Businesses across all industries have processes that can be improved, leading to better business outcomes. Unfortunately, off-the-shelf solutions are not always suitable as they lack certain functionality or there is no simple way to connect the right data sources to the solution. In these cases, many businesses look to bespoke application development, which can be overly expensive with long lead times.
Microsoft’s solution to this challenge is Power Apps, a tool that enables low-code development of applications, with significantly shorter development times, either by an in-house IT team or a trusted third-party IT provider. In this article we will introduce you to Microsoft Power Apps, explaining why businesses are using the tool, the types of Power Apps that businesses can create and how businesses can start using Power Apps.
According to Microsoft, Power Apps is ‘a suite of apps, services, and connectors, as well as a data platform, that provides a rapid development environment to build custom apps for your business needs’. These apps can integrate with hundreds of data sources, either in a data platform, such as Microsoft Dataverse, or on-premise or online data sources, such as SharePoint, Dynamics 365 or Salesforce. Once the low-code applications have been developed, they can be accessed on any device with an internet connection, including mobile devices.
The number one benefit of Power Apps is that it is versatile and can solve many business challenges. As mentioned previously, as a bespoke app is created, it is often more beneficial to a business than an off-the-shelf solution.
An example of a business challenge that can be solved with Power Apps is expense approvals. Typically, expense approvals require input from multiple departments and include numerous processes. With Power Apps, an app could quickly be developed that allows employees to request to claim expenses with receipts and notes attached. This request can then be approved or rejected by their manager, which is then sent to the finance department to process the claim. Throughout this process, notifications can be sent to any involved party, or it can even be integrated with an existing HR system. A relatively simple application like this can increase productivity, and allow employees to spend more time working to grow the business, and less time following and tracking manual processes.
Bespoke application development is typically a lengthy process, regardless of if it is completed in-house or by a third-party. For this reason, often processes are not improved or automated due to time or budget constraints. As Power Apps is a low-code solution, the time to deploy is significantly faster. In theory, those without programming knowledge could create an app, however, there is quite a steep learning code, so many businesses choose to outsource the Power App development as it is still significantly faster and more cost-effective.
There are hundreds of connectors available for use within Power Apps. Some of the obvious ones include products within the Microsoft suite, but there are also connectors for most CRMs, HR solutions, accountancy solutions and even third-party cloud solutions, such as Google Workspace. This wide variety of connectors ensures that regardless of what technologies a business is currently using, Power Apps can improve processes and solve business challenges.
Canvas apps begin as a blank canvas where the user can drag and drop components or elements onto the canvas. These components may include data sources and connections, expressions for specifying logic and conditional statements. These apps can then be run in a browser, mobile device or embedded in SharePoint, PowerBI or Teams.
Model-driven apps start with a data model, and then forms, views, charts and dashboards are added. This makes it possible to have apps that are user-friendly, responsive and easy to understand, even when the underlying data is dense and complex.
Portals are external-facing websites that allow users outside the business to view and interact with data. An example of how a business may use a Power Apps portal includes a customer service portal that allows customers to create and view support cases.
Power Apps can transform processes within a business, creating better experiences for employees and customers alike. With decreased development and deployment time, there is no reason why businesses should not be using Power Apps to build powerful solutions today. For businesses that want to create their own Power App applications internally, we can help you navigate the licensing required. If your business would support developing bespoke business applications with Power Apps, contact us today and support you in your digital transformation journey.