You’ve likely already seen the potential of tools like the Microsoft Power Platform to develop custom forms, workflows, and streamline the capture of information. But an organization with lots of Power Apps and no governance is like an orchestra with no conductor. It’s like a rocket ship with no mission control. How can you make sure that all these applications are working together in harmony? How can you make sure your organization uses these tools to reach new heights? The answer lies in creating a Power Platform Center of Excellence.
What are the challenges without a Power Platform Center of Excellence
If you’re not already doing so, it’s time to implement a Power Platform Center of Excellence. What problems does a Center of Excellence resolve?
You may be running into the following challenges related to the Power Platform:
- Uncontrolled growth of the platform: When there are no boundaries on how many people can develop an app, there’s no way for IT to keep track of what’s being built or updated. This can lead to duplicated efforts and unknown dependencies between applications and systems. Users may “reinvent the wheel” by redeveloping similar Power Platform solutions across multiple departments or business groups, not knowing that someone else within the organization has already built an appropriate solution.
- Lack of consistency in user experience: Because every developer has his own way of doing things, there is no consistency in how the is app designed or behaves with other apps and systems. This can create a disjointed user experience or create confusion in the purpose of apps and how to use them.
- Risks in how data is managed: Without a Center of Excellence to govern Power Platform development, data management and security policies may differ across applications. This could result in information being viewed or processed by people who should not have access.
- Difficulties with data cleansing: If data is captured in different formats, and processed in different ways, it can be hard to consolidate it into valuable reporting. If you ultimately want to unify the data and process it in visualizations like Power BI, there may be significant work required to cleanse the data for reporting and dashboards.
- Orphaned applications: If an employee leaves or transfers to another role, your Power Platform development may be left without an owner. It can then be challenging to keep things up to date as your business evolves.
What is a Power Platform Center of Excellence?
Simply put, a Center of Excellence is a group of people who are responsible for a specific set of activities. In the context of the Power Platform, the Center of Excellence is responsible for overseeing the design, development, and deployment of applications. They also maintain the Power Platform development over time – or assign application owners to provide the required maintenance. The Power Platform Center of Excellence will create guidelines and policies to govern the development and use of the Power Platform to ensure compliance with organizational and regulatory requirements.
The purpose of a Center of Excellence, however, is not to provide so many restrictions that you discourage Power Platform use. The Center of Excellence should work to nurture the growth of these powerful productivity tools to the benefit of your organization and staff. It is designed to drive innovation and creativity in the use of the Power Platform. For example, your Center of Excellence may also oversee training for new users in how to use and develop Power Platform applications.
What are the Benefits of a Center of Excellence?
The benefits of a Power Platform Center of Excellence include:
- Increased Efficiency: A centralized Center of Excellence team makes it easier to manage applications across departments and business units that might otherwise be siloed. They can provide best practices to help your organization use the Power Platform efficiently and effectively. Because the Center of Excellence has oversight across the whole organization, they can identify similar use cases in multiple departments or business units to maximize your return on investment and increase productivity.
- Improved Security: By centralizing your Power Platform strategy, you’ll be able to enforce and monitor how data is handled across your applications. This ensures that all apps are operating within compliance standards and helps protect against data loss or issues with permissions.
- Improve the User Experience: You can give your users a familiar experience across all apps, ensure branding is applied appropriately, and Apps are intuitive through a Center of Excellence.
- Get the most value from your data: Consistently gather data so that you can get valuable insights through reporting and dashboards. You’ll be able to maximize the value of the data you already have available and use the information for real-time decision making.
How Do you Get Started with a Center of Excellence?
A Power Platform Center of Excellence is clearly beneficial, but it’s often neglected. Let’s talk about how you can get started.
The first step in establishing a Center of Excellence is to clearly define what it means for your organization and then align those goals with the rest of your business strategy. This can be done by reviewing existing internal needs and pain points, learning about new Power Platform capabilities, or even conducting surveys among employees who use the platform on a regular basis.
With your goals in mind, Microsoft provides a Center of Excellence Starter Kit, that can help you start developing a strategy for adopting and supporting the Power Platform. It will help you to get an accurate list of all current applications so that you can confirm ownership, archive those that are unused or abandoned, and begin monitoring and maintaining what has been built.
It’s important to note, though, that the Starter Kit provides templates to follow and suggests approaches to implementing a Power Platform Center of Excellence, but each organization is different. You will want to refer to the Starter Kit as a model, but also carefully consider how the principles apply to your policies, your environment, and your goals.
If you’re looking for support in setting up your Power Platform Center of Excellence, guidance on best practices, or help with Power Platform development, we have experts ready to assist! Contact us today to ensure the success of your Power Platform development through a Center of Excellence!