Power Apps and Power Automate (formerly called Flow) are part of the Microsoft Power Platform along with Power BI, and are being promoted by Microsoft as the new tools for the citizen developer. By citizen developer they are referring to super users who are familiar with the data and the relationships between the different entities that are involved. This means that with very little coding, apps and flows can be created.
The code that is required is based on formulas that are used in Excel, so it should be familiar to super users. The reason that so little code is required is because they provide over 100 connectors, so no coding is needed to connect to your data source; just pick your connector and sign in to connect. Then all the entities from within that source will be available to pull data from or create an app or a workflow.
Some of the connectors include:
- Dynamics 365 for Sales (CRM)
- Dynamics 365 Business Central
- Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations
- SQL server
- OneDrive for Business
- Office 365
- Salesforce, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, Trello, Wunderlist, and more.
Using the connectors, provided data can easily be pulled from one or several data sources and combined to display what you really need to see with full create, read, write and update functionality, or restricted as you see fit.
The data can be displayed in a browser or any Android or iPhone device. Power Apps can be downloaded from your iPhone or Android app store and the app will run on the phone or tablet once you sign in to the required services. All the security is handled by Power Apps and the services that you are connecting to.
An example of this could be connecting to Dynamics 365 for Sales with a list of all prospects and their related information. That way your salesperson could review the information, get the correct address or phone number, or add new prospects right from their phone while in the field.
Power Automate (formerly Flow)
Microsoft Power Automate is based on workflows and triggers, and there are many different types of triggers that can be used. A flow can be kicked off when a new entity is created or an existing entity is changed. Logic can be used to trigger another action such as sending a push notification, sending an email, doing an update in the database or adding an item to a SharePoint list.
You can perform an action on pretty much anything that there is a connector for. There are many other types of triggers that can be used; timer triggers which kick off a process after a given amount of time has passed, or at a specific time of day or even every hour, depending on your needs. Another interesting type of trigger is buttons. A button is created on your phone and when pressed it will kick off a process. These types of on-demand flows can be used for many actions and are able to be kicked off whenever needed.
There are so many different ways that Power Automate can be used. To build on our previous example; let’s say you wanted to notify your sales team every time a new prospect is created. A push notification or email could be sent to your sales team to follow up on a new prospect. Additional logic could be added into the flow to get the desired results, for example if the new prospect is located in the east; then the prospect is sent to the eastern sales team, and likewise if located in the west. This logic can be modified for whatever your specific requirements may be.
It is easy to see how these tools can increase the productivity of your team by providing the right information to the right users at the right time. These apps ensure that the data is fresh and up to date, and provides notifications when key changes are made.
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