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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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2 comments

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Customer service in Microsoft CRM 2016 November 12, 2015

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, Microsoft CRM 2016, service management.
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lenses2

The release of CRM 2016 is imminent and there are lots of blogs, tweets and even a few really cool videos doing the rounds, however I would like to put into context one element of what all of these channels are telling us.

What is available with CRM 2016, is not just a token upgrade of the existing customer service module, there is a whole lot of new functionality and capabilities within the system.

To quote Bob Stutz from Microsoft “The way people interact with businesses has changed dramatically, and companies are looking for ways to respond.  A recent Customer 2020 report noted that by the end of this decade, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator — placing customer service at the epicenter of a company’s ability to deliver a consistent and intelligent engagement experience.”

So what has Microsoft actually done with the service module? It has put in place the tools and mechanisms to enable businesses to get a head start on this differentiator outlined above.

They have introduced something called the “Interactive Service Hub” this allows data to be presented logically, graphically and contextually. It no longer looks the same, it is vibrant, powerful and obvious.

The enhanced Unified Service Desk has had a makeover and now introduces a chat element, via Skype and Yammer, this in reality means the capability to interact directly with a customer from within the application. This is becoming more and more the norm today for customer service.

However if you look closely at what Bob has said, it’s all about customer service. Many organisations have their own internal help desks or functions where the customers they service are actually people within their own business. Consider for a moment an internal IT service desk, they need to raise tickets, action requests and meet SLA’s etc. this is what Microsoft Dynamics CRM can deliver.

Therefore it maybe is worth having another look at this new functionality, look at things from a different perspective and through some other lenses, consider that the customer may actually not be who you first thought it was.

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All views and opinions are personal opinions of the Hosk