Tim Coalson is a Senior Consultant in the Transformation Practice at ThreeWill. Tim has been developing solutions on the SharePoint platform for over 15 years and has been a developer/consultant for over 30 years. Tim has been involved in migrating SharePoint on-premises farms to the Microsoft Cloud, Power Apps, and Power Automate (aka Flow) which are part of the Microsoft no code/low code solutions.
How Can I Manage the Power Platform?
If you are like me, you are still trying to get your head around the Power Platform. There is a lot of capability available in this no-code/low code toolset. But there are different kinds of connectors (standard and premium) and different kinds of licenses that may be required so I’m hesitant to just dive in without fully understanding the consequences. As I considered these things from a personal perspective, I also considered the challenge of managing this growth from an organizational perspective.
During my research into the Power Platform, I came across the Power Platform Center of Excellence (CoE) Starter Kit. And upon inquiring internally, I discovered that some of my peers had recently installed this for a client and that it was also installed in our own company tenant. At a high level, the purpose of the CoE is to allow a person or team to monitor, govern and nurture the Power Platform within an organization. A good overview of the CoE can be found here. There is extensive documentation available on the CoE, but I’ll give you a summary here of the pieces I’ve reviewed.
Installing the Power Platform Center of Excellence
To understand the complexity of the installation or set-up of the CoE, I installed it in a demo tenant. My developer tenant did not have adequate resources, so I leveraged a Microsoft demo tenant. The CoE includes several different “solutions” that have some interdependencies. The CoE functionality you desire to leverage will dictate which solutions you need to install. There are pretty good set-up instructions provided here. The setup is not trivial. It helps if you’ve worked with the Power Platform. The main set-up areas are core components, governance components, and nurture components. In addition, there are separate components related to Audit Log data, Power BI, and Theming. There are several add-on applications called the Innovation Backlog and ALM Accelerator for Makers that can be installed.
Having gotten the CoE installed, I began reviewing the Power BI Dashboard as well as the documentation provided here. There’s a lot of data here, so what is important? That depends on the perspective with which you approach this data. If you are responsible for licenses and are trying to control cost, then you will want to see where premium features are being used. The App license assessment tab provides details to help you view the apps and the connectors being used.
You can drill into the details of a specific app. You can view the app permissions, email the maker of the app, view the usage, view the connectors, and even delete the app. The app detail screen is available from several of the app tabs you see above as a drill-through option.
If you want to see what apps are being used in our organization, you can look at the App Risk Assessment tab, App Usage, or App Shares. You can see what apps are popular but also where your organization may be dependent on an app. You need to make sure there are multiple active owners so an important app doesn’t get orphaned. More formal support may need to be developed around this app to make sure the organization is not impacted negatively in case someone leaves. (Note that most of these screenshots are from a demo tenant so the numbers and usage are very low.)
If you want to see which persons are using the Power Platform the most, you can leverage the Makers tab to see the number of Apps, Cloud flows, Desktop flows and Chatbots each person has created.
To see what data sources are being used most extensively by your Apps and Flows, leverage the App Maker and Cloud Flow Maker insights tabs.
In addition to providing data from which you can make decisions, an audit process also exists that can be triggered to request “business justification” for apps that are shared with more than 20 users or at least one group. An email is sent to the “maker” of the app to request app details. Within the email, a link is included to an app where justification details can be submitted by the “maker” for review by the auditor.
Example of email sent to “maker”:
Admin or Auditor Review Screen
In addition to the audit process, there are tools to support the governance and nurturing aspects of the Power Platform. An email can be sent out when new makers create new apps or flows. This email can contain links to important resources or standards that should be followed when creating Power Platform solutions. Below is an example. Note the contents of this email can be customized to meet your organizational needs.
This is just a portion of what is available in the CoE. There is an “Innovation Backlog App” where “makers” can request types of applications and an “ALM Accelerator for Makers” app that can be used to provide some Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) to power platform development. I recommend you take time to review the documentation to determine if you think the CoE is a good fit for you. The next step would be to install it. You might be surprised by what you will learn. If ThreeWill can assist you in your path forward, please reach out to us. In the meantime, Happy “making”!