Unpacking Route Optimization in Field Service Management Software

route optimization solutions and scheduling & dispatch software are technically two distinct types of tech. Learn more today!

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    In case you’re wondering, route optimization solutions and scheduling & dispatch software are technically two distinct types of tech. 

    Route optimization is all about mapping the most efficient, cost-effective way for field technicians to move from one service call to another – and another. Its primary aim is to optimize the sequences of stops assigned to each technician in order to achieve the most efficient route. 

    By contrast, scheduling & dispatch software is largely focused on managing and organizing resources, appointments, and tasks within a given time frame. These tools help field orgs assign work, create schedules, and coordinate activities to maximize efficiency and utilization rates. 

    That said, there’s a lot of overlap between route optimization and scheduling software. Both solutions tackle the same set of challenges, they’re just coming at them from different angles. 

    Ultimately, your FSM stack must include routing and scheduling capabilities that leverage data from your entire digital ecosystem. But, in this post, we’ll zoom in on route optimization and what it can do for your business.

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    Simplify & Streamline Route Planning 

    At its core route optimization software is designed to streamline route planning, scheduling, and resource allocation.  

    According to Velosio Principal Consultant Dave Sigler, “things like matching service requests to technician skill sets or optimizing routes to reduce mileage or travel times helps orgs lower costs and deliver more efficient service.”

    FSM software like D365 Field Service enables orgs to proactively address travel delays, no-shows, emergency requests, and so on.

    Jobs can be automatically scheduled and assigned to technicians using built-in AI and setting custom rules that define goals, constraints, resources, and requirements.

    That means, you can ensure that incoming requests are automatically assigned to the closest, most experienced technician — without disrupting existing schedules. 

    All that in mind, route optimization is all about leveraging your entire field service management stack — and building on existing capabilities one phase at a time. 

    For example, D365 Business Central’s all-in-one ERP offers a strong foundation for improving routing efficiency and accuracy. 

    But — its out-of-the-box features don’t go far enough to generate any real competitive advantage on this front. Inside, you will find several service management tools that support planning, dispatching, contract management, service requests, and more. 

    But, the platform is missing the AI insights and advanced automation capabilities it takes to improve day-to-day route management in any meaningful way. 

    You might augment BC’s reporting tools by setting up the Power BI integration and designing new reports that provide deeper insight into scheduling, resource optimization, and other metrics that support route planning. 

    You might also use Power Apps and Power Automate to build custom solutions that bring route optimization features into your core platform. Or, you can look toward existing ISV solutions to fill critical gaps. Powerblox Dropcon Connector creates a seamless connection between D365 Business Central and Dropcon’s route planning platform.

    On the enterprise side, you might check out ISV apps like Logistia Route Planner, a last-mile logistics solution designed to generate optimal routes for drivers. This app includes live-tracking capabilities, so you’ll always know where drivers are and how many more stops are on the books for the day. 

    Unpacking Route Optimization in Field Service Management Software

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    Ultimately though, it’s still going to be about finding the right mix of tools — and ensuring that everything works together to support the same goals. 

    As an example, we have a healthcare client that replaced their existing Salesforce solution with D365 Field Service. Initially, that client approached us because they were approaching a Salesforce price increase and wanted a more cost-effective solution for managing and scheduling its network of providers. 

    We helped our client implement D365 Field Service on an accelerated timeframe — integrating field service and call center operations under one unified platform. We also used the Power Platform to customize that system to meet their unique needs. 

    Ultimately, the client was able to:

    • Efficiently manage cancellations and last minute changes in D365 Field Service
    • Notify patients with accurate arrival times
    • Coordinate home visits & support specific tasks/processes based on individual health needs
    • View provider schedules & optimize routes

    But, the reason we were able to achieve those outcomes was because we worked closely with the client to ensure that the new solution aligned perfectly with their requirements.

    Achieve Real-Time Adaptability 

    The best route optimization solutions continuously analyze variables like distance, delivery windows, fuel costs, and capacity in real time, updating routes as conditions change. 

    These tools provide real-time updates and dynamic routing and rerouting capabilities by analyzing factors like traffic conditions, weather patterns, tech availability, customer location, and more. 

    They also use GPS and mapping technologies to get an exact location on technicians. And — if you’re using Connected Field Service (IoT), customer asset data can be included here as well. and keep customers in the loop with notifications, technician tracking, and real-time ETAs.

    All of this enables field providers to accommodate emergency requests, respond to traffic conditions or bad weather, and reshuffle scheduled services to optimize efficiency or reduce costs. 

    That said, building a stack that allows you to continuously adapt route plans to match customer and market demands isn’t always that straightforward. 

    Initially, you’re aiming for end-to-end visibility and real-time data flows. But, over time, you’re working toward fully automated scheduling and route optimization.

    For D365 Field Service users, that means using the built-in Universal Resource Scheduling tool to define resources and scheduling requirements that help reduce costs and travel times. 

    According to the official documentation, you’ll want to start off with manual scheduling using the platform’s schedule board.

    Later, you’ll move onto semi-automated scheduling using the in-app scheduling assistant, which will help you match resources with requirements faster and more effectively.

    Once you’ve mastered the scheduling assistant, you might subscribe to the Resource Scheduling Optimization add-in, which unlocks more advanced automation capabilities. 

    Unpacking Route Optimization in Field Service Management Software

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    Another option is FLS VISITOUR for D365, a dynamic, real-time scheduling and resource management platform for field providers operating across a range of industries – HVAC, facilities management, utilities, healthcare, and last-mile logistics. 

    Like the D365 RSO add-in, the FLS app integrates with D365 Field Service and CE apps. But, it’s designed to handle a higher volume of incoming service calls, larger pools of field resources, and more complex requirements.

    Unpacking Route Optimization in Field Service Management Software

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    Use Route Optimization Tech to Support Broader Goals

    Route optimization software enhances the entire FSM stack, offering benefits that go way beyond scheduling and dispatch. We already mentioned how route optimization tools use data from the rest of the field service stack to streamline and improve FS operations like scheduling, routing, and customer service. 

    But — data syncing isn’t a one way street. Route optimization can also be used to support a wide range of high-level goals from cost-savings and sustainability to predictive modeling, estimation, and forecasting. 

    For example, D365 Field Service includes several reporting tools, offering insights into resource utilization, work orders, and, for RSO users, the impact of automated bookings on business performance.

    Field data can be combined with the rest of your data, allowing you to monitor metrics like average mileage, utilization, cancellations, etc. and measure their impact on revenue, customer satisfaction, sales performance, and more. 

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    If you’re using D365 Resource Scheduling Optimization, you can set Optimization Goals like “minimize total travel time” or “maximize total working hours.” You can also define constraints that prevent the system from, say, scheduling services after hours or assigning technicians work outside of their territory. 

    In the screenshot below, the user’s primary goal was “maximizing productivity.” They set multiple objectives to support that goal, then ranked them based on impact. 

     maximize productivity

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    In this case, the RSO algorithm will automatically try to book as many services as possible per day – helping orgs help more customers in less time. 

    Now, if the goal is something like increasing first-time-fix rates, then matching skills or resource types might be the number one objective. Meaning, improving service outcomes might come at the expense of travel time or fuel costs. 

    On the ISV side, AppSource offers several options that support more “niche” goals. 

    For example, Volteum created a route optimization and planning solution for companies that use EVs to deliver service. The app includes features like consumption modeling and range estimation, and allows users to define parameters like energy recovery, battery specs, speed, heating & cooling, and more. 

    There’s also ORTEC Routing Suite, a cloud-based optimization suite containing multiple advanced routing optimization modules, plus a “big data portal” that offers detailed routing analytics that can be used to drive improvements at the most granular level. 

    Unpacking Route Optimization in Field Service Management Software

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    ORTEC caters to a wide range of industries including retail, logistics, energy, and manufacturing. But, with features like inventory routing, load building, and a dedicated delivery driver app, it’s probably best-suited for larger companies balancing complex supply chain operations with field-based services and sales.

    Final Thoughts

    Route planning touches everything from resource utilization and scheduling to employee satisfaction and your ability to keep the promises in your SLAs. 

    Implemented correctly, route optimization software can transform field service operations at every level. But, the key thing to keep in mind here is that route optimization tech is only as good as the rest of your ecosystem. 

    It needs the financial insights, asset performance stats, customer communications logs, and so on to plan and optimize routes that get the right outcomes. 

    Velosio experts can help you build the field service management stack that’s right for you. While we do have a robust field service practice, we also offer services and solutions for the entire business. 

    Contact us today to learn more about what we can do to take your FSM stack to the next level.