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Cindy Whylings /

Modernizing Business Processes With Power Platform, Azure, or Dynamics 365

Over the past two years so much has changed with respect to WORK –  

  • from where we work (home or hybrid office)  
  • to when we work (flexible schedules, four-day weeks)  
  • to what we use at work (personal devices, cloud-based computers,  cell phones).  

Some of the how’s of WORK have changed, too – from how we meet – virtually in video-based conferences like Teams meetings, to how we share information, using SharePoint and OneDrive online.  But not all the "hows" have changed.  Many of our day-to-day activities and workflows have remained unchanged.  Almost.  Because while the steps and tasks we use to achieve the result are unchanged, the people and devices and maybe even the sources of the information have changed, and the workflows we previously relied on are now a source of delay and frustration to our productivity goals.  

Our daily routine now includes  

  • Time consumed managing email chains with groups of colleagues who are in different locations, sometimes time zones, in order to review and approve proposals, requests, and applications 
  • Finding yourself attempting to “multi-task”, with one eye toward a job that needs your focus, while your fingers are working on the backlog of data and file housekeeping tasks  - repeating the same series of click, right-click, change name, download, search, click, upload, repeat as you move files, and manage data and electronic collateral.  

We are journeying on the digital transformation highway, speeding toward our business goals and finding ourselves mired in business process traffic and detours which threaten to keep us from reaching our goal on time or at all.   We have discovered and implemented technologies to help us collaborate better, meet and work effectively in this new remote and hybrid workplace, and secure the data, devices, and identities that are integral to everything we do now let's modernize business processes - the ones that create, manage, measure and deliver the results and revenue which represent success. 

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The question is, where to start?  Here are some suggestions to help you plan for success and choose a Business Application solution to ensure you succeed.  

Plan for Success

Start by identifying the PEOPLE involved in the process.   If it’s a request/approval scenario, who makes the request?  Who reviews it? Who adds additional input? Who makes the final approval? And who archives the data and details?  

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Sometimes, your process is just an internal one, maybe you work together as a team in a warehouse and you are managing schedules and shift changes; maybe you are part of a special project to create a new vacation policy, where the project team has been assembled with everyone involved, from all the various teams, and empowered to complete the work.  Maybe you are a marketing team for one product line, working in collaboration with the headquarters-based marketing and advertising leaders.  Or maybe you are the folks in the finance office, managing all the expenses for the company.  Defining the who is as essential as defining the what.

Plan for Success - Power App, Azure App, Dynamics 365

Next, dig into the goal or outcome you are trying to achieve and look at how you got there today. Whether the activity is a team or special project unit-based, intersecting teams and departments or divisions, or a process that is broad-reaching, or even all hands your next step is to discover and document the steps, tasks, data, decisions, and details that are involved.  Clarify your objective,  identify how you measure success, and define the tasks and the dependent steps. Are there roadblocks or inconsistencies? These will appear as you clarify your process.  Finally – be clear on the project parameters:  what you are willing to invest when it comes to changing how you do things – how much time, effort, relearning, and even financial investment will you commit to the cause? 

Select a Technology Solution

The next step involves evaluating and choosing the right tools and technology.  But with so many apps, platforms, and services out there, how do you go about determining which one is best for your situation?   Where do you even start?  A great place to start is to look at the tools, apps, services, and platforms that you ALREADY own, or that are natively available as adds on’s or expansions of your existing digital environment.  If you can choose tools that are already available to you and select new ones which have ready-made integration and consistent operational features, you have the opportunity to maximize your return on your current investment and may reduce effort and complexity, resulting in a greater return on your new venture.  

Let's take a closer look at how to find the right platform solution for your business need, focusing on the people, process, and project parameters.

If the focus is internal, for a smaller, cohesive team, empowering them with the tools, training, and resources to rapidly develop their own custom solution to the problem may be the way to go.  When you help a team to solve their problem on their own with low-code, citizen development apps like Canvas Apps teams you empower that team to repeat the success for other internal needs while modeling the success for others.    

A Citizen-developed, low-code canvas app, with some standard flows, in a Dataverse for Microsoft teams, may work perfectly for a small team working just among themselves. For a more detailed process, the investment in premium licensing and the deployment of a model-driven app, with business process workflows defined, may provide rapid, repeatable, and scalable success.  

What might be candidates for this type of rapid, low code app? Approval processes or really anything that is a currently manual process that involves emailing files, and ad-hoc approvals, or processes where one activity triggers notifications or task assignments.  

But sometimes you have teams, departments, or project units that work interactively with other teams or business units. Sometimes these interactions may even be with external users, such as Business to Business (B2B) partners or Business to Consumer (B2C) customers.  Many of these may be solved with a Power App; some may benefit from the addition of Power Portals and may utilize Forms for external users to submit information. However,  when a  level of collaboration that includes multiple teams, and internal and external users, working at scale, enters the picture, the development may move from citizen-development using low-code solutions to leveraging Azure for purpose-driven, economical and scalable solutions.  

Finally, we come to the Enterprise-wide application.  You have processes that impact everyone, data that is highly managed, and in constant demand across all the segments of your company, and perhaps among your customers, too.  Dynamics 365 Business Application solutions are designed to provide the agility and scaling you need in your enterprise-wide apps.  

These are long-term projects. They require investment in discovery, skilled functional architecting, and executive support for leader-led change and adoption.   

So, where do you start?  

Pick a Process and get started

Starting with low-code Power Platform solutions to solve Team-based process modernization is a good place to look for quick wins.  Leveraging the Dataverse for Microsoft Teams adds the benefit of using existing licensing and increasing the ROI of your Modern Workplace investments. The App Designer Workshop | Microsoft Consulting Services (enablingtechcorp.com) is designed to deliver a working solution while skilling up your citizen developers along the way.  

Teams Apps and Solutions Workshop | Microsoft Consulting Services (enablingtechcorp.com)and Catalyst Envisioning are two other ways you can begin the journey to greater productivity and faster realization of your goals.  They provide the opportunity to identify and prioritize the process modernization needs unique to your company.   

For larger, enterprise-level projects, our team of experienced application developers can deliver your Custom App solution, and we are here to help you achieve your Enterprise CRM goals with Dynamics 365 For Sales | Microsoft Consulting Services (enablingtechcorp.com) 

Work with our team of Cloud Computing Consultants who have done this so many times they know all of the “minefields” to prevent missteps.

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