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Dianna Davis - Dynamics Objects

Are You IT MSP? – Read How to Improve the Way IT Managed Service Providers Manage Incidents (Cases) with Dynamics CRM?

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Dynamics CRM’s Service module and more specifically the Case entity, is a great tool for managing incidents. But when it comes to IT Managed Service Providers (MSP), managing incidents is a complex process; the Case entity of CRM out-of-the-box does not provide the necessary functionality required by IT Managed Service Providers.

Q-Service is a solution imported to CRM, which provides key features not available in CRM. Q-Service is part of QoS-IT, a complete solution for MSP that integrates CRM with Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) software and with QuickBooks for invoicing, accounts, products, and customer’s payments.  These three standalone solutions  work together or can be purchased individually. Read more: www.QoS-IT.com

Here are six of the most important features that Q-Service adds to CRM:

  • Synchronization with Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) Software

Q-Service adds the Device entity to CRM. The device form stores the equipment’s details, such as desktop computers, servers and network switches.  Devices are linked to cases and keep the history of all cases (incidents) related to the device.   With RMM-Sync, devices and cases are synchronized with Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) software, which is the primary tool used by MSP to monitor network equipment. RMM software like Kaseya, GFI-MAX, N-able or LabTech deploys agents on the customer’s devices. The agents monitor the network and trigger alerts. RMM-Sync synchronizes between the RMM alerts and creates corresponding cases in CRM, linked to the device that raised the alert. When remote access to a device is required, such as to install software or repair the computer, the remote session can be started directly from the device entity within CRM or within Outlook, without the need to switch between applications.

  • Service Items

IT Managed Service providers (MSP) sell products, like computers, servers, and network equipment, but their main income is from selling services, a feature that cannot be implemented with the CRM product entity. Q-Service adds Service Rates entity to CRM. Service rate records are linked to Accounts via Service Price List. Each customer has its own special prices, when it comes to billing and invoicing. Each service rate is a charge at hourly rate or at fix rate plus tax.

It is common practice for MSP, to offer customers to purchase pre-paid hours.  Service rates can be assigned to prepaid hours, which will be deducted from the customer’s balance of pre-paid hours.

  • Recurring invoices

The service of constantly monitoring customer’s network to ensure network availability to all system users, and performing the necessary maintenance to support network availability, is usually charged periodically, at a fixed rate (mostly once per month). There are MSP that offer a system whereby the customer is committed to purchasing X number of prepaid hours per month, used to cover monitoring and maintenance services. At the end of the month, the customer is allowed / not allowed to rollover the balance of pre-paid hours, to the following month. Q-Service adds this functionality to the Contract and SLA Contract Lines entities of CRM to manage automated billing for recurring services and automate the prepaid hour’s system based on monthly commitment to purchase prepaid hours.

  • Activities

Q-Service adds three specially designed activities for IT managed service providers.

Remote Job – to record works related to remote access to the customer’s network system

On-Site Job – for works done at the customer’s premises

Workshop – for IT repair services done in house.

Each activity can be scheduled using linked Service Appointment. The activity is then synchronised with the Outlook calendar of the technician. Q-Service plug-ins will ensure that closing an activity will update the corresponding Service Appointment and vice versa.

With Q-Service, MSP can add any type of customised activity, which will behave exactly the same way as Q-Service activities, in the sense of linking to Service Appointment, reported time, work details and invoicing.

  • Billing, invoicing & Reports

 The next important step after the incident is resolved and the case is ready to be closed, is invoicing the customer for all the activities (jobs) related to the case. During case resolution process, activities are assigned to technicians. When works are completed, the technician reports work details, start and end times, and duration. The technician will then mark the activity as Completed. Case manager can view all open and completed activities. When the case is resolved, the case manager clicks the Billing button on the ribbon, and assigns service rates to activities, to create had-hoc invoice or add the billing items to monthly invoice.

It is important to emphasise that even if the MSP does not bill the customer for activities, as they may be part of monthly service plan, it is still important managing cases with activities and ensure that each activity has duration and work details. There are two main reasons to do so:

  1. Customers are often not aware to how much effort and resources are put into maintaining their networks.  Use Q-Service reports to advice customers on the number of hours and activities required to resolve incidents, during one month period.
  2. Similar reports are used internally to measure business efficiency, such as how many hours and how many activities are required to resolve a case or what works and how  much time each of the CRM users spends, in a day / week or month, to resolve technical issues.

Q-Service comes with generic reports that can be used with Q-Service but also with CRM out-of-the-box. You can download these rerts free of chargepo

  • Portal & Email2Case

New cases can be created manually, but it’s not the most efficient way to create cases. Q-Service automatically converts incoming emails, sent to the support email address, and route them to support queue in CRM. A plugin analyses the Email sender and creates new case, links the case to the Customer and Responsible Contact fields, and copies the subject line and the email body to the case’s title & description fields.

Providing customer self-service portal is another efficient way to save time. Customers can submit cases, view case status, invoices and knowledgebase articles from CRM. You can download DNN2CRM modules from www.DNNintegration.com  and try them on your own DNN based portal or read my previous article: Better Customer Service with Self-Service Portal for Dynamics CRM 2011

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