Transforming pain points into productivity power, one app at a time

  • Posted on August 7, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Rhythm of business calendar app

“There has to be a better way to do this!” How many times have we all felt that frustration when encountering something that really seems like it ought to be more straightforward than it is?

Helping organizations and people be more productive is a passion that Avanade and Microsoft share. As I step into the leadership role for our Microsoft account team at Avanade, I am thrilled about the prospect of bringing new applications and solutions to life. With our team working so closely with Microsoft, we’re able to make a genuine human impact within Microsoft and set a model for our clients.

Let me give you an example. Several years ago, the Microsoft retail team felt that frustration as they struggled to coordinate all the regular meetings the team has just to keep the business running and ensure everyone is on the same page. Rather than shaking their fists in frustration (or maybe soon after), members of the team brought their challenge to the Microsoft Productivity Studio, a partnership between Avanade and Microsoft Digital’s Employee Experience team. In our “innovation incubator,” we make people’s lives easier by creating solutions with applications that bring the many capabilities of Microsoft together to solve everyday frustrations.

For the retail team, the solution was the Rhythm of Business calendar, which users can add into a SharePoint site to create a safe, secure, user-friendly way to coordinate the cadence of events among executives, teams, and various stakeholders. The app features customizable categories that allow users the ability to filter events on the calendar. And, because it sits on SharePoint, the data stays within the tenant’s boundary and permissions are easy to set (or carry over) in a proven, secure storage environment. In addition, Microsoft’s Power Platform ensures it can also easily be extended for use in Power BI and even integrated into users’ Outlook calendar via Power Automate.

The app is a favorite among chiefs of staff, executive assistants and communications managers, who are often at the center of coordinating multiple events with various people in the short and long terms.

I’m highlighting this particular app for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a great example of how Microsoft—the productivity company—is always looking for ways to improve its own productivity. As organizations everywhere seek to do more with less, it makes a compelling case that building on existing tools is preferable to layering on other software solutions.

Next, the Rhythm of Business Calendar also reminds us that no app, solution, or platform can anticipate every user’s needs. We will always have gaps to fill in our technology solutions, gaps that demand people-centered innovations. Sometimes these innovations get baked into future releases of software products, but, in the meantime, it helps to have people who can turn our pain points into productivity enhancers.

The Microsoft Productivity Studio is a dedicated team of people focused on closing gaps to build productivity. We work fast and we continue to improve on what’s already there. The Rhythm of Business Calendar took about 2 months to get online. Years later, we continue to update and release new versions; we’re building integration into Teams as I write this. Being embedded in the organization allows us to quickly mobilize and execute new projects. And because we’re working within the known Microsoft environment, our apps are whitelisted within the organization and on Microsoft’s AppSource so everyone can use them.

Finally, I’m talking about the app because I think it might help you or someone else in your business. We would welcome the opportunity to incubate innovation with organizations beyond our parent company Microsoft.

Please get in touch if you are interested in incubating innovation within your organization with the Avanade Productivity Studio. In the meantime, we’re excited to share what we’re doing with the world in hopes that we can save you some time—time that can be better spent doing what matters.

Seth Hollist

Every time I try to add the Rhythm of Business Calendar as a web part to my SharePoint site, it causes my web browser to hang.

December 19, 2023

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