As you already know if you’ve been reading our blog for a while, we at Share IT love Microsoft products. From Microsoft Teams to OneDrive, Yammer, and SharePoint - we simply adore playing with all the goodies that originate from Microsoft’s kitchen.
Our team is made out of Microsoft certified trainers and professionals who share a great wealth of knowledge of all Microsoft-related things.
Even though SharePoint is definitely our bread and butter, we are known to dabble with other solutions as well. In this article, we’re going to do just that - step away from SharePoint and focus on other interesting solutions that Microsoft offers.
Today, we’ll closely focus on Microsoft Power Platform.
Individually, these platforms are created with a goal of providing support for overcoming specific challenges:
However, as integral parts of “The Power Platform”, they come together as the ultimate stack for easily accessing, analyzing, using, and automating important business data.
Historically, the operations that these Power platforms have individually performed were in the hands of the IT sector. If regular business people, for instance, needed to get involved in the app development process, process automation or even data analysis - they usually reached out to the IT department for help.
This is how the process usually looked like:
Business users typically create a “request” in which they ask the IT team to help automate a process, etc.
Of course, this request is never addressed instantly and that creates frustration. No matter how proactive and agile your IT organization is, chances are it will still struggle to rapidly solve every single business problem across the enterprise. That is why most IT departments operate in a similar way - they acknowledge incoming requests and add them to the IT backlog where they start prioritizing them.
Since the IT department gets tagged for lots of similar things (on top of their regular work), prioritizing work is usually nothing short of a total nightmare.
The Power Platform was designed specifically to address this specific problem.
The main idea of this platform is to provide non-technical users with power to create simple applications or data visualizations without almost any coding. With The Power Platform, non-techy business professionals are given the option to build quick and effective point solutions using SharePoint as a data source. This puts more power in their hands.
The business advantages of investing in the Power Platform are super obvious. With the help of this platform, people from anywhere in the organization have the tools needed to quickly build digital solutions. By enabling non-techy users to work more autonomously, the Power Platform also eliminates a lot of unnecessary work from the IT department, frees resources, and leads businesses forward when it comes to self-service IT empowerment and overall digital transformation.
Apart from letting people run wild without any control which can lead to unmaintained apps and duplicated software, the biggest risk of going all in on the Power Platform’s offerings is security. Making meaningful data too accessible internally is never a good thing, especially for organizations that work with a lot of sensitive customer information.
Regardless of the app or process you're looking to optimize or implement, it’s imperative to think about setting up good practices and sound regulations when it comes to granting access before you move an inch forward with the actual development. Setting up security profiles and access requests will help you limit the flow of information. If you do this properly, you will save yourself from a lot of headache in the future.
Another major concern you need to bear in mind if you’re going to promote “citizen development” in your company revolves around your developer allocation. With the potential tidal wave of new apps and solutions created by non-techy people, comes a tidal wave of new bugs that your developers will have to deal with.
With the rise of “citizen development”, comes the risk of poor documentation and insufficient follow-up protocols. If the documentation is not neatly kept, the management of every newly created solution becomes extremely difficult for everyone working in IT.
“Citizen development” comes with some major downsides when it comes to incorporating data and using the right data sources. Even though Power BI is an extremely cool solution, if not used properly, it can create a lot of problems for your business.
Regardless in which niche or market you operate in, if your organization makes decisions based on inaccurate information, the consequences can be catastrophic.
For instance, most of the errors related to Power BI can be traced back to the marketing and sales departments. If the sales team creates a dashboard that shows current and historic sales data and the citizen developer in charge makes a mistake while setting up that data - your company will find itself in a situation where it will determine its current success based on inaccurate trends, which means that you won’t have a realistic picture of your performance. If you don’t have a realistic picture of your current performance, all the effort you put into planning for the next year won’t really mean much because you won’t be able to set realistic goals.
With that in mind, letting citizen developers run unsupervised is always a recipe for disaster. You need to make sure that the ship stays on course and that your newly empowered employees don’t do more harm than good. This means getting your actual IT guys to do some shadow work. The only issue here is to make sure that the shadowing doesn’t take too much of your time and that it doesn’t keep them away from where their expertise is actually needed.
Everything that has to do with development and company/customer data needs to be approached with a certain degree of caution and responsibility. It is imperative to make your team aware that they’re dealing with sensitive info of crucial business value. Any potential leaks of data could literally burn your business to the ground.
To make sure that you’re promoting “citizen development” in your company the right way, you need to establish a concrete governance model that will help you ensure that your most important data is being accessed appropriately, handled consistently and protected effectively.
Obviously, the Power Platform can replace your development team. That’s something that you need to understand right from the start. To make this service actually useful for you, it’s important to know its limitations. Once you do that, once you face reality and understand that you still need the support of your development team, only then you can begin to select the apps that you can build with the Power Platform service.
Like with everything else, you need a plan. You shouldn’t really build EVERY app just because you can. You need to figure out which “citizen developed apps” will deliver the most value to your business. Before you greenlight a project, make sure that it’s clearly defined. It has to clearly address a specific business problem so that you can understand and quantify the value. It’s equally important to assess whether Power Platform is the right tool to solve the problem, or if there are other solutions in the business that would be a better fit.
Last but not least, you need to monitor value realization. This is not a one-off activity, but rather something that you should do on a perpetual basis. Everything starts with a solid business case and a well thought out cost-effectiveness analysis. There is always room for improvement. However, in order to actually optimize different parts of the platform in a way that it makes an impact, you need to determine which apps should scale up and which need to be deleted.
If you want to get started with Microsoft Power Platform, but you’re not entirely sure where to start - we have some good news. You can reach out to Share IT and send a query that offers a solid overview of your business case and dilemmas, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Remember: the tool is only as good as its user. Now imagine having a comprehensive tool such as the Microsoft Power Platform that’s customized to your business needs? We must say centralizing all your key efforts under one roof sounds pretty neat.