Microsoft Dynamics CRM Helps You Deliver Resources to Your Customers on Schedule

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Need to schedule the services your business delivers to your customers?

Does your business need to plan and manage customer services – with your specific business resources scheduled for specific times and places? Dynamics CRM Service Scheduling can work for you.

A recent Crestwood Associates request was from a business that sells, but also rents, industrial machinery. These machines and their accessories can be challenging to keep track of and any lack of availability can delay or prevent a machine rental.  Its rental business has become a profitable service and as it grows, it requires careful management to maximize revenue.

The initial customer interest was in Dynamics CRM to improve general sales and marketing and to increase revenues and profits. But Crestwood Associates’ sales professional provided a bonus in this case. Dynamics CRM provides functionality that will improve the company’s business processes in two additional key areas: managing machine rentals and tracking machine maintenance.

This functionality is provided from a Dynamics CRM module underutilized with Dynamics CRM – Service Scheduling.

As you might expect, this small growing business managed its rental business using an Excel spreadsheet. There are at least two challenges to using Excel for this application.

  1. Visibility/Accessibility. The schedule can only be seen and updated by the person keeping the Excel scheduling document. This makes it difficult for anyone else to know the machine availability. The scheduler needs to be brought into every rental opportunity to check machine availability and schedule the machine. This is time consuming and slows down the sales process.
  2. Integration to other business software. Any information in Excel can be a challenge to relate to other business information such as tracking machine rental orders.  It is important to see the history of the machine rental usage and overall lifecycle, especially to plan and track maintenance.

Dynamics CRM Service Scheduling allows the entire organization to access this schedule to see machine availability. This includes channel partners and outside sales people who often need to access the latest information to see what machines are available and when.

Machines are rented from several locations. Visibility to see the status of all of the machines, not just locally, may be needed to bring in machines in order to rent from other locations if they are available.

In addition to Service Scheduling, the application involved setting up a new Dynamics CRM record called “Machines” which is used to track individual machines by serial number. Information can be tracked for each individual machine history such as who has rented the machine, how long it has been in use and service and preventive maintenance history.

To demonstrate how this application could work for a relatively simple rental application, we have begun to model the company’s machine rental business.

There are several different elements to consider in scheduling a customer service activity. The basics of this application include:

Customer: Who requires the service?

Services: What does the customer need? In this case, it is the rental of a specific type of machine.

Resources: What type of resource is needed to provide this service? In this case, it is a specific machine of the type needed. Each machine is identified by a serial number.

Resource Groups: This is a set of all the specific machines that will meet the customer service requirements, grouped by machine type. As an example, a service rental might require a 60 HP machine. All the 60 HP machines can be grouped together as a Resource Group of 60 HP type machines.

Service Site: Where is the resource located? Dynamics CRM supports multiple locations.

Resource Availability: When will the service be provided? These are rules for resource availability; for example, the company is closed Sundays so no machines are available to rent.

Service Calendar: When are the specific resources available? The Calendar is a graphical display of resource utilization and availability. It allows schedulers to see at a glance what resources are booked and what resources are available.

Selection Rules: Dynamics CRM can incorporate decision rules to help manage services. For example, you can add one day to the end date before the next available date to make time for machine inspection and cleaning. Rules can include context dependent configuration options to support various service requirements. Be aware dependencies can quickly become complex, so be careful to maintain flexibility.

Service Activity Scheduling: This is the Dynamics CRM scheduling engine. Dynamics CRM will reference the requested service and time periods to automatically find available machine resources. It incorporates all the elements to display a list of machines and when they are available.

Service Activity: This is the Dynamics CRM service ticket that brings it all together: the service, the resource (machine), the customer and the time period.

Here is an example:

The scheduler selects a customer, a service, a location and a time period. In this case, the service is for a 60 HP type machine. The time period selected was a range of two days next week.

Dynamics CRM looks at the service and pulls the resources from the resource group that can perform the service, considers the resource rules and availability, and presents the resources and time periods available in a list view.

The scheduler selects one of the available machine options, and then presses the schedule button. This schedules the machine and opens up a Service Activity Ticket to confirm all the details such as the customer, location, time period, and machine resource.

A Sales Order is created and the Service Activity is attached to it. When the Service Activity closes, the Sales Order is invoiced. Machine maintenance is also tracked as a Service Activity. The complete machine history can be tracked thru the Service Activities.

We hope you find this helpful. Uncover where in your organization Excel spreadsheets are used to manage your business processes. Let us show you the benefits of Dynamics CRM to manage your unique business application. Please contact Crestwood Associates, Chicago’s Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Dynamics GP experts.

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