, good analysis up front is never wasted and once the requirements and specific nuances and operational methodologies of the business are understood the configuration of the system can be planned and effectively implemented.

In my next post I will look at the scheduling aspects of this application.

 

Rapid Growth Syndrome February 12, 2016

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in Change Management, Management, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Training.
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Who moved my Cheese

Many of us have experienced this, working for a small innovative business where the sum of all the energy is transformed into great products or exceptional services. This requires the organisation to grow, hiring even more innovative and creative people and the cycle continues.

The business is growing, and then suddenly some of the processes seem to no longer work, and one solution is to throw people and resources at it, employ a HR person to handle all the interviews, Employ project managers to manage all the projects implement a CRM system etc. and before you know it the business is transforming from the small clique of initial staff members into a company structured organisation.

Very often this is happening in an industry where there are a number of other companies in the same market all facing the same issues and all growing simultaneously, (like the dotcom boom) so why do some succeed and other fail to gain the traction needed to progress?

One has to look at how well they managed the “Rapid Growth Syndrome” and there are a number of key aspects to evaluate.

Among other things this syndrome affects People, Process and Technology.

People

Are the management hires suitable, qualified and flexible enough to work within a rapidly changing environment?

One needs to ask the following hard questions if you are promoting one or some of the original staff members into these newly created management positions. Are they capable to hold these positions? Will this stifle their creativity? And more importantly do they have the experience and temperament to manage staff? Sometimes the really creative people just don’t want to do those roles, however as the business is growing they are compelled to take on these responsibilities rather than have an outsider come in and suddenly become their manager.

Process

Suddenly with a large influx of staff, some at a junior level, will come the implementation of rules, where in the early days the core group might go out for long lunches or take some time out to be very creative now this process and activity is frowned upon and sometimes actively discouraged as it is setting an incorrect precedent for new staff.

Business processes need to be put in place and followed, some of the start-up entrepreneurs that I have known over the years are dreadfully poor at paperwork and are happy to admit this openly. They cannot be seen to flaunt the new processes which are being implemented generally to streamline and keep the business efficient, so they leave and create another startup.

Technology

With growth comes the realisation that data needs to be captured, processes need to be in place to use and manage systems. Therefore there is often a requirement for some new systems, be they CRM, ERP, Manufacturing, Time Keeping or whatever. The implementation of any system needs to be well thought out (even if delivered in an agile manner) and if the new system is going to be that important, it is vital that its implementation does not impose constraints on the business.

In my solution consulting role I visit many organisations and therefore have first-hand experience of this syndrome at work. It’s a balancing act and there is no silver bullet. A deep understanding of change management is probably the most important element. Remember this is not new, this has been going on for years and there are plenty of case studies of organisations that experienced this, therefore is still amazes me to see organisations falling into these traps and making the same mistakes all over again.

See this very good article on how slack time can aid innovation https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-slack-time-so-important-innovation-phil-mckinney?trk=hp-feed-article-title-like )

But back to the central point, why do some succeed and others fail? I believe that adaptability is probably the major key along with the propensity to continually innovate, this still needs to be deeply inculcated into the culture of the business even as it grows.

In one organisation where I worked we provided all staff with a copy of the book “Who moved my cheese” by Spencer Johnson which is a really good business parable on change management and adaptability. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Moved_My_Cheese%3F we were able to see a marked improvement in the acceptance of some of the changes we were implementing as the business grew.

And to quote Haw from the book, “If you do not change, you can become extinct”.

 

Field Service Management in Microsoft CRM (FieldOne Sky) February 11, 2016

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, FieldOne, FieldOne Sky, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft CRM 2016, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, service management.
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Lion True blank and white 700 by 438

 

With the release of CRM 2016, Microsoft have included a fantastic field service module with the application. This is an add-on solution therefore is not visible with new installs. As is the case with the lion in the picture above it’s there if you look for it. However once installed as a solution a whole new world of functionality is going to be available for you.

I have recently heard some statistics from Microsoft that there are many more people out there who have jobs where they have to go and install things, fix things, inspect things, deliver things etc. than salespeople who go out and sell things.

I believe that they are correct, and this has been an area where there have always been bespoke and vertical systems developed to cater for such roles, typically in the operational space of a business. However in reality having this type of functionality as part and parcel of your CRM system makes a whole lot of sense to me.

So there you have it, yes Microsoft Dynamics CRM now has fully comprehensive field service capabilities within the application. This augments the case management functionality and updated knowledgebase. This blog is the first in a series that will outline the functionality and put into context how it actually all works and what you can do with the application.

I would like to dig a little deeper into the whole concept of people who do things. For example there are many tradespeople who need to install and maintain equipment, appliances, systems, installations etc. They need to be routed to their jobs, they may need to consume spares and accessories. They will need to record their time and ideally should have as little down time as possible between calls. If they have to replace the product in order to return it to a vendor, they need to record this, if the product or service is under warranty their actions are likely to be different should this not be the case.

There are also people who have a role where they need to inspect things, for example fire extinguishers, or swimming pool fences, building consents, roads, graffiti, street lights, cleanliness in restaurants the list is endless. They also need to be able to record what happened, take photos, plan additional meetings, make notes of non-compliance to name but a few.

Government officials from both local, central and state along with individuals from NGO’s and non-profit organizations are often sent out to interact with other people and groups, sometimes to inspect things, notify and pass on information, hold meetings, collect information and to otherwise engage with stakeholders, and when the resources need to be allocated by skill, location and urgency some form of system and planning is required.

Consider also the need to be able to book, schedule and arrange these visits so that the correct person with the correct skill, equipment, availability and even spare parts is scheduled to undertake this work. This is no simple task it requires some interesting algorithms and geo map coordination with knowledge of expected and actual timeframes to complete specific tasks. You should be able to book an individual to make a call to resolve a problem and have the certainty that you can book the next appointment and be confident that your representative will be on time and generally not be delayed due to poor planning.

Once you have a field force out and about with vehicles and or people all over the place, this needs to be graphically represented on maps, running sheets and calendars which will give the organisation the capability to react to ever changing situations, redeploy assets and reschedule others on the fly.

Where the business model has a sales team who also have interactions with the same customers or stakeholders to whom these service specialists are attending, they also need visibility as to when the install took place, who repaired the item, who raised the case, when a restaurant was inspected and the appropriate findings etc. As FieldOne Sky and CRM are in effect one system, this is visible, this is normal, this is just standard good old fashioned CRM.

And what is more, all of this needs to be possible from a mobile application so that the person undertaking the role is able to undertake their work from anywhere at any time connected or not.

Think for a moment about resourcing, how do we actually determine the rules that need to apply to get the right person allocated to a job? Do rules have dependencies? Can you fix a stove if you don’t have the correct components in your van? What happened to previous cases, are there knowledge results and learnings that can shorten the duration of a call by pre-empting a solution for the person on the ground? These are all elements that need to be configured and set up in the background to enable the system to operate effectively.

What I am describing is a range of functionality that has a fair degree of complexity all of which is catered for within this FieldOne Sky application in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It is a very large application, it has almost the same number of entities that are found in CRM, a multitude of menu items and a host of configuration settings all of which will be detailed in this series of blogs.

This is a view of some of the items on the FieldOne Sky menu. Most of these items have dependencies on other items and specific functionality to enable the whole system to operate correctly.

Field One Settings

 

Although this is a large application, being part of Microsoft Dynamics CRM means that it can also be used very effectively by small to medium sized businesses without the necessity to have one system for CRM and another for field service management.

Next week I will start on Cases, Jobs and Work Orders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All views and opinions are personal opinions of the Hosk