Everything you need to know about Microsoft’s Power Platform

The Microsoft Power Platform can unlock untold potential for your organisation. When connected together – and to Office 365, Dynamics 365, Azure, and to hundreds of other apps – it creates a powerful platform that will fulfil specific business needs and allow you to build end-to-end business solutions.

Combing Power BI, Power Virtual Agents, Power Apps, and Power Automate, the Power Platform is an inclusive technology that encourages innovation and allows your organisation to easily access, analyse, utilise, and automate its data.

Recently, we hosted a two-day webinar series to help you understand how the four main areas in the Power Platform arena; Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI and Power Virtual Agents could help your organisation to access untapped value. Hosted by our Phoenix Power Platform specialists and our partners, QUANTIQ, each event covers everything you need to know about the technology behind the Power Platform.

If you missed the webinars, don’t worry – you can watch each of them at your leisure below. We’ve also included handy FAQ sheets answering common queries about each of the four main Power Platform applications.

Power Apps Power Automate Power BI Power Virtual Apps

If you have any questions about Power Platform that aren’t answered below, would like to discuss your specific requirements, or are interested in booking ‘App in a Day’ training, please contact us on [email protected] or 01904 562200.

Naomi Busuttil
Naomi Busuttil

Naomi is Phoenix's marketing copywriter with more than ten years' experience in creating a variety of content for web, print, social media, and email marketing. With a background spanning all marketing disciplines gained notably within the housing, sustainability, and not-for-profit industries, Naomi is familiar with the challenges the public sector faces and is passionate about producing content with accessibility in mind.

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Power Apps: Making business operations more efficient, while avoiding multiple sources of the truth

Power Apps is a low-code solution to custom app development. Users can quickly create apps with a ‘point and click’ approach, which means that you don’t need development knowledge to build mobile-friendly, customised applications to support individual work processes.

Power Apps FAQs

Where can I see a live demo of Power Apps?

Your Phoenix account manager can book in a live demo for you. Please contact us on [email protected].

Is Portal essentially the replacement for ADX Open Source Version when going from On-prem to Cloud and how difficult is that move likely to be?

Power Platform Portals are officially an alternative offering to the ADX Open Source Version, but in context of On-prem to on Cloud, then we consider this a replacement. We can move your existing records for ADX configured entities using a tool provided by Microsoft, but there would be an element of consultancy to bring this up to scratch with a fully working portal. Your biggest investment would likely be data migration, as the portal move process is relatively straight forward.

Can Portal statistics give a breakdown of client types e.g. how many users are using tablets or phones to access Portal?

Yes, providing you use a combination of Centre of Excellence, Google Analytics, and/ or Microsoft Clarity. We have a five-day Power Platform Governance offering that helps you install Centre of Excellence and review your current circumstances in a managed way. Our consultants are skilled in adding analytics to portal implementations, which would be treated as consultancy in a larger project.

For Portal and high-volume demand, would RPA be an alternative to API integration, or are there issues?

As long as you are not multiplexing, then this is entirely possible. Multiplexing is defined by trying to get around the cost of licensing the product, and therefore any solution that achieves this is strongly discouraged and not recommended. RPA should be used if the other service does not have a readily available API, and licensing for high-volume demand becomes cheaper per login as you move towards the recently announced tier five.

Do you have examples of Portals or Power Apps being used to communicate with volunteers e.g. alerts, tasks, notes, attachments, internal system mail, confidential conversations?

Yes, we have a series of clients that have implemented volunteer functionality in Model Driven, Canvas, and Portal applications. To discuss further with client specific examples, please contact your representative at Phoenix or QUANTIQ.

For customer self-service, does a customer need to have an account?

To access account specific details a customer will be required to authenticate as they log in to the Portal and they must have an account available within your system to do so. Users can engage with a Portal anonymously; however, they will not be able to view personalised content.

What’s the difference between a standard and premium connector?

Standard connectors are those included as standard within your Office 365 E1 to 5 licenses. These include elements such as Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business. Premium connectors offer additional capability to extend your Power Apps using other Microsoft and non-Microsoft tools. A user who requires the use of a premium licences will have to be covered by a Power App or Dynamics licence.

Can a student use a Portal and an app?

Yes, student engagement portals are a great use case for Power App Portals.

What rights do you get for Automate with a Power App licence?

Power Apps licences include use rights for Power Automate for the purpose of automating workflows associated with the Power App. See page 15 in Microsoft’s Power Apps, Power Automate and Power Virtual Agents Licensing Guide.

What happens if a user uses an app but doesn’t have a licence?

For Model Driven and Canvas apps, they will not be able to access the app and this check would be made prior to logging into the app, even if a direct URL was shared. For Portals, due to the ‘unit’ measurement of pricing (per login, per 24 hours or per page view), Microsoft take a retrospective assessment if there are any spikes in volumes, and will re-assess licensing requirements upon your next renewal. Their allowances and restrictions in this sense are similar to their allowances and restrictions in storage capacity.

Does external audience mean no account on tenancy?

External users are users that are not employees, on-site contractors or on-site agents of a customer or its affiliates. Commonly this will be users who do not reside in your Azure AD. For more information, see page 7 in Microsoft’s Power Apps, Power Automate and Power Virtual Agents Licensing Guide.

Power Automate: Helping seemingly disjointed data and systems work together to further improve operations

Power Automate allows users to create automated workflows between applications for manual processes with little to no coding required, streamlining daily tasks and boosting productivity.

Power Automate FAQs

Do you have any advice on how to ensure all flows – including Dynamics 365 – relating to ongoing business processes (rather than personal flows) are centrally visible to an admin user?

The best way to manage this is to use Microsoft’s Center of Excellence, which will give you visibility of all the flows being created across your organisation, and by who.

Does it cost to set up the Center of Excellence e.g. setting up a new environment for CoE as per the core install instructions?

The Center of Excellence does not have a cost directly associated with it, but you will need a licence to enable you to use the Canvas and Model Driven apps that are included in the CoE solutions.

Can the SQL Gateway used for Power BI be used with Automate SQL connectors?

Yes.

How is Automate licenced with regards to flows and unauthenticated, external users?

People outside of your organisation will not be able to create or use flows as they will need to have licences assigned.

When building forms and flows for other people, where should the form and flow sit? Would you transfer it to a SharePoint Admin Group?

Forms and flows created in SharePoint are accessible in the usual way from the Office or Power Automate pages – they can then be shared with the people you want to access them.

What happens if you want to keep someone’s flow when they leave an organisation?

We would normally recommend that a service user is set up and then all classic workflows and Power Automate flows can be owned by that user as well as the users that are making amendments. Then, if a user leaves, the flow is still available to admin staff via the service user.

Is there a way to transfer the primary ownership of a flow e.g. to move the flow to a service account?

Yes, you can add new owners and then remove anyone you don’t wish to have access any more.

Is Power Automate available on the NHS N365 tenant? If so, are there any licence restrictions on its use?

Power Automate is available within the N365 tenant. You can find a full list of Power Platform capabilities and restrictions in the NHS Power Platform Capability Overview.

Do connectors work between Cloud and On-prem systems?

Yes, they do. For instance, SQL Server can be accessed via a data gateway connector.

Do you have any examples where customer self-service requests initiate flows to remove the need for staff intervention to deliver the required outcome? 

You can trigger flows from Power Virtual Agents chatbots on websites.

What’s the difference between a ‘connector’ and an ‘action’ and are these licenced separately or under connectors? E.g. HTTP action is shown as premium, but there doesn’t appear to be an equivalent HTTP connector, so would I need to purchase licences to cover the HTTP premium action?

The HTTP Action uses the HTTP connector to run. Usually you get multiple actions for each connector.

Is there a limit on the number of iterations?

Different types of licensing limit the number of iterations.

Power BI: Evaluating our success through extensive reporting capabilities

Power BI allows users to create visually immersive and insightful interactive reports by connecting to and collating multiple data sources. This creates a data-driven culture with business intelligence for all and enables everyone at every level of your organisation to make confident decisions using up-to-the-minute analytics.

Power BI FAQs

What is the licensing model/components to integrate a Power BI ‘interactive report’ from Dynamics 365 data into a portal for external volunteer log on?

For external users to engage with a Power BI report or a dashboard, they require a Power BI premium licence. Then, follow these instructions on how to embed a Power BI tile into a Power App portal. However, there are limitations to this, as detailed in the above page e.g. Power Apps portals don’t support guest users for Power BI dashboards and reports. Specifically for volunteers; whether these volunteers reside within your AD or not will dictate the level of functionality available to these users in terms of Power BI. Power Apps and portals feature a host of native ability that may be sufficient to surface volunteer specific content in a dashboard format.

Does the portal have ‘off the shelf’ capability to embed Power BI reports, avoiding excessive development?

Details of how to embed a Power BI tile in a Power App portal can be found here.

Can a portal log in interact with the security model, to control what portal users can do and see in the report?

Security groups can indeed be used to enable and prevent users accessing data, both in its entirety or as a subset.

Is there a geographic information mapping visual which uses British coordinates X and Y instead of longitude and latitude?

Yes – there’s a host of prebuilt visualisation tiles and maps available from both Microsoft and on GitHub.

Can someone without a Power BI pro licence see the reports and workspaces created by a Power BI Pro user?

Within Power BI Pro, you can share your dashboards with other users. Those viewing the dashboard must also hold a Power BI Pro licence, unless the organisation holds a Premium by Capacity licence. Please speak to your Phoenix or QUANTIQ account management team and licensing specialist to discuss your options.

Does it matter where a Power BI Pro licence user saves their information to and will someone who isn’t a Power BI Pro licence holder still be able to see that data?

You can’t share the reports or dashboards with non-pro users (users with free licence) unless your organisation has a premium licence and the contents being shared are in premium capacity. Then yes, you can share information with free users.

Is it correct that clicking a visual on one page won’t filter visuals on another page and is only achievable using slicers?

Correct – filtering only occurs locally within your dashboard. It is also possible to filter through to another report page using the Drill through feature in Power BI Desktop.

Do you only have to connect to a data source which is an application once?

You can connect to a web page from Power BI desktop using web connection, and you only have to connect to it once if you have loaded the data in Power BI Desktop.

Is there training available for integration?

Yes – please speak to your Phoenix or QUANTIQ account manager to discuss further.

Can you import data into a Power BI report using Microsoft Lists?

Yes – find out more here.

Where can I start with creating my own custom visuals for Power BI?

You can learn how to create your own visuals for Power BI by following Microsoft’s online tutorials. All of the custom visuals are available in AppSource.

What is the difference between Direct Query and Import Mode?

Import Mode is a snapshot of the data at the time that you load it into Power BI Destkop. You will have to refresh the data in order to keep it updated. Direct Query means Power BI directly connects to the data source. The moment that you open the report or dashboard, the data comes straight from the query you send to the data source. Therefore, you don’t have to refresh the data.

Can I limit the data access for a certain group of people in Power BI?

Yes – you can apply row-level security to limit access to data displayed in Power BI reports and dashboards.

Power Virtual Agents: Reducing workload for staff by automating common requests from customers

Power Virtual Agents allows you to easily create intelligent chatbots that can answer questions posed by your customers, employees and visitors to your website or service, without the need for a developer.

Power Virtual Agents FAQs

When sending emails, what is the best approach regarding the chatbot security context?

Sending emails cannot be done inside the Power Virtual Agent chat bot itself. You would need to extend the functionality by invoking a Power Automate flow that will handle this for you.

Can you create chatbot in Teams and then export to an external web version?

You can create a chatbot in Dataverse for Teams, which creates a Microsoft Teams Dataverse environment that can be found in the Power Platform Admin Centre. From there, you can convert the Teams environment to a full Dataverse environment, but you will incur the costs of the web licence.

Where does Power Virtual Agents store the variables? Is it different if using Teams based bots or web-based bots?

Variables are stored inside the chatbot session. When the session ends the variable values are cleared.

Can external users that have guest access to your tenant interact with your Teams chatbots?

Yes, you would need to allow them access to your tenant and the team where the chatbot is located.