11th Day of D365mas: Santa keeps the holiday season on Track with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation

Santa’s workshop is like New York City, it’s the workshop that never sleeps.  Santa and the Elves have a lot of work to complete throughout the year in order to make Christmas a joyous holiday for one and all.  For several years, Santa’s workshop has taken advantage of Microsoft Dynamics, and most recently Dynamics 365, including Field Service for reindeer and sleigh maintenance.

This year, the workshop decided to take advantage of another amazing tool:  Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation (check out an on-demand webinar on D365 for Project Service in our Resource Center).  Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation allows Santa and his team to provide management of all the yearly project based activities, such as project planning, resource management (Elf management), team collaboration, time and expense management, and reporting.

Project Planning

Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation allows for in-depth project planning and analysis. This is where Santa and his lead Elf begin to collaborate on the upcoming year’s activities.  Santa shares with his lead Elf the needs for the upcoming holiday season, such as reindeer and sleigh preparations and checklists, materials for the gifts, along with the number of Elves required for each major area.

They review the duration of each major area, including how many hours are required per Elf.  More importantly, they review how many cookies, carrots, and pieces of candy (to feed/pay the Elves and reindeer of course) this will cost Santa’s workshop and the joy this will bring to the children around the world, IF they complete all the tasks on-time.  This is a critical step in the planning process and one Santa does not take lightly.

Resource Management and Scheduling

Santa and his head of Elf Management know just how critical it is to find the right resources for the upcoming holiday season.  Last year, Santa took advantage of Microsoft Dynamics 365’s powerful scheduling and resource management functionality for Field Service.  This year, he plans to use that same concept for scheduling elves to the 2017 Holiday Project.  The Head of Elf Management works with Santa and the team to find the right resources for the project.  They can look at some key features of each elf, such as:

  1. The skillset of the Elf (are they proficient at making toys or better at being a dentist?)
  2. Review the duration required and compare with Elf availability
  3. How many cookies, candies and other goodies it will cost Santa to staff an Elf on the project
  4. View the location of each elf in the massive Workshop and town of the North Pole.  This helps determine if the resource is too far for a specific role to be efficient.

Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation comes with a robust scheduling feature.  In addition to Santa viewing the Roles and availability of Elves to hard book, Santa’s resource team can take advantage of the Schedule Board.  From here, the Scheduler can view a calendar layout and drag and drop Projects to the appropriate Elf and date to schedule.  This allows the team to review elf availability and determine which Elves are the best fit for the project and role.

Team Collaboration

Once the project is fully staffed, Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation provides the capability for the Elves (both on and off the project) to share information, discuss deliverables, any issues, challenges and more by utilizing several standard Microsoft tools integrated with Dynamics 365.

Office 365 Groups, available with Dynamics 365 online, allows the project team within Dynamics 365 to collaborate with Elves not on the project, but who use Office 365.  The project team can reach out to other Elves to share files, start a conversation, connect apps like Twitter, and share and collaborate on content in SharePoint and OneNote.

The project team can also take notes, share ideas and files with just the other elves on the team using OneNote and SharePoint integration with Dynamics 365.  When the Elves are in status, functional or technical meetings regarding their deliverables, they can use OneNote (Notebook) linked to the project within Dynamics 365.  This makes it easy for the Elves to find the notebook, even if they use a different laptop.  In addition, the Elves can attach documents to the project and have it seamlessly pushed up to SharePoint.  The document is maintained in SharePoint, thereby freeing up storage space within Dynamics 365.  The project files are easily accessible from both Dynamics 365 and SharePoint.

Time and Expense Reporting

Santa and his Elf Management Team need a way to ensure the elves on the project team keep track and enter their time and any applicable expenses against the project.  Microsoft makes it easy to enter, approve and track budgeted time and expenses with Time and Expense Management within Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation.  This allows the project team to use one application for updating relevant project details/tasks and entering time and expenses.

No matter where the Elves are or which device they are using (Dynamics 365 online web app or Dynamics 365 for phones and tables) the Elves can quickly and accurately enter their daily time against a project and specific tasks.  This ensure the project manager can track the hours against the project and tasks and determine where they are within the allocated budgeted hours for the overall project and tasks.  Once submitted the project approver, can review and approve or reject time.  Approved time will hit the project budget/actuals and eventually be invoiced to the Workshop.  Rejected time goes back to the elf to modify and resubmit, as required.

If an Elf needs to submit any expenses, they would follow a similar process as they do for Time Entry.  An Elf can simply navigate to the Expenses feature within Dynamic 365 for Project Service Automation, enter a description, amount, category and associated project he/she is assigned to.  If a receipt is required, the Elf can simply attach the receipt file and save the expense record.  All approved expenses hit the project budget/costs and billed back to the Workshop.


In past holiday seasons, Santa had to manually create reports and charts to visualize the progress of each project or determine the specific resource management details, such as Elf utilization.  Now that the North Pole uses Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation, visualizing these details is a breeze.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation comes with several standard dashboards for practice, project and resource management.  Additional reports, dashboards and charts can be built for individual for mass use of the project teams.

The Elf Project Manager can also see several standard charts on each project.  As time and expenses are approved, the charts on the project record update to show overall progress and cost consumption along with performance and cost by project role.

The project manager can, based on the details, review the project tracking information to determine how the hours and expenses are being consumed compared to project estimates.


Thanks to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation, Santa’s team have the reindeer and sleigh ready to go and all the presents completed ahead of schedule.  Santa can relax and complete final preparations for his 12/24 flight.

Companies all around the world can also take advantage of Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation’s unparalleled insight and efficiencies in the areas above along with and much more, including invoicing.

To learn more about how Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation capabilities can help your organization, contact us today!

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