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

April 16, 2024

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

April 16, 2024

Two people collaborating in an office setting

How can you identify the tools you need to support the governance and enablement of your organization’s Microsoft Power Platform solutions?

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 an accessible toolset that can help accelerate innovation within your organization. It enables people to quickly develop customized solutions or automate processes to help address business challenges. However, it is crucial to establish a strong governance structure to mitigate the risks that unmonitored solutions could pose to your organizational data and information.

Our first article in this series discussed the people who may use Microsoft Power Platform and the roles they play in governing the use of the platform within your organization. Our second article examined why establishing processes to support the use of Microsoft Power Platform plays a key role in developing a strong governance structure.

Our final article in this series will explore the third pillar of a successful Microsoft Power Platform governance structure — tools that extend your governance team’s capacity and availability. Tools are also necessary to support more robust governance and operational processes.

How to time tool implementation

It may be tempting to implement quick fixes to governance problems. However, it is crucial to avoid implementing tools as an unplanned reaction to the ungoverned use of Microsoft Power Platform within your organization. Tools should be implemented as a response to careful strategic planning to support the governance and overall success of the solutions developed through Microsoft Power Platform.

You risk meeting your immediate needs without a clear view of future costs when you implement tools quickly and without a clear understanding of the people and processes that these tools are intended to support.

These costs may include an inability to scale or integrate with existing tools and processes. Additional future costs may include the management of a new data source and a host of other potential issues. While you may need to implement tools quickly in urgent circumstances, a strategic approach is best wherever possible.

Two ways to approach implementing tools

Tools will almost always be required — sooner or later. Manual processes are costly, and it is vital to explore the tools you can use to reduce these costs and increase productivity within your organization. However, your organization may take a different approach towards tool adoption and implementation depending on its experience with Microsoft Power Platform.

Implementing tools for organizations new to Microsoft Power Platform governance

Organizations where Microsoft Power Platform has been informally available for awhile and that have just started the Microsoft Power Platform governance journey may face multiple challenges. These challenges include having an unknown number of developers and environments created by users for undocumented reasons.

Putting the appropriate tools in place early on can support your organization’s efforts to regain control over the unmonitored solutions developed through Microsoft Power Platform. An important toolset to consider implementing early is the free Microsoft CoE Starter Kit.

This kit provides tools that can be deployed for the use of both premium-licensed developers and end users. Additionally, it contains numerous non-intrusive tools for premium-licensed CoE team members. These tools provide your CoE team with a non-intrusive view into your current tenant, allowing you to monitor environment usage, maker activity, and much more.

Review the CoE Starter Kit installation instructions thoroughly to ensure automations that take noticeable actions are not enabled until you are ready. These automations may perform clean up actions, communicate to developers and users, and more.

Another increasingly powerful governance tool option is Microsoft’s Managed Environments. This will be the subject of a future article due to its depth.

Implementing tools for organizations with Microsoft Power Platform governance experience

If your organization has a well-defined and limited Microsoft Power Platform footprint, you can adopt a two-part approach toward tool adoption and implementation. During the first part, manual processes can continue as you focus on the people and process aspects of a strong governance structure — and identify where bottlenecks exist. The second part of this approach, adding appropriate tools, will take place as your plan your organization Microsoft Power Platform adoption roadmap.

The two steps you need to add the right tools

1. Document CoE team activities

Document the activities carried out by the Centre of Excellence (CoE) team to identify where tools may be useful. Look for repeated work, manual processing, and digital workflow to aid in this process.

Consider the example of receiving and responding to new Power Platform environment requests. You may wish to formally support this activity with a tool to replace the current process of receiving such requests directly via email, chat, and phone calls.

2. Align with existing processes and tools

The next step in this process is to identify if and where these activities might align or tie into existing organizational processes and tools. To expand on the example above, utilizing your organization’s IT request catalogue to formally receive new Microsoft Power Platform requests may be an appropriate low-complexity solution. This tool is already supported by the IT department and is familiar to end users.

However, it may be necessary to implement a new tool if your organization may decide it needs to support both receiving and responding to new Power Platform Environment requests. The Microsoft Power Platform CoE Starter Kit includes a tool, the Maker – Environment Request app, that allows premium-licensed developers to formally submit new environment requests.

The premium-licensed CoE Team can then use the related Admin – Environment Request app to review and action each request. Any CoE Team member can pick up this request and the details are logged in support of tracking and reporting.

How to align tools with existing systems and processes

Your organization may already mandate the use of tools that span software platforms. These can be considered strong tools — similar to the concept of strong processes. For example, your organization may use an incident management system to handle internal or external incidents.

Most mid- to large-scale organizations would not support the development of a unique ticketing system for many reasons. The service desk already uses the existing system, managers know how to use its reports, and it can handle incident hand-offs between teams. Additionally, it contains historic sustainment data spanning systems and teams.

These are just a few of the reasons that demonstrate why continuing to use your organization’s existing incident management system is the correct decision. Therefore, it is crucial for all new systems, tools, and platforms to align with the standards of the existing system.

Microsoft Power Platform offers options to bridge the benefits of new tools with the requirements of those already in place within your organization.

Solution example: Integration with existing systems

In the example above, your organization decided to continue using its existing incident management system. However, a simplified user interface could be developed through Microsoft Power Platform to automate issue reporting — and could even be hosted on a citizen developer portal.

Microsoft Power Platform connectors support integration between the new solution and the existing system by feeding required information from the user interface into the incident management system. There are over one thousand connectors available for use — offering a variety of opportunities to connect the solutions developed through Microsoft Power Platform with modern software solutions.

Additionally, the ability to integrate these new Microsoft Power Platform solutions with existing software provides opportunities to utilize the broader Microsoft security framework. This can help enhance data security and meet compliance requirements.

Alignment with application lifecycle management processes

One additional consideration is application lifecycle management (ALM). This is the framework that manages the software lifecycle from beginning to end — and it is also a significant process area where new tools play a key role.

Having the appropriate tools in place can help support governance-related activities during the development and deployment of Microsoft Power Platform solutions. These activities may include approvals, processing, solution deployment, automated backups, and more.

ALM in the Microsoft Power Platform context will likely tie into existing organizational tools or processes. However, there will potentially be additional development in this area to support organizational citizen developer initiatives and the realization of hyper-agile development benefits.

For example, Microsoft’s ALM Accelerator and Managed Environment Pipelines are two options to help your organization manage Microsoft Power Platform solutions throughout the development and deployment aspects of their lifecycle.

Key takeaways

  • Implement your initial CoE Team
  • Document key processes and CoE Team activities to ensure consistent execution
  • Anticipate where processes and activities will benefit from tool installation or development
  • Microsoft’s CoE Starter Kit can support governance reporting and action needs

Take the next steps

Tools work together with people and processes to support the governance and enablement of your organization’s Microsoft Power Platform solutions. These tools can help integrate new solutions with your existing systems or help govern the applications you develop throughout their entire lifecycle. Combining these three pillars is critical to achieve a strong governance structure to guide the use of Microsoft Power Platform within your organization.

For more information about how Microsoft Power Platform can support your organization, contact MNP’s Application Development team. Our advisors can show you how to build professional applications or provide you with the governance and planning frameworks you need to reach your goals.

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.