Should I replace my InfoPath forms with PowerApps?

With Microsoft releasing PowerApps to General Availability on Nov. 1st, many Office 365 subscribers can now get a much better feel for how PowerApps function, as well as how PowerApps will integrate with the Office 365 ecosystem.  With that being said, PowerApps has been touted as a “Successor” to InfoPath, but is it the right product to replace your InfoPath Forms today?  (NOTE:  Today is Nov 9th 2016, the functionality comparisons I list below are subject to change…  rapidly 🙂  )

Should I make the switch?

The answer to that question is:  it depends!  (Seems like that is always the answer).  PowerApps provides a lot of the functionality that InfoPath provided, albeit in a very different UI.  Traditional users may be used to the tried and true “Form Layout”, which mimics an 8.5″x 11″ sheet of paper that users can fill out and submit.  PowerApps are designed for “Mobility first” and are designed to be displayed on a mobile phone or tablet.  Understanding your end users tolerance for change will help drive your software selection forward.  Nintex or K2 can fill the traditional “Form Layout” role in your organization if that is a necessity.

Our end users print submitted forms, how does PowerApps handle that?

As of today, it doesn’t handle printing at all.  While this has been put forward as a feature request by the PowerUsers group, this hasn’t been put on the roadmap for PowerApps.  If printing is a key component, 3rd party would be the way to go here.

We share our forms on SharePoint with external vendors, can I do that with PowerApps?

Not currently.  PowerApps will have the ability to embed Apps in the browser in the near future, but it remains to be seen if you will be able to share them externally at that point.  As of today, PowerApps can only be leveraged by users inside of an Office 365 tenant.

We don’t use Office 365 or cloud technologies, we only have on-premise technologies.

PowerApps is currently only offered as software as a service (SaaS).  As of now, there have not been any announcement about offering an On-Premise version.

Our organization doesn’t have any of the above restrictions, are we a good candidate to leverage PowerApps?

Most Likely!  However understanding the functionality your current InfoPath forms, and then mapping and redesigning them to leverage the functionality in PowerApps could become a very large undertaking.  I’ve seen many InfoPath forms with Validation Rules, Actions Rules, and custom code that may need to be documented and have a fit gap analysis performed to understand the right solution architecture for the new PowerApp.  I don’t recommend just rushing in without first understanding the complexity of the current InfoPath solution.

Wait, Microsoft said it was easy for anyone to create a PowerApp…

Sure, it’s easy for anyone to create one, which is where organizations may find themselves in trouble if there is no architecture or governance put into place before rolling out PowerApps to the organization.  With the ability to connect to numerous data sources and custom API’s, this opens up a lot of ways for users to get themselves into a quagmire if they are not prescient about planning at the start.  Microsoft said the same thing about InfoPath when it was first included in the Office suite, and I can tell you I have spent many hours unravelling the unnecessary complexity of customer InfoPath forms.

If you’re interested in letting Centric help you plan, deploy, and support your InfoPath to Powerapps conversion,  please feel free to reach out to me at joseph.karnes@centricconsulting.com

 

 

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