A robust, flexible development framework and a committed developer community were key to delivering our COVID-19 Wellness Project in days—not months or years. Acumatica customers can now track field employee wellness through Acumatica Surveys.
The COVID-19 outbreak has changed the face of the workforce. We have seen organizations go through significant transformations in how their employees work. While some have switched to a total work from home workforce, there are many Acumatica customers who still have their people reporting to the office, to the warehouse, and to the job site every day, and they’re struggling to keep their people safe and healthy.
It became clear in a conversation two weeks ago with one such customer that the health and wellness of their employees was their top priority. They needed a way to manage this daily and to offer necessary assistance as needed.
Enter a new, community-led project managed and developed by a team of Acumatica MVPs in coordination with Acumatica team members. We worked together with our partners and customers to create Acumatica Surveys, an employee wellness tracker that is now live.
Employee wellness tracker: Acumatica Surveys
Our customer had a clear need: a way to track employee wellness daily and get notified of potential health risks, enabling them to proactively provide assistance when appropriate.
While it’s true that tracking can be accomplished with any survey solution, it would mean introducing one more tool to their employees and one more solution to manage and maintain. Having a wellness tracker within Acumatica not only eliminates the need for another tool, it also allows improved capabilities such as analyzing employee wellness by project location or by warehouse, both of which are already available as part of the core Acumatica modules. They can also leverage the existing employee records to send out the survey, and employees can easily use their existing Acumatica mobile app to respond.
The customer we spoke with is Derrick Elledge, VP of Operations at Power Storage Solutions. We were able to quickly provide him with the first iteration of a COVID-19 Employee Wellness Survey by putting together a team of Acumatica developers and Acumatica team members. Collaborating remotely with Microsoft Teams and GitHub, we gathered the customer information, created the initial specifications, produced a prototype, and were able to release it rapidly using our development framework, our partner network, and the strong relationships we have with our development community, which stepped up to meet the challenge.
When Derrick first approached us, he asked if we could leverage Acumatica Tasks to query their employees on their wellness and collect their responses daily. We decided to broaden the scope of the project, designing and developing a general-purpose Acumatica Survey framework, which our customers and partners could leverage across industries to survey employees.
From the beginning, we wanted to make this a community development project and publish an open-source customization package in GitHub. There are a few key benefits to this approach. First, it allows developers from different companies and organizations to collaborate and contribute to this project. Second, the GitHub repository can be forked and branched for specific customer feature enhancements in the future.
Power Storage Solutions, a company that experienced business transformation with Acumatica cloud ERP, was able to quickly deploy and launch their COVID-19 Survey Wellness Package out to their employees, surveying their wellness daily to obtain their health related status, report and track any adverse situations, and help combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“Our technicians have to keep working to help keep up the electrical grid, telecommunications, hospitals and other critical infrastructure. We care greatly about their health and safety and needed to find a better way to communicate with them daily,” Derrick says. “We reached out to Acumatica, and they immediately put a team together. Within a week, they created Acumatica Surveys. We can check with our team daily to know they are safe.”
He also says, “The care Acumatica showed for our team, to help us all know they are safe, brought a deep sense of relief and pride. Acumatica is truly more than software— they are people caring for other people and our business.”
How Acumatica Surveys works
Acumatica Surveys uses the Acumatica Mobile app. Survey recipients are able to submit their survey responses quickly from the field.
The development team finalized the features and workflow of our COVID-19 Wellness Tracker in a couple of sessions, including discovery of requirements, and settled on the technical proof of concept.
Survey workflow was organized in three easy steps:
- Create Survey & Add Recipients.
- Activate & Process Survey push notifications; and
- Collect responses from Survey Users
Once the Acumatica Surveys package is installed and configured, a user with the proper access rights may create a survey and manage all the particulars, which include adding the questions and their corresponding response choices in a flexible manner. They can schedule the survey to be sent out at a desired frequency. For example, customers with a crew at a construction site may want to do the survey twice a day (once at the beginning of the day and once at the end of the day).
Users can also manage the process of sending surveys and creating dashboards for analyzing and viewing survey metrics, among other survey configuration and management options.
After building the Survey framework piece, the development team focused on how they were going to push out notifications to a mobile workforce using Acumatica processing screen technologies as well as how to allow mobile users to complete the surveys using the Acumatica mobile application framework.
Once a survey is sent out from Acumatica, the survey recipient receives a notification on their phone illustrated in the screenshot below.
You can see that the user is notified that they have a survey to complete. When they click on the Acumatica notification, the mobile application is launched. Alternatively, a user can check in the Acumatica mobile application by selecting the Survey icon (or respond to the survey using our web application).
Surveys show up in the application as follows:
In the example above, Steve has two surveys that are listed. Once Steve clicks on one of the two surveys, the following screen lists the questions he needs to answer.
In our example, this survey asks him relevant questions about his health relating to the pandemic.
Below, the screen shows his choices to the Self Temperature question.
Once he has answered all the required questions, he submits the survey.
Using Acumatica Business Events, administrators can define conditions to send email or SMS notifications based on certain responses to the survey questions. For example, notify the company if one of their employees has specific symptoms, such as a high temperature.
Here is a detailed demonstration of Acumatica Surveys produced by the Acumatica Surveys team.
The Acumatica Surveys team
This open-source development project was driven in collaboration with our strong partner developer community working here in the U.S. and across the globe. We were able to quickly assemble our team in a matter of hours, reaching out to a number of Developer and Product MVPs along with an Acumatica developer doing the lion’s share of the work, all supported by the Acumatica team.
Our thanks for all their hard work outside of their normal day jobs. They worked evenings and weekends to deliver this solution to our customers at an unprecedented speed, enabled by our robust and flexible development platform.
The team communicated largely over Microsoft Teams as needed and met daily in the morning to synchronize their efforts. We host an annual Acumatica Summit hackathon, and the COVID-19 Wellness Project was a virtual hackathon, one that took place over the last two weeks and resulted in the delivery of Acumatica Surveys.
Ajoy Krishnamoorthy, VP, Platform Strategy at Acumatica, and I were joined by the following team members:
- Mark Franks – Acumatica (UTC-8)
- Dhiren Chhapgar – Acumatica (UTC-5)
- Harsha Sarjapur – InfoSourcing (UTC-5)
- Muralidharan Ramakrishnan – InfoSourcing (UTC+5:30)
- Robert Waite – ASIFocus (UTC-5)
- Yuriy Zaletskyy – Kensium (UTC+2)
- Chris Hardgrove – NexTec Group (UTC-6)
In addition, the team communicated regularly with Derrick and his team at Power Storage Solutions and our partner Clients First.
Delivering an extraordinary cloud ERP solution in extraordinary times
Having a robust and flexible development framework (Acumatica xRP) and a committed developer community (Acumatica Developer MVPs)—along with executive and management support—is critical for delivering customer solutions in days, not months or years. Acumatica Surveys was given life under these extraordinary times. It highlights what organizations, individuals, and a robust cloud ERP developer platform can accomplish to help each customer continue to operate as a successful, connected business and to meet the needs of their employees and customers alike.
Providing a cloud-based ERP solution that helps our customers track employee wellness as they work in the field under difficult and even life-threatening circumstances was our top priority, and we succeeded. If you are interested in learning more, we will be publishing additional technical blogs from the development team in the coming days. You can access the GitHub project to get a look at the code and to download and install the first release today.