PowerApps Development Strategies – Part 2

In my previous post, I discussed a bit about the Tools we can leverage to develop and manage Apps in PowerApps.  For this Post, we won’t use any of those tools!

Plan First, then Develop

Microsoft has done a fantastic job of selling the narrative of how simple it is to create and use PowerApps. It’s true!  There are organizations I’ve spoken to, who have started right out of the gate having their Business users create their own PowerApps.

What has happened with those organizations however, is they end up with PowerApps shared across the organization, which now become critical to the users. Unfortunately, the Business users who have created these apps had no guidance, governance, or a cohesive strategy for designing and maintaining these PowerApps.  Here’s what that looks like:

Garbage Fire

So what should organizations do to get a handle on these PowerApps, or Prevent this from happening in the first place?

Begin with a PowerApps PMO (Program Management Office)

Don’t let that title scare you!  For smaller organizations, this may be 1 or 2 people, for larger organizations, this may roll into a larger defined PMO, but the goal here is to have a single point in the organization where guidelines and governance for the Design of PowerApps are managed.  This group should provide the guidance for:

  • UI/UX Guidelines –  Colors, Icons, Fonts, Form Factors, etc.  Providing your end users with a consistent experience across your PowerApps will provide a positive experience when your users are using the Apps, as well as help decrease support and training costs as you maintain and deploy new PowerApps.  It’s also important to decide what Form Factor’s you intend to support. Remember, PowerApps is NOT responsive, so deciding to support either Phone or Tablet (or both) will determine how you plan the Development time for each PowerApp.
  • Demand Management – Having your end users understand that they might be able to get their custom processes in the palm of their hands can open up the floodgates to requests very quickly.  From New Projects to Feature Requests, having a way for your users to communicate what they need and the time frame they need it in, becomes a an essential way to manage and prioritize how you can meet their needs.  There are many tools you can use for Demand Management, as well as using a certain platform to create your own! <wink></wink>.
  • Security – PowerApps Security is a fairly simplistic process.  Users can either Create or Use Apps that have been shared with them.  Planning different groups can make the management of sharing Apps easier.  In addition, using Data Access Policies can ensure that user’s are only using approved Data Sources in PowerApps for accessing Business Content.  Define these policies from the outset to prevent Data Leakage.  Look at augmenting PowerApps with Intune Mobile Application Management to add an additional layer of security for your Mobile users.
  • Change Management –  With Demand Management, comes Change Management.  Your users may request new features and functionality and ensuring they understand these new changes to the PowerApp will ensure that they are able to use the product in the most efficient way.  Inform them. Over communicate.  The more they understand about how the App works, the less likely they will need support in the future.

Also, PowerApps Changes.  A LOT.  New features are added and deployed constantly.  When you edit a PowerApp, the App is automatically upgraded to the latest version of the platform, so understanding what new Changes have made to the back end, and how they may affect the controls, rules, and UI/UX elements of your PowerApp is paramount.  You can find the latest feature releases here:  What’s New  One thing to be aware of though, is that Microsoft tends to publish the major changes, but not necessarily the minor changes or changes that they THINK will not affect user’s experience with the platform.  These bug fixes can have unintended consequences that may affect how your PowerApp functions.  Which leads us to:

  • Quality Assurance/Testing – Test your PowerApp.  When you make a change, Test it.  When the PowerApp Version is upgraded, Test it.  Then test it again.  Implement Standard testing policies that will be executed when change occurs, because Change ALWAYS occurs.  Your testing policies will save you heartache and support costs.

This is just a sample of the areas you want to be cognizant of when providing guidance to your organization for managing and developing PowerApps.  In our next post, we’ll tackle the nitty gritty of developing PowerApps and how we can leverage what we’ve discussed in these first 2 posts.  Please check out some of my other articles to take a deeper dive into the product, and as always, please feel free to reach out to me at jo.karnes@centricconsulting.com

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