I recently heard statistics from Microsoft indicating 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.
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.
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.
In my next post I will take a look at Cases, Jobs and Work Orders.