Transform the way you do business with Power Apps (Self-Service Portal)

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Posted on June 30, 2020

Why Dynamics 365 PowerApps and Power Platform?

For a long time whenever we talk about building Apps, we talk about coding, we think of developers who sit, discuss and code until the desired App is created. It was always the power of the developer which brought our ideas to life.

But this process had a lot of challenges which made it time-consuming and tedious, such as:

Challenges of Building Business Applications

Budget
Constraints

Time & Resource
Constraints

Business
Expectations

Paper
Processes

Complex
Processes

IT/Business
Partnership

Legacy system
maintenance

“Shadow IT”
governance

Leverage existing technology

Security &
Compliance

But with the introduction of the Power Platform, all these previous beliefs became obsolete. No longer did you need to be an expert in coding to be able to create apps. Power Platform as a low -code platform that spans Office 365, Azure, Dynamics 365, and Standalone Applications allows anyone to be able to build apps as per their needs even without an existing knowledge in coding. The power to innovate and create was no longer the developers alone.

So, what exactly does Power Platform help do?

As a connected Platform that empowers everyone to innovate it helps

Build web and mobile apps and workflows fast and without limits

Gain insights from your data regardless of where it lives

Enterprise-ready security and governance

The Power Platform consists of standalone applications Power BI, Dynamics 365 Powerapps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents. Each application has Data connectors, an AI Builder, and a Common Data Service all of which allow the applications to integrate and connect with other Microsoft Applications seamlessly and share data between them. The AI Builder also allows the user to build AI capabilities like text recognition into the apps you build. These applications while they can be used as standalone applications, they can also be used together.

Dynamics 365 PowerApps

Let us look at each application individually, with a greater emphasis on Dynamics 365 PowerApps, as well as their relationship with each other:

Dynamics 365 PowerApps:

As stated earlier Power Platform empowers anyone to innovate. But how does it do so? This is where PowerApps comes in. PowerApps allows you to:

  • Build highly customized task- and role-based canvas apps with data from one or multiple sources,

  • Generate immersive model-driven apps, starting from your data model and business processes and

  • Consume fully accessible apps across web and mobile, embedded or standalone, on any device

With the demand for business applications increasing day by day with limited developers to keep up with demand, the need for citizen developers who can create innovative apps despite a lack of coding knowledge is what Power Apps was created for.

With Power Apps you can create apps for any business need you might have such as apps for form submission or report submission, creating a calendar app to be used by company employees, apps can be used to help with a variety of tasks both inside and outside the organization.

Dynamics 365 PowerApps Capabilities and Benefits:

Dynamics 365 PowerApps has the following capabilities.

  • It enables business users to build the applications they want, when they need it, without writing code.
  • In situations where traditional platforms stop, PowerApps starts by allowing professional developers to extend the capabilities.

  • It allows users to connect to 220+ data sources and services (including on-premises data) to build powerful apps that empowers your business to do more

  • It allows you to customize and extend with deep integrations across Office 365, Azure and Dynamics 365.

  • It provides administrative controls with enterprise-grade security and governance to protect your apps and data.

An economic study by Forrester (March 2020) highlights the various benefits Power Apps offers:

  • The average cost to develop an application is 74% less with Power Apps.
  • Developing additional applications in-house eliminates vendor license costs.
  • Power Apps increase activity efficiencies

  • Better applications enable business transformation and improved business outcomes.
  • Employees can make better and faster decisions from better access to information.
  • Power Apps empowers users, which increases employee satisfaction.
  • Organizations realize additional value with other Power Platform and other Microsoft solutions such as Dynamics CRM and Teams.
  • Mobile applications developed with Power Apps are more secure than would likely otherwise have been developed.

PowerApps and Teams:

Power Apps can also be added as a channel in Microsoft Teams. There are two types of App modes within Microsoft Teams. Tab Apps and Personal Apps. Tab apps can be pinned at the top of the channel for easy access to a collaborative workspace. Personal Apps on the other hand are for the personal use of an individual. These apps usually live in the App bar. These apps are usually HR Apps, apps for time tracking and field service apps for the personal use of the individual. Apps created in Power Apps can be shared in Teams and can be used as a collaboration.

Power Apps and Office 365:

The office 365 license contains the right to use Power Apps. These applications can be easily connected with office 365.

Power Apps and Salesforce:

Power Apps can be integrated with other CRM or ERP like Salesforce in order to build business applications which help you sell better. Microsoft also provides a Salesforce connector through which Salesforce can easily be integrated with Power Apps. There are a few limitations to this integration such as custom fields not being supported etc, but otherwise Power Apps integration proves itself a valuable addition to Salesforce.

Power Apps and SAP:

Like with Salesforce, Microsoft also provides a connector which allows you to integrate Power Apps with your SAP ERP. This allows you to build applications making use of your SAP Data.

Power Apps for Dynamics 365:

Power Apps and the Dynamics 365 suite of products all share the same common data platform (Common Data Service) to store and secure data. Thus, data from Dynamics 365 can be used to create Apps in Power Apps without the need for any integration. With Power Apps, we can create and share apps with company employees which will help them with their everyday tasks. But what about the people outside the company? How can we create and share apps with them? This is where Power Apps Portal comes in.

Microsoft PowerApps Portal:

The Microsoft PowerApps Portal allows users to create external-facing websites which can be accessed by users outside the organization. For example: An educational institution uses Power Apps to create an app for registering into the institute. In order to do so, access is given to outside users i.e. the prospective students to register with the institute.  This is where Microsoft Power Apps Portal comes in. It is considered as an important component of Power Apps alongside canvas and model – driven apps. Outside users can gain access to the Common Data service and create, view or browse content. It allows users to:

  • Engage with external users and partners
  • Build responsive websites.
  • Integrate all Data.

Power Apps Portal also allows you to integrate with Microsoft services like Power BI, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Flow etc allowing it to enrich existing content.

If you are using Dynamics 365, you can create the following portals with Power Apps:

  • Customer self-service portal: A customer self-service portal enables customers to access self-service knowledge, support resources, view the progress of their cases, and provide feedback.

  • Partner portal: A partner portal allows every company with resellers, distributors, suppliers, or partners to have real-time access to every stage of shared activities.

  • Employee self-service portal: An employee self-service portal creates a well-informed workforce by streamlining common tasks and empowering every employee with knowledge source.

  • Community portal: A community portal leverages individual-to-individual interactions between customers and experts to organically grow the database of available knowledge from knowledge base articles and blogs as well as providing feedback.

  • Portal from blank: Create a website to share data with external and internal users. This template comes with sample pages to get you started on creating your own portal as soon as possible.

To make it easier for non-developers to use Power Apps Portal, Microsoft has also been working on making available a new low – code authoring experience called Power Apps Portal Studio. This new experience will allow users to:

  • Embed Power BI components
  • Create a custom theme

  • Manage Web Roles and Entity Permissions and

  • Configure identity providers

All these features are available to low – code users. Power Apps Portal also has a tool called Portal checker which allows users to check and identify potential issues with the configuration of your Power Apps Portal. It also provides suggestions and solutions for these issues, thus helping to improve the security of Power Apps Portal. Microsoft is also preparing to introduce a new Web API for CRUD operations which will allow developers to use JavaScript for a more direct and flexible interaction with the Power Apps Portal instead of the old Liquid development language.

Dynamics 365 PowerApps Pricing:

Power Apps has 2 pricing plans, the single App pricing Plan and the Unlimited App Plan. A Comparison between the two plans is as follows:

Features Single App Plan Unlimited App Plan
Pricing $10/user/app/month $40/user/month
The ability to build and run custom Apps 2 Apps and 1 Portal Unlimited
Custom Data Service Capacity 50 MB Database Capacity/ 400 MB File Capacity 250 MB Database Capacity/ 2 GB File Capacity.

Dynamics 365 PowerApps Portal Pricing:

Additional add-ons can be bought and installed by external users to gain access to Custom Portals such as Login Capacity Add-on (For Authenticated External Users) priced at $200/month/100 daily login sessions and Page View Capacity Add-on (For Unauthenticated users) priced at $100/month/10000-page views. AI Builder Add on is priced at $500 per unit/month.

Power BI:

Power BI is an integral part of the Power Platform. Like Dynamics 365 PowerApps, Power BI can be used as a standalone application or together with the other applications of the Power Platform.

Power BI allows you to:

  • Connect to all your data and get a consolidated view across your business through a single pane of glass,
  • Create ad-hoc analysis, live dashboards and interactive reports that are easy to consume on the web and across mobile devices and
  • Build smart apps by infusing insights from your data and drive action with the power of the Power Platform

Power BI can also be paired with Microsoft Information Protection and Microsoft Cloud App Security to better protect Power BI data. With Power BI, you can also make use of AI technology in order to get insights faster.

Power Automate:

In today’s fast-paced world, time is a very precious resource. Even with 24 hours in a day, it still seems as if it is not enough. So how can we complete tasks quicker and still have time to spare? This is where the power of automation comes in to help.

Power Automate allows you to:

  • Automate and model your business processes across all your apps and services

  • Trigger actions, grant approvals, and get notifications right where you work and live
  • Automate legacy, on-prem and cloud-based applications and services and free up your time for more important tasks.

It offers automation at scale, secure seamless integration, accelerated productivity by allowing you to focus on more strategic tasks and increases efficiency through automated workflows with the power of AI. Power Automate was initially known as Microsoft Flow.

Power Virtual Agents:

Power Virtual Agents empowers your employees to easily create powerful bots using a no-code graphical interface without the need for the help of experts in the field.

Using Power Virtual Agents, you can:

  • Empower your teams by allowing them to easily build bots by themselves without the help of experts, or coding or AI expertise.
  • Reduce costs by easily automating common inquiries.
  • Improve customer satisfaction by allowing customers to resolve issues quickly by themselves 24/7 using rich personalized bot conversations.
  • Get in-depth AI-driven insights to improve bot performance.

Conclusion:

Power Platform and its standalone applications can help transform and empower your business. So, choose Power Apps now and create your own Business Applications. To learn more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 PowerApps and other Microsoft solutions contact Korcomptenz.

KORCOMPTENZ is a Microsoft Gold-Certified Partner headquartered in New Jersey with extensive experience in improving business outcomes for our customers. We leverage end-to-end solutions involving the ongoing convergence of ERP, Azure Cloud, Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and IoT. We specialize in the Microsoft Dynamics 365 range of products such as Dynamics 365 Business Central, Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, and Dynamics 365 CRM. Request a consultation today.

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