Smart Manufacturing: Optimizing Digital Operations

Smart manufacturing is the implementation of digitization to streamline processes, create efficiencies, and work smarter, not harder. Similar to Lean Manufacturing, Smart Manufacturing is taking efficiency to the next level to help organizations achieve success.

This is the second in a three-part series on Smart Manufacturing. In Part 1, we described the role smart manufacturing plays in delivering new services. In the forthcoming Part 3, we’ll discuss how smart manufacturing is transforming the workforce. Today, in Part 2, we’re writing about how smart manufacturing is optimizing digital operations. Enjoy!

Optimizing Digital Operations

Manufacturing as a concept is in the midst of a fourth major industrial revolution. The first and most widely recognized was the introduction of water/steam power in the early 1800’s. A century later, manufacturing was forever changed by the emergence of mass production and electricity – the second major industrial revolution. About 50 years ago, manufacturing was again revolutionized – this time by electronic automation. And now, with the advances in smart automation, manufacturing is changing exponentially right before our eyes. Indeed, machine learning and artificial intelligence are changing literally everything – and smart manufacturing is a perfect example!

Let’s consider some of the problems that used to plague manufacturing companies:

Through the relatively simple act of optimizing digital operations by implementing smart manufacturing technology, such problems are nonexistent. How is that possible? Well, a robust technology solution like Dynamics 365 – especially with related Microsoft Business Applications working in concert – is what makes it possible. And it does so by empowering all of the following for organizations:  

In addition, with Dynamics 365 for Field Service – and particularly with Microsoft’s Connected Field Service, which is tailor-made for manufacturing organizations – today’s manufacturers are optimizing their digital operations.

There’s a lot more to smart manufacturing than just optimizing digital operations to increase efficiency and revenue. Learn more by downloading this digital transformation fact sheet and in a few weeks, look for the final installment in this 3-part smart manufacturing series. Stay tuned!

Travel Time in Field Service

Tracking and minimizing travel time is critical for a field service organization’s success as it helps to lower operating costs. In addition, travel time estimates can help you communicate with customers more effectively by allowing you to give smaller time-range windows for arrival. And if your business allows you to charge customers for travel time, Dynamics 365 Field Service can automate that process for you.

There are several steps required in configuring your system to track travel time, both for estimating and potentially for charging on invoices. This blog will help you navigate the various steps easily.

The first step in tracking travel time is to determine your purpose. This will help you decide which configuration steps are needed in your system.

Let’s start with the configurations needed, regardless of your purpose.

STEP 1: Enable Bing Maps

1. Navigate to Resources > Administration > Scheduling Parameters > Resource Scheduling.

2. Set Connect to Maps to Yes.

3. Set Auto Update Booking Travel to Enabled.

4. If you want to see Bing Maps on the Work Order or other forms, see Option Step #1.

5. LEGACY INTERFACE: If you prefer to use the legacy interface, follow these steps.

6. OPTIONAL: To show Bing Maps on Work Orders and other forms.

Privacy Notice: When you connect to maps and enable geo coding, information is sent to Bing Maps. This includes schedule configuration and location-relevant work order details. This allows Bing Maps to determine the geo location of a specific address and calculate distance and travel time between locations.

STEP 2: Auto Geo Code Addresses

1. Navigate to Field Service > Administration > Field Service Settings.

2. Set Auto Geo Code Addresses to Yes.

STEP 3: Configure Resources

1. Navigate to Resources > Resources.

2. Ensure all of your Bookable Resources have the following settings on the Scheduling tab.

3. Ensure all of your relevant Work Orders have Work Location set to Onsite.

STEP 4: Configure the Schedule Board

1. By default, travel time is shown as separate from working duration.

2. If you want to turn that feature on or off, open Schedule Board Settings and adjust accordingly.

STEP 5: Configure Travel Charge information

NOTE: This step only applies if you will be charging travel time on invoices sent to some or all of your customers.

1. For each Service Account where travel time will be charged, open the Account record and navigate to the Field Service section.

2. Navigate to Field Service > Settings > Field Service Settings > Field Service.

3. Specify a product in the Travel Charge Item field.

4. OPTIONAL: Specify a Travel Pay Type in the Resource section.

That’s it! In just 5 (relatively) easy steps, you’ve configured your system to automatically calculate travel time and add travel time to invoices where appropriate.

A Few Items from the “Also Good to Know” Category

Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more tips and tricks. Happy travelling!

How to Engage with Today's Prosumer of Renewable Energy

This is the second installment of a three-part “how-to” series devoted to exploring Dynamics 365 solutions in the Utilities industry. Over the past few months, we’ve shared insights into how utility companies can overcome technology challenges that are unique to their industry. We’re now getting into how the market for utilities has changed dramatically and with Dynamics 365 for Field Service combined with Microsoft’s Connected Field Service, utilities can adapt and innovate. Enjoy!

Prosumers, who generate electricity and renewable energy that bring costs down, have become a major part of the business for power utilities companies. What that means is transforming the business to provide deeper and broader levels of tracking and customer interaction is critical for utility businesses. It’s also a new and different technology requirement for the industry. With this shift in business, there is a lot of room for error in terms of monitoring and managing energy savings to help prosumers save money.

Not only do these companies need to provide the electricity to power homes and businesses, they also need to provide the services consumers expect of them: more on-demand information and services to help them save money and help the environment. In an effort to remain competitive, some utility companies are now providing power usage audits, upgrading consumers to smart meters, and sharing efficiency best practices in monthly newsletters.

To power utility businesses we say this: wherever you are in the journey to engaging and working with the prosumer, you need to have digital transformation somewhere on your horizon. A solution like Dynamics 365 has the various workloads needed to meet consumers and prosumers, alike. Customer service, Connected Field Service, and Asset Management are just a few of the capabilities that utilities can leverage to…

Consumer and prosumer engagements can also be improved with portal solutions through Power Apps or Power Virtual Agents.

Take the next step to digital transformation with Dynamics 365 with PowerObjects. Read this Utilities industry overview for more information and stay tuned for the final installment of this “how-to” series.

Service Accounts vs. Billing Accounts in Dynamics 365 for Field Service

As your organization begins to set up the data necessary to run your Dynamics 365 Field Service system, you’re told that you need to designate Service Accounts and Billing Accounts. Seems clear enough: Service Accounts determine where the work is performed, while Billing Accounts pay for the work. No problem. And yet… there are a few little details that aren’t totally clear. This blog will look at the difference between Service Accounts and Billing Accounts, what information each of them send to the Work Order, and when information from one overrides information on the other. It’s a head-to-head battle no one wants to miss!

In general, Service Accounts hold information about:

Billing Accounts, on the other hand, control:

It probably won’t surprise you to know that Service Location information comes from the Service Account. After all, it’s right there in the title! And everyone knows that Customer Assets (often where work occurs) are attached to Service Accounts.

But what about Service Agreements – did you know those are attached to Service Accounts? Even though Service Agreements are often related to payments (and rightly so), they are often associated with Customer Assets in maintenance contracts. Therefore, they get attached to Service Accounts.

Here’s another tricky one: Travel Charge Type. Again, seems to be related to payments, right? But this information actually comes from the Service Account. Let’s look at all the Field Service fields on the Account record for more details.

FIELD NAMEWHERE IT COMES FROMNOTES
Billing AccountService AccountWhen a Work Order is created and the Service Account record is chosen, this field is queried to see if it has data. If it does, this info is put into the Billing Account field on the Work Order. If this field is blank, then the name of the Service Account is put into the Billing Account field.
Tax ExemptService AccountDetermines whether or not taxes will be charged.
Service TerritoryService AccountIf this field contains data, it will copy to the Work Order. If not, the Service Territory field on the Work Order will remain blank unless filled in manually.
Work Hour TemplateService AccountDetermines when work is allowed to be performed at this site.
Travel Charge TypeService AccountThis determines if (and how) travel will be added to the invoice.
Work Order InstructionsService AccountThis information gets copied to the Instructions field on the Work Order.
Invoice AccountBilling AccountThe Account listed on the Invoice will match the Billing Account field on the Work Order.
Price ListBilling AccountThe Work Order always looks at the Billing Account to get the Price List. If this price list doesn’t have everything that’s needed, then the Work Order will use the List Price from the Product itself.

So, bottom line is that almost all information comes from the Service Account. The only information that comes from the Billing Account is the invoicing information and the Price List. And that’s it – maybe it’s time for an early lunch. Be sure to subscribe to our blog!

Happy Field Servicing!

Sunsetting Field Service Support

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that February 29, 2020 is the last day it will support legacy versions of Dynamics 365 for Field Service. If your organization is running Field Service v6.x or v7.x, we strongly encourage you to upgrade to the latest version. If you don’t, not only are you missing out on a plethora of excellent new features and capabilities only offered in v8.x, but if you run into technology issues with Dynamics 365, support will be very hard to come by (and impossible to get from Microsoft). In addition, your implementation will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses because you will no longer receive software updates from Microsoft. With that in mind, businesses still running Field Service v6.x or v7.x have two options – although one of those options is not remotely viable or advisable, so it’s really just one legitimate option. Let’s discuss:

The option that is neither viable nor advisable is to do nothing. PowerObjects strongly advises against this due to the security risks and virus vulnerability. Similarly, Microsoft strongly recommends upgrading to Field Service v8 to avoid a situation in which you need their service or support and it is no longer available. So, let’s take this one off the table – which leaves you with just one good option: upgrade now – and let Microsoft and PowerObjects help you get there.

For starters, please read this valuable resource from Microsoft: Field Service Upgrade Playbook. This 16-slide deck is chock full of important information about the upgrade process.

Next, work with an experienced and award-winning Microsoft Partner to navigate your upgrade. PowerObjects has been implementing and upgrading Field Service for clients since the day the solution was brought into the Dynamics fold. In partnership with your team, we will leverage our deep expertise to map out your upgrade path and identify areas where processes can be streamlined and optimized with the new functionality and capabilities offered by v8.x.

When working with PowerObjects, you can be confident you’re working with the best. We operate 14 internal Centers of Excellence that each bring together experts and enthusiasts of specific applications and workloads to share insights, best practices, and key learnings. For more than two years, our Field Service Center of Excellence has been working in concert to ensure that PowerObjects consistently delivers best-in-class Field Service solutions.

Please reach out to our team when your team is ready – and remember that it needs to be soon. Very soon! Click here to learn more and connect with the experts at PowerObjects.

Demystifying Resource Configuration in Dynamics 365 Field Service, Part 2 of 2

Dynamics 365 Field Service offers a wealth of configuration options for the resources you will be scheduling. Microsoft’s documentation describes these configurations without context making it difficult to understand their overall impact on the system. Never fear, PowerObjects is here! Our goal with this 2-part series is to demystify the configuration settings and help you understand the system-wide impacts. In Part 1, we discussed configuration of the Bookable Resource record. Today, we’ll be looking at all the related items that impact scheduling. Let’s go!

Work Hours

The Work Hours you apply to each Resource are going to determine when they are available to work. If you have a resource that typically works during the week, but is willing to work on weekends once in a while, you need to set their Work Days to be every day of the week. If you only set their Work Days M-F, they will never show up on an availability search on the Schedule Board for weekend work.

Business Closures work similarly. Your Resources who are covering holidays need to be set to Do not observe or else they won’t appear as available on holidays.

One of the biggest considerations for Work Hours is whether to include Breaks. While it seems like a good idea to include Breaks to make sure field technicians get rest, the downside involves Resource Schedule Optimization (RSO). If you have RSO enabled in your system, the optimization engine will assume that all Breaks will occur at the Start/End Location for the Resource.

If your Resource is configured to start work at the office each day and scheduled to have a 15-minute break mid-morning, then RSO will assume the Resource is driving back to the office for that break. You would likely end up with excess travel times unless the work order location happens to be very close to the office.

Territories

Determining how to structure territories is a big discussion that we’ll cover in a future blog. For the purposes of this blog, understand that Territories are a geographic region in which the Resource works. Resources can be part of as many Territories as needed.

It’s important to note that a work order requirement (or Requirement Group) can only exist in ONE territory. That means only the technicians who are members of that territory show on the Schedule Board during availability search. One example is Resources that typically work only in one territory but cover a second territory during holidays. For these resources, you’ll either need to include that Resource in both territories permanently or remember to add them to the second territory just before the holiday (and then remove them again after the holiday).

Characteristics and Categories

The easiest way to explain the difference between these two:

Categories don’t have any relationship to whether or not someone can do a job. A category simply says you’re responsible for that job.

Characteristics are how we identify in each work order who is qualified to perform the service needed. For example, a small electrical job could possibly be done by an Apprentice. A more complicated job may require a Journeyman. A full house retrofit is likely to require a Master Electrician.

In this case, we’d have a characteristic called Electrical, accompanied by three Rating Values: Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Electrician.

Let’s say your organization employs a highly skilled electrician who is responsible for safety at the worksite. You would set this person up this way:

Enabling for Resource Schedule Optimizations (RSO)

Configuring your system for RSO includes determining which of your Resources will be included in the optimization. Some Resources wouldn’t benefit from optimization (such as Resources that only respond to emergencies), and you don’t want to waste system resources looking at their schedules.

Once RSO capability has been enabled in your system, each Bookable Resource record will have a new tab. Simply set Optimize Schedule to Yes, as shown below, and that Resource will be included.

As we mentioned in Part 1 of this series, each Resource must have their Start/End Location fields completed and they must be the same for RSO to function properly. The Start/End Location is also used by the optimization engine as the location where all breaks will occur. (See Work Hours above.) If you’re not careful, this can have a big impact on travel times.

Conclusion

Understanding the various configuration options available is the easy part. Knowing how those configuration changes will impact the system as a whole is the hard part – but also critical to effectively and efficiently using resource configuration. Hopefully, this blog series has helped to clear up some confusion and demystified this aspect of Dynamics 365 for Field Service. If you have input, please comment below.

Happy configuring!

How to Optimize Resource Scheduling and Workforce Utilization

This is the first installment of a three-part “how-to” series devoted to exploring Dynamics 365 solutions in the Utilities industry. Today and in the coming weeks, we’ll share insights into how utility companies can overcome technology challenges that are unique to their industry. We’re starting with how utilities can optimize both resource scheduling and workforce utilization with Dynamics 365 for Field Service combined with Microsoft’s Connected Field Service. Enjoy!

Utility companies are undergoing multiple shifts in the way they do business, presenting significant challenges. For example, the energy economy is prioritizing environmental and sustainability goals while consumers are demanding new products and services to help them go green.  Not only do utility companies need to be keen on new services to provide consumers, but to stay competitive they also need to dramatically improve efficiency under their own roof and in the field. A key opportunity in terms of improving that efficiency is resource schedule optimization, which lets the system optimize how work is assigned to technicians based on priority, skills, and travel distance.  This provides dispatchers more time to interact with customers and just manage schedules by exception.

It’s not enough to implement a technology solution that simply collects field data. The information collected needs to connect with other data sources and allow insight for timely scheduling of appropriate resources that will ensure customer satisfaction and improve workforce utilization. ​The right solution empowers utility companies to:

Dynamics 365 for Field Service creates a customer service story that spans multiple channels and maximizes employee efficiency and workforce utilization. But it doesn’t stop there! With Microsoft’s Connected Field Service, organizations can harness the power of IoT (Internet of Things) to optimize resource scheduling, improve field service efficiency, and ultimately delight customers. Just imagine identifying and remotely resolving equipment issues before the customer even knows there’s a problem – with Connected Field Service, that kind of troubleshooting and proactive problem solving become the new normal.

When organizations employ the combination of Dynamics 365 for Field Service and Microsoft’s Connected Field Service, they are able to automatically schedule and assign resources based on skills, location, and workload. Routes are optimized to meet SLAs and minimize drive times. They can also automate field service operations to increase field utilization, eliminate duplicate data, and increase employee satisfaction. To see it in action, watch our recent webinar, Discover the Connected Business Model for Field Service, or read more about these incredible digital tools here.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more on the Utilities industry – an increasingly challenging industry with thin margins and constant pricing fluctuations.

Smart Manufacturing: Delivering New Services

Smart manufacturing is the implementation of digitization to streamline processes, create efficiencies, and work smarter, not harder. Similar to Lean Manufacturing, Smart Manufacturing is taking efficiency to the next level to help organizations achieve success.

This is the first in a three-part series on Smart Manufacturing. Today’s post is devoted to the role smart manufacturing plays in delivering new services. In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss optimizing digital operations and transforming the workforce. Stay tuned!

Delivering New Services

According to Wikipedia, smart manufacturing is a broad category of manufacturing that employs computer integration, high levels of adaptability, rapid design changes, digital information technology, and more flexible technical workforce training. Critical technologies in the movement towards smart manufacturing include big data processing capabilities, industrial connectivity devices and services, and advanced robotics.

Automation is a crucially important factor in achieving true smart manufacturing. In fact, it is quickly becoming one of the top areas of investment across the industry. Manufacturing businesses automate because they must; likewise, manufacturers work smarter because they must.

Today’s competitive landscape is not the one to which we’ve all grown accustomed. Advancements in technology allow for new ways to create products, new ways to deliver products, and new ways to engage with customers. Recent technological developments – like Digital Twins and Machine Learning – have completely reshaped how we look at the industry. The hard truth is that if organizations in the manufacturing industry aren’t thinking progressively and outside the box, they’ll be outrun by the competition – it’s just that simple.

And with that in mind, it’s necessary for manufacturers to put on their ‘product-as- a-service’ hats when contemplating how to turn customers and vendor relationships into revenue, win more deals, and increase margins. Achieving these objectives will naturally translate to a deepened sense of customer loyalty.

A robust business platform like Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides a 360-degree view of customer engagement across sales and service channels. Manufacturers can win more deals and increase margins with best-in-class solutions for configure, price, quote, and contract lifecycle management, along with end-to-end quote-to-cash for all unique products and services.

In addition, with Dynamics 365 for Field Service – and especially with Microsoft’s Connected Field Service, which is tailor-made for manufacturing organizations – manufacturers can deliver on profitable services to enhance the customer experience even further.

There’s a lot more to smart manufacturing than streamlining a few key areas that identify new sources of revenue. Learn more by downloading this digital transformation fact sheet and stay tuned for more blogposts on smart manufacturing over the next few weeks.

Decoding the Buzzwords at Field Service USA 2019

Last week, the PowerObjects team hit the sandy desert at Field Service USA 2019 with a few goals in mind…

1. Meet fellow Field Service professionals

2. Network and learn from our peers

3. Decode the enormous list of buzzwords in the Field Service industry to help empower our customers to navigate it themselves

Let’s take a quick peek at how well we accomplished each goal:

Meet fellow Field Service professionals

Field Service USA did not disappoint in terms of offering unique and beautiful settings in which to meet and greet other attendees (pictured below). And of course, our PowerObjects Bier Garten Party was the perfect place for attendees to network and, just as importantly, experience fun activities like axe-throwing and sampling local craft beers. Don’t worry… the axe-throwing came before the beer-drinking!

field service usa 2019

Network and learn from our peers

There was a ton to absorb at Field Service USA, with general sessions, deep dive presentations, and 20-minute tech talks. Not only did we teach attendees a thing or two about how to leverage Dynamics 365 technology for Connected Field Service during Bill Kern’s session (pictured below), we learned a whole lot ourselves!

field service usa 2019

Decode the enormous list of buzzwords

The buzzwords were buzzing during each session, at the expo hall, and even in the hallways. Words like augmented or mixed reality, self-aware IoT, and conversational UI were among the cutting-edge phrases mentioned during the conference. Microsoft featured their Dynamics 365 Guides with HoloLens Devices, and the future of field service looks to be an exciting one with recent technology advancements.

There’s no doubt the buzzwords are plentiful, and technology advancements are certainly exciting, but did you know that change management is actually the biggest struggle Field Service organizations are dealing with today? Many of these companies are trying to establish that first step toward transforming their business to an outcome-based service model.

Outcome-based service is the process of evolving a business to the point where making customers and business data its most important assets. Servitization is that additional shift from selling a standalone device to offering solutions that combine product and services. Servitization adds value with services and is of utmost importance in the Field Service industry. The first significant step to getting there is understanding and harnessing data.

field service usa 2019

Well, another successful Field Service USA conference is in the books. If we weren’t able to connect with you at the event, please reach out to us any time to discuss all things Field Service! For more on the Dynamics 365 for Field Service solution from PowerObjects, check out our features and benefits here!

As always, happy Dynamics 365’ing!

Dynamics 365 for Field Service by PowerObjects [VIDEO]

PowerObjects has been an innovative voice and thought leader with Field Service technology ever since Microsoft brought it into the Dynamics 365 family. As a result of leveraging Dynamics 365 for Field Service, our customers are seeing an increase in service revenue, an increase in employee productivity, a decrease in overall cost, and an increase in customer satisfaction. Learn how PowerObjects' expertise can help your organization transform its field service capabilities in this video!

Unique Challenges For Oil & Gas

Companies in the Oil & Gas industry are facing myriad challenges in terms of maintaining profitability. Some of these challenges are inherent to the industry – volatile energy prices, emerging renewable and sustainable energies, and a constantly shifting  competitive landscape – and can’t be solved with technology. But there are plenty of other industry-specific challenges that sure can be addressed with an effective technology solution:

It might seem like a lofty goal to suggest that Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help oil & gas companies overcome these challenges, but it’s actually 100% accurate. Let’s look at how…

1. Breakdowns that halt operations

Dynamics 365 for Field Service, in conjunction with Microsoft’s Connected Field Service, connects IoT telemetry to business actions. This helps organizations view, track, and manage all aspects of their field service processes – from production to service and repair. This includes Rig Down notifications (the oil & gas industry term for keeping executives informed via email until the problem is solved). They can capture data from a machine, drive that data into Azure IoT, define the parameters to create an alert within Dynamics 365, and provide the analysis to define and refine predictive maintenance. In other words, they fix the problems that would have caused operations-halting breakdowns before they happen.

2. Lack of mobility and connectivity for field techs

Dynamics 365 and Connected Field Service provide field techs with complete mobile access and connectivity to the information they need to do their job effectively, increasing productivity and profitability by as much as 25%! How is this possible? Field techs benefit from real-time insight into work order statuses. Full connectivity eliminates delays in process and service delivery because field techs have real-time access to everything they need to succeed. Even when the tech is not connected (offline), work doesn’t have to stop. Workers can access and update what they need in offline mode and then provide their updates to the system when they’re back online. Also, organizations enjoy increased upsell and cross-sell opportunities because sales team can now receive real-time leads directly from field techs.

3. Limited actionable insight into existing data

For most oil & gas organizations, the problem isn’t a lack of data. In fact, managers typically have access to more data than they know what to do with. No, the real challenge is being able to derive meaningful insights and actionable conclusions from existing data. And that’s where Microsoft Business Applications come in to play. Power BI offers real-time dashboards, interactive data visualizations, advanced analytics, and Artificial Intelligence. Simply put, it is the linchpin to being able to use existing data to drive business decisions. And when businesses are ready to convert actionable conclusions into everyday organizational processes, they can simply combine Power BI with Power Apps. Working in tandem, these tools allow users to easily sync data to and from the apps they build to streamline processes.

4. Limited resource scheduling capabilities

Success in oil & gas hinges on effective management of the scheduling process, including appropriate resources and work orders from initiation to completion. Utilizing the schedule board in Dynamics 365 for Field Service, a versatile solution designed to meet the unique needs of organizations in industries like oil & gas, is the key. It makes it possible to ensure the right technician with the right skillset, right tools, and right availability is scheduled – on time, every time. It enables businesses to automatically schedule and assign resources based on skills, location, required parts, and workload, optimizing routes to meet SLAs, minimizing drive times, and increasing first-time fix rates.

The bottom line is that despite the many unique challenges facing oil & gas businesses, true operational excellence is an achievable goal. It simply requires a modernized field service solution. Fortunately, that’s exactly what Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Business Applications offer!

Learn more by downloading this digital transformation fact sheet.

Unique Challenges For Oil & Gas

Companies in the Oil & Gas industry are facing myriad challenges in terms of maintaining profitability. Some of these challenges are inherent to the industry – volatile energy prices, emerging renewable and sustainable energies, and a constantly shifting  competitive landscape – and can’t be solved with technology. But there are plenty of other industry-specific challenges that sure can be addressed with an effective technology solution:

It might seem like a lofty goal to suggest that Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help oil & gas companies overcome these challenges, but it’s actually 100% accurate. Let’s look at how…

1. Breakdowns that halt operations

Dynamics 365 for Field Service, in conjunction with Microsoft’s Connected Field Service, connects IoT telemetry to business actions. This helps organizations view, track, and manage all aspects of their field service processes – from production to service and repair. This includes Rig Down notifications (the oil & gas industry term for keeping executives informed via email until the problem is solved). They can capture data from a machine, drive that data into Azure IoT, define the parameters to create an alert within Dynamics 365, and provide the analysis to define and refine predictive maintenance. In other words, they fix the problems that would have caused operations-halting breakdowns before they happen.

2. Lack of mobility and connectivity for field techs

Dynamics 365 and Connected Field Service provide field techs with complete mobile access and connectivity to the information they need to do their job effectively, increasing productivity and profitability by as much as 25%! How is this possible? Field techs benefit from real-time insight into work order statuses. Full connectivity eliminates delays in process and service delivery because field techs have real-time access to everything they need to succeed. Even when the tech is not connected (offline), work doesn’t have to stop. Workers can access and update what they need in offline mode and then provide their updates to the system when they’re back online. Also, organizations enjoy increased upsell and cross-sell opportunities because sales team can now receive real-time leads directly from field techs.

3. Limited actionable insight into existing data

For most oil & gas organizations, the problem isn’t a lack of data. In fact, managers typically have access to more data than they know what to do with. No, the real challenge is being able to derive meaningful insights and actionable conclusions from existing data. And that’s where Microsoft Business Applications come in to play. Power BI offers real-time dashboards, interactive data visualizations, advanced analytics, and Artificial Intelligence. Simply put, it is the linchpin to being able to use existing data to drive business decisions. And when businesses are ready to convert actionable conclusions into everyday organizational processes, they can simply combine Power BI with Power Apps. Working in tandem, these tools allow users to easily sync data to and from the apps they build to streamline processes.

4. Limited resource scheduling capabilities

Success in oil & gas hinges on effective management of the scheduling process, including appropriate resources and work orders from initiation to completion. Utilizing the schedule board in Dynamics 365 for Field Service, a versatile solution designed to meet the unique needs of organizations in industries like oil & gas, is the key. It makes it possible to ensure the right technician with the right skillset, right tools, and right availability is scheduled – on time, every time. It enables businesses to automatically schedule and assign resources based on skills, location, required parts, and workload, optimizing routes to meet SLAs, minimizing drive times, and increasing first-time fix rates.

The bottom line is that despite the many unique challenges facing oil & gas businesses, true operational excellence is an achievable goal. It simply requires a modernized field service solution. Fortunately, that’s exactly what Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Business Applications offer!

Learn more by downloading this digital transformation fact sheet.