Organizations are always on the lookout for innovative solutions to improve productivity and operations. Microsoft’s Power Platform has emerged as a game-changer in this regard, helping businesses create custom applications and automate workflows relatively easily. However, to fully capitalize on the Power Platform, careful planning and strategy are essential.
In this Q&A blog, we sit down with Tobias Andersson, Senior Advisor Strategy & Change at Columbus, to discuss some of the common challenges organizations face while starting to use the Power Platform and insights on how you can pave the way for successful adoption of the Power Platform.
Q: What feedback are you currently receiving from customers about the Power Platform?
A: While Power Platform and low-code/no-code concepts have been around for a while, Microsoft has recently intensified its focus in this area with more investment, and the platform has also matured and improved significantly in the recent year. This has led to increased interest from our customers, including but not limited to those who have been long-standing Microsoft clients. Many are experimenting with Power Apps and Power Automate, realizing the need to expand their knowledge.
Q: Can you describe some challenges customers encounter with the Power Platform?
A: Several of our customers are experiencing challenges related to the growing adoption of the Power Platform within their companies. Many companies have already taken initial steps but lack a comprehensive strategy. As the Power Platform usage grows internally, concerns about governance and security arise in their IT departments. This is a common scenario where they reach out to us for guidance on effective management around the platform's potential.
Q: Do businesses need a strategy for Power Platform instead of just diving in?
A: Yes, I believe so. When working with the Power Platform, numerous potential use cases and ideas exist to consider. A strategy helps assess which ones offer the most value and feasibility. Let me share an example: We recently conducted a workshop with a large international company that had engaged us for an advisory session. Their challenge was their decentralized structure, which made it difficult to ensure unified operations and common governance processes.
They had already initiated several successful Power Platform projects, but their concerns centered around the risk of unregulated growth within their organization. As they looked deeper into the platform, they faced challenges that raised essential business questions:
- How should we manage our organization's diverse ecosystem of Power Platform solutions?
- Which solutions suit individual users and are considered personal / relatively simple?
- What level of autonomy should our departments have in handling department-level solutions?
- When applications become critical for the entire business, who should assume responsibility?
Here's where the need for a Power Platform strategy becomes evident. To maintain control, ensure security, governance, and enable innovation, organizations must develop a clear strategy. This involves setting up a Centre of Excellence (CoE), a group of experts who know the ins and outs of the Power Platform but also see the business need for digitalization. They facilitate development and shape a vision for how the organization should leverage the platform.
The strategy defines the boundaries and rules, especially concerning sensitive data. It determines who gets access to what, how applications should be managed, and which requires close oversight. It helps to benefit from the Power Platform capabilities while minimizing risks.
Q: You mentioned governance as a component of the strategy; why is that important?
A: Governance is crucial because it establishes guidelines and rules for using Power Platform in your organization. It enables innovation while maintaining control. Without effective governance, organizations face data security concerns, compliance challenges, and quality control issues (you can read more about this topic here).
It’s also important to emphasize that governance isn’t a one-time effort; it demands continuous attention to security, monitoring, and management practices.
Q: Have you encountered an organization's resistance to change, and if so, how did you address it?
A: Yes, we see it quite regularly. For example, we recently worked with a couple of companies where IT departments were concerned about losing control over the IT landscape when involving the business in Power Platform discussions and including them in the Centre of Excellence team.
As part of our advisory role, we address this issue by involving the business side in discussions and facilitating productive conversations between two “camps.” This involves active listening, asking questions, providing answers, and gaining insights into the challenges faced by both sides. We aim to help find a well-balanced solution that will add value for the company. It often becomes evident during the workshop that the initial step for innovation and strong governance typically involves addressing issues with internal alignments and operational improvements before progressing to the following levels.
In our experience, the collaboration created during these workshops consistently leads to developing truly innovative ideas and improvements. It never results in losing control or creating more chaos.
Q: How can advisory services help in developing a Power Platform strategy?
A: Our advisory services provide guidance, facilitate discussions, and help define the framework for innovation and governance. They also assist in training employees, establishing Centers of Excellence, and offering ongoing support for successfully implementing the strategy.
We understand that each customer is unique. Some are just beginning their Power Platform journey, while others have already made progress but lack a strategic approach. That's why we tailor our approach to each organization's needs and level of Power Platform maturity.
We conduct pre-meetings to assess your current state and customize our workshops accordingly. This allows us to provide the most relevant guidance and support possible.
Q: Do customers express concerns about the costs and efforts invested in low-code development, and how do you address them?
A: One significant advantage of the Power Platform is its excellence as a prototyping tool. It facilitates the rapid development of simple applications to validate ideas, conduct testing, and determine whether further investment is justified.
Using the platform's prototyping capabilities, you can have a functional prototype in place in a matter of weeks. This helps your company to make informed decisions quickly, recognizing the potential value and readiness for investment in the project. This leads to cost and time savings compared to traditional development methods.
Our advisory sessions serve as a valuable tool to increase efficiency in this process. By validating concrete ideas and formulating strategies, you minimize the risk of making incorrect decisions, ultimately leading to cost-effectiveness. This makes the investment in advisory services a small upfront cost compared to the substantial gains you can yield.
Click the button below to start/continue your Power Platform journey the right way. Learn more about our Power Platform advisory offering.