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  • Microsoft Teams & Shifts for Coordinating Safe Return to the Office

    As COVID-19 continues to affect our daily lives, we have all had to adjust to working remotely more than ever. While working remotely is enabled by applications such as Microsoft Teams, certain meetings, trainings, and other sessions are best conducted in person. The need to return to the office is inevitable. But, how do you coordinate the return in a safe manner? Here are some questions we have been hearing within our networks: How do you return to work safely? We already rushed to implement Microsoft Teams to work remote, is it going to cost me more to coordinate a return to the office? If my team returns to the office, and someone later tests positive for COVID, how do I know who was in the office that day? In this post, we will demonstrate how Corterra safely coordinates returning to the office utilizing Microsoft Teams and Shifts. Challenge: Maintaining limits on number of people in the office In the beginning of 2020, Corterra had moved into spacious new offices with numerous conference and huddle rooms each outfitted with wall mounted 65-inch TVs and 12-foot wide white boards – designed for efficient collaboration and problem solving. Then COVID arrived, and we were all forced into our homes. The good news was that as a technology firm we were already well positioned to work remotely, with all of our employees equipped with the essential productivity tools – laptops, monitors, speakers and the Microsoft Office 365 suite of applications, most importantly Teams. Unfortunately, our new office space with all its collaboration tools, was not being used. As Illinois began to re-open in mid-summer, we wanted to safely allow our client project teams to schedule physical time in the office. Although we had worked with Microsoft OneNote and the Teams-integrated Whiteboard application while working remotely, some of the most challenging sessions could not meet the efficiency of an in-person meeting. To safely accommodate in-person meetings, return to work procedures were designed to protect the health and safety of our employees in accordance with recommendations from the CDC. Physical markings were made in conference rooms to ensure proper social distancing. In addition, we decided to restrict the number of people in office to ten people each day, well below our 50-person capacity. Our only remaining issue was managing how we would determine who was going to be in the office each day and ensuring that our ten person limit was followed, all without requiring anyone’s time to coordinate. Solution Microsoft Teams and Shifts With all our employees using Teams daily for Presence, Chat, Meetings and Calls, it was easy to implement the Shifts app within Teams to manage a sign-up process for in-office time. Using our Corterra Team that included all employees, shifts were configured for each workday. The shifts were designed to cap the total employees allowed in the office on any one day (i.e. Shift) at 10 employees. Once an employee requests a shift, the available slots decrease until no more slots in the shift are available. This solution met the requirements of our return to work policy, limiting the number of employees in the office. Not only did it limit the number of employees, it provided a simple method to trace who may have interacted with a particular team member, in the case a team member became infected. Automated Approval Microsoft Shifts in Teams was working well for us, but there was one aspect that was burdensome. In Shifts, a manager is required to approve shift requests. Each employee signing up for a shift was required to have their request approved. For our “Return to Work” use-case, manager approval was not required. To solve this problem, a Power Automate Flow approves the Shift request automatically. Configured to run every 10 minutes, the Flow approves the request and notifies the requesting employee that their Shift is scheduled. Conclusion Microsoft Teams and Shifts is a critical component of Corterra’s return to work policy. Using Shifts, team members can request days in office, limiting the number of requests. Adding in the capabilities of Power Automate, shift request approvals were automated, providing a true self-service solution for employees. With Shifts integrated into Microsoft Teams, the sign-up process is easy and in a tool already familiar to employees. In addition, no additional cost was incurred. Needing a return to work plan? Contact us to see how Teams and Shifts can get your team back in the office safely.

  • Team Member Spotlight: Osvaldo Perez

    Since joining the Corterra Solutions team 6 years ago, Osvaldo has played an integral role in the development of many mission critical applications that are deployed across the Corterra Solutions portfolio. Osvaldo is a technical thought leader that brings a deep understanding of software engineering concepts, and expertise in both .Net and JavaScript development to the Corterra Solutions team. In addition to his technical expertise, he plays a pivotal role as a technical liaison between internal functional and technical teams, while providing technical mentorship to his peers and other junior members of the Corterra Solutions team. Day-in and day-out, Osvaldo addresses each challenge with genuine curiosity and positive energy, that has a way of naturally lifting up and encouraging other members of the team. Q&A Q: What's your favorite part about working at Corterra Solutions? The culture. Our team has a genuine passion for technology and solving complex problems. We have a very collaborative environment that helps us not only provide the best solutions to our Clients, but brings out the best in myself and the rest of the team. Q: What are 3 words to describe Corterra Solutions? Collaborative Challenging (in a good way!) Exciting Q: How do you like to spend your time when you aren't working? I like to keep up on the latest technology and trends, especially new and emerging languages, development frameworks and anything new in the world of Azure and Dynamics 365. I also love to travel. Although I haven't been doing too much of it lately due to Covid, my wife and I generally like to travel to new and interesting places. Most recently, we traveled to Colorado to ski for the first time! Q: What are a few interesting things about you that people might not know? I was part of a dance group when I was younger, but since that didn't work out, I thought that application development would be a better use of my time! I also enjoy horseback riding on the weekend.

  • Heartland Business Systems rebrands as Corterra Solutions

    Corporate Rebrand Ushers in New Era Marked by Expanded Leadership Team, New Office Space and Hiring Corterra Solutions, formerly Heartland Business Systems, today announced it has rebranded with a new corporate name and identity. The change ushers in a new era for the 26-year-old company. “While stepping away from our legacy name was a difficult choice, we’re excited that our new image strongly reflects the expertise of our people and caliber of services we deliver,” said Ted Lindholm, President of Corterra Solutions. “Our reputation for exceptional technology consulting and client service has guided every step of our rebrand. Corterra ­– which translates to ‘Heartland’ – builds on this legacy by offering an expanded portfolio of cloud and digital services to address our clients’ technology challenges.” To support its global client base, Corterra is hiring for several open positions, including Solution Architect, Business Systems Analyst and Software Developer. Corterra’s new corporate identity, website and flexible work environment, along with progressive workplace culture initiatives, ­are part of a strategy to become an employer of choice for business technology consulting services. Corterra is conveniently located in new office space at Arboretum Lakes in Lisle just off Interstate 88 at Route 53. Founded in 1994 by Mike and Lynda Kelch, Corterra strengthened its leadership team with recent hires who bring extensive experience in operations, finance, and analytics to Corterra. Ted Lindholm, a former US Navy officer, brings significant career successes including leading the digital transformation of numerous global manufacturing organizations and engineering a financial and operational turnaround for an aerospace and defense business. Sue Pittacora joins as Client Service Executive bringing expertise in finance, analytics and business transformation. She has a broad breadth of experience having led multiple global centers of excellence at McDonald’s Corporation in the areas of analytics, insights and operations measurement. In addition, she is a CPA, and began her career at EY leading financial and IT systems audits. Shawn McCormick, who also joins as a Client Service Executive, most recently served as strategy and operations leader for a global consulting firm. At Corterra, he leads continuous improvement initiatives that drive cost savings and optimize value from technology and infrastructure investments for clients.

  • Saving Messages in Microsoft Teams

    As many people start to use Teams, a common question we get is, "how do I go back to a message later? I am in too many channels and cannot keep it all straight". Luckily, you can bookmark messages in Teams. Here is how you do it. If you hover a message and click the three dots you'll see "Save this message". Click that and it will bookmark it. Then if you go to the search bar at the top and type in "/saved" and enter it will show you all of your bookmarked messages There is also another way in which you can navigate to your saved messages. See the following article from Microsoft Support here. Always are new and exciting features to find in Microsoft Teams!

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