Agency Scheduling (v6.0)

Modified on Mon, 09 Oct 2023 at 12:57 PM




Agency Scheduling




Purpose of this document


The purpose of this document is to describe the process of creating and managing Food Bank shopping, pickup and delivery monthly schedules and Agency appointment times in Ceres.  The Scheduling functionality may be used just in Ceres, or in conjunction with Agency Express 3. 


Ceres Object release 6.00.00 is required for the functionality described in this document. 










Creating Schedules and Appointments in Ceres


Scheduling in Ceres is based upon a Schedule Template and Location Code.  There are currently three different types of Schedule Templates to work with:


  1. Deliver
  2. Pickup
  3. Shopping


For each Schedule Template, it is possible to have one or more locations.  For example, under the Deliver Schedule Template, you might want separate calendars for locations MAIN and OFFSITE.  In this scenario, Appointment lines need to be created for Schedule Template = Deliver and Location Code = MAIN, as well as Schedule Template = Deliver and Location Code = OFFSITE.  The following sections will describe how to set this up. 


Note: If you use Agency Express the Schedule templates must be named exactly “Deliver”, “Pickup” and “Shopping” to function with Agency Express. 


Creating Master Schedule Lines


The first step in the scheduling process is to create Master Schedule Lines for the Schedule Template and Location.   Master Schedule Lines are essentially a blueprint for a particular calendar; they are not the actual appointment lines, but rather time slots from which appointment lines will eventually be created.  The following instructions and associated screenshots will provide added detail.


To create Master Schedule Lines, open the Agency Scheduling Matrix. The Agency Scheduling Matrix can be accessed by selecting “Search” from the Dynamics 365 Business Central Banner and entering “Agency Scheduling” in “Tell me what you want to do” then selecting “Agency Scheduling” from the results in the Go to Pages and Tasks section OR by selecting the “Agency Scheduling” menu action (if present) from your Role Center home page:



Upon selecting Agency Scheduling, you will be taken into the Agency Scheduling page.  From here, you will need to specify:


  1.  The Schedule Template you wish to use,


  1.  The Location Code you wish to work with, and the


  1. Date Filter. (This defaults to the current date + 9 days) 
    1. To view other date ranges, hit either Next Set or Previous Set before “Show Matrix”.


For this example, we are going to work with Schedule Template Pickup and Location Code MAIN.



Click Show Matrix to view the appointment data for the Template, Location, and Date range.  Currently there is no appointment data in this calendar.  



To generate appointments, we must start by building the Master Schedule Lines.  Select Actions à Functions à Create Appointments to open the Create Appointments page.


Note: The function to Create Appointments can be added to the ribbon for ease of access. You may run the function from whichever ribbon you have assigned it to. 



The specific setup of Master Schedule Lines is flexible to allow customization per food bank.  Be certain to include a Start Time and an End Time.   If there is a midday break (a lunch break, for example) be sure to include a second Start Time and End Time as illustrated in the screenshot (if none, then only a starting and ending time are necessary).  In this step, toggle the Create Master Schedule Lines checkbox.  The Time Interval indicates how much time exists between appointments slots.  In this example, the first appointment is at 7:30 and one occurs every hour through 10:30, with a lunch break and afternoon appointments starting at 12:30 and ending at 2:30.



Note: Do not be concerned with the Starting Date and Ending Date when generating Master Schedule Lines. The 12/31/9998 is used behind the scenes for special processing, please disregard. 


When you are finished with your setup, hit the “Execute” button at the top of the page.


Note: In order to synchronize properly with Agency Express, Starting/Ending Times must include minutes that start with :00, :05, :10, :15, :20, up through :55. It cannot start or end with any minute in-between five minute intervals.  For example: 07:30:00 AM is a valid start time, but 07:32:00 AM is not.  


When the master appointment lines are generated, you will receive a notification prompt:



You will notice that the Agency Scheduling Matrix now displays a list of times on the left-hand side of the page.   These are the Master Schedule Lines, they form the general structure of the calendar.  Without generating the master schedule lines, it would not be possible to create appointment lines.



Now that this has been completed, you can create Appointment Lines.  


Note: Creating Master Appointment Lines generally only occurs once per calendar/location, but it is possible to change them down the line. Please contact us for assistance if needed.


Creating Appointment Lines


From the View – Agency Scheduling Matrix window: Select Actions à Functions à Create Appointments, to open the Create Appointments page.  



Once the page opens, toggle the Create Appointment Lines option.  Next, select an appropriate Schedule Template Name, Location Code, Starting Date, and Ending Date. NOTE: It is possible (and may be desirable) to repeat this process with different date ranges to skip dates of closure. Starting Time and Ending Time must correspond to what was entered when creating the Master Schedule Lines.  For example, if Master Schedule Lines are for 7:30am – 2:30pm, we could not create an Appointment Line for 3:30pm as no placeholder exists for it on the master calendar.  Max Weight and Max No. of Appointments are set by user discretion.  In this example, we have chosen a Max. No. of appointments per time slot of 1.


Note: If you are using Standing Appointments Only, Max No. of Appointments will need to be set to 0. Once all fields have been filled in, hit Execute to create Appointment Lines. As above, clicking OK cancels the task. 



A dialog box displays the process and when completed:


Click OK.


Once appointments have been created, you will notice that the Agency Scheduling Matrix has additional data under the Maximum column.  This indicates that Appointment Lines have been successfully generated.   No data will appear in the Scheduled and Standing columns until later.



Note: This process must be completed for all combinations of Locations and Schedules that you are using. And if using Agency Express, they must all be completed before synchronizing appointments.


Marking Days Off


Note: This must be done PRIOR to synchronizing schedules to Agency Express, if using AE.


If you anticipate being closed for a holiday, or will be operating on a revised schedule, you need to mark days/times off the calendar.  This prevents appointments from being scheduled during a time when the food bank is not open.  In this example, appointments have been created for the month of September. The Food Bank is closed for Labor Day, so appointments need to be removed for that day.


To do so, first make sure that the Matrix is displaying the time frame that includes the date you are planning to remove. (You may need to return to the Agency Scheduling start window and choose Next Set until that date is included). Once the Matrix opens, locate the date, and left click the Maximum Appointments Column (on any line with a value). The Edit – Appointment Detail Schedule opens for that calendar.


This opens the Appointment Detail Schedule window:



From here, select Actions à Functions à Check Remove Time on All.  




This will cause all times to be marked for removal from this calendar.  If you do not want to mark the entire day for deletion, can selectively check which times you wish to remove by manually checking the Remove Time checkboxes as appropriate.  


Once you have selected times to remove, hit Actions à Remove Times à Remove Times.   Confirm that you wish to delete the lines by pressing “Yes”.


All appointment lines for September 4th will be deleted and cannot be scheduled as they no longer exist.



Note: You must repeat this process for all combinations of Schedule Templates/Locations BEFORE you synchronize appointments.



Synchronizing Appointments (Calendars and Appointment Lines)


Before Creating Standing Appointments, it is recommended that you first Synchronize Calendars and Appointments. Standing Appointments are sent to AE as soon as they are generated, so it is better to have the ‘template’ for those standing appointments sent to the Web before you create them.


There are two pieces of scheduling data to be synchronized: Calendar data (In the Web Processing Queue they display as Type = “Schedule Master” entries and in the folder structure for AE, they are ISM files) and Appointment data (In the Web Processing Queue they display as Type = “Appointment” entries and ISQ files for AE).   


To synchronize Calendars, go to Web Synchronization Options, which can be accessed by selecting “Search” from the Dynamics 365 Business Central Banner and entering “Web Sync” in “Tell me what you want to do” then selecting “Web Synchronization Options” from the results in the Go to Pages and Tasks section OR by selecting the “Web Synchronization Options” menu action (if present) from your Role Center home page:






Note:  Once you synchronize a calendar with the web you cannot make additional changes to it.   For example, if you synchronize a calendar and realize later that you forgot to mark off a holiday, you must reach out to TechBridge, as you cannot remove that date after the calendar has been synchronized.  It is extremely important to make sure your calendar is correct before you send it to the web.


Click YES to Synchronize. A Warning will pop-up to confirm that you have confirmed your dates before you send the Calendar to AE:




When the Master Calendar has been synchronized, it will return you to the Web Synchronization Options window. 


To synchronize appointment, select Appointments from the drop-down, Synchronize and Yes to the prompt:





Close the Web Synchronization Options window.


In the Agency Express Web Processing Queue, Calendar entries will display as Type = Schedule Master:



Appointments will display as Type = Appointment:



Note: If you use Standing Appointments only (no open or pre-reservation appointments) for a calendar, you will not see any appointment lines until you generate Standing Appointments. 

Creating Standing Appointments


Standing Appointments are default appointment days/ times that can be established for Agencies. Using Standing Appointments only (Maximum No. of Appointments = 0) for certain calendars means that the Agencies cannot free-select appointments on AE but must choose from available standing appointments. There are two ways to create standing appointments in Ceres: 


  1. Automatically via the Create Standing Appointment batch routine.
  2. Create standing appointments manually (often for single appointments as needed)



Automatic Standing Appointments


To automatically create standing appointments, you must first complete Standing Appointment Setup for the Agencies who will participate. Once the Standing Appointment Setup (template) has been completed for an Agency, it should not need to be modified unless a change has occurred due to their hours of operation or to the schedule itself.  


From an Agency card, select Related à Distributions à Standing Appointments:



This opens the Standing Appointment Lines for that Agency.  If no standing appointment lines exist, that is because they have not been created yet. 



To open Standing Appointment Setup, click the Setup option from the menu:



If a template already exists, then the setup lines will display, if not, you will need to create the template lines per the needs of the Food Bank and Agency:



Agency No: The agency number that is associated with the standing appointment setup.


Schedule Template Name: Enter which type of standing appointment is being created. Enter either PICKUP or DELIVER.


Location Code: Enter the location for the appointment. This should always match the location this agency orders from.


Description: This field allows you to enter a description matching the setup for others to easily see what the standing appointment setup is. Examples would be “Every Wednesday” or “1st Thursday of the Month”.


Week No. In Month: Use this field to specify which occurrence of the appointment day in the month (1-5). Entering a 2 here would indicate the 2nd occurrence of the appointment date in each month. If any Agency has appointments on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays in a month, it would be necessary to enter these only multiple lines, one with a 2 in the field and a second line with a 4 in this field. If the agency has an appointment every week, simply enter a zero (0) in this field indicating that the appointment occurs every week.


Day of Week: Enter the day of the week the appointment is scheduled should be scheduled on. The drop down will allow you to choose from all 7 days.


Date in Month: This field is used when the appointment doesn’t fall on a particular day but rather on a date in the month. For example, if the agency always picks up on the 1st of the month you would enter a 1 here. If this field is used, then you should not be entering any information in the Week No. in Month field or the Day of Week field. They are mutually exclusive. If the agency picks up twice a month on the 1st and 15th, you would setup this up on to different lines one for each pickup.


Appointment Time:  Enter the time slot for the appointment. This field is validated in the Master Schedule and must be a valid time slot for the Schedule Template Name and Location Code provided.


Every ‘X’ Weeks: Use this field in place of the Day of Week and Day of Month for appointments that occur every ‘X’ weeks, where X represents the number of weeks between appointments. For example, if any agency had a delivery every 2 weeks, you would enter a 2 here. Enter any number greater than 1.


Every ‘X’ Weeks Last Calculated Appointment Date: Enter the date of the last appointment date when using Every ‘X’ Weeks appointments. This will be used to calculate the next appointment for the agency.



Example Standing Appointment Setup


Line number one indicates using a setting for every x number of weeks (cannot be set to 1 or used with Week No. in Month, Day of Week or Date in Month). In the Last Appointment Date column, use a date that will correspond with the last appointment date before the first appointment date for this agency based on. When Create Standing Appointments is run, the system will update the “Every X Weeks Last Appointment Date” with the last standing appointment created for the time frame, so that the system knows where to start the next time the process is run. This setup would create two appointments for PICKUP starting on 09/07/23 and another 09/21/23 at 9:00am.


Line number two indicates scheduling a standing appointment for agency 1011A for DELIVER at 9:30am on the first Wednesday of every month at 9:00am.


Line number three indicates scheduling a standing appointment for the same agency for DELIVER on the third Thursday day of every month at 9:00am


Line number four indicates scheduling a standing appointment for the same agency for DELIVER on the 25th of every month at 9:00am.  


Once satisfied with the Setup page, click CLOSE to go back to the Standing Appointments page. 


Note:  Standing Appointment Setup is generally relatively static.  In other words, you shouldn’t anticipate having to change this very often once completed unless an agency, or even the food bank, deems it necessary.   You will need to complete this for any agency that you wish to automatically create standing appointments for, but once setup is complete, you should not need to do this often unless changes are needed.


Creating Standing Appointment for Multiple Agencies (most common)


Creating standing appointments for multiple agencies at a time is the most common function.   This is done through the Agency Scheduling.  From the Agency Scheduling Matrix, select Actions à Functions à Create Standing Appointments.  



This will open the Create Standing Appointments window. In this case, an Agency No. filter will not be displayed as you are creating standing appointments for all applicable agencies.   Schedule Template Name and Location Code will default based upon the calendar opened before selecting Create Standing Appointments. You must input the Date Filter.


Note: This process can only be run for an entire month (the dates created are based on the appointment lines you created earlier and may not be for an entire month. The report cannot run without the date filter. Confirm selections, then hit Preview & Close (or Send to, or Print) option to create standing appointments for all agencies based on settings.



You will receive a notification and an exception report will display. If there are exceptions, the report will show which standing appointments could not be generated so you can determine how to address. If no exceptions, the report will look like this:



Standing appointments are now reflected on the calendar.  In this example, we have a standing appointment on the 21st and 9:00 am. When the standing appointment is used on an order, it will be deleted and replaced by a scheduled appointment (this process is explained in greater detail in the AE3 Managing Web Orders document) and will display under the Scheduled column instead.




Manually Creating (SINGLE) Standing Appointments


You can manually create a single standing appointment (an appointment without an Order yet) from the Agency Scheduling Matrix by selecting Actions à Create Appointment (or just Create Appointment if you have added it to the ribbon). 




Most of the fields will default based upon the calendar. You will however need to specify an Agency and an Appointment Date (and a time if not the time your cursor was on when you started the process).  When finished, select Create Appt. to create the standing appointment.




Do not select CLOSE unless you wish to exit from the process.


Note: You can also create a single appointment from the Agency Card (or by highlighting the Agency in the LIST view) by going to Related à Distributions à Standing Appointments à Actions à Functions à Create Single Appointment (or you can add the function to your Action Pane).





Note: It is not necessary to Synchronize Appointments after generating Standing Appointments as they are immediately dropped in the Web Processing Queue for handling as soon as they are created.


Creating Standing Appointments from the Agency Card (less common usage):


You might do this if the agency’s template was created AFTER the normal process to Create Standing Appointments was run from Agency Scheduling.  This is done by selecting Actionsà Functions à Create Standing Appointments.  



You will notice that the Create Standing Appointments routine is pre-filtered for the agency you are working with.  We will run the routine globally in the next section, but for now, leave the agency filter in place.  Select the Schedule Template Name (Calendar) in the dropdown. Select the Location Code for this calendar in the dropdown. You will need to enter a date filter.   Typically, enter a date filter that matches the date range for the calendar just created.  In this example, the month of September is entered.  Once the filter has been entered, hit Preview & Close to create standing appointments for your agency. NOTE: If you wish any potential exceptions report to go to .pdf or a printer, select the appropriate option:




If any errors occurred during this process and a standing appointment cannot be created, an exception report will print indicating this fact.


This example shows that it could not create appointments because the associated appointment lines do not exist. That is because the appointment LINES for the combination of PICKUP and KAN have not yet been created.


This means that we would first need to create the appointment lines for that combination (see earlier steps). After correcting the issue by creating the calendar, the process to create standing appointments is run for this agency. In this case, no errors occurred so the exception report would not show any data.  



You will now notice that standing appointments have been created for this agency. 



Notice that the Every X Weeks Last Appointment Date in Setup was updated to account for the most recent appointment date:




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