There's a famously popular business school case study on optimisation…a cement manufacturing and distribution company operating in a densely-populated and traffic-snarled Mexico City, where getting cement to building sites at the right time on the right day - and sometimes at short notice - had been an almost impossible ask. According to the CEO, trucks used to line up outside plants to get cement and it wasn't unusual for them to wait for several days to pick up an order.    

Back in the days before the term "digital transformation" was even sprung upon an unsuspecting and somewhat dubious audience, this company used the comparatively limited technological capabilities of the day to enable a complete rethink and a new approach to the problem of how to get cement to customers when and where they needed it.   

Times have changed in some ways. But many organisations today still aren't sure how well they've optimised their provision of service to customers in the field. Too often, it's because they simply completely lack visibility of what's going on beyond "These ten jobs are assigned to Frank, these fifteen to Michelle, and these three to Chris".  

Service delivered in the field is often operated on the equivalent of a paper pad or a whiteboard. Erstwhile recorded with pen and paper, service queues and job bookings may have progressed only to their digital equivalent - e.g. a spreadsheet of jobs and their assignment and status. And while Excel is a great tool for analysis and insights, it's not the ideal for tracking service job assignments and their status. How does the worker out on the road record that they've completed the job…and what happens if they were able to get half the job done, but need to return later?  

Someone back at base still has to manually scribble on the pad or whiteboard, or manually update the Excel spreadsheet based on emails,  phone calls or a paper record of yesterday's jobs.  

Flow diagram depicting field service.

Dynamics 365 for Field Service

Microsoft has made a habit of democratising technology for productivity, making it available to more people in more places. Dynamics 365 for Field Service continues this trend, for organisations who provide service to customers in the field, i.e. on the customer's premises.  

There are key advantages that Dynamics 365 for Field Service provides companies:  

  1. It provides one central tool through which field services jobs can be raised and scheduled, across installation, pre-emptive scheduled maintenance, and unscheduled break-fix requirements.  
  2. Field service jobs connect seamlessly with both service (cases) and sales (opportunity) processes. This means that service jobs can be raised, scheduled and tracked to completion as part of a successful sale (e.g. an installation), or as part of a case raised for a customer (e.g. break-fix or pre-emptive service).  
  3. It provides a mobile app for service technicians, complete with full offline access. Technicians receive their assigned jobs, navigate to them, record work completed (or follow-up work requirements), and any parts used on the job. Technicians' updates are shown on the job inside Dynamics 365 in near real-time, allowing cases or opportunities to be progressed, and updates to be reflected in reporting.  
  4. Jobs can be scheduled based on multiple criteria: customers' preferences (technician, day, time), technician skills, availability, geographic proximity and anticipated travel time, and even through more complex AI-driven optimisation algorithms when applied to larger service fleets. Further, jobs can be scheduled to Crews consisting of people, equipment and facilities.   
  5. Because it's Dynamics 365 all of this becomes part of your single customer relationship view, and  
  6. It's seamlessly integrated with your customer and employee interactions conducted through Office 365. In practical terms, this means all interactions starting with a customer's email request, to the raising of a case, creation of a job request, scheduling and completion of the job and case - all these occur in a single shared data platform spanned by Office 365 and Dynamics 365.   
    Below: Drag-and-drop scheduling that factors in availability and travel time:
Screenshot of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Hourly view.

It's about results for customers and for your organisation, service delivered at the right time and place, with the right person and equipment - while reducing the cost and effort of doing so.

Right person, right place, right time, right skills, right equipment

Ultimately, Dynamics 365 for Field Service can save employees' time and while increasing their utilisation, removing administrative effort and enabling employees to spend more of their time actually adding value to your customers.  

We're happy to show you in person how we've helped organisations in New Zealand and Australia improve their field service management. Just get in touch…and we'll schedule it for the right time, right place and right people.


By Jonathan Rickard

Great outcomes start with great conversations


Great outcomes start with great conversations

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