The Top 10 Things You Need to Consider When Building a Microsoft Power App

Organisations of all sizes rely on technology to meet a variety of needs. From onboarding new employees to managing service requests, automation can streamline essential business processes, saving companies time and money.

However, each organisation has its unique requirements, requiring tools to develop tailored applications for smoother operations and improved efficiency with technology. Historically, many businesses lacked the technical skills to create custom apps and opted for off-the-shelf solutions lacking the necessary personalisation.

Thanks to Microsoft’s PowerApps platform, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite of apps, organisations no longer need extensive technical knowledge to quickly create custom business apps. PowerApps offers a highly beneficial, low-code solution for companies looking to enhance efficiencies with minimal technical complexity. That said, there are several factors that you should consider when developing their PowerApps solutions.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can build your first Power app and what are the most important things to consider.

Introduction to Power Apps Video: microsoft.com

How to Build a Microsoft Power App?

Whether you decide to use Microsoft 365 Copilot or build from scratch, to create an app with Microsoft PowerApps you need to grasp these basic steps and factors. This ensures a successful and efficient application customised to meet your business requirements.

Step 1: Select Your Power Apps Environment

To start building an app, there are several tools or environments that you can use within Power Apps, each with its own capabilities and roles.

  • Power Apps Website: This is where your Power Apps service journey begins. It’s the place where you can start building apps and manage existing ones.
  • Power Apps Studio: Here, you can design and adapt apps to fit your specific business needs! Power Apps Studio is dedicated to designing, building, and managing canvas apps (which we’ll delve into in the next section).
  • Power Apps Mobile App: This handy mobile app is available on both phones (iOS, Android) and tablets (Windows 10). Regardless of the platform, the app provides a runtime environment where you can run all your Power Apps apps. This includes apps shared with you, as well as those you designed and coded yourself.
  • Microsoft Power Platform Admin Center: Administrators can manage Power Apps in the Power Platform admin centre at admin.powerplatform.com. Here, you can create and manage environments, view key metrics, apply DLP (Data Loss Prevention) policies, adjust user roles, and raise support tickets, among other capabilities.
  • Microsoft Dataverse for Teams: With Microsoft Dataverse, the data platform that comes with Power Apps, you can create apps and workflows directly in Microsoft Teams. This fully integrated experience allows app makers to easily publish, share, and edit apps for anyone on the team to use, without the need to switch between multiple services.

Step 2: Select Your Power Apps Application Type

There are a few main types of apps you can create with Power Apps:

  • Canvas apps: These apps enable you to freely organize and easily interface by positioning controls and fields in a “pixel-perfect” user experience. The main focus here is bringing your business knowledge and creativity to the app’s design. Canvas apps target lightweight apps or even disposable apps that can be designed and used in minutes, all within Microsoft tools where your data lives.
  • Model-driven apps: These are built on top of the Common Data Services and are used to help rapidly build forms, processes, and business rules. They focus on targeting heavier apps that are intended to be used intensively (multiple hours at a time). These types of apps must be built on the Power Apps site.
  • Power Pages: These are external-facing websites that allow users outside your organisation to sign in with a wide variety of identities, create and view data in the Dataverse, or browse content anonymously.
  • Cards (in preview): Currently being previewed as an additional way to create apps in Power Apps. These apps, which Microsoft refers to as “micro-apps,” are extremely lightweight, allowing you to quickly create cards that surface data through Power Platform Connectors, or use your own business logic for customisation.

Step 3: Select Your Storage Type

Microsoft’s Power Platform, and specifically Power Apps, target a world where data reigns supreme and forms the foundation of any business process. So, choosing the right data sources holds great significance when designing an app. Data is stored in a data source and imported into your app by establishing a connection.

SharePoint lists and Excel spreadsheets are commonly used data sources, but there are over 200 data connectors available. Power Apps share connectors with Power Automate and Logic apps. It’s important to note that the choice of data sources will impact the licenses required to create and run your app. Opting for a Premium source (such as Salesforce or Common Data Service) may necessitate advanced licensing.

Step 4: Connect Your App to an Online or On-Premises Data Source

Power Apps is created in the cloud and can naturally link up with cloud data sources. However, it’s also able to connect to on-premises data sources. To achieve this, you need to set up an on-premises data gateway. This gateway is used across multiple cloud apps such as all the Power Platform (Power BI, Power Automate, Power Apps), Azure Analysis Services, and Azure Logic Apps. Data sources supported by the gateway include SharePoint, Oracle, SQL Server, Filesystem, DB2, and Informix.

Microsoft Power App

Top 10 Things You Should Consider When Building a Microsoft Power App

Building a Microsoft Power App requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure its success and usability across your organization.

1. Establish what the app is for

When building your app, you need to first define the purpose and scope of the app. Put simply, what do you aim to achieve by building it? What business challenges will it resolve, and how will it be integrated with existing processes? Addressing these questions and clearly establishing the app’s purpose will guide both its design and functionality, and ensure it meets the needs of its intended users, whether they are employees within the organisation or external parties.

2. Choose the right data source

One way in which you might expect their PowerApp to function is as a platform for entering data. What you might be unaware of is that PowerApps can link up with different data sources, including Excel, SharePoint, and SQL Server. If you aim for their new app to interact with an already existing data source, you need to think about which one is most appropriate for their requirements and take into account aspects like data security, accessibility, and scalability during the development process.

3. Design the user interface

The user interface (UI) is crucial for any app, as it shapes how smoothly individuals can interact with it. If an app features a badly designed UI, the advantages of using the app could easily be overshadowed by its lack of accessibility. Consequently, you must prioritize UI design to guarantee that the app is user-friendly and straightforward.

4. Consider the aesthetic

It’s a common oversight, especially when building your first app, but there’s another crucial aspect of designing an app that shouldn’t be overlooked: its appearance. When your app boasts a sleek design and a carefully planned layout, it has this uncanny ability to captivate users and make moving around within it a total breeze. Aesthetics play a big role in how users perceive and interact with your app.

5. Implement security measures

Data security is particularly important for businesses with substantial amounts of confidential or sensitive data that should not be shared between departments or externally. Suffering a data breach or cyber attack could not just be expensive, but it could also harm the company’s reputation significantly. So, you must ensure they put in place suitable security measures, like user authentication and data encryption, to safeguard your organisation’s sensitive information.

6. Test and debug the app

Testing and debugging are vital stages in the app development process, showing how well the app will perform in real-world situations. You should employ different test scenarios to guarantee the app operates as planned and address any issues before a widespread rollout.

7. Optimise performance

Performance is a crucial factor for any app, especially when it’s intended for a wide audience. The number of users can influence an app’s performance significantly. So, guaranteeing the app functions smoothly and responds promptly is essential to prevent any issues that could impact performance. You should think about improving your app’s performance by using methods such as data caching and optimizing data connections.

8. Integrate with other systems

Alongside its ability to link up with different data sources, PowerApps can also be linked with other systems and services, such as other components within Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Azure. Consider how the app can be merged with these current systems to boost both its functionality and capabilities.

9. Plan for maintenance and updates

Continuous upkeep and updates are essential components of any app, as they aid in guaranteeing its optimal performance. Plan how they will maintain and update the app in a manner that enhances functionality for the end user, rather than hindering it.

10. Seek feedback

When creating your first app using PowerApps, you should have the people who will use it in mind at all times. Making sure users are happy with an app is vital for the adoption of the technology. Ask for feedback from users during development and testing, as well as after the app is launched. This approach will help pinpoint any problems or areas for enhancement, and guarantee that the app caters to the requirements of its target audience.

Businesses Have a Part to Play

Power Apps is there to handle a lot of the hard work for companies in creating smart and user-friendly business apps, but organizations still need to make sure the apps they create fit their unique needs and those of their users. By carefully crafting their own apps, firms can unleash the full power of the technology.

What is Microsoft Power Apps Used For?

Microsoft Power Apps is a service that aims to empower businesses to create and use custom business applications that seamlessly link to their data sources and operate efficiently on both web and mobile platforms.

This groundbreaking service enables organizations of all sizes to customize their app experiences to meet specific business needs, bridging gaps in processes or workflows without the significant time and financial investments usually associated with custom software development.

Power Apps opens up a whole new world by making app creation accessible to everyone, regardless of their technical background. With Power Apps, you can unleash your creativity to design, develop, and launch applications that have the potential to transform the way your business functions. It’s all about empowering users to innovate, boost productivity, and streamline operations like never before.

How Vantage 365 Can Help Your Organisation?

Vantage 365 is a specialist consultancy that supports businesses of all sizes in making the most of their investment in Microsoft 365’s powerful suite of business tools and productivity apps. Our team of expert consultants has years of experience in crafting bespoke solutions, applications, and strategies to optimize our clients’ technology, capabilities, and performance.

Our goal is to empower every client to achieve their full potential by future-proofing their business and helping them thrive in today’s digital landscape. Whether it’s a small business or a large enterprise, we recognize that each company has unique needs and objectives. We collaborate closely with our clients to create tailored solutions that address their specific challenges.

Whether it’s streamlining workflows, enhancing collaboration, or boosting security, we have the expertise to maximize the benefits businesses gain from their investment in Microsoft 365. Our dedication to continuous support and service ensures that our clients consistently achieve success and stay ahead in today’s rapidly changing business environment.

Contact us today to unlock the potential of your Microsoft Subscriptions. We eagerly await your message.

Frequently asked questions

Is Microsoft Power app free?

Microsoft Power Apps provides various pricing options, including a free tier for personal use and trials. Yet, for businesses and advanced features, paid plans are on offer. The paid versions grant extra data storage, premium connectors, and improved administrative and security functions, among other advantages. It’s advisable to check the most recent pricing details on the official Microsoft Power Apps website as plans and features may be subject to change.

Is Microsoft Power apps included in Office 365?

Microsoft Power Apps comes with certain Office 365 subscriptions (now known as Microsoft 365) at no extra charge. It’s part of Office 365 E1, E3, E5, Business Premium, and Business Essentials plans. This means users on these plans can use Power Apps to create tailored business apps that boost productivity. Keep in mind, while basic Power Apps features are included, some premium functions might need an extra licence. For the latest details on your Microsoft 365 subscription, it’s best to check the official Microsoft documentation or get in touch with a Microsoft sales rep.

Is Microsoft Power apps any good?

Microsoft Power Apps is highly regarded as a powerful tool for business users seeking to build custom apps without the need for extensive coding knowledge. With its user-friendly design interface and seamless integration with other Microsoft products and services, it is particularly attractive for organizations already immersed in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Power Apps enables businesses to swiftly develop applications that automate workflows, enhance productivity, and cater to unique organizational requirements.

Furthermore, its ability to generate desktop and mobile apps ensures effective use by a workforce on the move. In essence, for organizations aiming to empower their teams to efficiently create bespoke solutions, Microsoft Power Apps provides a robust platform that blends user-friendliness with powerful functionality.

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