Team Up the Flow

Recently Microsoft Flow had got a lot of attention, new features, and new capabilities.

“Teams” has also been a developing application that is getting a very high push from Microsoft and also due to it’s simplicity and resemblance to other, day to day, chat applications, getting more popularity with clients. I can see the spreading of Teams in certain offices even without the IT department actually says or does anything, people are simply using it and if someone happens not to have access to it…oh well then we kinda hear about it in IT.

In any industry dealing with “on-site” tickets and fails, there is a lot to discuss between the technician or the field person and the dispatcher or manager in the back office. Since Teams is used for chat, in any case, to chat between co-workers in the office and its mobile app is available I thought why not to use it for the ticket support on site? The scenario is a familiar one.

So far it has been the “Happy Path” for the technician, but honestly, how many times things went wrong and he or she had to call back to the office? or even if everything is ok just to send the customers signature via the phone or surface back to the office while keeping track of the documentation and the initial ticket might be an issue already. True, there are many tools in the current market to do just that, but if you already have got O365, you are a small company with  2 -10 field technicians and you trying to cut costs I would suggest a different approach, less fancy but still effective.

The ticket creation process can be done in a dedicated PowerApp or another way, I would like to focus on the communication after the ticket has already been created. The ticket details are inserted into a Word document and added to a SharePoint document library on Office 365. Once the document containing the ticket was published in the document library a flow will create a chat entry with the link to the specific document. So how the technician will know it is a task assigned to him/her? The flow can add the chat entry to the right channel according to the assigned technician to this task. The assignment will be in the document library as well, an additional column to the Metadata.

The SharePoint Document Library:

The Teams Set up:

In Teams, I have added a team for all the technicians and a separate channel for each by name. I will use this channel ID later on to assign the technician

The Flow when a document is added:

Definitions:

  1. Find the: When a file is created (properties) flow type for SharePoint and make sure you are connected with the right user (especially relevant for those of us with several users and clients…)
  2. SharePoint will store the document, the only thing you will be posting in teams and transferring through Flow is the link to the document and the metadata
  3. I have used the switch case in order to assign the tasks/documents directly to the technicians by name. This is not for a huge corporate but for a small firm that has a few technicians and limited budget. The assignment – the case scenario is through the “Assigned to Email” Property.
  4. Maintain and Govern – my goal is to leave a documentation so the company can add cases or change technician names in the flow when people are leaving. A print screen of the flow and explanation of which field should be changed will be enough.
  5. Don’t forget the default case, if the assigned person doesn’t have a channel yet or the file containing the task was not assigned to.

If something was changed in the document and the head office would like to post another, manual column another flow can be initiated manually, there is another flow that can run from the document menu, this flow will add the message the dispatcher/manager in the office want to add to the technician

Why do we need it? Well, when the message is automatically assigned to the right channel with the link to the documentation it sends the alert to the technician but also enables the technician to chat regarding this ticket all the information and the details regarding it with the main office or management. All this information is retained in teams.

Possible bugs/Problems:

  1. The Word document, containing all the information possibly pictures and so on cannot be edited to the full scope, if another picture needs to be added it cannot be done via office online but only with a surface or another mobile device that can have a word installed with full capabilities.
  2. The information is retained as a chat and searchable in the Team, it might be more difficult to access than a traditional record in a CRM application
  3. Things might get confusing – if you have your calendar in one place and the task assigned in another.

 

The key part of this implementation, just like any other, is communication with the users, both administrators/managers/dispatchers, and the field technicians, and understanding their needs from this application. This process can fit some of the organizations but it is not a “one fit all” solution.