It's a full-on blizzard over here in New England so I find myself yet again…
1. Salesforce Summer 21 Features – Lightning Sales Cloud, Einstein Sales Cloud, and General Enhancements
5. Salesforce Summer 21 Features – Field Service & Salesforce Scheduler
Summer 21 is already live, but we’re still going with the update write-ups. This will be Part 5 for Summer 21 and we’re going to focus on the new Field Service and Salesforce Scheduler. While we’re talking about Field Service, I did want to mention a great resource for discussions and insights around field service: the Field Service United LinkedIn group. This group is run by a cross-section of different companies that are involved with Field Service (full disclosure I’m an active member) and aims to discuss more about field service in general than just a specific field service product, like Salesforce’s. Last month they had a terrific round table on AI in Field Service and where it could help, and this month I participated in a round table around Effortless Field Service. I was joined by Michael Kuebel from Salesforce, Sumair Dutta from ServiceMAX, and Dave Appert from Clayton Homes. We had written our own perspective on Effortless Field Service in a series of blogs (Part 1 and Part 2) but it was super interesting to have an informative and casual conversation around this. There were some terrific insights and perspectives I’d never thought of – or had just looked at from a different lens. Overall, if you’re reading this post – you clearly care about Field Service – so it’s worth checking this group out. It’s free and there are going to be more and more discussions like this to learn from.
Alright, let’s focus on Salesforce a bit though. I’ve got a mix of Peter Gabriel covers on right now (Lou Reed doing a cover of Solsbury Hill certainly puts that song in a different light) but not sure that’ll stick as I get deeper into this. As always the order of features is based on what I think is the most interesting. Here we go.
- Work Plans – Work Plans have been in pilot for a bit and they go into GA with Summer 21. This is a super cool feature that adds a ton of possibilities to organize how your field technicians work. Field Service has always had checklists and the ability to create flows off of actions, but Work Plans allow you to bring all of these together and build sophisticated plans on how certain pieces of work should be done. The screenshot below is a good example (and sorry for it being so long, but it does drive home the point of how many steps you can add into these) – where you can build out a multi-step work plan that guides the technician on the steps that need to be completed. Each of these steps can be a simple task that you simply set as complete, or there could be a flow behind it that has its own sub-steps. More importantly, you can dictate the order that the work must be done in – which was always one of the drawbacks with actions and checklists. There’s a lot of functionality included here that allows you to build these Work Plan and Work Step templates – and the beauty is they are re-usable. For example, you might have a Work Step template on how to re-start a piece of equipment that needed to be de-activated – that template can be used in multiple plans that have the same need. This is really great functionality and a must-have if your field technicians need to perform multi-step actions as part of their onsite processes. This is definitely more on the advanced administration side, but once you’ve built out a few, you’ll get the hang of it – especially when you start with the more reusable templates. Now that this is out of pilot, definitely take a look at complex work types where this could be a big help. By the way, a quick shout-out to our very own Bruce Stewart for the help on this feature!
- Briefcase Builder is GA – We highlighted the new Briefcase Builder back in Spring 21 when it was in beta, and with Summer 21 it goes GA. Being offline is just a way of life for most field service technicians and having access to the records they need when they are offline is critical. The new Briefcase Builder allows admins to create more flexible offline record sets and assign them to different user groups. This is a big improvement to the offline experience and if your users work offline, this is definitely something you want to be leveraging to make their offline work more efficient. Love this new feature.
- On Demand Scheduling Validation Checks – A nice time saver for the dispatchers here. Instead of having validation checks on an appointment fire each time an appointment is scheduled, you can now change your settings to allow dispatchers to trigger the validation checks on demand. This will allow them to complete the daily jigsaw puzzle of scheduling and then run the checks to see if anything has violations. You don’t need to allow this – it’s a setting that can be set to either Always (runs on every scheduled appointment) or On Demand – which is the new ability.
- Recommend Parts on Work Orders – A really cool use case for Einstein Recommendation Builder here. Leveraging Einstein Recommendation Builder and the Parts to Work Order template to build a recommendations model for parts. Instead of just building the logic with rules, Recommendation Builder can learn from past Work Orders to see what parts were needed and recommend them. Especially if you have lots of parts – and not all usually stocked in the van – this is a great way to ensure your technicians have the correct parts for their jobs that day. Always love seeing a little AI applied to Field Service.
- Improve the Worker-Service Match When Scheduling Appointments – Another cool enhancement for the dispatchers – this one making it easier to identify the right resource for a job. You can now add up to five Extended match work rules to your scheduling policy. Extend match rules are definitely a more sophisticated setup and these will need to be built out in advance by building out the data model you need. Basically, this functionality allows you to do more sophisticated matching of appointments to resources. One example – which is the screenshot below – is if your service resources only support specific zip codes. You can use the extended match rule to assign them to those zip codes by building out an object model like the one below. Where this gets even a bit cooler is with the advanced object model you can even do outer joins so if there is no zip code on the service appointment, all resources are available (maybe a remote service job for example). Very cool – but definitely something you want to test a lot in your sandbox as this is a more advanced build.
- See Absences on the Shift Calendar – Dispatchers can now view a resource’s absence records when looking at the shift schedule. This was previously a bit of an annoyance with the shift calendar so it’s nice to see this added. This will let dispatchers get a full view of the shift schedule and whether someone is actually available that shift.
- Gears OmniAlerts for Field Service Enhancements – Not a new Field Service feature, but we’ve just released our latest version of Gears OmniAlerts for Field Service. We wrote a post about OmniAlerts and how powerful adding a messaging platform to Field Service can be at the beginning of the year, and now we’ve added some additional functionality to it. OmniAlerts is really turning into more of a communication mission control for Field Service that allows the dispatch team to send and receive messages through-out the day directly from the Service Appointments and Work Orders. As part of v2, we now have pre-built Lightning components that sit beside the Service Appointment and Work Order to send ad-hoc SMS messages to the Customer Contact or the Technician associated with it. You can send a freeform SMS or leverage a pre-canned SMS template. In addition, this will show the entire history of messages – inbound and outbound – right beside the Service Appointment and Work Order. Instead of having to go to another tool to message your customers or technicians, send directly from where you’re working as well as view and respond to any inbound replies to your messages. It’s a huge time saver for your field operations team and centralizes all of these communications instead of putting the burden on your technicians.
- Asset Setup Path – You can now create Paths on the Asset object to track the status of the Asset setup status. Especially with field work, the Asset isn’t always immediately ready, but it could involve multiple steps to have it set up, installed, and running. Now you can track all of these with a path and make that visible to your field technicians. And, for some reason, you now have the option to add a confetti toss when the path is completed. Sigh.
- Location Sharing Enhancements – Summer 21 brings two enhancements to the location sharing functionality. First, users can now view your location sharing policy directly from the field service mobile app. There is now a location settings menu item that will show a field user how often their company records their location and if you’re using the Appointment Assistant functionality, whether your location is being shared with the customer or not. Sometimes even when you’re fully transparent with your users they don’t necessarily trust what you’re saying – this will help make it clear what and when you are tracking their GPS location. Of course, if you’re not being transparent about that – well, you might want to give them a heads up before they find this on their own. The second update is within the Appointment Assistant feature. This feature no longer uses the location update settings at the company level but rather updates every 60 seconds so your customers are receiving more accurate location data from their alerts. Makes a ton of sense, as this feature is supposed to be communicating within five minutes of arrival to your customer’s location – if your update frequency is pretty wide, this data will be wildly inaccurate. Just a reminder though, the Appointment Assistant feature is an added cost and not included with Field Service (unfortunately).
- Lightning Platform Starter License – Salesforce has introduced a new license type that can be leveraged for the resources being scheduled that don’t necessarily need a lot of the normal Salesforce functionality. This is basically a limited license set that lets them see a few objects and more importantly lets them be scheduled, see & edit their appointment details and also set up resource absences. One key thing this license can’t do is actually schedule appointments – so they are simply scheduled and not able to modify the schedule. Great for those scheduled folks that are in more non-traditional roles – and even things like equipment potentially.
- Set Operating Hours for Service Territory Members to Work on Appointment Topics – This feature really lets you get more granular in mixing your operating hours and work types. You might be open 9 – 5 but what if you want to schedule windows within that window? Maybe you only want personalized shopper appointments in the morning and afternoon so that you don’t have them during busy lunch hours? This feature gives you the flexibility to set operating hours by specific work types. It’s one of those features that most people won’t use, but for the ones that will need it, it is super important.
- Set How Many Days Preload in the Scheduler Flows – You can now adjust how many days do you want cached to preload within the scheduler flows. This is purely to help performance so that the flows respond and load faster. It’s pretty dynamic with a multiplier that you set. For example, if the schedule shows 7 days within the view, you can determine a multiplier to how many days are cached. If you set it to 1, just those 7 days that are displayed are cached. If you put it to 2, 14 days will be cached so the user can see the current and next week without having to run a refresh. If you’re having slow performance loads within your scheduler flow, definitely play with these settings and find that optimal balance.
- Get Resources and Available Time Slots with Apex – New Apex methods allow you to build custom calls to fetch all resources and their available time slots. This was a pretty big constraint if you were trying to build a custom scheduling process, but if you’re sticking to out-of-the-box, this isn’t something you’ll use.
Alright, that’s a wrap for Field Service and Salesforce Scheduling. It’s a big release especially with Work Plans and the new Briefcase Builder going GA as part of it. As always if you have any questions or want help with any of these features – or want to check out our Gears OmniAlerts for Field Service – fill out our Contact Us and a Solutions Architect will get right back to you. Thanks again for reading. Next up will be Service Cloud Voice!