What are Microsoft Power Apps?

What are Microsoft Power Apps?

Microsoft Power Apps is a suite of apps, services, connectors and data platform that offers a quick development environment to build custom applications for your business needs.


Think of them as pieces of Lego (of pre-defined size and shape), each designed to simplify a particular function, such as manual data entry, paper forms and document generation. Once the different pieces are connected, they become one powerful platform to support your business to become more efficient and eliminate errors that come from many manual processes.


Power Apps offer total customisation using built-in templates or from scratch - without the time and expense of custom software development.

How do Microsoft Power Apps work?

Microsoft Power Apps uses web based applications to automate your company operations, replacing manual forms and processes with digital experiences that can be accessed from anywhere, on mobile or desktop devices.


Power Apps connects to a number of data sources, including SharePoint, Excel, Dynamics 365 and SQL Server and allows you to customise the layout and theme.


Just like a single piece of Lego can only do one thing (asking to be fitted in with another piece), a Power App on its own can only help your business so much. Yet integrating it with one of the following systems will ensure your business gets to harness the powerful system that it is.

Different versions of Power Apps

  • Power Apps for Office 365 products - these capabilities allow you to "customize and extend Office 365 for productivity scenarios", such as customizing forms in SharePoint, for example.

  • Dataverse for Teams - these are canvas Power Apps (see below) embedded within Teams. They use a subset of Microsoft’s Dataverse (formerly called the( Common Data Service ) as their datastore.

  • Canvas Power Apps - primarily intended for use on mobiles and tablets, but they can also be used in a browser. They can use various things as their datastore, including Excel, SharePoint lists and ideally full Dataverse.

  • Model-driven Power Apps - these always use the full Dataverse as their datastore and are basically Dynamics 365 apps built by you, rather than by Microsoft.

  • Dynamics 365 Sales, Dynamics 365 Customer Service, and Dynamics 365 Field Service – I have included these here because they are effectively model-driven Power Apps built by Microsoft, even though they existed long before model-driven Apps were created from them. Lots of what they include you could create yourself in your own model-driven Power App (given enough time), but there is also a fair amount of "secret sauce" from Microsoft in them, that would require development effort to reproduce.

    Note: You can pin canvas & model-driven Power Apps and Dynamics 365 apps to tabs within Teams.

Legobricks - what will you create
Lego bricks - What will you create

What type of business processes can Microsoft Power Apps help with?

Power Apps can be used for multiple processes involving workflow, automation, data visualisation and reporting. It could involve teams, field workers, your management team and even your customers. Just a few ideas of how to leverage Power Apps in the workplace include logging of service calls, stock inventory, and employee or customer surveys.


Added mobile features also include geolocation data and the camera, which can further enhance your app’s richness and interactivity.

Licensing

Canvas & Model-driven Power Apps

Licensed, either on a "Per app" basis (which actually allows access to 2 Apps) or on a "Per User" basis, which allows access to unlimited Apps.

Dynamics 365 Sales | Customer Service | Field Service

Separate Dynamics 365 licensing Premium connectors (the Lego bricks) are included in the canvas, model-driven and Dynamics 365 licenses. However, in reality these are only suitable for the simple tasks, such as data or lead capture and template or document generation. There are none that integrate with finance apps, such as Xero or the Line-Of-Business SaaS systems that our clients want to connect to.

Full details about our packages and licensing can be found here.

Storage

Dataverse for Teams is limited to 2GB per environment, which is a Team. You can have multiple apps in a Team, sharing the same 2GB storage pool. The storage amount applies to all types of data within your App(s), e.g. database data, files and log files.


Dataverse storage for Canvas & Model-driven Power Apps and Dynamics 365 is pooled at the tenant level. Different licenses provide different Database, File and Log capacity. There are default capacities (depending on the license), plus additional per user & per App additions. Power Automate licenses also provide storage capacity.


Unless you intend to store files within a Dataverse for Teams app, you'll be able to squeeze several hundred thousands of records within your app, more if you don't have many columns on each table.

Model-Driven vs Canvas

Dataverse for Teams apps are primarily intended for (corporate) departmental use, but for an SMB/SME that may be the whole company. They are also effectively a gateway drug to "proper" Power Apps or Dynamics 365, using full Dataverse.


The main benefit of using model-driven Power Apps vs canvas Power Apps/Dataverse for Teams is the variety of platform capabilities that are included:


  • Server to server integration with Exchange, for sync of email, tasks & appointments

  • The Outlook App that works in Outlook and Outlook on the web

  • Integrated search

  • Export to Excel

  • Word templates

  • Email templates

  • Native workflows + Power Automate

  • OneNote integration

  • Duplicate detection

  • Data Import wizard

  • Auto record creation from emails sent to a "queue" mailbox

  • Offline working capabilities

What’s next?

Are you ready to learn more about Microsoft Power Apps?


To view a pre-recorded webinar giving you a quick demo click here. (25 minutes)


Should you wish to learn more about how Microsoft Power Apps can specifically support your business, send us an email to 365@solutionsshared.co.uk or click the Request Demo button below.


Request a demo