In this blog, we show you how to upload a camera photo from a Canvas App to Dynamics 365 as an attachment on a particular entity record.
In southern Florida, hurricanes and severe storms are unfortunately commonplace. When storms cause damage, construction firms and roofing companies are in high demand. The ability to respond nimbly during weather-related crises is an absolute differentiator for these businesses. Recognizing the need to scale quickly and efficiently, Kelly Roofing implemented Dynamics 365 several years ago. And while they have enjoyed tremendous growth and success since then, there are still opportunities to customize and fine-tune.
The ongoing partnership between Kelly Roofing and PowerObjects routinely leads to seamless implementations of innovative customizations designed to eliminate inefficiencies. When they discovered, for example, that the process of uploading photos taken on a job site and inserting them into the appropriate client record in Dynamics 365 was a significant bottleneck, Kelly Roofing and PowerObjects collaborated to build an app that would simplify the process and eliminate the bottleneck. The solution ultimately streamlined their entire business. Sure, the bottleneck is gone, but they also gained efficiencies across all aspects of their internal processes.
Joe Kelly Sr., a journeyman roofer from New York City, moved to south Florida in the early 1970’s with two objectives: start a family and launch his own roofing business. Based on three key principles – caring for the customers, communicating constantly, and delivering consistent work – he launched Kelly Roofing in 1972. In the nearly 50 years since, Kelly Roofing has grown into one of the largest roofing companies in Florida and since 2003 has been a mainstay on Roofing Contractor magazine’s list of the Top 100 Roofing Contractors in the US.
A long-time client and collaborator with PowerObjects, Kelly Roofing uses Dynamics 365 for Field Service as the foundation of its business. As Ken Kelly, President of Kelly Roofing, says: “Dynamics 365 is everywhere through Kelly Roofing, all the way from the crew members who are actually installing the roofs to management. Everyone in the organization uses Dynamics. It’s the backbone of Kelly Roofing.”
They have subscribed to the PowerSuccess support program for many years and also use several of PowerObjects’ PowerPack add-ons. Indeed, the service, support, education, and add-ons provided by PowerObjects have earned Kelly Roofing’s loyalty. But the partnership may have delivered its best result yet with the design and implementation of a PowerApps-based app that accomplished way more than it set out to do.
One of the biggest issues they were having was how to get photos taken in the field into their system. “We would go out and take pictures of the job and they just never ended up in the right folder like they were supposed to,” says Joe Kelly, Sales Manager at Kelly Roofing.
Trying to get them in the right place was a truly arduous process: take the pictures, transfer them using a data card, download and resize them, attach them to an email, open the email on a different computer, save them, then drag and drop each one to the correct folder and assemble them so the customer can actually view them. Many crew leaders spent their days on rooftops and their evenings in front of a computer trying to reconcile the photos from the day.
A new vendor in the roofing industry approached Kelly Roofing with a standalone solution to the photo nightmare – an application designed specifically to catalog jobsite photos by client. However, it was quite expensive and would have created another silo, the very thing Kelly Roofing was trying to eliminate when they implemented Dynamics 365. “I didn’t want my photos in yet another system,” says Ken Kelly. They also considered building it from scratch, but the high cost was prohibitive. Plus, they wanted to steer clear of being responsible for ongoing maintenance. “That's not something I wanted to continue to invest in. I wanted to build it once and know that it was set,” he says. “We wanted it in Dynamics 365, so why go with somebody else?”
He described the painfully time-consuming process to his PowerObjects partners and asked for help. Together, they determined a PowerApps solution was the answer. “My relationship with PowerObjects made it really easy,” he says. “It was like something I didn't even have to work at. I just gave them the idea, we talked through it. Next thing you know, we were using it.” Now, when they take the photo on the job site, it automatically uploads to the correct record in Dynamics 365 and is immediately available for everyone in the company – and the client – to view. “I used to spend extra time in my home from 5 to 10pm looking for pictures,” says Frank Viera, Project Supervisor Reroofs at Kelly Roofing. “I even had to have my son help me. Now I don’t have to do that!” The measurable results include a 91% drop in processing time and no more evenings spent in pursuit of photo reconciliation.
“Originally, it started as a way to take photos from the field and put them into the document library attached to the job record in Dynamics 365,” says Ken Kelly. “But after a few innovative ideas from the PowerObjects team, it turned into something so much more.”
One of the app’s additional capabilities is providing a list of all jobs that each crew has on their schedule for a given timeframe. Before the app, crew leaders had to come into the office every morning to get paper copies of their job tickets for the day. That is no longer the case. “When I'm ready for work in the morning, all I have to do is open my app,” says Charles Adams, Repair Crew Leader at Kelly Roofing. “It's got all the information I need for all my jobs for the day. It's got the phone numbers, it's got directions. It tells me what's already been done as well as what still needs to be done.” This functionality has helped Kelly Roofing realize a 25.8% reduction in trip time.
Another of the app’s features involves the Daily Job Site Report for the customers. The report includes five questions that must be answered daily – these are used to provide status updates to the client:
Previously, the crew leader would need to locate a wi-fi connection, log into Dynamics 365 on a laptop, and answer the five questions. Now, they use the app to complete the reports right from their phones – and with simple yes/no toggles, it is impossibly fast. Adams describes the process this way: “It allows me to upload to Dynamics to let the customer know if we'd visited the job, if I was able to get my crew to working, or if I have any updates. I'm able to send in real time when I'm there what we're able to do and what got done throughout the day.” The result? A 36% drop in customer callbacks – because the pertinent information is now available to everyone in the company in real time.
Perhaps the best feature of the app is the ability to immediately access any and all documentation from the client record in Dynamics 365. For example, when a crew arrives at their jobsite, they can access the contract provided by the sales team, they can see the original photos and the purchase order for the delivered materials. “Now anybody in the whole company can see everything, especially my salespeople, because they're going to go back to the job once it's done to make sure all of our promises were delivered,” says Joe Kelly. When they do return to the jobsite, they’re able to access the entire job history from their mobile devices.
And just as the app allows for real-time access to all information and documents that are already part of the Dynamics 365 record, so too does it allow for immediate uploading to the client record of any new documents, photos, work orders, etc. If the crew upsells gutters, for example, the signed purchase order is immediately accessible to back office staff so they can order the materials and invoice the client.
Arguably the most important aspect of the app is what it means for the customer. As Joe Kelly explains, “Our customers love this app because it helps keep them in loop. Now, the customer – in real time – is getting job photos and updates of their progress. And it even labels the photos, too, so they know if it's an in-progress or final photo and they can know what stage of the process we're in.” In an industry dependent on word-of-mouth customer referrals, delivering extraordinary customer service is paramount – and customers who are constantly in the loop are usually the happiest customers.
Ken Kelly says, “We're constantly changing. We have to change, or somebody is going to take us out. So, having a software platform that is easy to maintain, easy to customize, easy to just update little tweaks here and there, is critical to business success. We want to be the innovators for our own industry.” And by design, PowerApps inherently leads to innovation.
According to Ken Kelly, the key to unlocking the potential of PowerApps is a partnership with a firm dedicated to the Dynamics 365 stack: “It's fantastic to have an organization that has said, ‘We are only going to work in the Dynamics 365 world. We are going to become the best in it.’” Microsoft designed the PowerApps tool to be sufficiently intuitive such that even non-technology experts can build an app; however, being able to identify and articulate how to use the technology to address an organization’s unique needs requires a deep understanding of the full array of the tool’s capabilities. That’s where PowerObjects comes in.
As Joe Kelly explains, “Not everybody knows how to design their own computer system. And so, having a support team like PowerObjects just gives you the comfort level that you can actually take on a computer system and really use it to its full advantage because the people at PowerObjects know how to maximize it and will give you the right advice.”
Next on the horizon for Kelly Roofing is another PowerApps solution – this one for their vehicle inspection checklist process, which currently involves paper and pen. With 50+ trucks in their fleet and daily inspections required of every single one, an app could save the company loads of time and reams of paper. It seems that once innovative ideas start flowing, it’s not easy to slow them down. Fortunately, with PowerObjects as their partner and PowerApps at their fingertips, there’s no reason to slow down. As Ken Kelly says, “Now that we’ve built one, we want to build so many more. And what's important to me is having a relationship to the point where we can't tell where Kelly Roofing stops and PowerObjects begins.”
Having a support team like PowerObjects just gives you the comfort level that you can actually take on a computer system like Dynamics and really use it to its full advantage, because the people at PowerObjects know how to maximize it and will give you the right advice every step of the way.