Office 365 is a fantastic set of tools for the small business. Microsoft’s subscription-based service is packed with software that can improve productivity and collaboration for all sizes of business. However, the majority of users only use a very small percentage of what’s available. In this ongoing series of posts (if you’re interested in learning more about Sharepoint or Sway just click!) we look at some of the lesser used elements of Office 365 and investigate them further so you don’t have to.
If the ‘In A Nutshell’ guide whets your appetite and, if you think that you’d like to learn more, we will go into a bit more detail and provide links to useful resources including further reading, how-to videos etc.
This week we have a look at PowerApps & Flow.
In A Nutshell
PowerApps – PowerApps is a ‘rapid application development’ service from Microsoft. PowerApps allows users to quickly and easily build web and mobile apps without writing any code by simply using drag and drop functionality. This allows users to surface any information from Dynamics 365, Office 365 or a host of third-party services into a visually appealing and mobile-friendly app.
Flow – Microsoft describes Flow as a ‘sister service’ to Power Apps; instead of focusing on building apps, Flow is all about building processes. Again, it’s designed for end users in mind, giving them the ability to create their own workflows without relying on developers.
Who is it for?
Whilst the products are designed for end users to be able to develop without being developers they are not necessarily for the basic user. You’ll need to spend some time learning how to use them to really get the benefits.
However, if you’ve got data stored in various different places and applications that you’d like to bring together, particularly if you’d like to combine it into a mobile app, then it may well be worth the time to get to grips with the software.
What’s good about it?
No need to understand how to code – Microsoft PowerApps is a slick, mobile-optimized, and integration-rich low-code development tool. Powerful visual app designer with a look/feel combining Excel and PowerPoint.
Integration – Integrates with Office 365, Dynamics 365, and Power BI by default. Wide selection of UI objects and pre-built templates. Great mobile and tablet development and app previews.
Connectivity to third-party apps and data sources – Connects to Salesforce and other third-party apps and data sources. Advanced workflow automation built in with Microsoft Flow. No coding required for basic app development.
What’s bad about it?
It’s just not that easy to use – it’s a LOT easier than learning to code but creating and connecting data sources can be a pain. Adjusting UI elements in the property editor is a bit tedious. Customizing entities and form fields can be difficult for users without Excel proficiency.
The database connectors and customization aspects are a bit much for average business users to handle
Think PowerApps & Flow might be worth some further investigation?
Then please read on!
One thing there is available is lots and lots of further information, tutorials and how-to guides. So whether you prefer to read blogs or watch webinars and tutorials there are loads of resources available if you believe PowerApps and Flow can help your business.
As ever Microsoft themselves is a great place to start – starting with an in-depth introduction and moving through the whole of using PowerApps you don’t actually need to leave the Microsoft website! Start from the Getting Started Video and away you go!
PowerApps in 2 minutes is a favourite of mine – mainly because it’s over 8 minutes long which made me laugh! However, it does actually show you how an app can be created in 2 minutes and then explains how it was done.
Robert Cranes video tutorial is more Flow-based and gives a good introduction in just over 30 minutes
The final word has to go to Microsoft through Microsoft Ignite with a video on bringing it all together. This one is just over the hour but you can skip the intro and the last 8 or so minutes is a bit of a sales pitch.
We’ve (hopefully!) given a broad, unbiased, view of what it PowerApps & Flow can offer and pointed you in the direction of some further help in getting started.
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