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What’s ‘PowerApps’? Will it become mainstream in Process Improvement?

What’s ‘PowerApps’? Will it become mainstream in Process Improvement?
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What’s ‘PowerApps’? Will it become ...

PowerApps is a software program with which you can develop mobile apps without typing code and complete a program in a short time. This article explains Excel’s issues in process improvement program development and how PowerApps can solve those issues.

(Duration: 6:01)

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Introduction of Microsoft PowerApps

Hi, this is Mike Negami, Lean Sigma Black Belt.

Do you know about Microsoft PowerApps?  This is a software program with which you can develop mobile apps without typing code and complete a program in a short time.

I recently learned that it’s awesome software, so I’ll talk about my experiences with it.

We would like to improve our work productivity, so automation with IT is essential these days. Those possibilities are even further expanded by utilizing smartphones and tablets. I could use

The Issues in Program Development with Excel

Excel’s VBA. VBA can do quite a bit, but it has the following weaknesses.

Issues in Program Development with Excel

1) Distribution and version control are a pain in the neck.

I usually send the finished files by e-mail to the people in charge, but after a while bugs appear, or people ask for some modifications. I usually end up having to update the files and resend them. Every time I update, it’s difficult to get all the recipients to use the latest version.

2) It’s difficult to update an external database from Excel.

When collecting all the data in one place and sharing it with everyone, you can bring the data to Excel on the PC, but the reverse is difficult.

3) Making Excel fit a mobile screen is bothersome. Anyway, you can’t even use an Excel program on non-Excel-installed devices.

Excel does not automatically respond to the screen of every smartphone or tablet. It’s possible, but still, mobile correspondence is very hard. The fatal issue is that VBA doesn’t work properly on Apple and Android devices.

PowerApps Application Example

I happened to have a project using tablets at work and used PowerApps this time. Then, I found that this software can solve all of the three issues mentioned, very easily. I’ll show you what I did.

By the way, if you’ve already used Microsoft Office 365 Business Essentials or higher, you can start using PowerApps right away for free.

My project is to make a reservation management system for one of our cafeterias. They’ve been doing this with a pen and paper until now. You just take a reservation and write it on paper and check it when the customer comes.

It’s a simple flow, but their office is far away from the cafeteria and they want to store their data in the cloud and use a tablet. Right there, I don’t want to use Excel.

They have another flow to connect this reservation data and sales data later, so any existing applications in the market are also not suitable. If you ask for custom system development from an IT vendor, even this simple flow would cost us a lot of money.

Therefore, we decided to use PowerApps. Our plan is like this: in the 1st Step, our office manager enters the reservation data on the tablet or PC screen. Then, the system saves that data to the company’s SharePoint. When the customer visits us, since the tablet at the cafeteria lists the reservation guests, they can confirm the reservation. At the end of the day, the system connects the reservation data and sales data on Excel.

You can design each screen on the tablet, make functions to switch screens and to add and edit data to the external database, just using PowerApps tools alone. You can also implement the program within the PowerApps platform.

Flow of the reservation system

Moreover, you can develop all this without typing code and complete a program in a short time. When I experienced this with my first app, I was shocked.

Great opportunity for program development beginners!

Until now, Microsoft has been behind other companies in the mobile field, but I think that they’ll catch up with PowerApps and another software program, Microsoft Flow, which was officially released in November 2016.

It’s stated that Microsoft Flow connects not only other Microsoft products, but also SNS and other companies’ products and you can realize next level automation.

There seems to be a lot of dissatisfaction among SharePoint developers right now, but those issues will be improved in the future, and Microsoft has already announced that these two software programs will succeed the existing development tools.

I think that this is a great opportunity for us. It’s not easy, but since program development can be done without code writing in both software programs, I’ll try to master them both.

I anticipate that these will become the center of process improvement program development in the future. Let’s learn this together!

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