Retail IT consultancy and technology firm, REPL Group, has teamed up with Microsoft to build workforce management (WFM) functionality into its Microsoft Teams solution. The collaboration has seen REPL integrate JDA Workforce Management with the Microsoft Teams interface to allow access to almost real-time employee information.

As part of an initiative to drive engagement within the UK workforce of a major multinational retailer, the project was initiated to combine its current communication channels with a WFM tool that would allow all employee engagement functions to be in one place. This desire led to a collaboration between REPL and Microsoft. Driven by the retailer’s mobile-first initiative, REPL created development services work to integrate JDA’s WFM solution with the Microsoft Teams interface to allow shift information to be synced up with Teams in close to real-time.

As the retailer has a bring your own device incentive in place, the new functionality gives its employees 24-hour, easy access to their working information, such as shift patterns and holiday bookings, meaning they have greater control over their working lives in an instant.

With Microsoft Teams also fulfilling the role of a communication and WFM tool, the British retailer hopes to drive employee engagement and improve employee retention as staff will be able to maintain communication channels through which they can share photos and videos and communicate for social purposes.

The project was turned around quickly, taking just 10 weeks from the initial contact to the first employees trialling the new functionality at a Poole store. Since then, it has been rolled out to an additional nine stores across the south coast as part of the pilot scheme, each of which has an average of 80 to 100 employees and an average of 300 shifts a week. With stores making 10 to 20 changes to shifts a day, employees can now use the Teams app to view this information in almost real-time.

Chris Love, Managing Partner for Workforce Transformation, REPL Group commented: “This has been a very exciting project for us, and the end result has been testament to the collaboration between ourselves, Microsoft, JDA and our customer. We have been collaborating with the Microsoft tech team on a daily basis to evolve the solution and drive the changes needed to provide the best functionality. We are hopeful that this collaboration with Microsoft will be the first of many.”

Louise Watkins, Senior Director, Retail, Microsoft UK added: “By teaming up with REPL we have developed an integration between Teams and JDA Workforce Management to help streamline workforce operations by using a single app for all communication and WFM needs. This collaboration gives frontline workers the ability to access and request changes to their existing shift schedules via the Teams app. We look forward to seeing where we can further support retailers in the future with this relationship.”