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Power Platform Hack4Good Poland – WE DID IT!


I’m happy. I’m proud. On 08.08.2020 we ended first edition of Power Platform Hack4Good in Poland. In result we increased the efficiency of providing support and reporting work effect in Caritas

[Update] Some of you have already asked me how we organized the event, contacted Caritas and planned everything. Moreover what run well, what didn’t and how we managed that. I’m going to write another post about it because…I have so many afterthoughts and conclusions I would like to share because many things didn’t work as we plan it. TBH – most of them :). I need some time (a week?) to put all notes together and I’ll get back with another blog post. Thanks for your feedback and support!

The Power Platform Hack4Good Hackathon

Power Platform Hack4Good is a hackathon that get use of Low-Code platform to solve existing problem in short time.

Key factors that differentiate our hackathon from others are:

  1. We solve a real problem – not a fiction or made-up one. We reached almost 200 NGOs in Poland and out of all the applications, we selected an organization that we invited to the event. Our goal was to solve problem that the NGO struggled for a long time.
  2. We built working solution – not a mock-up, proof of concept nor MVP. A real solution that can and should be used in “production”. Participants of the event had only 12 hours to build complete solution and deploy it!
  3. The event was for charity. And I mean it – no prizes ie. cash, vouchers, products. Only satisfaction of helping others.

Who is the beneficiary?

Caritas Polska is a charitable institution of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. It coordinates the work of 44 diocesan and archdiocesan Caritas in Poland, collaborates internationally with Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Europe. Moreover Caritas Polska provides emergency and long-term, material and financial assistance to the unemployed, the homeless, the sick, the elderly, children from poor families, as well as to immigrants and refugees. Caritas also provides humanitarian aid to victims of wars, natural disasters and natural disasters outside Poland.

What was the challenge?

In the Power Platform Hack4Good we focused on a social welfare home in Knurów run by Caritas. In the facility there work around 100 people work of different roles: nurses, carers, therapeutic staff, etc. Although the facility has Microsoft for non-profit organizations licenses, the level of adoption of Microsoft solutions is very low there. The reason for this is the lack of knowledge of the platform’s capabilities, a small number of people dealing with IT in the facility (1 person) and the management’s lack of confidence in the cloud.

Work in a social welfare home takes place in a shift system. There are several people present on each shift (up to 3 shifts per day): nurses and carers. After the shift is completed, the staff is required to complete a report so that the next shift has up-to-date information on the condition of the charges and the situation in the center.

Until now, Microsoft Forms was used to handle reports. Each employee had to enter all the required data manually, and the next shift could read the information in an Excel file that stores all provided data. However, as experience had shown, such a solution had following consequences:

  1. Manual input of personal data – Microsoft Forms required the user to enter his personal data manually, i.e. name, surname, role. This was not only inconvenient, but there was also a concern that one of the employees might fill in the report for another employee or that there might be mistakes (typos).
  2. Failure to submit a report on the time – It is crucial that the reports are filled in immediately after the shift. Microsoft Forms allows to complete the report at any time. So it happened that the staff left work and filled in the report at home or filled it in at the beginning of the shift (sic!). This meant that the shift did not receive the necessary information on time or this information did not reflect 100% of the reality.
  3. Lack of notification of incidents – An additional challenge was the lack of ongoing notifications to the center manager about any incidents that took place on the premises of the facility, i.e. escapes, serious health problems, accidents, etc. The facility procedure required the head of the center to receive information about such situations at the end of the shift.

What did we do?

In order to solve the above problems, team of participants (Aleksandra Jarosiewicz, Marek Derdzinski, Tomasz Poszytek and me) built the solution that:

  1. Allows nurses / carers to complete the report only on the end of their shift.
  2. It allows the next shift to read reports submitted on previous shifts
  3. Sends an e-mail to the manager when an incident occurs during the shift
  4. Each employee works in his/her own context, i.e. after logging into the system, the application knows the basic information about the user (name, surname, email, role)
  5. The application works both on the computer from the level of a web browser and from the level of the application on the phone

The technology stack was as below:

Power Apps app

To provide access to the app using web browser or mobile we used Power Apps Canvas app.


Application uses SharePoint Online list to store all the data.

Power Automate

Power Automate handles all the automations and notifications

For the authentication and authorization purposes we used Azure Active Directory. Every user was also assigned to one of the following Office 365 groups: Employees, Carers, Managers.

The screen of the app and the link to download the app you can find near the end of the original article accessible here:

After word

I would like to say thank you to:

  • my teammates: Ola, Marek & Tomasz. Perfect cooperation. Dream Team.
  • Krzysztof Dylong – Head of Caritas IT
  • Mentors – Łukasz Falaciński, Konrad Sagala and Paweł Haracz for their readiness to solve the most comlpex problems. Even during saturday sunny day;
  • Media partners – Microsoft Business Applications User Group Poland, Microsoft 365 User Group Poland and Azuronet
  • Organizers – Ola Jarosiewicz, Edyta Gorzoń, Marek Derdzinski, Tomasz Poszytek, <anonymous friend> and me. Your passion really affects others!
  • Above all, Microsoft Poland (Marek Zalewski) and TechSoup Poland (Magdalena Pieńkowska) whose help was significant for the event success – without them contact with NGOs wouldn’t happen!

In the age of technology, the pace of change is enormous, more and more organizations need real help in finding and adopting the latest technology achievements. This is especially true of an organization whose profile does not focus on technological activities – as can be seen from the example of the Power Platform Hack4Good, even having access to solutions that are as easy to use as turning on the light, does not guarantee success. To take the best out of the technology there is a need for someone…who knows this light can be turned on, knows where the switch is, and will do so, lighting the way to technology in the serve the people.

I’m also very happy I can share here the thanksgiving letter that we received a week later after the event (sorry to everyone who is cannot read polish 🙁 )

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