July 2017 update for Field Service and Project Service Automation – Universal Resource Scheduling (Part 2)

Applies to: Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation, Dynamics 365 for Field Service


Previously we introduced Universal Resource Scheduling in Dynamics 365. Regardless of what type of scheduling your organization is engaged in, be it Field Service scheduling, Project Service Scheduling, Case scheduling, Lead scheduling, or maybe something completely custom, Universal Resource Scheduling helps you book your skilled resources to the right work, at the right time, independent of workstream.

We are excited to share our latest features and enhancements for Universal Resource Scheduling.

Below you will find an overview (part 2) of these new features:

More information: July 2017 update for Field Service and Project Service Automation – Universal Resource Scheduling (Part 1)


New Features

View the requirement pattern on the schedule board

  • While scheduling a resource requirement, users can easily understand how many hours are needed when. Perhaps there are 4 hours needed in week 1 and 10 hours in week 2. Now, users have this information at their fingertips while booking resource requirements.



View requirement patter on schedule board



  • You can see how many hours for each schedule board grain (day, week, or month), have already been booked, how many hours have been proposed, and how many hours are still not booked.



Booked or proposed hours for each schedule board grain

  • Hovering over any requirement bar returns additional information about the requirement for that date range.



Additional information about the requirement for a date range

  • Sometimes you may choose to fulfill a requirement in the weekly view, even though the requirement is broken down into daily requirement details. We add an asterisk to the requirement bar indicating the requirement is actually broken down smaller than by the week in case you would like to book at more granular level.



Asterisk indicating the requirement is broken down

Asterisk indicating the requirement is broken down

  • Regardless of the view you choose to book in, we always respect the actual breakdown of the requirement. Meaning if I am in the weekly view yet in reality there are requirement details for Monday and Tuesday only, we still only create bookings for Monday and Tuesday. More on this below when you read about the booking enhancements.
  • If you would like to only book specific dates, one way you can do thisis by selecting only those requirement bars. When you then select a resource, only the dates you selected on the requirement will be selected.



Select requirement bars for specific dates



Resource continuity tool


  • While scheduling a requirement that spans a few days, weeks or months, a resource manager may need to book the requested hours across multiple resources. Oftentimes, the resource manager may book a few resources in one sitting, and continue to fulfill the requirement at a later date. Ideally, they like to staff the fewest unique resources on a single requirement. Now, when searching for availability on the schedule board, a resource manager can expand the demand panel to view all resources that are currently scheduled already for the requirement being searched.
  • The resource manager can easily perform the necessary booking actions to book more time for the same resource, directly from within the resource continuity panel.



Book more time for the same resource from resource continuity panel

  • We also opacity the fill of the resources bookings that are related to this precise requirement, making it simple to understand when a resource is scheduled to work on this specific requirement, and when they are scheduled to work on other requirements.



Opacity to indicate when a resource is scheduled to work on specific vs other requirement


Substitute Resources


  • When scheduling requirements, sometimes the right resource for the job is already staffed partially or full time on different requirements causing a booking conflict. We have introduced an intuitive, simple to use tool which allows resource managers to take existing bookings for resources, and swap the bookings to a different resource.
    • When right clicking a booking and finding a substitution, the schedule board returns resources with the necessary filters (e.g skills, organizational units) required for the booking, and also ensure the resource has availability.
    • To substitute the resource, just select the new resource, and click “find substitute”.


Find substitute for a resource


  • This can be done when in the midst of searching for availability, or when viewing the schedule board when not searching for availability.
  • Already know the resource you would like to substitute? Just select the resource with a right click instead of searching for availability to swap.


Select a resource with a right click


  • This is built to for location agnostic bookings since we do not recalculate travel for each booking when substituting a resource. To change resources for onsite bookings, use the hourly board, right click a booking, and “rebook”.



UI Makeover for Schedule Assistant

  • When searching for availability in the daily, weekly, or monthly views, we revamped this experience to bring all of the most relevant information you need, when searching for availability.
  • Since you are searching for availability, the most important information you need is how many hours is each resource available for.
  • You will notice three different symbols on the board out of the box, so we added icons that quickly identify which resources have the hours you are looking for, without needing to read the available hours on each cell to see who may be a match.:
    • Green checkmark – Resource has all requested hours during that date range.
    • Half Filled circle – Resource is not fully booked and they have at least one hour of availability, but they do not have all of the requested hours.
    • “No” Symbol – Resource is fully booked or overbooked.

*Note that you can change these icons by pointing the schedule board to a different web resource containing an icon. Change the default schedule board and the changes will apply to all boards that have not had icon customizations.

    • No Icon at all – Cell is not in the range with required hours



Icons on schedule assistant board

  • Fully Available Resources – Visually scrolling across all cells to see which resources have ALL requested hours felt too time consuming and laborious. Therefore, any resources that have all requested hours within the specified pattern will have a green check on the resource cell itself allowing you to simply glance at the resource cell to see if any resources are available for the entire requirement, before trying to piece a few resources together to fulfill the requirement.


 Check mark to indicate fully available resources


  • For even stronger quick visual indicators, we are also customizing the background color and design of the cells based on resource availability. Out of the box:
    • Resources with all requested hours – cell has a white background.
    • Resources have at least one hour of availability, but they do not have all of the requested hours – “hatch”design with gray color
    • Resource is fully booked or overbooked – Cell has a gray background

*Cells that are completely in the past are opacified.



Use of background color and design to show resource availability

**Note that you can select a different color for these three options. If you prefer a more “popped” colorful UI, these settings are for you!!!



  • Keep in mind that although we are bringing this new functionality to the schedule assistant, with regards to which resources actually return to the schedule board, we still focus on the total duration searched within the date range searched. If a resource has at least the specified duration within the requested dates, the resource will return as “available” within the schedule board. You can then determine the best match using the aforementioned new functionality and visuals.
  • We now merge the availability cells based on your requirement breakdown. If the requirement says that you need 40 hours between Jan 1 and Jan 15, when fulfilling this requirement, we merge the resources availability cells between the 1st and the 15th for easy and intuitive booking.
  • When searching for availability, and displaying the resources available hours, these hours are considered “available” if they fall within the related requirement time range. For example, if Monday, the requirement needs 8 hours between 9AM and 5PM, and there is a resource available from 12PM until 8PM, this resource has 5 hours of availability towards this requirement.
  • Sometimes, a resource may only have 5 hours towards a requirement as in the example above, but maybe they have some hours that are on the same day or week, but are outside of the requirement hours. In the example above, the resource has an additional 3 hours of availability, but the hours are outside of the requirements time window. In this scenario, we add an asterisk to the schedule board indicating there is more availability outside the precise window.



Asterisk indicating availability outside the precise window

Enhanced Booking Experience

User Experience Enhancements for selecting and booking resources when searching for availability.

  • Easily select a resource for an entire requirement.
    • Clicking a resource will select all cells that line up with the requirement pattern (requirement details), expressed.
    • If you are looking to book a resource and not follow the requirement breakdown, you can still do so. The only limitation is that in one shot, you can either book cells that line up with the requirement, or you can book cells that do not line up with the requirement. Why the distinction? Simple, the booking options are different in these scenarios. Booking dates in which you did not break down the requirement leaves you with options such ad front load, and full capacity, while booking within the requirement date range has different options which are explained just below.


Enhanced booking experience



Booking Slider

  • When selecting cells, you will notice that we have removed the need to complete the booking process by pressing “book” on the top toolbar and completing the steps in a pop out dialog. Now, you can complete your bookings in the booking slider which is automatically opened based on user actions on the schedule board.
  • We have consolidated and simplified this experience.


Booking slider


  • After creating bookings, you now get notified regarding how many hours were booked relative to how many were requested.


Notification about hours booked vs. hours requested



Revamped Booking Methods for Schedule Assistant


  • When using the schedule assistant and booking a resource, previously, the booking methods did not have context of the requirement breakdown. If I chose to front load 40 hours during week 1, if the requirement was broken down to only require 2 hours in week 1 and 38 hours in week 4, this was not taken into account when booking. Now, we have simplified and added the smarts to have full context. Users can choose to book:
    • Remaining Requirement – Amount of hours that have not been committed or proposed. E.g. Monday 4 of 8 hours have been committed. Tuesday 2 of 8 are committed and another 2 are proposed. Selecting Monday and Tuesday and choosing to book the “remaining duration” would try and book 6 hours on Monday and 4 hours on Tuesday, within the time range of the requirement on that day.


 Remaining requirement


The same principle applies if the requirement was not broken down, or if it was broken down into larger ranges such as specifying a duration broken down into weeks instead of days.

  • Full Requirement – Perhaps the requirement was partially staffed already, but now the resource manager moved some bookings around found someone who has capacity to handle the entire requirement. Or perhaps some hours for this requirement were already proposed for another resource, and now the resource manager sees the perfect candidate and wants to reserve the necessary hours. The resource manager can quickly book all hours for the requirement during that date range ignoring existing bookings. This may result in overstaffing the requirement, but they can always cancel out the existing bookings after they have completed the new bookings. You can equate it to an airline where you may have one ticket on hold or perhaps a ticket with an unwanted layover reserved. When you find a better flight, you will first book the new flight before cancelling the old one.


 Full requirement


  • Cancel Existing Bookings – In one fell swoop, you may want to cancel existing bookings for this requirement and create new bookings. No problem! Just check off the “cancel existing bookings” checkbox when fulfilling a requirement using the “entire duration” booking method.
  • Allow Double Booking – Perhaps a resource only has 6 hours of availability on a given day but the requirement demand 8 hours. You are willing to book the resource for the entire 8 hours even though they only have 6 hours of capacity remaining. This setting removes the constraint of only booking the resource up to their total available hours and allows double booking the resource.
  • If you do not want to book within the requirement breakdown and your organization generally books in a more free flowing manner, the best approach is don’t break down your requirement! Just have a requirement not broken into requirement details.


Allow double booking or cancel existing bookings



General Booking Improvements

  • When creating bookings using the schedule assistant, we look for openings within the resources day instead of creating all the bookings at the beginning of the day. If a resource has two hours available at different times, we will intelligently split up the booking to match the Resources availability, breaking up the booking to match the availability.
  • When searching for availability and booking a resource, the default hours to book set in the booking slider is based on the remaining requirement hours and the resources available hours. By default, we take the resources total available hours in the selected date range yet do not exceed the remaining duration of the requirement for those days. If you use the booking method “entire requirement”, then we use the total hours of the requirement for the date range instead of the remaining hours.


Additional Enhancements

General Enhancements

  • Progress Display – See how many hours have been booked, broken down by status when searching for availability on a requirement! At a glance. the resource manager has quick context about whether or not there have been hours booked, or proposed for a requirement.



Progress display

  • Seamless Zooming – Right click any cell on the schedule board to zoom in and out, changing the schedule board views between hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly, while keeping context of the resource you are focused on when zooming.



Seamless zooming

  • On the hourly schedule board, instead of using a border to display the priority of the booking, we now use the top right corner to show the color of the requirement priority.



Display the priority of booking by showing the priority color in top right corner

Thank you for taking the time to read about our July 2017 update. We are extremely excited about this release and we are looking forward to hearing your feedback!

Happy Scheduling!



– Dan Gittler

Sr. Program Manager, Dynamics 365 Engineering