“Infinity stood out early in the process as the front runner. My first engagement was efficient, and I got the attention required. The second tick on my list was when I met the team, Tristan being an integral part of my decision, clearly showing knowledge of the product and just a general understanding of my requirements.
Spy Alarms are a fast paced, rapidly expanding, organisation with ambitious growth plans and, as such, needed to work with a similarly
agile partner to deliver a minimum viable product (MVP) solution quickly followed by future phases of work.
Their core products are Dynamics 365 Field Service and Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Spy Alarms were operating on a legacy line of business application to run their operations, capturing, scheduling, and fulfilling proactive and reactive field service requirements. The existing system had a number of limitations which were starting to become critical and prohibitive to Spy
Alarms’ aggressive growth plans, including:
- Lack of ability to customise the system
- Poorly structured data with little validation
- No way to easily import new data
- Many manual processes required, including
- A lack of integration with other key systems
- Difficulty analysing data to facilitate
- Limited remote access and no offline
As well as not fulfilling some critical requirements, the existing system was lacking the modern tools available within Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, which could help accelerate growth while increasing efficiency, such as:
- Integration with Office 365
- Automatic document generation and electronic signing, including capture of Direct Debit information
- AI enabled scheduling using Resource
- Out of the box engineer tracking capability
- A modern, secure, offline enabled, mobile app
Spy Alarms also needed to migrate from their legacy finance package to Business Central, integrating with Dynamics 365 Field Service to run the entire prospect to cash process. Whilst there is a native integration between Business Central and Field Service, this only caters for simple sales scenarios and as such bespoke integration work was required to ensure the integration could support the end to end Field Service process.
Spy Alarms also had a large amount of historic data which was required to be migrated to the new system. This included customer data as well as information relating to historic and current work orders and contracts.
There were some specific requirements, borne out of Spy Alarms’ operational makeup, that required expert customisation and extension of Dynamics 365 Field Service, beyond what was possible with standard configuration. Infinity Group’s expert team of technical consultants, with the help of
Microsoft guidance and resource, were able to satisfy these, some examples were:
Customisations to the sales process to embed approval processes_
Power Automate was used to fulfil this requirement, creating a seamless experience for the sales users and approvers.
Changes to the quote to order process to add additional logic on conversion_
Custom output following on site work_
The standard Inspection Template output document, which is generic and unbranded, did not meet Spy Alarms’ requirements so a
custom process was added to read the json data collected from engineers’ devices, convert this to structured data and, finally, generate the required template output.
Having a team of dedicated technical resources ensures we can meet customer’s requirements on time and on budget even when they are outside of what the core platform is capable of.
Infinity Group worked with Spy Alarms to document their AS-IS and TO-BE requirements, aligning as much as possible with core Dynamics 365 Field Service features and processes to ensure the build, deployment and maintenance of the new system was as efficient as possible. Aligning with out of the box processes and functionality also allows Spy Alarms to benefit from new features released in April and October every year, with minimal implementation overhead which can be added where the underlying system has been heavily customised.
Infinity Group then ran an agile project, working in sprints, to customise and configure Dynamics 365 Field Service to fit Spy Alarms’ requirements. Working in an agile fashion, with a fast-paced company such as Spy Alarms, allowed Infinity’s team to respond to changing requirements and priorities to ensure the end product met what was needed, whilst iteratively delivering requirements to Spy Alarms for review, testing and approval. Unlike a traditional agile project, due to the fact there was a cut over required from an existing system, Infinity Group didn’t release changes to production at the end of each sprint, but rather to UAT with a final cut over for go-live. Infinity Group run as closely as possible to a traditional agile methodology but in situations like this the project management team use their expertise to flex the approach to fit the customer and project requirements.
Infinity Group utilised Azure DevOps to capture requirements, in the form of user stories, and manage the backlog of work collaboratively with
Spy Alarms, assigning tasks to relevant users across the customer and supplier project teams. This approach fosters honesty by working from
a single, shared, system as well as collaboration, something which is supported by Microsoft Teams for chat, meetings, and document collaboration. Additionally, Azure DevOps was used to automate deployments between environments for Spy Alarms. This approach requires some additional setup up front in the project but ultimately greatly increases efficiency throughout delivery, allowing consultants to deploy changes (including required data) at the push of a button, without having to wait for export/import operations to complete. It also ensures that new environments can be quickly and efficiently created without manual effort, a good example being the provisioning, and re-provisioning, of data migration specific environments on demand. This process was also used for exporting changes and committing them to source control, offer additional security to the solution as well as automatically tracking version numbers and changes.
Infinity Group’s team of expert consultants set to work configuring Dynamics 365 Field Service, this included customising the sales process to
fit Spy Alarms’ requirements, whereby a site survey is undertaken prior to additional work, custom templates were required for creation and
electronic signature, bespoke post inspection templates needed to be generated, and more.
Whilst the build went on, a parallel stream of work was undertaken to analyse, transform where required, and migrate Spy Alarms’ existing
data. This took the form of workshops to analyse data sources, volumes, and quality, involving close collaboration between Infinity Group’s
data architecture resource and Spy Alarms’ internal data experts. Once analysed, Infinity Group’s proven data migration framework was used to extract, transform, and load Spy Alarms’ data. Some data objects were complex, such as migrating existing and historic contracts to Agreements within Field Service. The Agreement table within Field Service has multiple dependencies, such as Accounts, Booking Setups and Invoice Set-ups, all of which need to be accurately migrated for the new system to operate as intended.
Whilst testing was completed throughout the sprints, a final round of user acceptance testing (UAT) was completed at the end of the first
phase to ensure the system worked from end to end, from initial enquiry to a completed service appointment. Issues and changes highlighted
during this phase were quickly actioned, again facilitated by close collaboration and constant contact between the relevant teams.
Spy Alarms undertook their own end user testing to ensure users were ready to adopt the new system and get the most from it.
Finally, it was time to cut over to the new system. This involved migrating large amounts of data over a weekend, one final round of testing and then Spy
Alarms were ready for production use in Dynamics 365 on Monday morning. Infinity Group’s consultants were on site with Spy Alarms for the first two weeks of operation of the new system to swiftly resolve any post go live issue. This process, which we refer to as ‘hyper care’ ensures small post go live issues are quickly resolved, ensuring the new system is well adopted by users and consultants who worked on the project are on
hand to troubleshoot issues quickly and efficiently.
Following hyper care, the solution was handed over to Infinity Group expert Managed Service team for ongoing support, whilst discussion quickly turned to phases two and three!
Spy Alarms are now live, using Dynamics 365 Field Service, combined with Dynamics 365 Business Central, to manage their entire end to end process.
Immediate efficiency gains have been realised from reduced manual process and Resource Schedule Optimisation, allowing engineers who were completing 5 or 6 jobs a day to increase to 8 or 9, simply through more intelligent scheduling.
Spy Alarms are using the Dynamics 365 platform to manage their data from initial enquiry, through to completed service activity. Functionality such as electronic signatures have already saved a great deal of time whilst enhancing the customer experience.
Dynamics 365 Field Service’s engineer tracking solution is in place to inform customers of booked, upcoming, or changed appointments via email and SMS to create a sophisticated customer experience. This will be further enhanced with the adoption of self-service scheduling in a future phase which will allow Spy Alarms’ customers to book their own engineer visits with no need to speak to the contact centre.
Agreements are in place, automatically creating work orders where resource is required, which Resource Schedule Optimisation is then automatically booking, in the most efficient way, to ensure manual tasks around generating and fulfilling demand are kept to a minimum and Spy Alarms’ staff can concentrate on delivering the most high value activities to benefit the business and their customers.
Infinity Group pride ourselves on not only the professional relationships which are forged during our projects but also the personal ones as we work closely with our customers’ teams for long periods of time. Based on this, future phases of work are already underway to maximise Spy
Alarms’ investment in Dynamics 365 and Power Platform and we look forward to a long and prosperous working relationship.