Power up with Microsoft Power Apps


What are Microsoft Power Apps?

Microsoft Power Apps is a suite of apps, services, connectors and data platform that offers a quick development environment to build custom applications for your business needs.

Think of them as pieces of Lego (of pre-defined size and shape), each designed to simplify a particular function, such as manual data entry, paper forms and document generation. Once the different pieces are connected, they become one powerful platform to support your business to become more efficient and eliminate errors that come from many manual processes.

Power Apps offer total customisation using built-in templates or from scratch - without the time and expense of custom software development.

How do Microsoft Power Apps work?

Microsoft Power Apps uses web-based applications to automate your company operations, replacing manual forms and processes with digital experiences that can be accessed from anywhere, on mobile or desktop devices.

Power Apps connects to a number of data sources, including SharePoint, Excel, Dynamics 365 and SQL Server and allows you to customise the layout and theme.

Just like a single piece of Lego can only do one thing (asking to be fitted in with another piece), a Power App on its own can only help your business so much. Yet integrating it with one of the following systems will ensure your business gets to harness the powerful system that it is.

Power App building blocks - what will you create?

Different versions of Power Apps

Canvas Power Apps

Canvas Power Apps were originally intended for use on mobiles and tablets, but they can also be used in a browser and embedded in Microsoft Teams. They can use various things as their datastore, including Excel, SharePoint lists and ideally Dataverse (the Dynamics 365 CRM database).

Model-driven Power Apps

Model-driven Power Apps always use Microsoft Dataverse (the Dynamics 365 CRM database) as their datastore and are basically Dynamics 365 apps built by you (or us), rather than by Microsoft.

Power Apps for Office 365 products

These capabilities allow you to "customize and extend Office 365 for productivity scenarios", such as customizing forms in SharePoint, for example.

Dataverse for Teams

These are Canvas Power Apps (see below) embedded within Teams. They use a subset of Microsoft’s Dataverse as their datastore.

Dynamics 365 Sales, Customer Service, and Field Service

We have included these here because they are really just large Model-driven Power Apps built by Microsoft, even though they existed long before Model-driven Power Apps were created from them. Lots of what they include you could create yourself in your own Model-driven Power App (given enough time), but there is also a fair amount of "secret sauce" from Microsoft in them, that would require considerable software development effort to reproduce.

Note: You can pin Canvas & Model-driven Power Apps and Dynamics 365 apps to tabs within Teams.

What type of business processes can Microsoft Power Apps help with?

Microsoft Power Apps can be used for multiple processes involving workflow, automation, data visualisation and reporting. It could involve teams, field workers, your management team and even your customers. Just a few ideas of how to leverage Power Apps in the workplace include logging of service calls, stock inventory, and employee or customer surveys.

Added mobile features also include geolocation data and the camera, which can further enhance your app’s richness and interactivity.


Canvas & Model-driven Power Apps

Canvas and Model-driven Power Apps can be licensed on a "Per app" basis or on a "Per User" basis, which allows access to unlimited Power Apps.

Power Apps for Office 365

These 'basic' Power Apps capabilities are included within most Microsoft 365 packages.

Dataverse for Teams functionality

Dataverse for Teams functionaity is included within most Microsoft 365 packages.

Dataverse Storage Capacity

Dataverse storage capacity for Canvas & Model-driven Power Apps and Dynamics 365 is pooled at the Microsoft 365 tenant level. Each Microsoft 365 tenant starts off with an initial quota of storage capacity. Different Power App and Dynamics 365 licenses provide additional amounts of Database, File and Log capacity. Power Automate licenses also provide additional storage capacity.

Unless you intend to store files within a Dataverse for Teams app, you'll be able to squeeze several hundred thousands of records within your app, more if you don't have many columns\fields on each table.

Dataverse for Teams is limited to 2GB per environment (= Team). You can have multiple apps in a Team, sharing the same 2GB storage pool. The storage amount applies to all types of data within your App(s), e.g. database data, files and log files.

Model-driven Power Apps vs Canvas Power Apps

Canvas Power Apps were primarily intended for (corporate) departmental use, but for an SMB/SME they could well be used by the whole company. However, due to their departmental-focus (and hence some inherent scope limitations) Canvas Power Apps tend to be smaller "single purpose" apps, that might be used alongside, and share data with, Model-driven Power Apps and/or Dynamics 365.

Conversely, due to the fact that Model-driven Power Apps are built using the same platform that Microsoft used to create their Dynamics 365 "CRM" apps, Model-driven Power Apps can scale to hold millions of data records and span whole departments and even your entire company.

Additionally, Model-driven Power Apps come with numerous platform capabilities, including:

  • Synchronisation with your Microsoft mailbox for emails, tasks & appointments

  • Outlook App for Microsoft Outlook desktop, and Outlook on the web (PC & Mac)

  • Extensive search and data querying functionality

  • Export to Excel, and Excel Templates functionality

  • SharePoint integration for document storage

  • Native workflows + Power Automate Flows

  • Email templates

  • Microsoft Word templates

  • OneNote integration

  • Duplicate detection

  • Data Import wizard

  • Auto record creation from emails sent to a "queue" mailbox

  • Offline working capabilities