Field Service Excellence

I’m writing this post cruising comfortably at 27,000 feet on my way to FieldOne Bootcamp training in Toronto for early adoption partners.  Well, at least as comfortable as you can be on a small regional jet packed tightly with people like a flying tin of sardines.  Field service is a hot area for CRM.  In fact, three of the last four Dynamics CRM demos I have done have all included an element of Field Service.  There are a number of reasons for this surge of interest.  And for manufacturers who deliver field service as an essential element of their customer value, the reasons to consider a field service solution are even more compelling.

The field service offering for Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the recently acquired FieldOne Sky module.  FieldOne Sky is a native xRM solution that lives in Dynamics CRM and connects with the core platform, Office365, PowerBI, and CRM functional modules in support of service business processes.  Depending on your level of CRM licensing, some companies may find that they already have some level of access to the FieldOne Sky solution.  That said, one of the most compelling aspects to Microsoft’s FieldOne solution is its value.  Given the low total cost of ownership, capabilities provided, and the ability to extend the solution, the ROI on an implementation of a FieldOne can be realized immediately.

So why is this functional area so hot in the CRM space?  First, companies are realizing that creating customer and brand loyalty requires a world class field service experience.  Field service is a critical component to delivering value as a part of the overall customer experience.  Second, companies are looking for cost and productivity efficiencies within their service operations.  Implementing a field service solution allows a service business to scale while minimizing corresponding administrative and support costs .  Lastly, companies are looking to grow revenue and improve margins in their field service operations.  Growing field service revenue requires companies to effectively manage service agreements and engagements, simplify their field service experience, and drive incremental field sales through mobility and access to customer product usage information.

For manufacturing companies with a field service organization, the Field One Sky intelligent scheduling and dispatch capability is very impressive and sits at the heart of the module.  The user experience of managing field resources flows out of a simple drag-and-drop interface that provides a visual dashboard showing the status of all scheduled service jobs.  Dispatch users can manually schedule using an intelligent assistant or they can drag work orders (jobs) from either a list or a map of geocoded field resource locations.  Supporting the scheduling capability is a set of configured service intelligence that aligns the skills, territories, certifications, and customer preferences with the resource being scheduled.  This takes any guess-work out of the dispatch function and ensures that the right field resource is assigned to the right service engagement at the right time.

Another aspect of field service that is difficult to manage is customer asset and product inventory management.  The FieldOne module provides support for tracking customer assets and service activity.  Not only does this provide the field service team with important information, but supports key value drivers such as arriving with the right parts to resolve the problem or tools to ensuring the field agent can complete a Preventative Maintenance task without a second visit to the customer site.  The product inventory capability supports field service operations by allowing companies to manage the parts and supplies required to deliver service.  Product inventory is managed across any number of locations from warehouses to field resource vehicles.  Visibility to product and part inventory helps to ensure products are available ahead of time to complete repairs and prevent inventory “gaps” from driving up service costs.

No field service solution would be complete without a mobility offering.  By definition, field service requires supporting a mobile work force.  The FieldOne module provides an easy to use mobile field service application that supports devices running Android, iOS, and Windows in both on-line and off-line modes.  The application provides field resources visibility into their work order backlog, customer assets and activity, GPS mapping and directions, product inventory, and job cost input.  Additionally, the application allows field location capture of images, files, notes, and customer signature at the point of service.

Recently, Microsoft announced their plans to deliver a Project Services module on the Dynamics CRM platform.  This functionality will allow service organizations to manage project and operational engagements delivered to the customer.  While the Project Services module provides a broader range of capabilities, its ability to support field service work with estimation, planning, assignment, progress tracking, and billing is essential to supporting complex customer facing engagements.  Whether as a means to support existing project services or enable new service offerings, this powerful module will provide the capability to manage field work that ranges from installs to repairs.  Project services will allow manufacturers to deepen the customer value chain, strengthen project communication and collaboration, and further build around the delivery of customer experience excellence.

Well the pilot has just informed us that we will be landing shortly.  So it looks like I need to “land” this post as well.  I’ve only touched the surface of Field Services and how manufacturers can benefit from the Dynamics CRM FieldOne offering.  If you are unfamiliar with the FieldOne offering, I encourage you to check it out.  And look for more posts here in the future where I will elaborate further on specific field service functional areas.  Also, I’d love to hear from anyone in manufacturing who is considering or has implemented the FieldOne solution.  Feel free to e-mail me or comment to this post.

by mark schindler
mcaConnect – Innovative Solutions. Exceptionally Delivered.
Mark is a CRM/xRM Solutions Architect on the mcaConnect Dynamics CRM team with experience in developing innovative solutions supporting front-office marketing, sales and services processes as xRM solutions on the Dynamics CRM platform for manufacturing and other industries.
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