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An employee using the 'Employee Outreach' app of Emphasis. On the device screen, the app shows various questions, like 'What is your primary location of work?', 'How are you feeling today?', 'How is your family feeling today?', and 'Are you enabled for WFH?'. Each question has a dropdown menu, allowing the users to choose relevant answers. The bottom corner of the app shows the final step - 'Start your day'.

How are you feeling today? Mphasis uses Power Apps to keep employees safe and productive while working from home

Built by just two developers in four days, the apps provide a seamless way for Mphasis to stay in touch with its employees during the lockdown triggered due to the pandemic.

“The first thing I do every morning is logging into the Mphasis Employee Outreach app on my phone to let everyone know that my family and myself are doing fine,” says Srikanth Karra, CHRO, Mphasis, an Information Technology solutions provider.

This ritual is followed by over 26,000 Mphasis employees as the industry moved to a mandatory work from home scenario in India and other countries due to the pandemic. With no way to see their colleagues in-person, the management at Mphasis were exploring newer ways to reach out to everyone, every day, and ensure they were safe and in good health without infringing on their privacy.

“We strove to integrate a system that we could deploy quickly and did not ask employees too many intrusive questions. We came across Microsoft’s crisis communications Power Apps template and built additional apps on top of it to meet our requirements,” says Karra.

Using the crisis communications Power Apps template, a team of two Mphasis developers created a suite of six apps in just four days, which was deployed across various offices within the company.

Every morning, Mphasis employees open the app and share how they and their families are feeling by choosing an option from a drop-down menu. In the event they choose the option that they are not feeling well, an email is triggered to the manager.

“By creating strong relationships with employees, companies will build a superior workforce and develop bonds that will help drive business in these uncertain times,” says Karra. “Through Microsoft’s Power Apps template, we are able to re-instil our commitment to our employees’ safety and well-being and stimulate innovation.

A man wearing a blazer, smiling at the camera

One challenge of moving to a work-from-home scenario for all employees abruptly is ensuring everyone is enabled to work from an IT infrastructure point of view. To address this, the team added another option where employees can select whether they are enabled to work from home or not. If they are not, an email is triggered to the IT team so they can reach out to the employee.

As the work from home situation unfolded, so did new business scenarios. For instance, some Mphasis customers had concerns about employees working from home and mapping their billable hours when they are not clocking into their office. To solve this issue, Mphasis created a Power App that enables employees to log in when their shift starts and ends, the activities they worked on during that time period, and any breaks they took. The app is smart enough to consider different time zones based on the location of the employee, as well as cases where a shift runs beyond midnight and spans two dates.

“The biggest advantage we saw with Power Apps was that the platform can be easily integrated without compromising on functionality. We haven’t faced any bottlenecks and we were able to customize it according to our needs, be it adding new features to the user interface or adding a custom validation screen,” Karra adds.

Implementing Power Apps also helped the Mphasis CIO Apps team by removing peripheral activities during the development cycle like code and vulnerability analysis, uploading the repository, or functional testing.

Three screenshots of Emphasis Outreach app, with provisions like WFH guidelines, attendance tracker and crisis communication. Other screens include options to key in activity details and break hours, along with end of day comments that can be redirected to the IT department.

Mphasis’ Employee Outreach app has various features to help employees stay productive and safe.“These small things take a lot of time. With Power Apps, we are only building functionalities via drop-down menus, and everything else is taken care of by the platform. This helped us deploy the apps in less than a week,” he explains. “And being on Microsoft 365, we don’t have to worry about security aspects since Microsoft has already done it for us.”

Mphasis built these apps to ensure any organization can deploy it rapidly as it does not have to be integrated with any existing backend.

“We can help any customer to deploy it for their employees. All they need is a Microsoft 365 account,” Karra explains.

Beyond ensuring business continuity, deploying Power Apps has had an unexpected benefit. Srikanth feels due to the low-code nature of Power Apps, it is ushering a new interest among other teams within Mphasis that do not have any experience in app development.

“Having witnessed the ease of deployment of Power Apps and its adoption by employees, we are now getting queries from our HR personnel and other teams, who want to create automation processes for their workflow on their own without bothering the IT department. This is unprecedented,” he exclaims.