In a previous post, we highlighted tools you can use 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 encouraging organizations to create and use PowerApps. It’s true! There are organizations I’ve spoken to that have started asking their business users to create their own PowerApps.
What has happened with those organizations, however, is they end up with PowerApps shared across the organization that becomes critical to users. Unfortunately, those business users who created these apps had no guidance, governance, or a cohesive strategy for designing and maintaining the apps.
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
Don’t let that title scare you! For smaller organizations, this may be one or two people. For larger organizations, this may roll into a larger defined Program Management Office (PMO), but the goal here is to have a single point where guidelines and governance for the design and management of PowerApps.
This group should provide:
- UI/UX Guidelines – Colors. Icons. Fonts. Form Factors. And more. By providing end users with a consistent experience across your PowerApps, you ensure a positive experience when using the apps and help decrease support and training costs as you maintain and deploy new ones. It’s also important to decide what form factors 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.
- Demand Management – As soon as your end users understand they might be able to get their custom processes, this can quickly open the floodgates to requests. From new projects to feature requests, you should have a way for users to communicate what they need and the time frame they need it in. This becomes an essential way to manage and prioritize how you can meet their needs. There are many tools you can use for this step – such as using a certain platform to create your own! **Wink, wink**
- Security – PowerAppsSecurity is a fairly simplistic process. Users can either create or use apps shared with them. Plan different groups to make the management of sharing apps much easier. Use data access policies to ensure that users only use approved data sources in PowerApps when accessing business content. Define these policies from the outset to prevent data leakage. Consider augmenting PowerApps with Intune Mobile Application Management to add an additional layer of security for mobile users.
- Change Management – With Demand Management, comes Change Management. Your users may request new features and functionality, but making sure they understand these changes will ensure they can 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 regularly changes. New features are constantly added and deployed. When you edit a PowerApp, the app is automatically upgraded to the latest version of the platform. So understanding new backend changes 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 major changes, but not necessarily all minor changes or those that they think will not affect user experience with the platform.
These bug fixes can have unintended consequences that may affect how your PowerApp functions. Which leads us to:
- Quality Assurance and 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 the 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 details of developing PowerApps and how we can apply what we’ve discussed in these first two posts.
Part two of a series.