Power Apps has many options to connect and interact with content through the Microsoft 365 suite, including Microsoft Lists, SharePoint webpages and InfoPath forms. Yet, to build in Power Apps, content managers must use best practices to offer the best end-user experience and create cost-effective and efficient ways to interact with enterprise content.
Unlike other software and application development platforms, Power Apps enables business users to build mobile apps through its web-based designer with zero lines of code. This encourages business users and developers to solve business problems using custom apps.
Users can easily build these apps inside the Power Apps design portal and take full advantage of some hardware capabilities available in mobile devices, tablets and computers, such as cameras, GPSes and touch capabilities.
Content managers who build these apps can positively affect the business and get end users to adopt them with these six best practices for Power Apps development.
1. Understand end users and their needs
Content managers must first identify the business challenges the app should solve. After, content managers or app designers must determine the overall interactions the end user expects. Content managers should capture this information in a requirements document and set clear expectations regarding what the app does, the target audience and the desired outcomes.
2. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Before developing a new Power Apps service, developers must determine whether an app with similar capabilities already exists in the marketplace. If the Apple or Google stores have a lower-cost app that delivers similar or more functions than the prospective Power Apps service, that potential app becomes superfluous. For example, if an organization looks to design an expense capture app in Power Apps, it would discover the mobile app market is full of popular and free expense apps.
3. Know what Power Apps can and can’t do
Power Apps offers a range of functionality for interacting with data. This includes connecting multiple data sources like SQL databases, SharePoint lists and other online data repositories to create, read, update and delete data. The platform also enables developers to interact with and capture information from the hardware, such as GPS coordinates and photos from the device’s camera.
Despite Power Apps’ flexibility, it does not support third-party components or reuse of custom controls, which developers can see when they develop apps on other platforms.
4. Develop Power Apps services using SDLC standards
The design and development team must follow best practices and steps outlined in the software development life cycle (SDLC) standards to build successful apps. SDLC includes different processes to ensure successful app design and development, which should include the following:
- analysis of business requirements for the app;
- planning, testing and deployment; and
- Power Apps architecture, design and development.
5. Determine the licensing requirements ahead of design and implementation
Content managers must consider the Power Apps licensing model. While most Microsoft 365 plans include a Power Apps subscription, connecting to advanced data sources — such as an on-premises SQL database, Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics — requires Power Apps’ premium plans. Those plans can cost up to $40 per user, per month; although, Microsoft said it plans to cut that cost in half in October 2021.
6. Always monitor the Power Apps roadmap
Given the rate of change seen in many Microsoft online services, over time, the vendor will continue to introduce more features and functionalities to enhance Power Apps. These capabilities can offer organizations more opportunities to address challenges within the platform. Developers and content managers can visit the Microsoft 365 roadmap and filter by Power Apps to stay up to date on what’s upcoming within the platform.
PowerApps requires little knowledge about coding and offers capabilities for fully functional mobile apps to support business needs. Power Apps can also interact and integrate with all other Microsoft 365 services, including Power Automate, SharePoint, Power BI and Exchange Online.
In addition, Power Apps can support organizations looking to adopt AI components. With AI capabilities, content managers don’t need software developers to build, design and deploy their desired apps and services.
Despite the appeal of PowerApps, developers and content managers may have concerns around security and appropriate design best practices. This can result in potential long-term issues, risks for data leaks and nonstandardized UI design practices. A successful PowerApps project requires content managers to evaluate and vet all Power Apps best practices.