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Introducing an Advanced Search Function for Service Appointments in the SFS Gantt

Switching between tabs in search of service appointments (SA) can be time-consuming and frustrating since it’s done often. The current search function in the SFS Gantt may offer limited flexibility and suffer from performance issues, leading to a suboptimal user experience. Considering the currently available options, we thought of a simple and easy solution.

Limitations of the Standard Search Capabilities

The left side of the Field Service dispatcher console allows users to filter, sort and search appointments within the list. After the right appointment is located, users can perform actions on this appointment, such as scheduling, rebooking or simply searching in the appointment history.

Different methods can be used in a Field Service to locate the right appointments.

  1. Users can use standard filters provided as part of a managed package.
  2. Users can create new custom filters with different search criteria and columns displayed. The horizon for the custom filter is limited to about 31 days.
  3. Users can search for appointments by typing two or more characters in the search field. Users can separate multiple keywords with a comma and the appointment list is updated dynamically to show only appointments with at least one matching property. There are a few limitations to this type of search:
    • The appointment list is scanned based on the selected filter, so if the appointment is not pre-loaded in the filter, it will not be found even if it fully matches the search criteria.

    • If the appointment’s service territory is not loaded, users will be unable to find an appointment since it’s filtered out.
    • To find past or future SAs, users must use filters with long horizons, causing slowness and performance degradation. Finding an appointment completed two months ago is impossible using this method.
    • Not all appointment field types are searchable. Users can search against filters of type text, text area, lookup name and picklist.
    • Searching for appointments using AND condition is not possible.
  4. Users can type the Service Appointment number in a search field to do a full search. However, they need to know the exact number. The appointment number is an internal reference number and doesn’t have much meaning.
  5. Users can use Global Search, which is an excellent way to locate any record in Salesforce. Still, results, in this case, need to be displayed on the dispatcher console, which is different from how dispatchers like to see the data. Theoretically, dispatchers can search for a SA using Global Search outside of the dispatcher console, apply a filter, locate SA, copy its number, go back to the dispatcher console and paste a number in search fields to perform a full search.

To make a long story short, dispatchers find it challenging to find the right appointment using the standard filters and search capabilities provided in a Field Service managed package. It could be that they did find exactly what they were looking for, but they didn’t find all the appointments that could lead to making better decisions. To be able to find the right appointment, dispatchers have to switch between tabs, change filters, update visibility horizon, change dates and load territories which is a time-consuming and frustrating process.

At present, users can create Gantt filters and specify fields displayed, loading criteria and limited time frame. They can then use the search box in the appointments list to search for appointments. While this method can be useful in some cases, it lacks the necessary flexibility to perform dynamic searches by specific fields or time ranges. Additionally, it can lead to performance issues when many service appointments are within the specified horizon.

For instance, a user wants to search for service appointments related to a specific customer by a custom field on the account record, either within the last month or the next month. The standard solution involved using a formula field to bring down the value of the service appointment, followed by configuring a Gantt filter with a 30-day horizon in the past and future. However, as the customer had approximately 300 service appointments per day, the performance of the Gantt was significantly impacted since it had to load a large amount of data into the appointments list. Moreover, the search function only worked on service appointments within the horizon. If an appointment was outside the horizon, the “search all records” functionality (which queries the database) could not locate it as it only works on the appointment number or service appointment ID fields.

Dispatchers need an easy way to find one or more appointments using simple OR/AND conditions in the Field Service dispatcher console.

A Dynamic Solution for Efficient Searching

To address this critical business need, we developed an alternative search, filter, and sort solution that complements standard product capabilities – the Advanced Search. We’ve added a new button to the Field Service dispatcher console that opens a Visualforce page displaying the most relevant data by default. In the filters area dispatcher can easily define search criteria, such as customer ID or SA Status and search for the relevant data using AND/OR conditions. Results are displayed as a sortable table – all in one single screen. If a dispatcher would like to update a filter, removing unnecessary statuses, for example, there’s no problem at all. He only needs to uncheck the checkbox next to the status. Finally, after the right service appointment is found, the dispatcher can (automatically) locate the appointments within the console and perform the necessary action. All without leaving his workspace or switching between tabs.

We developed a new solution that can be invoked from the Gantt using custom action. This custom action calls a Visualforce page that displays a list configured in Salesforce Labs’ Smart List component, which can be defined according to the customer’s needs. The fields shown and filtered are configurable through custom metadata.

In addition, we have created two-row actions: one to copy the appointment number to the Gantt and run its search function, and one to open the service appointment record page. This allows the user to search and access the relevant information within the SFS Gantt without switching between tabs.

Streamlining the Search Process and Improving User Experience

The advanced search function for service appointments within the SFS Gantt offers significant improvements over the existing capabilities. By utilizing SFS’s custom Gantt action feature and Salesforce Labs’ Smart Lists component, we have created a solution that allows users to search for service appointments and access relevant information within the Gantt while eliminating the need to switch between tabs, streamlining the process and improving efficiency.

We understand that the current search function has been frustrating for many customers. We are confident that this new solution addresses those issues by providing greater flexibility and enhanced performance. This advanced search function will significantly benefit our customers and improve their experience with the SFS Gantt.

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