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MessageOps’ Free Cloud App Keeps Tabs Remote Worker Productivity

MessageOps, part of Champion Solutions Group, developed the app because customers were seeking a way to leverage Office 365 and Teams data to monitor productivity and engagement levels of work-from-home employees.

With so much of the workforce confined to their homes by the COVID-19 pandemic, business managers face the challenge of tracking the productivity of their workers in this “new normal.”

Now there’s an app for that. And it’s free.

Champion Solutions Group and its MessageOps cloud business unit were getting the “How do I know whether my workers are being productive?” question from so many customers, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based solutions provider developed an application that helps managers track worker activity and engagement based on metrics from Microsoft Office 365 applications Teams and Outlook.

[Related: As COVID-19 Spreads, MSPs Equip Customers With Work-From-Home Solutions]

And Champion Solutions Group is making the application, 365 Productivity Insights, freely available to anyone who wants it. The company began offering it on April 1 and by late Friday it was already being used to oversee some 185,000 employees.

“The surge of remote employees has put many managers in a predicament: ‘How can we measure, and how can we get a handle on, remote worker productivity?’” said Chris Pyle, CEO of both Champion Solutions Group and MessageOps, in an interview.

With so many workers performing their jobs from their homes, Champion and MessageOps have seen an explosion in demand for the company’s services that support home workers, especially for deploying Windows Virtual Desktop and providing demonstrations and training for the increasingly popular Microsoft Teams collaboration service, Pyle said – both for existing customers and new customers.

Microsoft recently said that the number of users of its Teams collaboration system has exploded, recently reaching 44 million.

Some employees such as sales representatives and other mobile workers are used to working from home, Pyle said. But many are not and are unfamiliar with the full breadth of the capabilities of Office 365 and Teams. So, in addition to selling and deploying those products and Windows Virtual Desktop, Microsoft has been calling on partners like Champion to meet the huge demand for training and support created by the sudden increase in the number of work-from-home (WFH) employees.

Champion and MessageOps generally work with the IT managers at their client companies. Pyle said those IT managers have been telling the solution provider that executives and line-of-business managers at their companies – including sales, accounting and customer support department heads – were coming to them and asking for ways to monitor stay-at-home employees to measure their productivity and engagement.

“I just got off the phone with a Fortune 50 customer who was asking about this,” Pyle said Friday afternoon.

As the need for such capabilities became clear, Pyle assigned a pair of developers to come up with an app to meet that need. They developed 365 Productivity Insights in nine days.

The application taps into Office 365 to generate statistics on the number of Outlook emails sent, received and read, and the number of Teams meetings, chats and meeting chats conducted – by individual and by department. The app also provides trended mail traffic and trended Teams summaries for an entire company.

The application uses data visualizations from Microsoft’s Power BI business analytics platform to present the results in a dashboard format. The data can also be exported to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

“You can really start looking at the productivity by department [and] by individual,” Pyle said.

In addition to providing key performance metrics and trends on WFM employees, the app can identify user adoption problems that can be remedied by additional training and support, Pyle said.

To use 365 Productivity Insights a company must be using Office 365 cloud software. Designated Office 365 global administrators can login with Office 365 credential, but that person can then grant access to other department heads, Pyle said. The application utilizes read-only access into an organization’s Office 365 environment.

Champion Solutions Group isn’t charging for the application. Companies don’t even have to be a customer to access the app. Why free?

“Right now, we’re just trying to help the world,” Pyle said, noting that many businesses are struggling to adjust to the new ways of operating required by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Champion does know who has accessed the application and Pyle said that could generate opportunities for the solution provider to offer its training services. It could also be a source of future sales leads and the application itself could be built into a paid service at some point.

“But for right now we just want to get this out to the world.”

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