At Probitas, we feel that the Service Management module in Business Central is underutilised and that many businesses could benefit from its implementation. In today’s marketplace, many customers will only purchase goods from companies who have a fully coordinated service department to service and repair the kit.
What can Business Central’s Service Management module offer?
In this blog we will explore some of the key features within the system and examine how it could benefit your business. Let’s first run through the differences between repairs and services. When you take your car to the garage, a ‘repair’ usually replaces broken or damaged parts. This might include suspension springs or brake disks. A ‘service’ usually replaces consumable parts like oil or filters. The Service Management module in Business Central handles both of these.
Below are a few ways you could use this module:
- service or repair items that you originally sold and probably manufactured or assembled;
- service or repair items that your business did not sell, but your service department can handle. This can be an additional source of income and give your sales team access to new potential customers;
- use the service module as a way of managing the configuration of kits before selling them;
- if you are hiring or renting equipment, use the service module to individually:
– configure the kit before handing it over to the customer;
– repair and maintain loaned or hired out kit;
– service the kit in readiness for the next customer to hire;
- you can service items for customers on a regular basis, using a Service Contract which defines the frequency of the service provided;
- regular routine maintenance of items can be handled within the Service Contract functionality.
These repairs and services can take place on the customers site or within your own premises. Where any work takes place off-site, you can capture travel and subsistence costs using a service invoice.
Business Central or Dynamics 365 Field Service?
Before we deep dive into the functionality and business benefits, it is important to recognise that Microsoft have a specialist product ‘Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service’. If you’re interested, take a look at what Field Service can do for you. This software is functionally more powerful than what Business Central’s Service Management module but wouldn’t be integrated with your ERP data. With that being said, integrations between Microsoft products are continually improving. Having another system would however incur additional licensing costs.
With all that said, we can manage any gaps in functionality in Business Central’s Service Management module with bespoke development. One example of a relatively straightforward change is adding a ‘Test Certificate No.’ field and ‘Comments’ section to the Service Item History. Obviously, based on the level of complexity of your requirements, we can advise whether Business Central is the right fit. If the requirements are better aligned to using another product like Dynamics Field Service, we are well equipped to, and will, tell you!
Service Management functionality
Let’s now move our attention to some of the key functionality in the Service Management. This includes:
- Service Item Card
- Service Order
- Service Contract
Service Item card
The core of the Service Management module is the Service Item card. Users can create service items manually, or by configuring the system to create one following a sales order shipment.
Some key data recorded on a Service Item card include:
- Service Item No.;
- customer who owns it;
- original Item No. within your business;
- Serial No.
This makes each Service Item unique. Because of this, the system can maintain a variety of data unique to this particular Service Item. This includes:
- Service Item components
- warranty information
- service history
Service Item Components
Against the Service Item you can identify and record the history of components over time. Consider the example of a computer, where you would want to record the history of components like the ‘CPU’, ‘motherboard’ and ‘disks’. You likely wouldn’t want to record every component against it, like nuts and bolts, but you have the ability to. Holding this data helps to give you an insight into the level of resource an item requires, and most importantly, how profitable the item is over time. You can see this using the ‘Statistics’ function against the Service Item card.
Managing the warranty of an item is an important business function especially when considering customer satisfaction. The Service Management module handles the topic of warranty from both a parts and labour point of view. Warranties have customisable start and end dates, as well as a percentage distribution of costs.
Consider the scenario where you have sold an item to a customer with a warranty of one year. Within that period a fault occurs, and the customer returns the item for repair. The percentage of warranty distribution will dictate the amount that falls on the customer and yourself, as the business. To clarify, you can set this to 100%, meaning the customer won’t incur any costs for items under warranty.
The system also handles the scenario where the Item is returned within the warranty period but in this instance the damage was done by the customer. In this instance the repair is not done under warranty and the customer will be invoiced for the work.
The service history of the item is maintained against the service item, which can be used within the business for diagnostic purposes.
Allocating the best resource to work on this item
Against the Service Item card you can identify what skills are required to service this item. Typical examples could be qualified technicians or engineers.
You can set these skills against a Resource. This then allows you to optionally allocate the best resource to the Service Order. Finally you can optionally set a Service Zone against the customer and the resource, assisting the business to allocate the best resource geographically to the task.
The Service Management module gives the business the ability to repair and service equipment. You do this using service orders, where you can log the items that require servicing. Against each item to be serviced, you can drill down to the Service Item Worksheet where you can book items, resources (such as labour), costs (this could be travel or accommodation) or other things simply against a G/L code directly. Additionally, price lists against these can be held, giving the customers competitive pricing. A Service Invoice is then generated against the customer which integrates into the financial side of Business Central.
Users can create service contracts for a customer, allowing them to effectively schedule routine maintenance work on their service items. You can create multiple contracts against a single Service Item. Alternatively, the service contract can be used to hold negotiated costs for the service items identified.
Day to day management of the department
Business central offers a variety of tools assisting both the service department and workers like engineers. Engineers and technicians can use the Service Tasks page to review the work allocated to them. The Dispatch Board page gives a list of the outstanding service orders and allows the service manager to review the on-going Service Orders using various filters. They can assign resources to each service order from this screen. If an individual’s assigned a service order, it updates the records in the Service Tasks page.
In summation, we hope we have given you a flavour of the Service Management module in Business Central and indicated that it can potentially offer great opportunities to your business.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. We hope it’s helped. If you have any questions or thoughts, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you.
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