The new Dynamics 365 Field Service app arrived in 2020 and is almost there (as of February 2021) in terms of features parity with the old app (called Xamarin app now in the Microsoft documentation). This new app is more native to the Microsoft platform as it ‘plays’ a model-driven app developed in Power Platform. Therefore, developing, configuring and administering this app is easier and cheaper since your team with Dynamics 365 skills will be able to manage this app as well. Consequently it is also easier to setup:
1. Assign the role
Assign ‘Field Service – Resource’ role to the mobile users
2. Download the app
Remember the icon as there are few apps with similar names
3. Login and play
That’s all – nice and easy 🙂
You may now book few work orders to your resources and let them view bookings, change status, update work orders etc.
One last important thing to remember is that the app ‘plays’ a model-driven app called ‘Field Service Mobile’ so if you’d like to change a view, form or any UX element, make a change in this app and publish it.
One of the eagerly-waited features in new Dynamics 365 Field Service app was the ability to track the location of bookable resources (aka technicians) from the field. The feature was not only required from a compliance perspective in many industries but also has practical benefits such as informing customer while a technician is on the way, ensuring ‘access’ is ready before technicians reach the site, ensuring Covid-19 check-in on arrival etc. It was therefore very exciting to review this new feature which has just arrived as part of Release Wave 2. There are two major takeaways from my testing:
It is different from the old Xamarin (Resco) app
It is much easier and quicker to setup
With this teaser out of the way, let’s go for a test drive:
Go to Field Service → Settings → Geolocation Settings
Open the record ‘Geolocation Setting’
Set Enable Location Tracking to Yes and leave Refresh Interval to 60 seconds (default). Next, we need to setup Tracking Times. Tracking Times tells the system on which tracking days and times the location auditing function should be working. Remember this is not technician-specific so these times should be set across entire field service organisation. In my example, I am assuming technicians work all weekdays, partially on Saturday and then do not work on Sundays.
That’s it. This is all is required to set up in Field Service Settings. Next to test the function, open the new Dynamics 365 Field Service app. It may prompt for allowing the location access to the app. In iPhone, that means making a change in ‘Settings’. Once done, open any booking and make any changes (eg change status).
Come back to Schedule Board and click on Map View. It will show a nice little truck on the map to show the technician’s location:
The same location is also visible in Filter map area (which could be used for finding technicians by proximity):
Behind the scenes, Dynamics 365 Field Service creates a Geolocation Tracking record per each location information received from the app. A typical record looks like below. Note this table doesn’t have a relationship with Work Order, Bookable Resource Booking etc. so establishing the location audit information with Work Orders etc. is not out of the box for now.
Hope this was useful. Please also refer excellent source of official documentation here.
I was exploring Dynamics 365 Field Service over the weekend and it was very exciting to see all the new features – big and small updates – on both web and mobile. I also checked the mobile app after a couple months but between then and now, a lot of exciting things happened (clues: MS Ignite and stream of new videos on the official channel of Dynamics 365 Field Service) and of course, now Release Wave 2 roll-out is underway). Following are my notes from the review:
1. Time Entries
This was one of the major ask from the community and arguably the last must-have for migrating to the new Power Apps based Field Service app. The good news is the feature is out! Using the new app, users can review existing or auto-generated time entries and also manually create new time entries. The functionality is basic at the moment (won’t be surprised to see better UX in future) but serves the purpose very well. Here is my quick play with it:
The first impression is lasting – therefore the bookings view is the most significant for resources to start their day. It is pretty awesome, therefore, to see updates on the Bookings view. The Agenda view has got:
Better dates navigation control
Agenda showing Work Order with details (incident type, address, service account)
Agenda also showing time left for the next job
Day view with overlapping Work Orders
3. Empty sub-grids with a ‘Create’ action
If sub-grids (think Work Order Products, Service Tasks, Products, or Services) are empty, in the first version of the app used to show empty boring whitespace only. Now a new action has been added to ‘Create +’ a new record. Small enhancement, but certainly looks visually good and helps in reducing clicks too.
4. Introducing brand-new Schedule Board
Last but not the least, the new Schedule Board is GA and only flick of a switch away. The new Schedule Board is fast, developed as PCF and is at feature-parity with the current Schedule Board. There will be further enhancements in future, which are not even supported in the current Schedule Board. This is how the new Schedule Board looks like (only features in the default Field Service app).
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).
Are users reporting above error on Dynamics 365 Field Service mobile app?
This is arguably the most reported issue on the Field Service mobile app and the fact is this error is pretty generic so it could be happening due to a bunch of reasons, but following should give some pointers to the cause:
Check if the user has sufficient security roles to access the app
Check if ‘Enabled for Field Service Mobile’ field on the Bookable Resource profile is set as ‘Yes’
Check if the project’s version is the same as the version of the app installed on the resource’s device. You can check the mobile project’s version in Woodford and app’s version in the About navigation area in the app
Click on Send Log. Device must have a default ‘Mail’ app enabled to open log. Peruse the log to find out more about the issue
Hope this helps, please feel free to share if you have questions.
The next step after setting up the environment is to install and configure Dynamics 365 Field service app on the devices. The Dynamics 365 Field Service app is compatible with and has native apps for iOS, Android and Windows devices. The app can be downloaded from respective app stores but there is more to it, then just installing the app; which is the topic of this post. To begin with, let’s have a look at how device app works:
There are three components to make device app work:
Woodford: This is a mobile app configurator that basically enables us to define app experience; or in other words what constitutes the app: navigations, forms, views, dashboards etc. All of this is configurable through this configurator tool that gets installed in Dynamics 365 Field Service as a solution
Mobile project: All the configurations for the app are saved as ‘mobile project’. The mobile project is also used to configure user access
Dynamics 365 Field Service native app: this is downloaded from the respective App Store and installed on the device
With the components of the app covered, lets set them up in the same sequence:
Installation of Woodford
Download the Woodford solution from here and then go to PowerApps Make Portal, click on Solution on the left and click Import.
A window will open to lead the process of importing a solution. Select the solution in the first step, click Next, and then click Import and Next to go through the installation wizard (do not change any default settings). The system will install the solution (may take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes).
After summary is displayed (like above), click Close to complete this first step of installations.
Configuration of a mobile project
Download a sample mobile project from here https://aka.ms/fsmobile-project and then go to Advanced Settings.
Click on the link below to go to the legacy Settings screen (this will open in a new tab/window).
Scroll the menu to the right and click on Woodford.
Click on Mobile Woodford HTLM5 – this will open a configurator screen in a new tab/window.
A registration screen will appear first, enter the detail and click Register.
Click on Import to import the project (downloaded earlier in this step).
Set the priority to 10 and select security roles which should enable access to the app (in this example, we selected all of them) and click Save.
Double click the imported project and then click on Publish.
Go back to the home page and click on Derive.
Enter the name, set higher priority than previously entered, select security roles and click Save. Next, double click on the new project and click Publish.
What we did in the last step was to create a derivative of the sample project, gave it a new name and then published it. This mechanism gives the flexibility of having user experience specific to the needs of users. For example in a recent implementation, we created mobile projects for the sales team, auditors, and maintenance staff – all derived from the same sample project.
Installation of the app on device
Go to App Store and install Dynamics 365 Field Service. Here is a screenshot from my iPhone.
Note: Be wary of the name. There are other apps with similar names. A pro tip is to look for the above icon to make sure you are downloading the correct app.
That’s it – congratulation on setting up both Dynamics 365 Field Service evironment and setting up mobility experience. Feel free to share if you face any challenge or if you have any other feedback.