When to use PowerApps and Microsoft Flow

In my last post I’ve described how security & compliance are solved in PowerPlatform. This post is a summary for all posts series. Moreover I want to give you simple rules when you should and when you should not use PowerApps and Flow. The main reason is just to avoid the dead ends. I hope you’re curious so let’s move on!

What we already know about when to use PowerApps

The whole post series started in affect to the discussion that followed my post about Low-Code platforms (why they’re so popular and the overall market demand constantly increase). During this post series you could read:

  1. What are Low-Code Development Platforms
  2. Real examples of Low-Code solutions
  3. Who can build on Low-Code platforms
  4. Is the PowerPlatform secure?
  5. Summary & Key Takeaways (this post)

I recommend reading them if you’ve not already done that. They cover big picture of Low-Code development platform, especially PowerPlatform (PowerApps, Flow). In case you would like to have a simple bullet-list to follow by, please keep reading – I’ve prepared it for you 🙂

When the PowerPlatform should be a No-Brainer

There are situations in your work or in your personal live when using PowerApps and Flow should be the first thing that comes to your mind. Let me exposure such situations:

  1. Simple repeatable operation occurred frequently and it takes a lot of time in total of a user (e.g. scan business card and import to CRM, book company resource, get holiday approval)
  2. You want to integrate different components or platforms of your digital workplace (e.g. SharePoint + Outlook + Mailchimp)
  3. You want to save time by cutting down the overall implementation time
  4. From my experience most of task-oriented processes (get data from user, add a task in planner, send email…basically things you could define as a tasks list) can be implemented on PowerPlatform.
  5. You want to improve productivity in your Office365 environment
  6. Security and contextual data trimming is important for you
  7. You have a business process implemented in Excel 😉

Of course PowerPlatform is not a universal tool. Having that said it’s crucial to be aware when using those platforms may get us into a dead end (if you’re no developer).

When you need to reconsider using PowerApps or Microsoft Flow

There are specific limitation of PowerApps and Flow – if you meet any of these then be careful and think twice if the PowerPlatform is the right tool. Disclaimer: It doesn’t mean you cannot achieve any of listed below but rather providing such functionality may require advanced software developer skills.

  1. If the UX design (i.e. front-end) has very restrictive requirements (specific controls, drag-n-drop support, support for legacy browser or mobile devices without PowerApps app)
  2. Your application need to support multiple users interaction in real time – yes, you can simulate simple chat in PowerApps but to be honest – PowerApps is not for that.
  3. Gaming – even though you can create simple animations in PowerApps (and sometimes it is very desired), the general purpose of PowerPlatform is far from it. And in the first place performance of the apps does not suit to gaming industry requirements.
  4. Complex calculations in Microsoft Flow – as I tested and confirmed PowerApps has much higher computing power than Microsoft Flow. (even 30x!). This is possible because PowerApps use user device for the computations. However if you need good computation capabilities outside the user device use Azure Function or Logic Apps instead (Logic Apps has so called Integration Service Environment (ISE) which allows for adjusting processing efficiency)
  5. App need to be used by anonymous users or users outside your organization. Although there will be some support for such cases (PowerApps Portals has been already announced) it will provide some limited functionality over normal PowerApps apps.
  6. Role-driven forms and screens in Canvas Apps – this is however greatly supported by model-driven apps
  7. When compliance & logs are very important for you and your business – so for now PowerPlatform has simple support for security and compliance management. But that would definitely change in time.

If not PowerPlatform – then what?

The last questions is if you may not want to use PowerPlatform- then what? You have few options:

  1. Change business requirements – it’s a common misunderstanding that business requirements are untouchable. They are! And sometimes it’s easier and even desired that business could adjust to the whole software solution (application or process)
  2. Use 3rd party solutions for automation – there are other solutions and software tools ready to be use (e.g. UIPath, CodeTwo)
  3. Develop your custom app or script <developers applause> – yes, when your toolbox is not enough you need to manufacture your own tools. C#, React, Frameworks: GO!

Hope this post clarifies few things related to PowerPlatform, PowerApps and Flow.

Thank you for reading up to here.

Let me know if you like it or not!