Understanding the fundamentals of Power Platform to encourage innovation

Understanding the fundamentals of Power Platform to encourage innovation

To navigate today’s complex and challenging conditions, organisations must foster innovation to remain relevant and profitable. By encouraging people to innovate and create, you can enhance and transform processes and working systems. Ahead of his session at our Digital Revolution³ on-demand virtual event, our Power Platform Lead Jake Harvey explains how you can best harness Power Platform to tap into the ideas of your people.

Many of our clients are taking a strategic decision to adopt Power Platform for different solutions that enable them to work accurately and efficiently. A trend we’re noticing is that whilst they’re excited about what Power Platform can offer in terms of supporting line of business applications, they’re equally excited about how they can empower their employees to proactively build solutions themselves.

Whilst IT teams know the high value on offer from adopting low-code technology, there’s a hesitation to make available Power Platform to citizen developers. Clients know that without the correct controls in place, this could precipitate the modern-day version of Excel and Access micro-solutions that were built by business users to make their lives easier, but lacked any real governance, consistency or IT transparency.

Luckily, there’s a preventative solution. By using some great features provided by Microsoft, aligning well thought-out business processes to the way in which people build, and providing people with a support and education network, business users can be enabled to build great things that will transform the way they work.


Power Platform fundamentals: adopting new technology

People should always come first. However, in correctly governing Power Platform there are some great up-front technology configurations that can be implemented to create a safety net. These reduce the potential risk of sprawl, lack of ownership and incorrect use of features which are available in the platform.

Firstly, Microsoft provides the Power Platform Centre of Excellence Starter Kit, a pre-built solution to support organisations with developing a strategy for adopting and supporting the platform.

Primarily focusing on Power Apps, Power Automate and Power Virtual Agents, the solution gives admins insight into activity and overall adoption, alongside features to establish audit and compliance processes.

Another great feature that Microsoft recently announced is Maker Matching. This is a bot-driven virtual agent that provides on-the-go support for app makers, enabling them to ask questions when they’re in need of assistance.

The bot will automatically supply Microsoft-provided responses that should guide users through completing basic to intermediate skill level tasks. In more advanced scenarios, the bot can direct makers to pre-defined ‘advisors’ within the organisation who are best suited to supporting the maker through their task. This is a great way to not only support new makers, but also build a network within a business and grow the connection between citizen developers.

Alongside these Power Platform-focused configurations, Microsoft offers broader capabilities around data loss prevention, audit and activity logs, and usage analytics within the tenant to gain further insight into how the technology is being used.


Microsoft Power Platform governance processes

Alongside the technology that we would advise organisations adopt to support good governance, it’s imperative that internal processes align to give context for whatever the technology is trying to help facilitate.

An important mindset for organisations to adopt is that governance is never done. The overall framework is never complete. It’s an iterative journey that matures as successes and failures are evaluated and principles are re-defined. An important process to have is one where the current governance framework is reviewed, evolved and communicated accurately out to the business as required.

Communication is also a major process to get right. Whether good practice within Power Platform is communicated via technology-based communication channels, an internal network of makers and professionals, guides, or in-person training, it’s vital that this process isn’t a one-off and that it iterates as both your usage and the technology capabilities within Power Platform evolve.

Another key role within successful governance is establishing a process, or aligning responsibility, to continuously review how Power Platform is evolving. The platform grows at such a rate that it’s vital to stay on top of what’s changing if you are to provide users with the right guidance and environment to build solutions that have a positive impact on their work.

Microsoft provides release wave summaries ahead of time that often are accompanied by a summary video that quickly describes the main changes coming to the platform. By periodically reviewing this information, your admins and other key roles in the governance framework can stay on top of changes and plan for how they’re handled.


Define people’s roles as part of your Power Platform governance

As with all technology, if it doesn’t work for the people it’s supposed to serve, then it doesn’t work at all. Microsoft have defined three key roles within Power Platform which need to be supported and empowered in order for it to succeed.

The first role is admins. If admins don’t feel in control of the platform, they’re going to remain hesitant on the level of capability they open up to citizen developers. Admins should be educated on the technology elements mentioned in this blog as well as supported through any certification tracks provided by Microsoft that will help them become experts in the platform.

The next role is makers, the individuals whom any successful governance model ultimately serves. Along with the technology and process recommendations above, makers require sufficient communication and education opportunities where they can become confident to build things. If they aren’t brought on the journey from the beginning and empowered to utilise Power Platform as the organisation intends, they will revert to other technologies.

Finally, a role we recommend is defined in every governance framework or Centre of Excellence is that of the advisor. Advisors are business users who have varying levels of experience in creating Power Platform based solutions but serve as both an advisory network and advocates for the continued adoption of the capabilities on offer.

An advisor network should reflect a fair representation of the varying technical skills, seniority levels and working styles across the organisation. This is so new makers have comparable advisors to approach with questions about building apps that will help them work better.


Build upon the fundamentals of Power Platform

Ultimately, Power Platform and low-code technology is being invested in and adopted by organisations at a rapid rate. Microsoft’s hope is that Power Platform will eventually become as core to a professional’s toolset as Excel or Access has proven to be.

With the help of a good governance framework that may eventually grow into a full Centre of Excellence, Power Platform can become a tool that employees use to build powerful solutions that transform how they and the organisation they represent works.

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