European Collaboration Summit Takeaways: Power Platform

Digital

In a previous post, we highlighted what we learned around adoption, engagement, and inclusiveness at the 2021 European Collaboration Summit. Let’s now focus on a different hot topic: the Power Platform. As expected, due to its immense popularity, there were lots of interesting sessions covering many different aspects of the platform. But if we must pick three main takeaways it would be the following: Robust Power Platform solutions, Power Automate Desktop and Azure/FusionDev, so let´s take a dive into these!

european-collaboration-summit-takeaways-power-platform

In a previous post, we highlighted what we learned around adoption, engagement, and inclusiveness at the 2021 European Collaboration Summit. Let’s now focus on a different hot topic: the Power Platform. As expected, due to its immense popularity, there were lots of interesting sessions covering many different aspects of the platform. But if we must pick three main takeaways it would be the following: Robust Power Platform solutions, Power Automate Desktop and Azure/FusionDev, so let´s take a dive into these!

Robust Power Platform solutions

It is easy to get lost in all the “goodies” Power Platform has to offer. Once you get the hang of it and realize what you can do with it, it is easy to lose yourself in all the enthusiasm. But if you want the Power Platform to be part of your digital strategy, some guidelines need to be put in place.

Therefore, it is no surprise the Power Platform governance was one of the highlights of the summit, and we have a few tips to share:

First, you might have different user roles with different permissions using your application. Make sure you hide the buttons and actions the user has no permissions to. There are lots of different ways to do it: from Azure Groups to your own track keeping or logging systems, by using a SharePoint list.

Secondly, documentation is key! As our apps grow bigger and bigger and their use grows with it, collaboration and co-development becomes more necessary every day. Document what you’ve implemented, so that the next person working on the application understands it and can continue where you left off.

Finally, performance. Keep the limitations of the platform in mind! We all know the dreaded delegation warnings. It is important you understand what they are and what the consequences are to avoid unpleasant surprises.

 

Power Automate Desktop

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has become very popular and the same goes for Microsoft’s solution Power Automate Desktop. But those of us who have used this tool, know that there are some pitfalls and struggles that come with it. One of the sessions covered useful tips and tricks to make the experience a lot better.

Power Automate Desktop screen

 

To start off: Only use RPA when you don’t have any other option! To clarify: if your challenge can be solved by using standard Power Automate Flows or any other tool, use that instead of RPA.

If you have no other option, then there are some steps you can take to make your life easier. These tips can be divided into 3 categories:

  1. The build phase
  2. The test phase
  3. The run phase

Concerning the build phase: don’t use the recorder, as tempting as it may sound. By defining and adding the different steps yourself, the solution becomes more robust. The recorder might add unnecessary steps or may not always understand the interface. By adding steps from the toolbar, you are in control.

If you move on to the test phase, use your own logging. Write important remarks into an Excel file, add your own screenshots, make sure you have a log that is clear to you. With a clear log it’s easier to find the issues and fix them based on the information you get from your log.

Finally, in the run phase, monitor what you do and use the tools available in the Centre of Excellence. Keep tags on what you have created and make sure you can monitor the health of your flows.

 

Azure/FusionDev

Finally, Azure. It might sound weird in a blogpost focused on the Power Platform, but it is important to understand that the platform fits in a larger ecosystem. The Power Platform already offers a lot of useful tools, but sometimes it helps to look at what is behind the low-code tool and look at the frameworks or services in Azure that are used behind the scenes. By leveraging these, you might even overcome some struggles of the low-code tools.

An interesting demonstration of these underlying frameworks and services is the comparison between Power Virtual Agent and the underlying Azure Bot Framework. The Azure Bot Framework Composer offers an intuitive user interface for a non-developer to tap into the power of the framework, without the need of code. Another example is the Power Platform AI Builder versus the corresponding Azure Cognitive Services. Although these Azure back-ends might be more development related, they can be used by both developers and non-developers. For example, you can directly use Cognitive Services within your Power Automate flows, again without the need to write code.

Bot Framework

 

As you will have noticed, the summit was stacked with interesting sessions, with only a few of them highlighted here. Whether you are interested in governance, practical tips and tricks or new capabilities, ECS had it all. With all this newly acquired knowledge, we are ready to implement these insights in our projects. Bring it on!

This article was written by Feline Parein, Fabian De Lescluze and Simon Thielens.