The Power Platform has gained tremendous interest over the past year. The rapid shift to work from home has highlighted how paper and email-based processes become very time-consuming when everyone is not in the office.
I’ve written before about the types of processes that make good candidates for Business Process Automation (BPA) via the Power Platform, and I will summarize again here.
How Business Process Automation Works
Generally, you have data (words, photos, measurements, names, etc.) that you need to capture in a form. That data needs to be sent to multiple people and systems in your organization. The collected data then triggers several actions, approvals, or documents to happen that result in some business process or action being completed.
Let’s use an equipment request process as an example.
(Image source: Microsoft)
- Mary opens the Equipment Request form from her organization’s SharePoint intranet or via the Power Apps mobile app.
- Then, she enters her data based on the questions and fields provided. She can choose the equipment she needs from a dropdown list and type in the reason she needs it. She can even submit a picture of the broken equipment and record its GPS location. Whatever data you need to collect, you can add it to the form.
- After Mary clicks submit, her form data then notifies a series of departments to process her request.
- Manager: to approve the request.
- Finance: to create a purchase order.
- Procurement: to order the equipment.
- Once all steps are complete, Mary receives a notification that her request was approved and that her equipment is on the way.
The Power Platform can easily automate this scenario via a workflow, approvals, and more. With BPA, we address the manual process and make it easy for Mary to order new equipment, saving the entire organization much-needed time.
Huge Time Savings
If we save three people 1-hour each of time, then we have saved the company 3-hours per request.
If we have 700 requests like this a year, that is 2,100-hours – or one person’s full-time salary – of savings annually. That usually justifies the cost of implementation.
However, there are a lot of other cost savings that are not always as obvious. Let’s explore these.
(Image source: Microsoft)
The Real Benefits of the Power Platform
Power Apps can employ business logic to make sure all form fields needed are filled out before the request is sent. We can provide users with dropdown fields or option choices vs free text. The type of request can trigger who the form is sent to, ensuring accuracy and preventing forms from getting lost and/or being sent to the wrong person(s).
The Power Platform requires end-user authentication that is tied to Microsoft 365 permissions. This allows us to provide governance and only allow certain people to complete and approve the form. For instance, an hourly employee may not be able to make the request, only their supervisor can. Or purchase requests over $10,000 may require approval from a VP. This is all built into the form.
Many organizations face new or changing compliance needs. When we automate processes with Power Apps and Power Automate, we ensure a specific process is being followed. We can control access to the process and resulting data, and we can know exactly where all the data and records for that process reside. This makes it very easy to prove compliance with standards and modify the process if the standards change.
Root Cause Analysis
If errors arise (i.e. the wrong equipment was purchased or wasn’t supposed to be purchased at all), there is a very specific path to determine what happened. All actions in the Power Platform – including the person who performed it – are recorded in Microsoft 365. So, if Mike approved something he wasn’t supposed to, we can quickly determine the issue was with Mike. We can spend time correcting the action rather than figuring out, “what happened?”
When all these processes happen inside Microsoft 365 and the Power Platform, there are plenty of data that can easily be used to generate reports.
How many equipment purchases were made last year? Were they tied to a certain job? What type of equipment do we buy the most? When do we buy it? How much does it cost?
This type of data is already available in SharePoint without having to go find it. We can easily create simple dashboard views or export them to Excel to let you build ad hoc reports.
Ready to Embrace Automation, Save Time, and Build Efficiency?
These are the hidden benefits of Power Apps, Power Automate, and SharePoint all working together to create solutions in Microsoft 365. We don’t often record the effort and time wasted on the problems that arise with paper and email-based processes, but they can be significant.
Contact Imaginet today to discuss how the Power Platform can add efficiencies to your processes and deliver additional value with your Microsoft 365 subscription.