In the Summer of 2020, Envision Technology Advisors was called up to architect a unique virtual economy, powered by Microsoft Teams, to support one of the largest paid internship programs in Rhode Island’s history.

Attendance tracking was a critically important need for this program. This was, in part, because the interns were being paid for their participation. There was also a gamification aspect to this initiative. Program-wide meetings counted towards the total amount of points that the twenty student-run corporations could earn. The more points a corporation earned, the higher they ranked on the leaderboard, and the more likely they were to win valuable scholarship money. With nearly five hundred students attending these meetings on a weekly basis, Envision needed a way to account for the approximately 23,000 individual meeting attendance metrics the program generated. That’s where Power BI came in.

A Custom Dashboard Built for a Historic Initiative

With a project of this magnitude, Envision’s engineers knew that they would need to rely on powerful tools to give the program’s organizer the insight they needed to succeed.

Power BI Dashboard 1

Using the Power Platform, Envision built out a series of custom, interactive dashboards to not only track attendance data, but also discover valuable insights about the meetings. Let’s dive into a few of these dashboards and their unique features.

Overview by Corporation

Power BI Dashboard 2

This first page of the report gave the program’s organizers the ability to filter attendance by corporation, student, and week. The report also enabled them to click on an individual meeting within the table to see which students attended that specific meeting, as well as the total percentage of team members present. This second metric, “% of Team Present” was tied to the meter at the top right of the report. This meter adjusted based on selection to present accurately scaled visualizations when users clicked between meetings, benchmarked against a baseline 70% desired team meeting attendance rate.

Breaking it Down by Individual Student

Power BI Dashboard 3

The second page within the custom Power BI deployment allowed the tracking of attendance statistics and progression by each individual intern involved in the program. The team could filter the data by date and student name, track individual and overall meeting attendance, and view tardiness statistics.

Understanding Attendance Concerns

Power BI Dashboard 4

Since this was a paid internship program, it was criticalI to have the ability to track intern performance. This dashboard allowed the organizers a high-level view at tardy attendance on both a corporation level, as well as on an individual level. Perhaps the most important aspect of this dashboard was the table to the far right. This table calculated which interns should be deemed “At Risk”, which meant they were attending less than 70% of the total meetings. This unique data visualization flagged lagging interns in real time, allowing administrators to step in as soon as possible and address these concerns before they became larger issues.

Insights into Meeting Timing

Power BI Dashboard 5

This fourth dashboard provided incredibly helpful insights regarding meeting timing and its effect on attendance. As the dashboard reveals, meetings starting at 8:00 AM and 12:00 PM displayed a pattern of significantly higher intern absences than at other times throughout the day. Additionally, meetings starting at 8:00 AM displayed a drastic increase in the total amount of tardy interns. This makes sense – at 8:00 AM, some of the high school interns were likely reluctant to wake up and join an early morning meeting. Of those who did join early in the morning, many were late. This isn’t surprising – these interns had just come off of a year largely spent distance learning due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Many of those students had grown accustomed to learning environments where the did not need to be in a certain “classroom” at a certain time, and had more flexibility to when they began their work. Requiring these students to once again be awake and present at 8:00am took some getting used to and we saw this struggle in the increased tardiness early on. The 12:00 PM increased rate of absence can also be logically explained: a break for lunch.

The insights provided by this dashboard proved to be highly valuable. Having recognized the pattern in absent and tardy interns during these two time frames, they began to schedule meetings deemed most important for the interns to attend for mid-morning or late-afternoon time slots to ensure optimal attendance.

In Closing

These custom dashboards built out by Envision’s engineers gave the program the real-time insights they needed to make critical adjustments along the way. The ability to access organized, insightful, and interactive displays was critical due to the short timeline of the internship program – just seven weeks in total. The Power Platform made it possible to recognize issues as they arose, implement rapid solutions, and ultimately, ensure intern productivity and success throughout this groundbreaking program.

Explore Envision's Role in Powering the Technology for the Empower Interns Program

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