Client

ESW I.T. Business Advisors

Electronically Tracing Staff and Guests using Microsoft Automation Tools

ESW I.T. Business Advisors and Regroove built a check in/out system to electronically trace staff and guest movement between office locations to comply with pandemic health and safety protocols.

ESW I.T. Business Advisors have evolved from a traditional IT company to a transformative business-consulting partner. Instead of starting with the technology discussion, we start with a deeper understanding of your business – your goals, challenges, and opportunities. At ESW, we are recognized by Microsoft Canada as one of the most experienced Managed Service Cloud Partners supporting over 8000 seats of Microsoft 365 across hundreds of Small and Medium sized businesses.

Challenge

Tracing the movements of an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 has been shown to help identify locations of a potential future outbreak. Tracing helps protect people by having those who have shared these spaces take immediate action to isolate, get testing, and reduce the potential for further spread.

Businesses now have a responsibility to record who is coming in and out of their buildings. They are required to provide the government with a complete, accurate audit trail of everyone who has physically been inside an office space. They also need to capture contact information from visitors to comply with government regulations.

The ability for a business to purchase an electronic tracing system off the shelf did not exist; no one was expecting the COVID-19 pandemic to occur.

ESW required a universal and consistent system to implement across their five office locations. It needed to be easy to setup and use. Staff would use the solution to communicate when they were in or out of a specific office location. It also needed to allow for guests to inform a staff member of their arrival for an on-site visit. Finally capturing required information and the ability to export audit reports with ease was another key requirement.

At the time, the ESW team was busy helping their customers modernize and adapt to new ways of working remotely. Although ESW built an preliminary version using the Microsoft 365 stack of software ESW recognized that bringing in outside expertise during their busy time would help them get a solution implemented quickly. They could provide the solution requirements to a vendor and then return to focusing all their efforts delivering prompt, quality service to their clients.

With the pandemic, both our offices and our customers realized a need to do more effective tracing of their visitors and staff not only now but sustainably in the future.

Akos Zsufa, Director/Partner, ESW IT

Solution

ESW brought in the expertise of Regroove Solutions to help build the electronic tracing solution. The two companies had an existing relationship having worked successfully together on projects in the past.

With our 20 years in IT Managed Services, we found a great partnership with Regroove to allow us and our customers to get the most out of our investments with technologies.

Akos Zsufa, Director/Partner, ESW IT

ESW shared their key business requirements for the app:

  1. Must work across all five locations
  2. Staff easily sign in and sign out with the click of a button
  3. Guests easily sign in
  4. ESW staff sign out guests with the click of a button
  5. A real-time dashboard showing who is in/out for staff and visitors
  6. A full audit log of all ins and outs

The ESW Tracing App:

Regroove built a contact tracing site for ESW to manage access of their employees and visitors across their five locations.

Staff download the Power Automate app to their mobile phones. They login to access the “Are you in or are you out?” button.

Staff simply identify with a few clicks whether they are entering or leaving any of the five ESW office locations.

For visitors, since the office doors are locked; instead of knocking on the door, guests use their mobile device to scan a QR code posted on the front door of each office building.

A beautiful web-based form appears. Visitors answer six simple questions. The form is customized to present location-specific options to questions. For example, the form only displays employee names for that office location for the visitor to select it asks who they are visiting.

A notification is sent to the staff member and to the office channel inside the Microsoft Teams app. If someone is coming to meet someone at the office, the staff member will be notified of the arrival.

Once the visitor leaves, the ESW employee that was visited is required to make sure they sign-out the guest.

With Regroove’s help, we were able to help bring to life the Electronic Tracing System to manage access of staff and visitors to our five brick and mortar offices in Western Canada.

Akos Zsufa, Director/Partner, ESW IT

How It Was Built:

Regroove focused on leveraging ESW’s existing Office 365 applications and only recommending alternatives when there was a clear cost savings and return on investment.

Regroove built a SharePoint site – using the “when in doubt, site it out” method – to hold separate lists for storing and organizing four different data sets:

  • Staff In/Out,
  • Staff Audit Log,
  • Guest In,
  • Guest Audit Log.

The only custom code that Regroove wrote for the app was a SharePoint Framework (SPFx) web part for the dashboard. It surfaces the data living in the SharePoint lists in a visually appealing, clear, and easy to read format that felt familiar, much like traditional whiteboard/magnet type systems of years past.

Microsoft automation tools update the lists with new data and push out notifications as and where required to support the underlying application of process.

SharePoint pages are used to map out instructions in a clear, easy to find place, providing a clean, simple and kiosk like environment.

Typeform provides the anonymous, public-facing forms for each location. It was more economical to select a third-party tool as the PowerApps portals licensing was expensive and the Typeform product could be leveraged in other ways in the future as well.

By utilizing Microsoft 365 which most customers already have in place, they will be able to quickly implement this semi-custom app with low adoption woes as it’s also ridiculously simple to operate.

Akos Zsufa, Director/Partner, ESW IT

Outcome and Benefits


The ESW Tracing App provides organizations with the ability to easily comply with government requirements to contact trace individuals that have visited their physical locations.

Paper and clipboard security sign in forms at each location were eliminated.

The paper-less and contactless system complies with government health and safety protocol without burdening visitors or staff with complex setup or sign in processes.

QR codes for visitors eliminates the need to download an app or have a security person always present to unlock the front door.

The activity for visitors and staff is interactive through Microsoft Teams messaging. Notifications from the Flow bot eliminate the reliance on email notifications for communication.

Staff that download the Power Automate app can set it up in a few quick steps on any mobile device. The Teams app can also be downloaded on any device so notifications that guests have arrived can be received when staff are away from their keyboard.

Employees can control signing out visitors when they leave from any device.

Users in the organization can use the In and Out dashboard to instantly view who is at which office in real time.

Data logs are stored securely in a SharePoint list and are easily exportable if needed for auditing. In-house data is only available to trusted personal with authority to view it. The solution uses encrypted HTTPS to keep external prying eyes out.

The organization has a single source of truth about the movements of staff and guests coming and going across five locations.

The health and safety of staff and visitors is protected. The organization has an accurate record of who was where on a specific date if ever a COVID-19 infection was reported. The movements of a person with an infection can be traced to communicate any needs to isolate quickly to the correct people.

The ESW Tracing App leverages an organization’s existing Microsoft Office 365 subscription licensing. Most companies already use Microsoft Office 365 for their email, file storage, office software, and productivity apps.

The solution can be implemented without buying expensive new hardware or software. The only software purchase, Typeform, is available for a low monthly subscription fee. The return on investment is clear as the form solution can be used to create hundreds of additional forms for internal and external information collection.

The investment is worthwhile despite being COVID-specific. The ESW Tracing App can be used after pandemic restrictions are lifted in the future as a paperless check in/out system and an automated door attendant for visitors.

ESW is now proud to be able to offer this innovative contact tracing solution to their clients to help them stay compliant with government regulations quickly, easily, and affordably.

Whether it’s this “Low Code No Code” citizen development project or more complex SharePoint .NET development, Regroove is the peanut butter to our Managed Services jelly.

Akos Zsufa, Director/Partner, ESW IT

This solution was built using:

  • Typeform Forms
  • Power Automate
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Custom SharePoint Framework Extensions (SPFx)
  • Microsoft Teams

Screenshots:

Click on any of the thumbnails below to see them full sized.