The Power Of Power Apps

What Is Power Apps?

Power Apps is a Microsoft online service comprising of services, connectors and apps that allow for Licensed Office 365 users to build their own simple or complex blank, model-driven or portal applications. Through Power Apps and the Power Platform, Microsoft have potentially given the end user the ability of developing their own in house application to meet their requirements with basically nearly no code required and the default Power Apps language PFX.

Why Use Power Apps?

Microsoft Power Apps, in our opinion, is the next big thing in the Office 365 suit. Microsoft are really pushing hard on improving their Power Platform to be the most incredible Data Development suit out there and they really showing results in the Power Apps side of this.

Its no hidden secret that out of the box systems don’t meet every business requirement. There is always missing or something that needs to be modified slightly. From a basic side of Power Apps, users are able to fill these gaps with custom internal applications hosted in their Office 365 tenant. Let us use the unfortunate global pandemic as an example. No-one expected Covid-19 to happen and there were no affordable screening systems to meet new requirements at that time. A simple solution for a small business to cooperate with these new regulations and capture screening, would be a simple Power Apps application. We’ve developed one. Works great. The user types in the details of the person they are screening and fill in a required survey, which then gets stored to a SharePoint site. If the entering person does not meet access regulation requirements, the app advises the user to not grant access and the Health Manager is notified.  And that’s just one example. The projects and processes are endless based on each businesses specific requirements and Power Apps gives you the ability to get this done.

What Are Connectors?

As mentioned above, one of the many services included in Power Apps, are the multiple Power App connectors allowing you to connect your application to other Microsoft products and services as well as external published services like MySQL, Adobe and more!

With these connectors, Power Apps allows for further ability to integrate into your environment resulting in you being able to build the perfect workflow process that suits your needs.

Keep in mind, some of these connectors require additional licensing, $10 per app or $40 per user. Connectors such as SQL Server and various Azure links do require premium access, however, that is what makes Microsoft amazing. Despite their hefty license fees for certain services, there is always a loop whole to avoid these fees. A classic example would be using the Power Apps SQL Server connector. Instead of using this connector with a premium license, we linked the App to a SharePoint site and created a Power Automate flow to insert data from the specified SharePoint list into SQL. Now, as long as we don’t exceed 2000+- entries a month, it’s free!!! Granted, in a larger business environment, paying the license fee might just make sense.

How TDDA Used Power Apps?

Starting as a small consultancy business, being able to lay out capital for Accounting Systems and other services may be difficult. It was definitely something we didn’t want to go overboard with. Yes, there are many free options out there and low-cost ones as well, however, like we said before, no out of the box system fits every environment. We took a different approach.

Being we already have some Office 365 licensing and Power Platform features are included in these licenses, we built out own system suited for us.

We started with a basic Client-Onboarding Application allowing us to engage with clients and capture all information and documents promptly and accurately. Included in this module are automated email triggers notifying clients on captured details. We had quite some building these email layouts in HTML 😊.

We then started on our Project Management tool that allows us to create projects, set requirements, take note, upload files and lastly… email updates. Using the power of Power App galleries and forms, our Project Management tool quickly became robust and detailed.

Lastly, our latest addition to our powerful app, was our Accounting Module. Being able to log service hours linked to detailed projects in place, generate PDF invoices and log payments through the app. With a powerful Power Automate Flow, our HTML invoice template used in the Power App is created as an HTML file with client invoice details and payables, and then converts the file to PDF and allocates it to the client accordingly.

And there you have it! This is how we built an incredible startup system allowing us to take-on clients, manage projects and manage our books all for free!

What Else Is There

Creating your own workflow app is not all that Power Apps offers. If you feel you have created an App that will assist other colleges, you can share your App internally through Office 365 and allow them to make use of your App. Furthermore, an advanced use of Power Apps is the ability to create an online Portal linked to your Dataverse (previously know as Common Data Services). Power Apps portal can be pointed publicly as websites allowing external users to interact with data sitting in your Dataverse. External access can be granted either anonymously or through login credentials. With the no-code portal designer and the ability to integrate into some of your Microsoft services, using tools such as Power BI can enrich your public content. Of course, as you probably guessed, Power Apps Portals is a licensed feature and we yet to find Microsoft’s loophole through that.

Wrapping Up

If you already have an Office 365 license, PowerApps is definitely a feature you should check out.

With the various App types, templates and connectors, getting started is as easy as 123. Offering no-code GUI and plenty of online groups and tutorials, the only way with Power Apps is up!

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