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How to use universal resource scheduling to schedule anything

By Abi Shende, Senior Functional Consultant, Arbela Technologies

Universal Resource Scheduling feature in Dynamics 365 can be used to enable scheduling for any entity including custom entities. In this article, I will walk you through one of the many potential use cases to illustrate how you can take advantage of this feature.

The company in this scenario provides college counseling services to High School students and their parents throughout the country. Counselors have expertise in specific categories of college majors such as Engineering, Business, and Economics, Fine Arts, etc. Some counselors have expertise in multiple subject areas. They serve students and parents in a specific geographical area.

The company offers a free 1-hour initial consultation which helps student and parents decide before signing up for its services for a fee. The demand for services is high and counselors need to be matched with students based on their location and college major as well as the availability of counselors and students and parents. The initial consultation can be scheduled at home, via video conferencing or at one of the company’s local offices.

Here are the steps to implement a scheduling solution in Dynamics 365, that addresses these requirements.

  1. We will use the standard Lead entity to track potential clients (students) in Dynamics 365.
    We will add the following custom fields to Lead entity and form:
    1. Available From Date
    2. Available To Date
    3. College Major (lookup)
    4. Territory (lookup)
    5. Duration (defaults to 1 hour)
  2. In addition, we will use the following standard fields in our solution:
    1. Address
    2. Latitude
    3. Longitude
  3. Enable Lead entity for Scheduling
  4. Map attributes used to create a Booking Requirement
  5. Create a workflow that performs the following steps for the creation of a new Lead:
    1. Geocode address and update Latitude and Longitude on the Lead record
    2. Create a Booking Requirement for the Lead
      Note: This is technically not required once the entity has been enabled for scheduling. However, we need to create a requirement first to associate a Requirement Characteristic (college major) for this requirement in the next step.
    3. Create a related Requirement Characteristic record based on the College Major entered

We are now ready to test drive our solution.

Here’s the new Lead with relevant information required for scheduling.

Once the new lead is created, you can use any of the scheduling methods available in Dynamics 365 to schedule the initial consultation for this lead.

Let us use the Find Availability feature on the Schedule Board to find available counselors. The requirement for the Lead we just created is shown in the Booking Requirements list at the bottom.

When you click Find Availability, the system uses the information we entered for the Lead including Available From Date, Available To Date and College Major to find available counselors.

You can right-click in any available slot and click “Book Here”. As shown in the following screenshot, I am booking the appointment for Kris Nakamura at 10:00 AM.

After booking the appointment, Kris’s schedule is updated. You can also create a Workflow to send an automated email to the student and parent with the appointment information. In addition, you can synchronize resource bookings with Outlook to automatically book the appointment on counselor’s Outlook calendar.

As you can see from this example, Universal Resource Scheduling feature in Dynamics 365 can be used by any business that needs an ability to easily schedule limited resources based on customer’s and resource’s availability, location, territory, and skills.