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What new capabilities are coming to Dynamics 365 for Field Service in the latest update?

As mentioned previously, Microsoft recently revealed its plans for its core Business Applications, as well as for Dynamics 365. The latest plans will cover the next major cloud update launched between October 2018 and March 2019.

In our previous blog posts, we’ve covered the new updates for Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Marketing apps and now we’ve shifted our focus to cover the new and improved capabilities coming to Dynamics 365 for Field Service in October/November.

NB: It is important to note that these points/dates are subject to change and as mentioned below some of the new functions highlighted will initially be released as a public preview.

Crew Scheduling

There are many occasions where companies will need to allocate multiple resources for field service work. In previous versions of Dynamics 365 for Field Service, the app was designed for booking individual resources per job.

However, in the new update, you can combine individual resources to either meet on-site or to collaborate together remotely to complete work orders.

Furthermore, crews can be combined as defined resource groups who will be given the same work for a set period of time. Typically a crew meets at a location in the morning, shares a vehicle and are together for the whole day from job to job.

Multi-Resource Scheduling

For those responsible for scheduling, you can dynamically assemble a group of resources that will converge at the same time and location for intraday scheduling, which allows multiple configurations for how a team can be assembled.

These resources can be mixed and matched up between pools and individual resources, individuals and crews and people, equipment and facilities. These configurations will depend on the resource availability as well as their current commitments.

Resource Pools

One of the other options available for bookings allows resources to be associated with resource pools. These resource pools can come to include facilities, pools of accounts/contacts/users or pools of equipment.

This allows schedulers to be able to book requirements to a generic pool initially without having to make the decision about which resource will be carrying out the work. By not allocating specific resources to the booking, central schedulers will be able to leave the finer details to the local resource managers.

Even though specific resources are not named straight away, the capacity of the pool is established from pool members in order to avoid over committing. However, Microsoft has revealed that an element of overbooking will be incorporated to take into account expected cancellations.

The pool members can be permanently or temporarily assigned to pools which is determined by selected dates.

Facility Scheduling

Another option that has been added is the capability to allow service jobs to be undertaken away from the customer’s location or at the service provider’s location.

The examples that are used in the preview guide help to showcase scheduling for a physical space (reserving a room at a facility for an event or exercise class) or reserving an appointment with a person at a facility (booking a tutor in a focus room or fixing a laptop at a Microsoft retail store).

Schedule Board Split View

Following this update, schedulers will be able to drill into information on the schedule board without the need to load new screens or lose the context of where they are on the board by dividing the board into two.

An example of this could be that a dispatcher wants to quickly see all the resources assigned to a requirement group, so would have this on the bottom half of the schedule board.

Fulfilment Preferences

To improve the overall experience for your schedulers and customers and to save time, the following new preferences can be applied:

  • Preset intervals to offer appointments, consultations and phone calls every 15 minutes, on the half hour, the hour or choose another time.
  • Time groups to showcase availability windows to schedulers.
  • To only show the top results which will help to declutter the scheduling screen by limiting the results.

Capacity Scheduling

The resource requirements can now help to specify how much effort a requirement will need from a resource. From this, the Scheduling Assistant will look at a resource’s defined capacity during work hours to see if the necessary effort is available.

Also contained within the Schedule Board are visual indicators that will help to show when a resource has additional capacity, even if there is a booking at a given time.

This could be particularly useful in allowing work to be carried out at a facility where a highly qualified technician could multi-task or where an experienced team member could complete more work.

Entitlement Management

Previously only available in the Dynamics 365 for Customer Service app, this has now been deployed on the Field Service app.

Essentially, this allows levels of support to which a customer is entitled to be specified in the field service context which can mean that entitlements can now be applied to work orders.

Service Level Agreement Management

For the next update, Field Service has also enabled a service level agreement (SLA) to establish SLAs for customers and populate SLA details into work orders. This means that the scheduling processes will take into account commitments based on SLAs.

Microsoft Bot Framework Integration

The vast majority of field service work involves repeating the same steps on any given job. This comes to include updating travel status, opening directions and viewing service tasks.

Rather than technicians manually working through the actions on their mobile, these actions can now be streamlined through conversational and hands-free experiences in the Field Service app.

Better still, this can be achieved by surfacing a bot developed specifically by the Microsoft Bot Framework in the mobile app as well as by a template bot code interfacing with Dynamics.

Background Location Sharing (Public Preview)

The Dynamics 365 for Field Service app will look to allow technicians to share their current locations. This will create a location data stream which will get sent to Dynamics 365 for Field Service that surfaces a technician’s location on the schedule board and allows for events to be triggered based on a technician’s current location.

This is particularly useful in scenarios where technicians are running late so that work orders can be reallocated to a technician nearby instead.

Push Notifications (Public Preview)

To help improve the timelines of actions, location sharing within the Field Service mobile app will look to allow technicians to receive push notifications. These notifications can be easily configured and can be triggered to send when a technician is given a booking or when a work booking has changed.

Extensible Resource Availability (Public Preview)

For companies that have different business closures can now query a table that is able to track the days they are closed. An example of this could be used to reflect different opening/closing times which can be used to automatically remove resources associated with these units during the hours of business closure.

In-Form Scheduling (Public Preview)

In some scenarios, service agents whilst on a call with a customer may want to quickly check availability for a requirement within the context of their current workflow without needing to pop out a schedule board. A new and improved lightweight widget is expected to be available as a preview in the next update where the users can select from the top options in a simple list or calendar view.

External Scheduling Apps (Public Preview)

For businesses that want to schedule resources outside of the Dynamics user interface, Microsoft will be offering as a public preview a Universal Resource Scheduling PowerApp that will help to query real-time availability and apply booking details.

Self-Service Scheduling APIs (Public Preview)

Universal Resource Scheduling’s self-service scheduling APIs ultimately allows organisations to embed a scheduling widget on their own web application. This will allow customers to search for availability and book appointments.

If you are looking to improve the way that you do field service work across your business through the implementation of Dynamics 365 for Field Service or are looking for extra support or consultation on the best option for your business, then get in touch with Advantage today to discuss your requirements.

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