Advanced Maintenance Recurrence is a Field Service Game Changer
I am a bit of a nerd, and I get excited about the new features in Salesforce releases. As you know, Salesforce provides a new release every 4 months, the latest being the Spring ‘21 that came out on March 9th.
With each release I read the notes to see which features might have some impact on our customers. There are always some improvements, but occasionally there’s a feature that gets me truly enthused. This is one of those occasions.
Maybe you’ve heard about some of the features in this Salesforce Field Service (SFS) release, which include:
- Improved Optimization Insights – learning how optimization affects your KPIs
- Appointment Assistance – ´last mile tracking´ to let your customers know when their technician will be arriving
- Shift Management enhancements – to better manage your working patterns
- Product Service Campaigns – to manage your product related communications about upgrades, recalls or any other updates
- Point-to-Point Predictive Routing – using location and time of day to provide better travel time estimations
- Briefcase Builder for the Field Service Mobile App – to prime your field technicians with the data they will need if they go off-line during the day
As you can see, this release is a cornucopia overflowing with great new features, any of which would be an excellent topic to cover. But for this blog, I want to shine a light on one new feature I think will have the biggest impact of them all: Advanced Maintenance Recurrence.
What is “Advanced Maintenance Recurrence”?
In short, it is a new way for Salesforce Admins to build flexible Maintenance Plans that meet your customer’s individual needs. The new advanced maintenance plans can shift a field service organization from working reactively to proactively, and this is why this feature is the most important one that was released in spring ‘21. While the other features are great, this is a game changer that puts the focus on assets up time. This leads to selling service plans that can make money for the company instead of losing money on break fix, improved KPIs (1st time fix rate etc.), better forecast, less travel time, less truck rollout, better CSAT, etc.
Until today, you could only create recurring work orders, or visits, that were limited to a rigid schedule. For example: to visit a customer or an asset every 2 months to perform a single work type. This is great and useful in many use cases, but in reality Field Service users struggle to fit this into the complex routine of real life asset management, as implementers would bring in our developers to complement this gap. In the past I have created customizations with date fields getting set and updated and being used to initiate time dependent processes. The process creates Work Orders in the future to string together a maintenance schedule which looks something like; Installation, 3 month post-install check, 6 month 1st maintenance, 12 month 1st annual maintenance, followed by recurring annual maintenance Work Orders, but only if Maintenance End Date is not less than Today. It works, but it is still only a linear schedule and requires customization – which is as fun to read (and write) as it is to customize.
With Advanced Maintenance Recurrence we can do this OOTB with configuration (rather than customization).
The new RRules (not a typo) of the game
The Recurrence Pattern field on the Maintenance Work Rule is where it is all going to happen (honestly, and I did warn you that I’m a nerd!) and I have to get familiar with RRule notation. The Keywords of the RRule notation are no harder to understand than the Functions in a formula field; BYDAY, BYMONTH, BYSETPOS, FREQ, etc. They are strung together in sequence to define the schedule for the Maintenance Work Rule. Of course, you will have to give some thought to this, plan and test the notation and make sure the new rule works. However, I think this is easier than code or complex processes and flows, and it is certainly easier for you to adjust to adapt to your changing business or customer needs and changing landscape.
Too complex? No worries, Salesforce has got your back here too.
Instead of memorizing the RRules, you can download the Maintenance Work Rule Editor (from Salesforce Labs here) and start making work rules that reflect what you and your customers really need.
Advanced Maintenance Plans can shift a field service organization from working reactively to proactively. Tipping that scale has never been easier. Now, please excuse me as I have some customers to contact to spread the good news …