Power Apps is part of Microsoft's Power Platform and offers a low-code solution for building custom cross-platform apps. Power Apps enables you to:
- Quickly build apps bespoke to your organisation's needs, without having to involve a professional developer
- Customise and extend SharePoint list forms, in the browser
- Connect to a wide range of data sources and make this information actionable
- Present a user interface on desktop, web, tablet and mobile, all with a single app
- Build Apps within Microsoft Teams, bringing data and process directly to where your staff are working
- Integrate easily with other parts of the Power Platform, Office 365 and Dynamics 365
- Integrate with external data sources and APIs, whether built internally or by a 3rd party
In essence, the Power Apps platform is now your primary go-to option for rapidly building simple applications for your organisation.
Typical use cases for Power Apps
Power Apps is a great use case for many scenarios, here are just a few:
- Retire old paper-based systems by building an app that can then validate and process data input automatically. Saving time, reducing human error, and it's better for the environment.
- Replace old Excel spreadsheets, with a modern app interface, accessible from anywhere, on any device
- Are you still running legacy apps in your organisation that nobody knows how to fix? Drop these, and their associated maintenance costs, and replace with ai integrated Power App solution
- Do you have staff out on the road, perhaps performing inspections and taking photos to send back to HQ? Power Apps work great in this scenario, with built-in functionality for capturing images, taking notes and communicating with the cloud
- In retail scenarios, optimise in-store merchandising and layout through data intelligence, made accessible from anywhere through a Power App
- Are you still using InfoPath forms? This is now outdated technology, stuck in the year 2013. You should consider migrating your InfoPath forms to Power Apps sooner rather than later.
- Are you aware of a "Shadow IT" problem in your organisation? Where your staff have built or purchased their own applications that fall outside of your company's security and compliance governance policies. Reel these in and replace with a Power App, enabling new integration scenarios and locking down your corporate data in the process.
- You can also build custom apps to extend Dynamics 365, leveraging your organisation's data and business process rules, all in one place (Dataverse)
Is this available to me?
Standard use of Power Apps is available to all licensed Office 365 users. This means that you can build apps to work with other Office 365 services that you also have a license to use. For example, if your Office 365 license gives you access to SharePoint Online, then you can leverage it within a Power App. This typically means using SharePoint lists as a data source within an app. Another example would be if you have a license for Dynamics, then you will be able to build a Power App solution leveraging your Dynamics data.
Some connectors within Power Apps are considered "premium" in which case an additional license will be required by users of apps that include usage of these.
The current licensing model (which is always subject to change 😉) enables you to license Power Apps either on a "per user", or "per app" basis. If a user is granted a "per user" license, they then have access to all Power Apps in the organisation (which have been shared with them). Whereas if a user is assigned a per-app license, that only gives them access to a single Power App app. A good general rule to follow is that if a user requires access to less than 4 apps (which use premium connectors), then you are better off licensing access on a per app basis. Alternatively, if a user accesses more than 3 apps, you will be better off opting for the per user license.
Either way, careful consideration should be given in the design stage to decide on the value of including premium connectors in your Power Apps solutions.
How to get started?
There are plenty of online resources for getting started in developing Power Apps. One approach is to start with a SharePoint list and to then customise the forms associated with the list. This will open up the form in the Power Apps editor where you can experiment with moving fields around and adding additional elements to the screen.
You can also head straight over to the Power Apps center and create an app from one of the pre-built templates. This will give you a great insight into how they work and what's possible. You might even find a template that meets your exact need, or at least something close.
Here are some examples of the Power App templates available:
- Budget Tracker - Keep your projects and events on budget, with custom categories, easy data entry, and the graphing options you need to see it all clearly.
- Site Inspection - Site Inspection lets you document, catalog, and reference real estate sites of all kinds with images, location, site details, and more.
- Service Desk - Track service requests, assignments, and job status for the whole team-without going back to your desk. Prioritize jobs quickly, add notes, and track tasks by the technician assigned.
- Leave Request - Submit a vacation request for manager approval. Select date ranges, add notes and manage your time off.
- Asset Checkout - Providing self-service capabilities to reserve the tools and equipment your teams need, while accurately calculating available inventory and much more.
If you don't want to try these things out in your production Office 365 tenant, you can request a free developer environment and play to your hearts content, without risking your company's data.
How can Fuse Help?
Fuse are Microsoft cloud experts and can help guide you on your journey adopting Power Apps and the Power Platform in general. This could include:
- Helping you with the art of the possible
- Understanding licenses and cost implications
- Augmenting your Power Apps solutions with full-code integrations
- Help customise or extend a template to meet your exact requirements
- Building your Power Apps solutions according to best practise
In any case we'd be happy to discuss your situation and be a helping hand, so get in touch.