Microsoft Dynamics.
2008 Cb Feldman Microsoft Dynamics

Productive, Efficient Service Teams

Aug. 14, 2020
Reviews of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service, Shark-Byte Sales Software, and Praxedo.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service (https://dynamics.microsoft.com/en-us/field-service/overview/) is an end-to-end business application for contractors, designed to enhance performance of proactive or predictive field service. It combines workflow automation, scheduling and dispatch tools, a mobile app, asset management, preventive maintenance, inventory, purchasing and returns, time-tracking, billing, and analytics/reporting on key performance indicators for managing work orders, scheduling, and customer interactions. It also provides an option for technicians on a job to troubleshoot problems with the help of remote experts, using “Mixed Reality” capabilities including Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist. Together, Dynamics 365 Field Service and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist can, notes Microsoft, help deliver proactive customer service by enabling field inspections, technician time tracking, and AI (artificial intelligence)-infused insights into provided customer service.

Working from a color-coded schedule board showing booked and yet-to-be booked jobs, dispatchers can assign and drag-and-drop work orders based on location, duration of job, and travel time; availability of resources; skill set; and priority. Dispatchers can test out “ghost booking” to see if a job fits into the schedule before booking it. Work details consist of checklist of tasks, parts to be used, labor, and skills required.

Contractors can also take advantage of incidence-based AI suggestions to help standardize service work, with the suggestions reflecting AI analysis of the contractor’s already completed work orders, enabling better planning for parts availability and technician scheduling to help achieve higher first-time fix rates.

The mobile app, available for iOS, Android, and Windows devices, allows field technicians to view details of work orders, including location, step-by-step instructions, customer assets, and service history and to take photos and video and record digital customer signatures. Upon completing the work, the technician can mark the w/o as complete or requiring follow-up. When a completed w/o is submitted by the technician, the equipment service history and inventory levels update automatically, tracking movement of parts from order to inventory to onsite installation. Closing a w/o generates an invoice for labor and parts.

Subscribers to Dynamics 365 Field Service can have access to virtual meetings and/or remote assistance through the optional Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, a mixed reality technology solution utilizing Hololens, featuring an augmented reality headset worn by the technician on the job, affording the ability to troubleshoot onsite problems in context, through chat, by consulting with offsite experts. Activated by the technician’s smartphone camera, the headset captures holograms and physical environment photos and videos, enabling remote inspection and informed input from experts offsite.

Pricing for Dynamics Field Service 365 and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, each: per user/per month.  

Shark-Byte Sales Software (https://shark-byte.com) is a data-driven sales system for mechanical contractors, designed to guide users through the entire sales cycles from cold call to close. Consisting of modules (CRM -> Mobile Surveying -> Estimating -> Proposal Generation -> Reporting and Sales Management, all included), it uses generalized data compiled by the software developer and personalized data gathered by the user contractor to drive the sales experiences.

The contractor utilizes an Android or iOS mobile app to conduct a detailed survey of existing building operating equipment (such as make/model/serial number/belts, filters, refrigerant, tonnage, HP,  condition and special needs), along with financial information, with that data informing the estimating process and proposal generation, and to take onsite photos, along with financial information. The collected data is pushed through to the estimating process and proposal generation.

The estimating process is derived from a big data analytics project creating estimating formulas and algorithms using actual performance, over years, of a variety of types of contracts ranging from basic maintenance to full-service agreements. Project templates can be easily created for any type and sized project.

You can create multiple templates for various types of agreements and projects, reflecting adjustment for building condition, age of equipment, and other site- and project-specific requirements. While the estimates can use standardized pricing and margins, they can, alternately, incorporate easily adjustable labor rates and markups.    

When putting together a proposal for a project, you can use a professional agreement generated by Shark-Byte from your mobile survey and your estimate, or you can upload your own.

Reporting capabilities include sales volume, quota versus actual, manpower planning, and a one-page monthly sales tracker for sales and performance meetings.

Pricing: per user, per month, varying by level of access.

Praxedo cloud-based field service management software for plumbing and HVAC companies (https://en.praxedo.com, 833/772-9336) is a scalable solution for medium and large companies that includes web-based scheduling with real-time monitoring and smart scheduling of service calls and recurrent work orders; route mapping; customer, site and equipment data; an intuitive report builder, and the ability to email and text message in real time from within the software for customer notifications (excluding text message cost). The software, which features Excel export generator, enables multi-structure organization (by office) and allows unlimited web-user access.

The Praxedo Mobile app (usable offline) supports unlimited input of field user activities (e.g. work, travel, and break times), geolocation using mobile embedded GPS, and map view of routes.

The app, which has Calendar synchronization (e.g. with Google, Outlook), can monitor items/parts consumed and supports instant messaging with photo and document sharing. It also offers customizable service reports, photo capture in reports, and preview of reports in PDF.

Praxedo integrates with QuickBooks and other popular accounting programs. Subscription-based per field user per month, free 30-day trial available.

Patti Feldman writes articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. She can be reached at [email protected].

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Contractor, create an account today!