Business IT News &
Microsoft Power Platform: Why You Should Be Using It
Craig Yellick, VP Business Solutions
Anyone with an Office 365 subscription knows there are dozens of applications ranging from a simple, single task focus—like To Do—all the way to very sophisticated, highly customizable collaboration applications—like SharePoint and Teams. Everyone combines these with products like Word, Excel, and Outlook to get things done. That’s a terrific first step, but you’re missing out on a whole other level of productivity called the Microsoft Power Platform.
Your next step should be to embrace the idea that these tools are not separate applications where it’s you that’s always responsible to take every action, make every decision, and enter every data point. These applications have always been able to be integrated, automated, and streamlined. However, it required specialized knowledge and skills to accomplish—typically only found in full-time software developers or seriously motivated power users willing to invest a lot of time.
That’s no longer the case with the Microsoft Power Platform. It’s a collection of tools explicitly intended for anyone to use to build business solutions using simple point-and-click techniques. All the tools are available to any user needing a quick solution to a business challenge or opportunity. Additionally, integration and automation are not limited to Microsoft products. Hundreds of connectors are available for accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and many other applications.
Two Key Power Platform Components:
- Power Automate for automating business processes and workflows. For example, automatically reacting to email messages with file attachments and routing them to a Teams channel where other processes are triggered for scheduling, alerting, and so on.
- Power Apps for forms-based solutions where prompting users for information is necessary to coordinate a process. For example, prompting for a description and dollar amount as part of a purchase request.
If you are not sure how to get started and need some help, here are examples of solutions Blue Net has built for our clients. We get you started right, then you can maintain and enhance as needed.
CASE 1: Family of Food Processing Operations
A holding company for a family of food processing operations is a managed services client at Blue Net. They have numerous locations, a large staff, and a complex hiring/termination process. This is a custom Power App that is used by their HR staff to streamline the process. It proved to be very popular and has been extended to include other common employee support tasks like requesting new computer hardware. Use of this application automatically triggers support ticket actions at Blue Net. Variations on this Power App are in place for all Blue Net clients.
Example of a portion of the form for new users.
Example of a portion of the hardware request form. This form triggers an internal approval process prior to communicating the request to Blue Net. This offers tremendous management transparency to what was formerly an inconsistent, ad hoc process.
CASE 2: A Network of Group Homes
A network of group homes and other housing for disabled and disadvantaged youths and adults leverages Office 365 with the help of Blue Net. One challenge we helped with is they have a large pool of vehicles that staff can reserve for various transportation needs. A collection of PowerApps coordinates reservations, prevents double-booking, and helps management with capacity planning and efficient fleet positioning.
These apps work on mobile devices and tablets out in the field as well as on desktop computers in the office, automatically adjusting for the device. This is built right into Power Platform.