Mike is a Principal Consultant for ThreeWill. He has a passion for solving problems, most notably through products or platforms. He has almost 20 years of experience in product development and leadership, using the latest and greatest technologies, including open source technologies.
Last week, we introduced you to the concept of low-code and no-code development. Go ahead and check it out if you need a refresher. I’ll wait. At the end of that post, we pondered the question “Is it worth it?” Well, let’s take a look at the risks and rewards of both power apps and power automate.
Limited Customization: Power Apps have certain limitations in terms of customization. While it is possible to create custom applications with Power Apps (click here to see some demos), developers may not be able to achieve the same level of customization as they would with traditional development methods. Apps built with Power Apps have a distinctive material design look. While you can spend a fair bit of time trying to make it look more unique, I’ve found you can still often tell quickly when you’re looking at a Power App. This kind of consistency is not always negative but is certainly something to consider.
Limited scalability: Power Apps is designed for small-scale applications and may not be able to handle the demands of large-scale applications. The more complex the application, the less likely you will want to use Power Apps as the solution. The larger the amount of data that needs to be traversed can also make this a difficult fit.
Low code but not no code: Power Apps is definitely in the low-code zone, at best. The odds of you building something that requires zero code are slim to none. This means that you will likely need someone who is at least interested in writing code, even if in small doses. This may eliminate swaths of people, even if you don’t need a traditional developer.
Source control: In normal application development, you have developers coding in a language and committing files to sources that are either compiled or deployed as scripts. This is not the case with Power Apps development, so as your app gets more and more complex, you run the risk of making it very difficult to bring on new developers.
Speed of Development: Power Apps allows developers to create custom applications in a fraction of the time it would take to build the same application using traditional development methods. In fact, if you are using seasoned developers for portions of the development, this could escalate even faster.
Low Code: Power Apps is a low-code/no-code platform, which means that developers with little or no programming experience can still create applications, albeit maybe not the most sophisticated ones. There truly is an opportunity to build small utilities that can benefit a team, without having to use a traditional developer.
Integration: Power Apps can easily integrate with other Microsoft products such as Office 365, Dataverse, and Power Automate, allowing for seamless data sharing and automation. It’s truly powerful.
Cost-effective: Power Apps is a cost-effective solution for small businesses and startups that need to create custom applications on a budget.
Connections: Power Automate can connect to hundreds of data sources. This is awesome, except when it isn’t, especially if you’re in charge of data leakage. Depending on the size of your organization, this might be solved simply by making sure that your employees which connections are okay and which aren’t. If you are larger, you will likely want to take advantage of aspects of Microsoft Purview to make sure only approved connections are used.
Performance: Power Automate is a cloud-based service, which means that there may be performance issues if the service experiences high traffic. Also, it’s not code that is being optimized for speed – it’s a visually designed workflow, so performance is never its top priority.
Automation: Power Automate can automate repetitive tasks and streamline business processes, allowing users to focus on more important tasks.
Integration: Just like Power Apps, Power Automate can easily integrate with other Microsoft products such as Office 365, SharePoint, Dataverse, and Power Apps, allowing for seamless data sharing and automation.
Low Code/No Code: Power Automate is almost as low-code/no-code as you can get. You are visually designing your workflow and selecting available actions. The most “programming” you are doing is in the form of formulas. In advanced situations, you need to understand calling APIs, but this is going to represent the edge cases of complex actions. Users with little or no programming experience can still create sophisticated workflows.
Cost-effective: Just like Power Apps, it’s a very cheap way to get something going fast.
Here’s the bottom line: leveraging these tools can and will save you time and money…but you must be smart about it.
Start with Power Automate and empower individuals to improve their day-to-day. Then you can start branching into more complex workflows that are improving and automating regular team functions. Then you may find yourself wanting some applications to leverage and continue to improve your processes.
As you start to increase complexity, be cognizant of the risks we laid out above. Make sure you have some insight into what’s being built and be sure to have some folks with a “developer’s mindset” as you start to increase your stable of workflows and applications. I’m not talking about full-time power apps or power automate developer; although that’s always a fantastic option.
If nothing else, come talk with us at ThreeWill and if our Application Modernization or Application Management services would be an excellent fit to kickstart your Power Platform journey without breaking the bank.