10-points review of new Field Service (Dynamics 365) app
|Ali Khan||Jul 28, 2020|
The new Field Service 2020 app is out for a few months now. It is built over Power Apps platform, promotes reusability of configurations, has all those additional features from model-driven app etc. - reading about all these exciting features, I thought to do a quick rundown this week of top 10 eye-catching elements for me. Actually, to further break this number down, I am going to talk about:
8 exciting features, and
2 exciting prospects.
It is pertinent to reiterate a full feature parity is still to come (ETA is June 2021) so although there are new exciting features in the app, there are other existing features in the Field Service mobile app which do not exist at this point of time in the new app. What does that mean if you're implementing Dynamics 365 Field Service right now (or before June 2021)? Make a conscious call, do a fit-gap analysis and then if the features that your client requires are available in the new app, go for it - otherwise, the old app is the way to go with a caveat of an impending update to the new app in next two years.
Before we go further, let's get the terminologies right:
Field Service (Dynamics 365) app: this is a brand new app, built over Power Apps, that this article is about.
Field Service mobile: is a legacy app which is built by Resco
1. Recent records
When it comes to any enterprise software, the key metric of success is user adoption. This becomes all the more important when the adoption is about using the software on a mobile app, out on the field, in various weather conditions, sometimes without phone coverage etc. Considering all of that, if you want to do one thing right to make it a success, focus on the user experience (aka UX) of the app. In this context, Field Service guru suggests to remove irrelevant menu items, create smaller forms to show relevant information only and reduce only have required columns on views. With all this emphasis on the UX, the biggest benefits I can spot in the new app are related to usability. The first one is 'Recent Records' - we all know this is already available on the web and since the new app 'play' the same model-driven app, this feature works on the mobile too. Sounds trivial, but for the field service resources working on a set of tasks, assets, bookings each day, this means a lot of time and click savings.
2. Run Flow
We don't do Workflows any more, it is all about Power Automate flows now - isn't it? The new app let users run Flows both (a) on a selection of records in the view, and (b) to run a flow on a record. This is excellent since previously to run a process from mobile app, you'd have to update a flag / dummy field, which then acted as a trigger.
3. Export to Excel
Yes, it is 2020 and this is now fully supported - just like the web version of a model-driven app. Cool!
4. Set pictures resolution
The requirement to take pictures before and after the work is pretty common in field service organisations (I recently did a project where ~100 field technicians were uploading 10,000 pictures a day!) and therefore it doesn't take long for data quotes and mobile billing to go north very steeply. Thankfully we now have this setting where users can configure images resolution settings.
5. Categorized Search
Global search aka Categorised Search across data records in all the entities supported in 'Categorised Search' is now supported. Another fruit of this new app being able to 'play' model-driven app.
6. Bulk Select/Complete Service Tasks
I can't recall a single Field Service implementation where customers didn't ask for this feature in the app. It is already supported on the model-driven app and good to see it works on the app too
The feature of Pinned records is also a major productivity booster as only a subset of records (think 80/20 rule) are often referenced (a subset of assets, equipment, risks documents etc.) in field operations so it is always a good idea to 'pin' them instead of every time Click on a menu item + + Click to open the record.
7. Pinned records
This is also a major productivity-boosting feature as only a subset of records (think 80/20 rule) is often referenced (a subset of assets, equipment, risks documents etc.) in field operations so it is always a good idea to 'pin' them instead of every time Click on a menu item + + Click to open the record.
8. Chart and List View
If you ask me to sort this list by features' look and feel, this will top the list. Charts and dashboards in the app look beautiful (better colours), they let you drill to the record(s) and you can use the same charts/views which you built for model-driven apps. Not that this was not supported before, but it certainly has become better both from usability and look & feel perspectives.
9. Combined forms for entities?
We are on to last two 'prospects' now. There are two entities in Field Service which often only make sense when they are displayed and seen together: Work Order and Bookings. This will not be surprising if in future a capability is introduced to have a form in Dynamics 365 / Model-driven app to 'bind' to two entities. If that happens, that will be a very exciting enhancement in a larger picture of Power Apps / No-Code development which will lead to faster data entry, better productivity etc.
10. Single app, multiple players?
Since 'what' shows up in the new mobile app is nothing but a model-driven app, I tried opening the same app in Power Apps mobile app and guess what happened?
The behaviour and presentation of the two mobile apps were exactly the same (NOT similar). That means the "apps playing" engine behind Power Apps and new Field Service mobile apps is treating a model-driven app in the same way. In future, there might be features which are very specific to Field Service and which may only work with the playing engine of Field Service app, but this still underscores the importance of enhancements, updates and features in Power Apps playing a huge role in the success of Field Service implementations.
I think a fitting concluding remark to the above analysis would be how exciting it is to have the new app built over Microsoft's native Power Platform. Among other benefits, this brings down the cost of implementation and support (customer just need to learn Power Platform configuration to maintain both web and mobile).
Thanks for reading!
I'd love to hear you thoughts :)
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