Power Apps for Small Business

Power Apps for Small Business

In SY Limited’s on-going partnership with an existing manufacturing client, we jointly identified, designed and built a solution to automate a key part of their business process. Historically, this would absorb hours of mundane, and non-value-add administrative work, creating a bottleneck in their growth plan and frustrating their key employees. 

Having previously migrated their IT platform to Microsoft 365 we have a detailed understanding of their business, data and IT infrastructure, giving us the unique ability to find optimum technical solutions for their organisation. 

There was no need to change their existing applications or systems as the app would synch and work seamlessly in their current IT environment. A real plus for everyone, everything would run from one platform, which they were already familiar with, Microsoft 365.

So, what was the big idea?

The automated business process mainly involves the co-ordination of third-parties (e.g. external contractors and clients) and internal process (e.g. invoicing and reporting) freeing up employees from frequent reschedules, reminder emails and document management. 

After the submission of some straightforward data, the tool automates:

  • A recurring schedule management system (including a ‘find time’ poll, placeholder and confirmed appointment invites, acceptance and confirmation prompts)
  • Document management (maintenance of ‘one-truth’ database to house all key information and latest schedules)
  • Finance and reporting (project status reporting, pricing and payment schedule documents, invoicing and PO data flow to accounts teams, planned vs actual costs analysis)

Bring in our tech team:

Using our experienced, Microsoft-trained, developers we were able to build a bespoke tool from scratch, to exactly match our client’s needs and working culture in the engineering industry.

The three main applications used to create this app were:

  1. PowerApps
  2. Power Automate
  3. SharePoint. 

This dedicated app sits discreetly in the client’s IT infrastructure, thanks to aligned colour schemes and various design elements such as buttons, labels, text boxes, galleries, icons, dropdowns, date pickers and more.

SharePoint Lists functionality allows us a perfectly synchronised read/write database, which integrates directly with the bespoke app. The Lists data is pulled into the app and utilised to create a user-friendly submission form, complete with user level restrictions and guidance for editing, then seamlessly saved back to the database. 

Our meticulous team continued to search for ways to optimise the user experience, initially coding custom tables, allowing users to directly append data from multiple convenient points, as well as including uniform dropdowns for efficient data entry and submission. 

We’re going to get more technical here:

Our Power Automate flows were based off three different options: ‘Automated cloud flow’, ‘Instant cloud flow’, and ‘Scheduled cloud flow’. 

  • Automated cloud flow was the most used as we could set the trigger as ‘when an item is created in SharePoint’ this meant that every time we submitted a specific form within the App it triggered a specific flow. Some of these were used to create files such as invoices and works orders by converting data into a PDF using actions within the flows.  
  • Instant cloud flows were used if we wanted to send data from within PowerApps directly to a flow. This would usually happen by parsing data through a function that was written within a ‘submit’ button. When this button was clicked it would then trigger the Instant cloud flow. 
  • Scheduled cloud flows were deployed to either chase up contractors for work reports or to set reminders for expiration dates of items such as insurance and contracts. 

The Business Process was Automated and Operational 

The client noticed significant benefits in automating some of their mindless frustrating admin tasks, as their business processes moved quickly and seamlessly, and the bottlenecks were cleared out.  Their teams were happier as they became more focused and productive in putting their time to better use and the company gained a genuine ROI.   

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