How to gain control of your Microsoft Power Platform environment: People and governance

July 27, 2023

How to gain control of your Microsoft Power Platform environment: People and governance

July 27, 2023

People collaborating around a computer

Who is using Microsoft Power Platform within your organization? Mitigate risks to your organizational data by setting up a strong governance structure.

Todd Ginther

Todd Ginther, PMP, is a Manager at MNP Digital specializing in Microsoft Power Platform governance and enablement. He is passionate about helping clients strike their own ‘right balance’ between appropriate controls and empowering citizen developers.

Microsoft Power Platform is a powerful low-code toolset that enables anyone within your organization to create useful apps, helpful chatbots, and many other types of valuable business solutions. Access to the platform is included in many Microsoft licenses — and it’s no surprise that your employees may seize the opportunity to automate time-consuming tasks or innovate new solutions to common business challenges. But what are the broader implications for your organization?

Implementing a governance structure will mitigate the risks that unmonitored Power Platform solutions pose to your organization. To be successful, this structure must include people, processes, and tools — all working together to reduce risks and support successful platform adoption within your organization.

In the first part of this series, we examine how Microsoft Power Platform can support your organization, the need for a defined governance structure, and the first pillar that supports its success: the people who use the platform.

Why is governance needed?

Microsoft Power Platform can be a valuable tool to help your organization save time, reduce errors, and streamline workflow. However, it can also pose a risk to your organizational data and processes when solutions are implemented incorrectly. Examples of incorrect implementation may include when solutions are introduced without the knowledge and support of your overall organization, or in contravention of corporate policies such as information and security data handling obligations.

Ask yourself these questions to determine the current state of Microsoft Power Platform adoption within your organization and identify whether further oversight may be needed:

  • Is Microsoft Power Platform development growing in a guided and formally approved manner in your organization?
  • Do you have a clear understanding of how many apps and automation processes are being created without IT’s involvement?
  • Do you know if critical business processes are being automated without documentation or review?
  • Is environment creation tracked and controlled?
  • Are you aware of all Microsoft Power Platform solutions currently in use for production purposes?

If you answered no to any of the above questions, your organization’s data and processes may be at risk. Setting up controls and support structures now can help you mitigate these risks while supporting rapid solution development that benefits your entire organization.

The first step in this process is to identify the people who use Microsoft Power Platform and define their purpose, activities, and the support frameworks they need to be successful.

Who are the key stakeholders?

It is essential to include two key stakeholder groups when introducing a Microsoft Power Platform governance structure to your organization. The first group of stakeholders are developers who use the platform to realize opportunities and address issues — such as by automating a reporting process to save time and reduce errors. This group can be further divided into citizen developers from across your organization, and pro developers who are typically located in your IT department.

The second group of stakeholders is responsible for maintaining and governing the use of the platform. They form a Microsoft Power Platform Centre of Excellence — and guide solution development and management within the organization.

Each stakeholder group requires a defined purpose to achieve success. Determining the purpose of each group helps to easily identify members and ensure their goals align with your organizational objectives.

Asking yourself these two questions can help you identify the purpose of each stakeholder group within your organization:

  • Why does this stakeholder group exist?
  • What are its goals?

After you identify the members of each stakeholder group and their purpose, you can further define the activities and support frameworks that enable them to carry out their duties and achieve success.

Let’s take a closer look at each group, their purpose, and the activities and support frameworks they use to support solution development within your organization:

Citizen developer

Citizen developers exist across your organization — from finance, to marketing, to your IT department. While they may be new to Microsoft Power Platform, they recognize its potential and use it to create solutions to every day business challenges such as by developing apps to simplify workflows. If they are located within IT, they may be familiar with complex development but have less experience with low code solutions.

The activities of this group may include developing solutions to increase personal productivity or facilitate team development. The support frameworks they need to achieve their goals include code libraries, best practices, and a thriving community of practice.

Pro developer

Pro developers are responsible for more complex solution development — and are likely located within your organization’s IT department. Microsoft Power Platform is suitable for solutions beyond individual or small team use, and this group drives the development of critical or organization-wide solutions using the platform.

The activities of this group may include enterprise development, defining best practices, or developer coaching. The support frameworks they need to be successful include advanced training, premium licensing, or a community of practice.

Centre of Excellence team

This team is responsible for supporting the use of Microsoft Power Platform by both citizen developers and pro developers — and creating a governance structure to manage the solutions developed through the platform.

The members of this group define and provide both the roadway (platform and enablement) and guardrails (governance) for those who develop solutions within your organization. The Centre of Excellence team is typically comprised of several IT staff fulfilling various roles — such as sponsor, platform owner, architect, and security.

Their activities may include the development and implementation of policies and procedures, operational duties, or nurturing citizen developers. The support frameworks they need to achieve success includes formal upper management support, automated audits and reports, and a maintained Centre of Excellence starter kit.

Take control of your Microsoft Power Platform

Microsoft Power Platform can empower people across your organization to develop solutions to address every day business challenges. While this platform is a powerful tool to increase efficiency, it is essential to have the right controls in place to mitigate risks to your organizational data and information.

Understanding the people who use Microsoft Power Platform is just the first step in setting up a comprehensive governance structure to support the use of the platform. Future articles within this series will examine how processes and tools work together to support the governance and enablement of your organization’s Microsoft Power Platform solutions.

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