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Dynamics 365 Roadmap: How Purchasing in Dynamics 365 for Field Service Gets the Right Products at the Right Time

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service burst onto the scene in 2016 with a wealth of functionality for Field Service Management. As discussed in a previous blog, some of the more talked-about functionality includes Work Order Management, Preventive Maintenance, and Scheduling. And rightfully so, since this functionality is at the core of Field Service Management capabilities. It is vital that companies train their staff on the proper use of these modules and that they be used religiously in order to ensure a successful field service operation.

This blog focuses on a lesser known, but integral, piece of functionality in Field Service Management: Purchasing. While purchasing isn’t always the most glamorous of topics, this functionality is critical in ensuring technicians have the right parts, at the right time, in order to complete their work.

The Dynamics 365 for Field Service purchasing function can be used in one of the following ways:

  1. Integrated with an ERP application
  2. Standalone

From an ordering standpoint, the purchasing function can be used to:

  • Reorder inventory to be kept on-hand, via established reorder points, for equipment used in preventive maintenance
  • Order parts and products in an on-demand fashion, whereby reactive work order demand will drive use of the purchasing function

Let’s take a closer look at these different ordering scenarios.

Work Order Management: Assigning Products Needed to Complete the Job

At the center of Dynamics 365 for Field Service is a robust Work Order Management module, complete with all the tools needed to schedule, assign, track, and complete a job. A portion of this functionality includes the ability to list the necessary products required to perform work.

Preventive Work Orders: Allocating Products Automatically

If the work to be performed is preventive, the products and estimated quantity required to perform the work can be automatically listed in the work order itself so that each time the work order is automatically created, the products are automatically associated.

Prior to a technician leaving for a job, he/she will follow the business’s established processes to ensure the necessary products are moved from a warehouse to a truck ahead of departure. Assuming stock is maintained in a warehouse, this process will debit the warehouse quantity and credit the truck quantity, a crucial step for proper inventory control since an automatic reordering process can be triggered once a product’s reorder point is reached for the warehouse.

After the technician uses the product(s) to complete the preventive job, the work order is updated to reflect the product and quantity used. This update debits the truck inventory by the applicable quantity and transfers the cost to the work order.

Reactive Work Orders: Identifying the Equipment Needed for the Job At-Hand

If the work to be performed is reactive, the technician will need to determine a list of potential products required to perform the work and ensure the products are available. Again, prior to a technician leaving for a job, he/she will ensure the products are on the truck before departure. If the specific products required are unknown, the initial site visit can be used to assess the issue and list the products required for repair. Purchasing these products is discussed in the section below.

As stated in the preventive scenario above, after the technician uses the product to complete the reactive job the work order is updated to reflect the product(s) and quantity used. Again, this process debits the truck inventory by the applicable quantity and transfers the cost to the work order.

Purchasing: Obtaining the Right Products at the Right Time

In both the preventive and reactive scenarios above, the common takeaway is that the products are available (in stock) and are transferred to a truck before the technician departs for the job. Ensuring these steps occur allows an operation to avoid a scenario where a technician arrives at a job site without the required products. This is where an operation’s purchasing department comes into play in that it’s their role to handle purchasing, receipt, and payment initiation.

In the preventive scenario where a technician knows the required products ahead of time, products should be available ahead of time and purchasing’s role should have come into play long ago (via reorder points for inventory).

In the reactive scenario where a technician is unsure of the required products and arrives onsite to troubleshoot, he/she can use a mobile device to view work order details and update the status. Once the list of products required for the fix is known, the technician can use the mobile device to check product levels and either:

  1. Request a transfer of available products to their truck (to be used against the work order)
  2. Create a Purchase Order to initiate the ordering process for products not kept in stock, or for new assets altogether

Should the product not be in stock and need to be ordered, Dynamics 365 for Field Service contains a full suite of functionality related to purchasing, including:

  • Purchase Orders
  • Purchase Order Receipts
  • Purchase Order Bills

Purchase Order functionality allows the initial request for products and can associate the eventual receipt to a warehouse or against a work order. Once approved, the Purchase Order can be submitted to the vendor for fulfilment.

Create a Purchase Order Receipt to formally receive the products upon arrival. This not only credits the appropriate destination (warehouse, work order, etc.) but also allows the next step to occur, Purchase Order Bills.

A Purchase Order Bill record is created to note receipt of a vendor invoice. Invoice detail, such as invoice number, payment terms, and total amount can be recorded and saved which can then trigger the accounts payable process.

ERP Integration: Unifying Purchasing Processes across Departments

As mentioned above, Dynamics 365 for Field Service Purchasing can be used as a standalone solution, but a more powerful option is that it’s used to initiate the purchasing process and then integration with an ERP application (such as Dynamics 365 for Operations) takes over to formally purchase the products and manage the rest of the process.

Specifically, the Purchase Order in Dynamics 365 for Field Service is an excellent tool for creating the initial purchase order, adding the necessary products and obtaining approval. This allows Dynamics 365 for Field Service users to stay within their primary application to initiate purchasing, but also allows ERP users to also stay within their ERP system to formally order the product, note receipt, record invoice and submit for payment.

Once the above steps occur, bidirectional integration can populate Dynamics 365 for Field Service’s Purchasing modules (Purchase Order, Purchase Order Receipts, Purchase Order Bills) as the equivalent ERP records are created and updated. This bidirectional sync aids in keeping all users informed of purchase order status and lets dispatch personnel know when the technician can return to the job site to complete the work.

Summary

Though most of the buzz around Dynamics 365 for Field Service has focused on other areas, the Purchasing module offers a robust set of functionality and plays a critical role in the work order process. Whether used in a standalone capacity or integrated with an ERP application, Purchasing in Dynamics 365 for Field Service aids in the ultimate goal of ensuring technicians have the right parts at the right time in order to complete their work.

 

This article is part of our Dynamics 365 Roadmap series that helps companies stay up to date on the latest Dynamics 365 releases. To see our previous posts, click here to view our roadmap.

For questions on Dynamics 365 for Field Service, please contact Hitachi Solutions today.

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