Perhaps I should have written this at the beginning of my #PowerPlatform challenge, but I do put the “human” in “HumansofIT” and sometimes I assume. I’ve had people again ask when to use #PowerBi vs #PowerApps (for example) and decided to write the post, maybe not to help you, but you could use it for clarification for the awesome starter #CitizenDevelopers in your company. #PowerAddicts

Disclaimer:  The purpose of this #PowerPlatform 1 month blog series is not to create experts, but create curious, self-learning #HumansofIT, not afraid to try, fail and learn. Focus is to enable #CitizenDevelopers (non developers) to add extra to ordinary and become EXTRAORDINARY. All humans have the ability to be great, it’s fear of failing and the unknown that keeps us back. If that’s the only thing I can achieve, to break down your fear of technical concepts, then my work here is done 🙂

We tend to explain each app / product in detail, but sometimes forget that the bigger picture is missing or not as clear to others as it is to us. In the first blog of this series I shared an infographic that explains the #PowerPlatform and even though I don’t consider myself that technical, I can get ahead of myself a bit if you give me #PowerPoint and stuff to draw 🙂

Power Apps  – Capture Data

Build apps in hours—not months—that easily connect to data, use Excel-like expressions to add logic, and run on the web, iOS, and Android devices.

Power BI – Get Insights

Unify data from many sources to create interactive, immersive dashboards and reports that provide actionable insights and drive business results.

Power Automate  – Manage Process

Include powerful workflow automation directly in your apps with a no-code approach that connects to hundreds of popular apps and services.

Let’s take a look at the bigger picture

Natural progression of process automation (let’s assume the company does not have a payroll system and I might have skipped crucial steps as I’m no HR specialist):

First Iteration:

  1. People write on post-its that they want leave, and stick it on the HR Administrator’s door – Form
  2. HR Administrator takes post-it to manager and gets their signature if leave is allowed – Workflow Manual
  3. The HR Administrator then goes and writes this up in a blue payroll ledger – Database
  4. When the wages are calculated, the HR administrator checks this ledger and makes notes on the paypackets according to information – Database
  5. Once a month before payday, the HR Administrator reworks the data and writes up a new list with the balances etc. for next month – Report

Second Iteration:

  1. HR Administrator designs a template in #Word and prints them out for employees to fill in – Form
  2. HR Administrator takes printed form to manager and gets their signature if leave is allowed – Workflow Manual
  3. HR Administrator starts capturing leave requests from these forms in #Excel Spreadsheet – Database
  4. HR Administrator creates second spreadsheet with lookup formulas to leave balances & payroll data – Database
  5. Excel spreadsheet calculates and supplies correct data for wages including leave balances  – Database
  6. HR Administrator can print #Excel spreadsheet which now includes Pivot Tables and Charts – Database

Third Iteration:

  1. HR Administrator creates 2 custom lists on #SharePoint with necessary columns for leave & payroll data and connects them with lookup columns – Database
  2. Users can now click on “New Item” in #SharePoint and fill in electronic form which is automatically added to above database – Form
  3. HR Administrator sends (manual) email to Line Manager to get approval of leave and updates column in #SharePoint that it is approved / declined with reasons – Workflow Manual
  4. Custom lists calculates and supplies correct data for wages including leave balances – Database
  5. HR Administrator can add conditional formatting (colour) to column data in #SharePoint and download #Excel Spreadsheet of Custom Lists and build PIvot Tables and Charts for reporting – Report

Fourth Iteration:

  1. HR Administrator creates #PowerApp on custom list in #SharePoint for users to fill in leave requests on their mobile device / desktop. This form now has extra capabilities for validations and errors and can connect to various lists to calculate data in place. Form also now has company logo and custom background for branding and identity  – Form (App)
  2. Form data is first sent to Line Manager for approval via #Outlook email, once approved it updates the data in #SharePointWorkflow Automated
  3. Process updates the status on #SharePoint List – Database
  4. Custom lists calculates and supplies correct data for wages including leave balances – Database
  5. HR Administrator creates #PowerBI report on #SharePoint lists with dashboards and insights for managers – Report

You should now understand the difference between the FORM (App), the DATABASE, the WORKFLOW and the REPORT?

I used #SharePoint as the example of the database, this could be #Excel, #SQL and other systems. #SharePoint can handle this process on its own, as it supplies a form for users to fill in and limited reporting capabilities as well as alerts, but adding #PowerAutomate for the workflow, #PowerApps for the form and app function and #PowerBI for reporting truly transformed the process.

I know this might seem like a silly example, but to appreciate the future of technology we need empathy and understanding with how we did things in the past, and why.
Hope this helps 🙂

Other blogs in this 1 month #PowerPlatform series:

  1. Getting Started with the Microsoft Power Platform
  2. Microsoft Power Platform: What is Power BI?
  3. Microsoft Power Platform: Using Power BI on different platforms / devices
  4. Microsoft Power Platform: Introduction to Power Automate (Flow)
  5. Power Platform: What are the connectors & triggers in Power Automate?
  6. Power Platform: How to use Templates in Power Automate
  7. Power Platform: Save email attachments to OneDrive with Power Automate
  8. Power Platform: Create a Power Automate workflow from scratch
  9. Power Platform: Post selected Tweets from Twitter to Yammer with Power Automate
  10. Power Platform: Use Power Automate to save email attachments to Microsoft Teams
  11. Power Platform: Approve and move documents to other folders with Power Automate
  12. Power Platform: Create a Leave Request SharePoint List and setup approvals with Power Automate
  13. Power Platform: Share, Save As, Send a Copy & Export Power Automate Workflows
  14. Power Platform: Troubleshoot your Power Automate workflow Errors
  15. Power Platform: Making sense of the licensing options for Power Automate
  16. Power Platform: Power BI Service Features by License Type


Twitter handles to follow:

Microsoft Power Virtual Agents @MSPowerVirtual
Microsoft Power Apps @MSPowerApps
Microsoft Power Automate @MSPowerAutomate

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Disclaimer: I create content about Office / Microsoft 365. Content is accurate at time of publication, however updates and new additions happen daily which could change the accuracy or relevance. Please keep this in mind when using my blogs as guidelines. And yes, I change my mind all the time as well, because “The only thing that is constant, is change”.
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