Microsoft Power Platform is a powerful resource for citizen developers, but the licensing you choose determines the culture of citizen development in your organization. We help you navigate Power Platform’s resources so you can make the best licensing decision.
Citizen developer is not a title, but an approach to creation. A citizen developer is an employee who builds a platform or service that they themselves will use. Unlike software engineering or programming, citizen development is not a discrete job category.
Business managers and sales representatives can be citizen developers, as can senior programmers, because citizen development does not require any experience with traditional software development or involvement with an internal IT department. Instead, citizen developers build systems for their own use and can share those system-based solutions with their team.
Why Do Citizen Developers Use Power Platform?
Microsoft Power Platform is a suite of citizen development tools designed to promote simplification and solution. Power Platform offers interfaces that specialize in a wide range of topics, from data analytics to chatbots. Power Platform is no-code/low-code, which means users can create apps or automation by dragging and dropping specific features or by inputting code with a difficulty level of basic Excel formulas. Like the name suggests, Power Platform “empowers” citizen developers to build solutions, all while providing them with data security services to keep their creations safe.
Microsoft Power Platform Services
- Power BI offers easy access to customizable data analytics. A citizen developer can upload the desired data sets to Power BI and tailor the way they visualize that data to a particular purpose. Power BI offers a variety of easy-to-use dashboards, charts and graphs that can describe past performance, projections and hypotheses, all in an easy-to-access, easy-to-understand fashion.
- Power Apps allows a citizen developer to create a custom app for a specific goal. Using drag-and-drop features to add everything from “learn more” buttons to search bars, users can create efficiently so they can share their app with others quickly.
- Power Pages provides a citizen developer with accessible tools to build a professional website. Users can choose from ready-to-go templates or design something unique with drag-and-drop features and data analytics tools.
- Power Automate organizes and simplifies administrative processes. Users can automate repetitive tasks like creating reminders to flag past due dates or moving files from one place to another using the “workflow” service.
- Power Virtual Agents are tools for chatbot creation. A citizen developer defines trigger phrases – questions or comments a user is likely to say – and writes the bot’s responses to these common inquiries. Developers also have access to AI’s natural language processing (NLP) which make bots more conversational and responsive to user needs.
How Power Platform Licensing Determines Citizen Development Experience
Just as each Power Platform program has its own purpose, it has its own licensing — some programs offering multiple licensing plans and several add-on options. For example, PowerApps charges $5/user/app/month at its lowest level, a pay-as-you-go option with an Azure subscription at its highest, and add-ons that cover everything from log-in capacity to gigabytes of database capability. And this is only one of the five programs! Licensing combinations multiply quickly, which is why Power Platform licensing can become complicated.
However, choosing the right licensing is crucial to your success. The Power Platform licensing you choose will affect what capabilities your solutions have, who has access to your solutions, and how well your solutions perform. While you do not want to spend unnecessary money, you also want your employees or team members to have access to these services so they, like you, can try out being a citizen developer.
The best way to decide how you can leverage Power Platform licensing to your advantage is to ask yourself what you want to use Power Platform for and who you want to use it. Here are a few examples of questions you can ask:
- Would you like to build a no-code app?
- Would you like that app to connect to other apps or online services?
- Will you need to capture data from that app and prepare it for a report?
- Will you be the only one who uses the app-building platform, or would you like the whole organization to have access to it on the cloud?
To visualize these series of questions and many more, we have created a flowchart. After you make your way through your flow-chart and determine the what and who of your Power Platform licensing needs, you can determine with confidence which of the five programs you would like access to, which add-ons you need, and to what extent you would like these programs to interact with other Microsoft programs you may already have, like 365 or Azure.
Conclusion: Power Platform Licensing Can Promote Innovation
Power Platform licensing can be a roadblock or a wingman, either limiting access to powerful tools or empowering employees to use those powerful tools to their advantage. With the right licensing, you can promote a citizen development culture within your organization, which encourages citizen developers to find new ways to represent problems visually, to automate time-consuming processes, or to create dynamic web-based solutions.