May 2, 2022

Microsoft Center of Excellence Starter Kit for Power Platform

DeveloperTown believes that the best decisions are made when informed with knowledge and transparency. The Microsoft Center of Excellence Starter Kit for Power Platforms brings both to the surface in a way that would manually not be capable. This centralized solution shines a light on all the efforts of developers and citizen developers across all of the environments of the Microsoft tenant.

Gaining insight and understanding of what exists today while tracking and governing the new builds

going forward.

The Center of Excellence Starter Kit package is an in depth way to jumpstart your understanding and transparency of how the Power Platform is used throughout your organization.

At its core, CoE Starter Kit is a package of governance tools and metrics. This is a way to foster use and understanding of Power Platform. This centralized, and very thorough package, affords IT and Business leadership the ability to come together and have a full view into the efforts made by everyone in the organization from citizen developers to traditional IT developers.

The Microsoft Power Platform CoE Starter Kit is a collection of components and tools that are designed to help you get started with developing a strategy for adopting and supporting Microsoft Power Platform, with a focus on Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents and SharePoint.

Core. Governance. Nurture. Innovation Backlog.

A Center of Excellence (CoE) in an organization drives innovation and improvement and brings together like-minded people with similar business goals to share knowledge and success, while at the same time providing standards, consistency, and governance to the organization.

The Power Platform CoE Starter Kit is typically managed and utilized by IT as a starting point for conversation and decision making.

Establishing a Center of Excellence of any kind takes time and attention. Starting early with the Power Platform CoE Starter Kit allows for the necessary stakeholders to better understand what to focus on now.

Starter Kit utilizes a set of solutions which will be installed to the Power Platform creating dozens of CoE Power Apps and Power BI reports. These dashboards surface all of the different aspects of the organization’s Power Platform journey.

Monitor. Govern. Nurture.

These staples of the Starter Kit are designed to be the easiest and most robust way to get a full view of your environments and what is inside them. Several of the top features to accomplish this include:

  • Environment and environment security management
  • Data loss prevention (DLP) policy management
  • Data integration and gateway management
  • Admin analytics (to view capacity and activity on Microsoft Dataverse, Power Apps, and Power Automate)

April 4, 2022

Replace InfoPath with Microsoft Power Platform

Is your organization still relying on InfoPath to intake business data? If so, here are some important things to note:

  1. Microsoft InfoPath Announcement 2014 – Update on InfoPath and SharePoint Forms
  2. InfoPath is deprecated as of July 2021 – Products Ending Support in 2021
  3. SharePoint Server 2019 Deprecated Features – SharePoint Server 2019 What's New
  4. Only limited support for product through 2026 – MS Lifecycle Policy, InfoPath 2013

So, InfoPath is going away, is it really worth the time and effort to replace them? 

Absolutely! While this may seem like an overwhelming, daunting task, there are HUGE benefits to properly coordinating the replacements of your InfoPath. Let’s look at some of the key benefits:

  • Streamline and modernize older processes
  • Incorporate automation
  • Build in opportunities to leverage your data in a more meaningful way

Ok, so you have loads of InfoPath you need to replace, but where do you start?

Unsure how to start? Consider leveraging Microsoft Power Platform. While Power Platform is not a one-to-one replacement, it is the best option if you are already using Microsoft 365. 

Power Platform doesn’t just give you a means to replace antiquated InfoPath solutions but offers a whole host of new technologies to help you modernize your business process. 

Power Apps – Allows you to create customized, responsive, intake forms with a more modern user experience and standardize your business data. 

Go from this (InfoPath)

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To this (Power Apps)

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Power Automate – Automate manual process with flows, create automated approvals, schedule automations, incorporate chat bots (Power Virtual Agents), leverage RPA (Robotic Process Automation) for your repetitive processes, and so much more!

Power BI – Enhance your business data by creating rich, interactive dashboards and reports, identify trends, transforming data, and more!
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Get Started Today

Whether you have one or many InfoPath Forms today, getting started can feel overwhelming. With our guidance and experience, taking on this project in an agile way will produce meaningful results. We work with clients to manage this transformation through discovery, planning, development and implementation. 

August 17, 2021

Getting Started with Microsoft Power Platform

So, you’ve decided to give low-code process automation a try and start your journey into using Microsoft Power Platform...Great! But where do you start?

When I started down the path of all things MS Power Platform nearly 5 years ago, there were almost no resources, outside of Microsoft’s documentation. Needless to say, I got my experience through the school of hard knocks. Now, with abundant resources and multiple ways to accomplish the same task, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

Fear not! Getting started is simpler than you think.

Here are the top 5 things to get any MS Power Platform newbie started:

1. Start small and selfish!

    With tons of potential use cases, it can be challenging to decide which one to tackle first. My recommendation - identify a small task you don’t like doing and automate it for yourself. The best way to launch a successful automation is to start with a familiar task.

    Automated Personal Productivity Task Ideas Using Power Automate:

    • Save all email attachments in OneDrive/Google Drive (beginner - There is even a template for this!).
    • Create calendar events, when email reminders are received, to block time for monthly/quarterly/yearly training or other recurring tasks (intermediate).
    • When accepting new meetings invitations, create a section/page in OneNote for easy note-taking at the ready (advanced).

    2. Research

      With an ever growing sea of resources out there - dive in! Don’t be afraid to go to the deepest parts either.

      Research Tips:

      • Bookmark the good ones, so you have a library of resources to refer back to.
      • Don’t settle on the first method you find because there is usually something easier/more efficient/etc.
      • If using a resource on youtube, don’t be afraid to ask questions in the comments.
      • Keep an eye on the Microsoft Roadmap for the schedule of all the new features/functionality they are working on.

      Some Of My Favorite Resources:

      3. Play!

        Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and start trying out the different Power Platform applications. I recommend starting with the Microsoft App In A Day PowerApps Training. This hands-on experience is a great way to get started. Also remember, it’s ok to fail - Failure is the best teacher!

        “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

        - Thomas A. Edison

        4. Document, Document, Document!

          Have you ever inherited something (a spreadsheet, application, etc.) you were expected to maintain, with no background information?

          Make sure you write down what you do, preferably in a standardized format. The practice of documenting will not only help you if you need to replicate something, but it will also allow others to see what was done. Additionally, it is the first step in continuous improvement. After all, how can you improve if you don’t know what you did?

          For guidance on standards, there are White Papers for nearly every MS application - all you have to do is a web search for them. Here are a couple to get you started:

          5. Evolve

            Once you have successfully created a few personal productivity automations, volunteer to automate something small for your company (sign up for quarterly pitch-in, annual awards nominations, etc.). Keep pushing the limits of MS Power Platform. After almost 5 years, I still find new functionality to leverage almost weekly and even discovered some new things to try while writing this blog post!

            Happy automating, friends!

            June 14, 2021

            Process Automation: Let the Journey Begin

            There are countless routes explored on a company’s digital journey. 

            Build? Buy? Lease? In-house? Outsourced? On-prem? Cloud? While all of these questions should be asked, with process automation, starting with one use case and opening the feedback loops is the ultimate starting point. You've got to walk before you run, right?

            At DeveloperTown, we started the Process Automation practice in February and are learning so many lessons so quickly.

            Here are a few that we think are helpful:

            1. Use what you've got. You may already be paying for licenses that allow you to get started today. With so many companies on Microsoft’s Business or Enterprise licensing, access to Power Automate and Power Apps may be included in what you already pay for. Look to see what’s available to you before making a big purchase!

            2. Think big, start small. Identifying a use case runs the spectrum of being incredibly easy at times and daunting at others. Don’t believe that you have to solve the end-to-end process with automation in order to get started. Automating pieces of a process is a great place to start. And starting is always more important than perfecting.

            3. The human isn’t being replaced; the tasks are being automated. Automation is not a replacement for staff, rather an enhancer. If we can automate repetitive or menial tasks of someone’s role, they are able to be elevated, not replaced. And we’re all about moving people to areas that allow them to shine.

            Regardless of your company’s history with automation and low-code tools, we can meet you where you are and be a partner for productivity.