Top 6 best practices when using Microsoft Powerapps

Given the fast pace of digital transformation, progressive enterprises are leveraging advanced productivity tools to solve complex organization-wide challenges.

This may include a hitch in how two departments collaborate, operational inefficiencies resulting from humongous paperwork, or unwanted lags in business processes as a result of disparate data sources. 

Businesses seeking to have a growing roster of happy customers must find a way to solve these problems in order to streamline their workflows and processes and achieve better efficiency.

One of the best productivity tools that can help you get started on that path is Microsoft Power Apps.

What is Microsoft PowerApps?

Microsoft PowerApps is a low-code, cloud-based development platform that enables users to quickly build custom apps to solve business problems. It might interest you to know that PowerApps is a component of Microsoft’s Power Platform.

The idea behind PowerApps is to develop modern apps without having to write any complex code or hire a professional software developer. PowerApps contains a suite of apps, connectors, services, and data platforms that allow for rapid application development.

The apps built using PowerApps can interact with the organization’s existing systems and data sources such as Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, SharePoint, SQL Server, and more. 

PowerApps enables users to build mobile applications that streamline routine workflows, accelerate operations, and enhance productivity.

When using Microsoft PowerApps, content managers must follow the best practices to build applications that can positively impact the business as we’ll find out below.

Best Practices to Use When Building Apps in Microsoft PowerApps

Determine the primary role of the app

Every single app is built for a specific purpose. You need to first determine the major business challenges that the app will solve for end users. This could be for better customer engagement, faster ordering, more detailed customer insights, or something else.

The goal is to identify all the frustrations, setbacks, and challenges faced by your target audiences. You should gather this information in a requirements document and sketch out the concepts of the app’s actual functionality on a whiteboard. From there, you can start building an app that caters to end users’ needs and expectations.

Find out if similar apps exist

There is no reason to build a new app if an app with similar functionalities already exists in the marketplace. Before building an app in PowerApps, first, check out the App Store or Google Play Store. You may be lucky to find a lower-cost app that has similar or even more capabilities than the prospective PowerApps app.

For example, if you are looking to create an employee onboarding app in PowerApps, you’ll discover tons of free and popular onboarding apps in the mobile app market. Instead of reinventing the wheel, go with what is already available and save time.

Understand the limits of PowerApps

As stated earlier, PowerApps is capable of interacting with the current organization’s data sources. Apps developed in this platform can interact with multiple data sources including Microsoft 365, SQL Server, and other online databases to read, update, create, and delete data.

However, there are limits to what PowerApps can do. Unlike when building apps on other platforms, PowerApps can’t support third-party react components or reuse custom controls. You can only reference third-party react components after creating a PowerApps Component through PowerApps Component Framework.

Similarly, PowerApps doesn’t support shared functions or shared code. Each app in PowerApps requires users to execute the same business logic across the app. As a result, it may be impossible for users to change or add program lines should business needs change

Mind the number of controls per screen

An app that takes too long to start or perform a particular task brings a negative user experience. One of the best practices for improving an app’s responsiveness is to limit the number of controls per screen.

In PowerApps, an HTML document object model is generated to render each control. The more controls there are in an app, the more generation time PowerApps needs.

You can have the app start and run faster by minimizing the number of controls on the screen. You could also achieve the same result by using the PowerApps gallery instead of individual controls.

Follow the SDLC framework

SDCL, or Software Development Life Cycle, outlines the standards involved in the development of successful apps. You must follow these best practices to design, develop, and test each app before deploying it. SDLC is typically broken into six to eight stages, including the following:

  • Planning
  • Analysis of business requirements
  • Design and prototype
  • Software development
  • Software testing
  • Deployment and integration
  • Operations and maintenance

Stay up to date with PowerApps

Considering that Microsoft updates its PowerApps platform regularly, introducing more features and functionalities, you too should republish apps regularly. In doing so, you can take advantage of new opportunities that can better address your organization’s challenges. Always monitor the PowerApps roadmap to stay up to date on what’s currently available on the platform.

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Microsoft PowerApps offers nearly endless opportunities for building fully functional mobile apps to solve complex business challenges.

The advantage of using PowerApps is that it requires little knowledge of coding and can connect and interact with all other Microsoft 365 services, such as Power BI, Power Automate, and Exchange Online.

As long as you follow the six best practices outlined above, you can create an app that solves a lot of challenges for your end users.