Built on the foundation of the common data model
By defining a set of over 200 standard business entities, the Common Data Model enables both you and third parties to build apps. Tailor the model to your specific business needs by extending with custom entities and fields.
Automate your apps with a business process engine
Guide people through business processes, start workflows automatically, and provide rules for your data validation using business process flows. Make your apps smarter with visually defined logic that can set default values or provide validation logic.
Get a single source of truth across your organisation
As the Common Data Service standardises your data through the Common Data Model, it’s easier to build and run apps using the same data. Dynamics 365 applications are natively built on it, meaning you can also build apps without needing additional data integration. All with the enterprise-grade security and manageability of PowerApps.
What are the components of the Power Platform?
PowerApps provides the applications that users interact with on their desktop or mobile devices, utilising functionality such as GPS, Camera and NFC Scanning. There are two styles of applications; Canvas and Model-driven. Canvas applications are built from scratch and can be embedded into SharePoint, Teams, Power BI and Dynamics 365 applications. Model-driven applications are derived from the data model that they interact with.
Power Automate provides workflows to orchestrate across services using connectors. Flows can be triggered to run when events occur in other systems and services or scheduled to run at a specific time. Users can also interact with Flows in the mobile app by pressing virtual buttons.
Power BI allows you to make sense of your data through interactive, real-time dashboards and unlock insights to make business decisions and take actions drive your business forward.
The more technical bits
Common Data Service
A cloud scale datastore to manage data used by business applications. Data is stored within a set of entities. An initial schema is defined by the Common Data Model. Common Data Service provides built-in capabilities for business rules, workflows, calculated and rollup fields and more.
Common Data Model
An open-sourced definition of standard entities that represent commonly used concepts and activities. Every Common Data Service database starts with the entities defined as “core”. Application builders can add their own custom entities to support specific business scenarios.
There are 200+ connectors that make it easy for application builders to connect to both Microsoft and 3rd party services, from Dynamics 365 to Dropbox. The connectors allow Canvas Apps and Flows to easily use API (application programming interfaces) services with limited developer knowledge. Custom connectors can also be configured to allow use of APIs that aren’t covered by the public connectors.
On-premises gateway allows PowerApps, Power Automate and Power BI to reach back to on-premises resources to support hybrid integration scenarios. The gateway leverages Azure Service Bus relay technology to security allow access to on-premise resources.
The Power Platform is flexible and can be utilised in several different types of scenarios:
Individual/Team Productivity Applications
With self-service scenarios, users are empowered to take their own ideas of how they can optimise tasks they do every day and express them in the form of a PowerApps app or Power Automate automation. These assets can be shared with other team members and when successful promoted to be broader enterprise assets. Previously, these scenarios were out of reach and required high-cost development resources to succeed. However, it is important to put structure in place to foster healthy individual productivity while at the same time safeguarding sensitive business data and ensuring continuity when individuals leave your company.
Dynamics 365 Applications
These applications are built on, and therefore deployed into, PowerApps environments and utilise the Common Data Service for data storage and core platform services. These applications are the quickest way to tackle common business scenarios like customer engagement, while still allowing tailoring to your company’s individual requirements. Custom PowerApps apps and Flows can be embedded into or extend Dynamics 365 applications.
Apps from AppSource
Additional 3rd party apps can be found via the AppSource Marketplace. These apps can be installed into your existing environments or into their own depending on your unique needs.
SharePoint, Outlook, Teams and Excel
PowerApps apps can also be embedded into commonly used applications. Often this increases user adoption because users don’t have to learn a totally new application. PowerApps is now the primary way to customise SharePoint Online list forms. In the past, this required higher maintenance developer code to accomplish.
Mission critical line of business applications
Using the same tools and techniques Microsoft uses to build Dynamics 365, Circyl can build line of business applications for you. These differ from the individual productivity scenario previously mentioned in that they often solve broader, more complex problems and typically follow a defined process. We also consider putting in place the necessary Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) to facilitate development and day to day operations.
A sample of real-world applications
Holiday and leave Management
Use a PowerApp to request and manage your holiday or leave, either from your mobile device or your company SharePoint Intranet. Once requested, Power Automate will fire off your request to your Line Manager who can authorise or decline it from an email, a Power Automate notification or directly in the PowerApp. Requests can be stored in an Azure SQL database so that an individual’s leave, department, team or company requests can be summarised, reported and analysed in Power BI.
Time recording on Projects
Manage your Sales Pipeline of deals and projects in Dynamics 365 and analyse trends and performance in Power BI. Once your project is qualified or won, the delivery team can log time spent on the project using a PowerApp which surfaces the appropriate projects to the individual team members. Track the performance of the project using Power BI, being notified via pro-active alerts at key measurable stages by Power Automate.
Keep your Teams managed and in-check
As your deals and projects move through the sales cycle, it is important that all related documents are kept in line. Maintain the document storage in SharePoint using Azure Function Apps and then automatically create a Microsoft Teams site using Power Automate when the deal reaches the appropriate stage. When the project is delivered, flag it in Dynamics 365 and archive the Team site using Power Automate to keep things optimised.