Emergency Response for Businesses in the City of New York

We have all been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak one way or another and have started getting used to a new reality, whether it is working remote, not being able to go to work or even worse have gotten infected by the virus. A few weeks ago (March 8), the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio said that the city would provide relief for small businesses across the City seeing revenue reduction of 25% or more because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

For businesses under 100 employees, they would be eligible for a Interest Free loan of up to $75,000 and for business with less than 5 employees, they would provide a grant to cover 40% of payroll costs for two months in order to retain employees.

You can read the news release here.

Working as the Principal Solutions Architect within the Small Business Services department, we were tasked at implementing an easy way for New Yorkers to be able to submit their applications for grants and loans to the city. The agency moved to Dynamics 365 (Online) a couple of years earlier, and we have built a portal that allows businesses to submit certification applications and apply for reimbursement for Construction Safety training.

The grant application seemed to be very aligned to the Construction Safety reimbursement application that we built, and we could probably replicate the logic of this application very quickly. This included both a Model Driven app and a Dynamics Portal application. The Portal application involved multiple pages which allows us to collect business and financial information, and ask the users to upload evidence documents. We were able to go from development to production within less than a week after QA and UAT. For a team of 3 developers, I think this was a great turnaround. We received thousands of applications in the first few days and within the first three days of providing the grant funds, we gave businesses over 2 million dollars.

The day after we went live with the grant we started working on the loan application. This would be a little more complicated. We had most of the logic built within our Model Driven app, which was migrated from CRM On Demand to Dynamics a few months earlier, but the Portal has not been built yet. It was probably the third or fourth project in our backlog, something intended for the end of this year. We could do the same, because we were using different entities and processes for the Applications and for the Service Requests in the Common Data Service.

We created a copy of the logic from the Grant application and started replacing the entire logic so that it uses different types of entities. There was a lot more work to be done for this, but we were able to go through development, QA, UAT and production deployment in less than 1 week. There was a lot of overtime involved, but at the end your feel like you did something good, especially when it is to help people and businesses that are suffering in these times.

COVID-19 for NYC

Why all this from someone who usually write technical content. Well, I have been busy in the last few weeks making sure this is done right and helping coordinate between the agency program team and the application development team, but it just shows you the power of Dynamics and the Common Data Service, whether creating Model-Driven Apps, Canvas Apps and Portal Apps. When you need a quick turnaround, using a Low Code platform can really help you speed up development.

In times like these, there are a lot of fellow MVPs that are helping businesses by developing apps for them to help them in any way they can. See Power Addicts post.

In addition, Microsoft has also developed two solutions to help businesses related to COVID-19.

Crisis Communication: a Power Platform template
Emergency Response solution: A Microsoft Power Platform solution for healthcare emergency response

Hoping that this outbreak will be over soon and we will be able to return to our normal lives.