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What is PowerApps Implementation All About?
More information – what is PowerApps and how does it work?
Power Apps is a Microsoft platform that provides an environment to build customized applications that run on Windows, Android, iOS systems, and most of the browsers.
When talking about Power Apps we mean both – a production environment for developers and an end product – business applications, that from the customer’s point of view look and work the same as apps that we download on our devices from Apple Store, Google Play, or Microsoft Store.
Typically building an app requires writing code in one of the standard programming languages and it is a job for a knowledgeable professional developer. It is a difficult, time-consuming, and costly task where many things can go wrong. It is rarely seen that it is manageable to build a business application even within the same organization that would extend its functionality over many different locations or departments. Usually, there are numerous ideas of how to use the tremendous possibilities of the company’s devices or automate business processes but the cost of its execution using conventional methods is much higher than the potential benefits.
Microsoft, having the technological capabilities that could help organizations overcome those issues decided to launch a set of products under the name Microsoft Power Platform. In a nutshell, Power Platform was created to give companies the possibility to build business applications and digitalize processes, either by themselves or by external providers, at a much lower cost by using low-code solutions.
The video below shows a simple PowerApps application example, developed for a manufacturing site (warehouse). It is connected with a data repository (SharePoint) and Power BI reports. It also uses Power Automate to send the notifications and e-mails to responsible individuals automatically.
Power Apps as one of the components of Power Platform
Although this article aims to introduce Power Apps, we need to familiarize ourselves with the concept of Microsoft Power Platform to fully understand the big picture.
Power Apps itself is a powerful tool but together with other Microsoft services, it offers additional value.
The most important components of Microsoft Power Platform are:
- Power Apps – to build and develop applications, which we can use on mobile devices or PCs
- Power Automate – to automate processes related to data flow e.g., automatically sending out emails
- Power BI – creating interactive reports based on data gathered by Power Apps and processed by Power Automate (more information on Power BI here)
- Power Virtual Agents – chatbots to communicate with users and employees built with no code
Therefore, we can say that the main goal of Power Platform is to bring all the services together to be able to build powerful tools that are perfectly tailored to the company’s needs, localization, or department and facilitate work on each level of the company’s operations. And all of that comes with the same level of security that characterizes Microsoft native apps but at a much lower cost than an app development and infrastructure maintenance e.g. in Java.
Power Apps case study and main aspects of development
Areas, where a business application can be introduced, are nearly limitless. One of our successful deployments was for the security department for which we built an application to report incidents with an option to attach photos of those incidents.
We built an easy-to-use tool to conduct security audits and quality checks and then to visualize that live data in Power BI on an interactive map of a warehouse or a production plant.
A very interesting app that we created was for the management of a big FMCG corporation. The managers could add an assignment to the special form and send it straight away to the responsible people. The employees would receive both a push notification and an e-mail with all the instructions.
Thanks to that app, the client gained more control over assigned tasks – a list of repeatable systematized tasks, the ability to track notification delivery, clearly defined obligations on both sides, and confidence that the message will not get unnoticed in an employee’s mailbox. Both the recipient and the person who assigned a particular task could track and change its status.
Production or shipping companies could incorporate the functionality of bar codes scanning into their apps. Power Apps applications can also be of great help in processes improvement projects such as Lean, Kaizen, 5s, or in digital transformation and stepping towards Industry 4.0.
You can read more about our successful projects and see examples of our work here.
Power Apps combined with other services
Applications built with Power Apps are mostly used for gathering live data and passing them on. Power Apps is compatible with cloud-based solutions such as SharePoint, OneDrive, or Microsoft Microsoft Azure data repository. Apart from that, there is an option to connect directly to the SQL database. Microsoft is continually working on the platform and with each update, there are more connectors available. The data, gathered with Power Apps, can get sent straight to the Power BI reports, where they can be analysed accordingly, whether it’s analysing photos from security checks, displaying activities on the Gantt chart, or simply managing resources with help of interactive tables and charts.
Usually, applications are fully developed in the Microsoft environment. They are connected to SharePoint, Azure, or OneDrive. The Power Apps itself is also provided by Microsoft. That means that both the application and the data that it collects are protected by the cutting edge cybersecurity systems developed by the global giant Microsoft.
Power Apps is available as part of different Microsoft 365 licenses. The vast majority of companies already operate on Microsoft 365 plan, therefore, utilizing Power Apps business applications does not generate much more hassle or costs. The details regarding Microsoft 365 licensing are available on the Microsoft website (more information here).
Power Apps development pricing: low-code = low-cost
Power Apps is a low-code environment where to build an app with advanced functionality you don’t need to do as much work as when programming in e.g. Java. That means much lower development costs than in the case of conventional solutions from developers.
The application development environment with a user-friendly interface offers a variety of self-service functionalities to implement changes to the visual and practical aspects of an app even after launching. The platform enables us to drag and drop text fields, drop-down lists, and other elements as e.g. an interactive calendar for date selection. We can connect to the device’s camera to capture an image that could be later embedded in the SharePoint web page.
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