The Center of Excellence: Maximizing the power of Microsoft Power Apps

December 13, 2021

Low-code, citizen app-building is an excellent way to meet your organization’s mobile and desktop app requirements while alleviating the strain on IT. In this three-part series, we explore how Microsoft Power Platforms can streamline your efforts—and how to deploy the solution effectively. You can find the first article of the series here and the second article here.

Paul Witherow, PMP, MBA, is a Partner and leads MNP Digital’s Customer Platforms COE, which includes our Digital Experience, CRM, and Low Code Application Development solution teams. Drawing on more than 25 years of management, strategic advisory and systems integration experience, Paul leads strategic change initiatives and technology-enabled transformation.

Your organization is just about ready to hand over the app development reins to your citizen developers. After conducting thorough research, you’ve decided on Microsoft Power Platform, and have a solid governance structure in place—with a strong app classification system, compliance framework and “Centre of Enablement” team.

Before you open the floodgates, however, you’d ideally like a way for members of your Center of Enablement team to monitor the activity of your users, developers, and administrators moving forward. The goal? To better understand your organizational usage trends, stay on top of new app requests, and keep track of how your data is being used.

Luckily for you, there’s a solution for that. Enter the Microsoft Power Platform Center of Excellence.

What is the Center of Excellence?

The Microsoft Power Platform Center of Excellence is an integral part of the Microsoft Power Apps Platform—as it’s a downloadable, built-in, model-driven app that ties your citizen app building activity together. This “app of apps” contains Model and Canvass Apps, Power Automate Flows (for data collection) and Business Processes and Dashboards to manage your Power Platform.

Because it consolidates important information all in one place, it gives your Centre of Enablement team the opportunity to take risks, investigate new opportunities and analyze existing behaviour. Taken together, this empowers them to create a strong maker community and even better app experiences.

Additionally, the Center of Excellence comes with robust out-of-the-box capabilities to help you streamline your app-building processes, as well tools to help you strengthen your governance practices.

The Core Components

Out of the box, the Center of Excellence offers administrators visibility into which connections are being used and who’s sharing or accessing your organization’s applications.  

The program’s first set of building blocks—the Core Components—offers a strong foundation on which to build your Center of Excellence. Essentially, it allows you to sync all your organizational resources and organize them into tables. Additionally, it offers essential admin apps so your administrators can easily oversee all makers, development activity, systems, data and flows. 

The Governance Components

Once you have the Core Components of your Center of Excellence in place, you can further configure this tool to capture more in-depth information. Using data fed from the Security and Compliance Center, this capability allows administrators to do even more with their dashboard, including:

  • Determine the specific types of apps being built (e.g., model, canvass or portal)
  • Identify the key makers in the organization (and determine who to target for additional training)
  • Better understand which data is being consumed by which system
  • Confirm that no users are consuming data from unsafe sources
  • Audit compliance processes for specific applications
  • Streamline app-building processes

The last feature can be particularly helpful in making sure your organization is meeting its broader goals—and maximizing resources to avoid duplication of effort by identifying opportunities to share content and functionality.

Additional features

In addition to its core and governance features, the Center of Excellence offers a range of other tools to further empower your Center of Enablement team and strengthen your governance practices.

For instance, its Nurturing solution allows you create a strong community of citizen developers by offering templates to facilitate the sharing of best practices and the onboarding of new makers.

The Theming add-on allows you to automatically build your organization’s branding into every app. For its part, the Lifecycle Management add-on allows you to equip your citizen developers with the guidance they need to create apps that align with your dev ops strategy.

Depending on your needs, the Center of Excellence can even foster two-way communication with your citizen developers through the Innovation Backlog feature—a tool that enables users and developers to submit requests, vote on ideas, track pain points and submit input.

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Tying it all together

If you’re venturing into the world of citizen app-building, you’re likely doing so to streamline your organizational app development and app-building systems. In this context, Power Apps and the Center of Excellence essentially go hand-in-hand. While Power Apps offers the functionality you need to reduce the IT bottleneck, the Center of Excellence can help you make sure all activities stay on track—and strengthen app-building collaboration across the organization.

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"Power Apps and the Center of Excellence go hand-in-hand."

The Center of Excellence should be adapted to meet your specific Governance requirements. Specifically, once you have determined the Governance requirements for your organization, you would adapt the Center of Excellence. Once adapted, you’ll appoint someone within your Centre of Enablement to oversee the Center of Excellence. This individual, or team, will act as the administrator and be responsible for things such as infrastructure set-up, testing or flagging information that could be relevant to other members of the Centre of Enablement.

Admittedly, while Microsoft Power Platform and its associated solutions can significantly simplify your organization’s app-building requirements, getting started can sometimes be daunting. Fortunately, MNP is here to help. To learn more about our set-up services—or to acquire more information about Microsoft Power Platform—contact us.

Connect with us to get started

Our team of dedicated professionals can help you determine which options are best for you and how adopting these kinds of solutions could transform the way your organization works. For more information, and for extra support along the way, contact our team.