Manufacturing and Services Industries (Especially the Architecture, Engineering and Construction, and Large scale AV Integrators) often perform after-sales services, to retain maximum Customer satisfaction on the products and services they manufacture and sale. These after-sales services are basically classified as “Business to Business services”, rather than business to consumer servicers. It is very important that the Service Managers of these organization keep track of the exact costs and revenues on the hours, expenses and items consumed in a service function, to make sure the Service operations of the organization can run as profitable business.
Are you a Customer already implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP or actively looking for an all inclusive ERP application to manage the various aspects of after-sales services ? Look no further and explore how the Service Management Module of Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP can add value proposition to your business.
In today’s post, I will initiate an introduction to the overall architecture of the Service Management Module and then will discuss all the important functionalities and the “How-To” to manage those in few of the subsequent posts.
Let us now understand the various building blocks and important functionalities of the Service Management Module in AX 2012 R3.
A. SERVICE AGREEMENTS: Service agreements acts as the central element in the architecture of the service management module and holds the contractual details with the customer.
Defines what objects will be serviced(Service Objects), the tasks(Service Tasks) that will be performed and how these will be charged to the customers.
Defines when the services will be performed(Service Interval), Service Level Agreement(SLA), who will perform the service, how the costs and revenues will be managed.
Defines how service orders will be created (Automatically, Planned Service Orders/Manually).
The Service Management module in AX is integrated with the Project Management and Accounting module for posting the service orders back to Projects, to track the costs, revenues and also invoice the customer for the services performed.
This integration also takes advantage of the validations, ledger posting, pricing and other functionalities of the PMA module.
B. SERVICE ORDERS: A Service Order in AX represents one instance of a scheduled/unscheduled service activity performed by service technician, at a customer site on the day of the visit.
- Service orders can be automatically created based on the Tenure, Service interval, Time window and the “Line Combining options” specified on the Service agreement and service agreement lines. For example if the tenure of a service agreement is from 01/01/2014 to 12/31/2014 and Service Interval is “Monthly”, then, 12 planned Service orders, one for each month, can be automatically created directly from the Agreement.
- AX also provides the option to create the planned service orders more efficiently by combining the orders “By Technician”, “By Service task and By service objects (What is being serviced) so that they can better planned and scheduled.
- You can also utilize the “Time Window” functionality on the service agreement to optimize the scheduling of service orders.
- Service orders can be created without a service agreement as well, and these can be used to perform One time , unscheduled service visits which might be requested by the customer on demand basis.
- Service Orders typically consists of service order lines, which represents the details such as the “Hours of work performed by a service technician, related expenses, item consumptions, replacements, or repairs and any service fees, for the tasks performed on the various service objects.
- Service orders can be created by the Services team of the organization or it can also be initiated by the Customer using the Customer Self service portal.
- Once the Service orders are created and setup, they are processed through various service stages and the progress, performance, costs and revenues are tracked till the completion of the service.
C. SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENTS (SLA): Service Level Agreement allows the service organizations to record time to identify WHEN the service must be performed at the latest, from the time when the Service order was initiated by a Customer and it also allows the organizations to track the timing of the services given to the customers through out the Service Delivery process.
You can create as many SLAs you want based on your business needs. If you have grouped your service agreements by
When a SLA is attached to a Service Order and the service order is initiated, the TIME RECORDING starts automatically which can be Stopped, Restarted or even Cancelled at any time depending on the situation through out the duration of the service activity.
SLA can be associated with a Calendar in AX, which allows to control the automatic time recording to start. If the Service order was initiated on a non working day, then the Time recording will not start until the next working day.
You can link the SLA with Service Agreement groups, which allows to assign the SLA to the Service Orders automatically when you create a new Service Order belonging to that Service Agreement.
D: SERVICE DISPATCH BOARD FOR DISPATCHERS: The Service dispatch board functionality enables the Service companies and their Service Customers to stay on top of their priories with regards to the on-going services. It Helps the Service dispatcher to schedule the work for the Service engineers and the service tasks/activities they will perform at the customer’s site.
- Service Dispatcher gets to see an overview of the Service Operations using the Dispatch Board can make efficient and informed decisions about the actions needed at the right time to ensure high customer satisfaction.
- Graphical display support for the Service Dispatch board.
- Service dispatchers can view and manage on going service tasks by seeing COLOR coded overview details about the service orders.
- The dispatcher can see daily activity logs on each Service orders which are entered by the service engineers/technicians.
- Can create service dispatch teams and manage the service resources more effectively.
The screenshot above does not show any data, as I have not created the data in the system. We will discuss more about the details of the Service dispatcher and other daily processes of the Service orders in the few subsequent posts and will learn how to use this module in greater detail and see the Dispatch board in action.
E. REPAIR & RETURNS: Service Companies often get the items or equipment back at their location for repair. Dynamics AX supports a decent level of repair management capabilities within the Service Management Module which can be used by companies for better repair management and optimize their efficiency of handling equipment returns and repairs.
- Manage repair from the time it is initiated from the Customer till the resolution using repair stages, which you can configure the way your business needs it.
- Track the resource consumptions on various repair tasks such as hours spent by the technician, Item replaced etc. and tie those back to the Service order which can be then accounted and billed to the Customer.
- Create and Manage Symptom areas, diagnosis areas, repair conditions, resolutions for better reuse to optimize the repair process.
- Do necessary reporting such as which items (objects) are repaired most frequently and how efficiently your technicians are able to finish the repairs etc.
F: Service BOMs: Dynamics AX provide the functionality of creating and managing Service BOMs, which enables the service companies to track and store the changes performed to an object during the service. This can be specifically helpful for service organization who engineers their products/services by combining a set of different items on it.
- It allows you to continuously track the service objects which are serviced a customer’s site and then it allows to generate the complete audit trial of the object changes over a period of time and also the replacement history of the object.
- All the changes to the Service BOM during the course of Service, are stored as a separate version as a history for future tracking.
- Helps service companies to identify required parts on the service visits, so that they can arrange the availability of the parts at inventory and reserve to be consumed in the Service order.
- It can help you determine any potential changes you might have to do to your Service BOM (Service Product) to manage reduce the number of services required in the future.
G. SERVICE SUBSCRIPTIONS: If you are a Service company and provide services to clients at a fixed rate for a period, then you can make use the Service Subscriptions functionality of AX 2012 to manage all the accounting and financials management needs of the service subscription process. We will discuss in detail about each of the above processes in the next few subsequent posts.
H. SELF-SERVICES PORTAL: Dynamics AX supports various Service Management processes on the enterprise portal. The Service customers and the Service team can collaborate effectively using the enterprise portal and the Customer self-service portal.
- Customers can initiate the Service Orders using the Self- Services portal on enterprise portal which then can be reviewed and processed further.
- Customers can access readily available LIVE information about their past and current and future service orders, agreements anytime using the Self-service portal.
- Technicians can access details such as her necessary information such as service objects, tasks, repair etc. about the service calls/orders and even update the service orders at anytime.
Well, stopping here today. In the next few posts, we will explore the above mentioned processes and functions individually, in greater details.
Till next time..!!