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Field Service Enhancements in Dynamics 365 December 2016 Update

A short overview of the updates made to Field Service with Dynamics 365 December 2016 Update

In Microsoft's first update release of Dynamics 365, the December 2016 update, a number of enhancements were released for the Field Service capability. Below I'll list them as provided by Microsoft before I explain how I think they impact the capabilities and value proposition of the product in the market and how our customers might take advantage of them. Specifically, the changes included:

  • Connected field service: Connected field service, new in this release, helps service organizations move from a costly break-fix model to a proactive and predictive service model by combining monitoring and predictive maintenance with Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning.

    Key benefits include:

    • Reduce downtime with proactive alerts from connected devices.

    • Address issues faster by remotely monitoring devices and keeping customers in the loop.

    • Reduce maintenance costs by dispatching a technician with the right expertise, availability, and location to do the job.

      As a platform, IoT also enables ISVs and partners to enable new IoT scenarios on any Dynamics 365 entity.

  • Resource scheduling optimization: With resource scheduling optimization, you can set up the system to automatically schedule multiple items on a recurring basis to minimize overall travel time and make efficient use of all schedulable resources. Resource scheduling optimization takes into account a number of constraints and objectives when optimizing schedules, such as resource availability, skills required, priority and duration, and time windows.

  • Unified scheduling experience: With the new unified scheduling experience, you can schedule anything. You can enable it for any entity, including custom entities. For example, you can turn it on to schedule marketing visits for an opportunity or book time to work on a case, work orders, bookings, and more.

    For organizations that use Field Service capabilities, you’ll see a new integrated scheduling experience.

    For organizations that use Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation capabilities, you’ll have a new improved scheduling experience.

First and foremost, IoT has been evolving from concept to application for years, so it's encouraging to see Microsoft paying it attention as it provides service providers a distinct ability to manage fleets in on service equipment, especially equipment that is installed and operating at their customer's premise, in a way that substantially reduces downtime outages. This is especially true for network and telecom providers, where such tech can also be used for carrier equipment as well, but it's also true for building management and other applications, even down to lights burning out if you are willing to purchase or modify the physical equipment. With the addition of this capability to Field Service, I'm curious to see how existing customers make use of this feature to auto-schedule and maintain both company and customer equipment more effectively.

The scheduling enhancements make something already great in Field Service even better than before. I'm particularly excited about the ability to scheduled any entity, even custom entities, as this opens up a whole array of opportunities for tending all sorts on ongoing business processes. New recurring options provide even more powerful optimization capabilities, and the power of the scheduler has even been brought into the Project Services Automation capability. The two modules perform important functions organizationally and I'm curios to see more customers take advantage of both capabilities together in order to see what additional synergies may exist. I would expect our customers to take full advantage of these scheduling feature enhancements as they move into Dynamics 365, since they unlock even more business process automation capabilities then previously.

Contact sales@teameasi.com for more info about Dynamics 365, Field Service, or Project Service Automation or with any questions about our firm or how we can help you improve your business outcomes.