Reconfiguring work – new ways to remedy old headaches

  • Posted on January 13, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
reconfiguring work

This article was originally written by Avanade alum Greg Kriegler.

Tackling the huge variety and volume of workplace challenges demands you think differently about the way work gets done. From reconsidering who completes the tasks that constitute “work”, to the very nature of what that work is. Organizations are reconfiguring the way work gets done in a hybrid working environment to protect sales and lower the cost to serve while increasing customer centricity and agility.

But, while the pandemic has accelerated the rethinking of working practices, that’s a process many organizations were already working through long before the COVID crisis arrived.

We recently helped one organization to rethink the way it approaches everyday tasks – modernizing not just the platforms it uses but its underlying operational processes too. And this story is intriguing because that organization happens to be the global leader in digital workplace platforms: Microsoft.

New approaches for a new world of work
While it’s the biggest name in workplace technology, Microsoft isn’t immune to the same challenges that its clients face. The advantage of being at the forefront of business value and technology equation is that Microsoft can explore innovative ways to solve business problems that many of its customers face.

Productivity Studio is a partnership between Microsoft and Avanade that seeks to enable and empower new ways of working. Microsoft recently called on Productivity Studio to rethink the way it approached executive speaking request management – a process that had become increasingly difficult to manage.

Previously, the public relations (PR) and analyst relations (AR) teams depended on emails and Excel to manually track requests. But as the number of requests soared, the team couldn’t efficiently surface key trends and insights.

As a result, the following questions had become all too familiar:

  • “Where’s the email?”
  • “Did you follow up?”
  • “How many requests are active?”
  • “Where’s the latest Excel file?”
  • “What did we do last month?”
  • “Where’s the latest email template?”
  • “Did you block the calendar?”

In the short term, the team needed to get out of email and move to a more connected, collaborative process that could be used to respond to and track speaking engagement requests. To generate more business value longer term, the team also wanted to be able to identify immediate and potential future trends.

Workplace app development at warp speed
Productivity Studio developed Speaking Engagement Manager – which streamlines processes and centralizes speaking engagement requests. The application uses Microsoft Teams, Outlook, SharePoint and the Power Platform to accelerate decision making and improve collaboration while providing rich insights.

The solution was developed in weeks rather than months thanks to Power Platform’s low-code stance. And that gave Microsoft the agility to build quickly and then iterate to accommodate adjustments for different leaders across the business – creating a solution that can scale to meet unique requirements.

Microsoft’s PR and AR team is now benefitting from:

  • Eliminating manual data entry through Power Automate
  • Improved collaboration via Teams-based action cards and automated conversation updates
  • Accelerated decision making thanks to data-driven insights in Power Apps and Power BI
  • Better quality and consistency of responses with automated follow-up actions such as calendar appointments and delegation of speaking assignments
  • Increased security through Power Platform, Teams and Microsoft 365

Unlocking the full potential of powerful platforms
The questions that the Microsoft PR and AR team once had have been replaced by answers.

  • “Let’s fast-track that decision.”
  • “I have the data I need to move this forward.”
  • “I can do more because all the emails are staged and ready to send.”
  • “We can continuously improve process based on facts.”
  • “We are able to achieve more.”

And this represents the true potential of Power Platform, Teams and the Productivity Studio approach. Not just delivering tools that solve task-based frustrations but building solutions (at speed) which have the capability to rethink the way work gets done. Because, as the pandemic and the recovery has highlighted, productivity doesn’t necessarily mean “working more”. It means achieving more.

Read more about this new solution on the Microsoft IT Showcase blog.

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