What is Microsoft Power Apps?
Microsoft Power Apps (Power Apps*) is a tool for building apps (applications) and is a part of Microsoft Power Platform.
Power Apps can be compared to PowerPoint or WordPress website/blog builder in the sense that users across all these platforms deal with blocks of information that they can structure the way they want relying on the visual interface and without necessarily having to deal directly with the underlying code.
Below is a brief overview of pros and cons of Power Apps to help companies make an informed decision about how this this tool can serve their business.
Pros of Power Apps
Power Apps have a lot of advantages and below are some of them:
- Visualisation – apps can be built through the visual interface and without having to rely on the underlying code. Thus, previous development experience is unnecessary to get started.
- Numerous connectors – it is possible to connect seamlessly with Microsoft Dynamics 365 products such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365BC) and other ERP systems and beyond to consume data from them and to feed data back (e.g. Power Apps users’ input).
- Multiple data sources – data from multiple sources (e.g. an ERP system + an Excel file) can be combined to create a Power App. Moreover, users can create a Power App from scratch (a Canvas Power App) or they can choose a data source (Data Driven Model) which will be used by their App.
- Mobile friendly – Power Apps can run on desktops, laptops and mobile devices, including tablets and phones.
- Online & offline – it is possible to create Power Apps that work when a device is both online and offline – the data can be synced once the device is back online (see point B in the “Further Reading” section of this post for additional information and an example).
The next section discusses some cons associated with using Power Apps.
Cons of Power Apps
Here are some considerations in connection with using Power Apps:
- Training – while Power Apps are often marketed as a tool that requires no development (code) knowledge, some apps may still require some coding. Thus, training including taking a full course or substantial self-education may be needed to get started with Power Apps – even developers who know other Microsoft products may need training.
- Licenses – additional licenses (and, therefore, costs) are required to be able to use Power Apps. Two license models were available at the time this post was published – $12.80 CAD per user per app (monthly) or $51.20 CAD per user (monthly). Thus, monthly cost for 10 users is 12.80 * 10 = $128.00 CAD one app or 51.20 * 10 = $512.00 CAD for four apps, for example.
- Maintenance – as with other software, apps developed through Power Apps should be serviced regularly to keep them up-to-date and fully operational (e.g. working properly with new software and working stably with old software after an upgrade).
- Limited functionality – while it is true that creativity can take a Power App right to the target functionality, there are some limitations (e.g. how much data can be stored offline) that should be considered prior to fully committing to Power Apps.
- External specialists – if a company chooses to hire an external specialist (rather than training its own), it may be a challenge to find local specialists who have the right Power App experience and have some knowledge in the given industry. It may also be costly to work with an external specialist.
Power Apps are a visual tool to build desktop, laptop and mobile device apps with online and offline capabilities. The tool can connect to multiple data sources and combine with other Power Platform programs. It can help increase business efficiency and effectiveness by providing users (in finance, operations, marketing, etc.) with additional tools to perform their day-to-day business duties. At the same time, as other software, Power Apps require time and money to be set up and maintained.
If you have questions about Power Apps and your ERP system, you can contact Edocation team.