If you are looking to create an application to monitor or track a process and do not want to have to write much code, take a look at Power Apps and Flow. These products are designed to be able to provide a more self-service development environment as you can use templates and drop and click your way to an application which can work on the web, tablet or phone.
Use Cases for PowerApps
PowerApps would be a good tool for writing applications that track a process. Flow is used to process decisions on data. If you want to receive a text if your boss sends you an email, it is relatively simple to create an application in Flow to do that. If you want to create a data entry application which allows people to enter information from their phone, PowerApps can do that. If you want to create simple service desk application for tracking work, Power Apps has a template. If you want to access data from SharePoint and perform specified tasks based on the input, PowerApps combined with Flow can do that. There are a number of samples and template which show how to drag and drop the components to make the application.
Developing Power Apps
Like Power BI, Power Apps has a desktop application called PowerApps Studio and a web service application, and both appear very similar. The application is free, and stressing the fact that Power Apps is a phone app, the download is found in the Microsoft App Store.
PowerApps uses an interesting combination of data stores to drive the application. You can use cloud based sources such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Azure Blob Store, as well as SQL Server, either cloud-based or on-premise. One of the reasons that Power BI changed its data gateways last year was so that there would be one gateway for both Power BI and Power Apps. The gateway will allow access to SQL Server data from PowerApps. There is a lot of data integration with PowerApps and Microsoft Dynamics as flow is designed to link into the Dynamics.
When you create an app, you have the ability to provide people the ability to enter data. The data can be stored in any of the supported data sources. This could be very helpful for groups which want to maintain different grouping values for reporting which are not presently stored in the database.
Instead of keeping all of the data in an Excel spreadsheet or doing direct updates to a database table, a simple PowerApp could provide an application allowing people to edit and update these lists.
The pricing model for PowerApps and Flow is also very similar to Power BI, as it is cloud-based. There is a free tier available to Office 365 customers. For PowerApps, if you have and Office 365 Plan other than E1, the free tier will allow access to on-premise data with the gateway. Plan 1 will provide access to more data, including Salesforce. Would you like to manage the users in PowerApps? You need to purchase Plan 2. Microsoft supports mixing users as they don’t anticipate that there will need to be a lot of Plan 2 users required. There is a development tier planned, but it has not been released.
The free Flow license and the paid tiers differ in the amount of time that a flow can be accessed. The greater the tier, the more frequently the events are checked and the number of times a flow can be accessed. The Free tier checks every 5 minutes and limits the number of times a flow runs to 2000 a month. The Plan 1 tier checks every 3 months, allows access to more data sources and limits the number of times a flow runs to 20,000 a month.
The Plan 2 provides administration capabilities to Flow including setting organizational polices. Again there would not be a need for many plan two licenses, decreasing the overall costs for implementing Flow.
Develop a Mobile Application without hiring special Skills
PowerApp is natively a phone application, which means the deployment can be deployed via phone as well as web. As there are a limited resource pool of people who develop phone apps, having an application available on both formats can also be a strong reason for adoption. With all of the provided templates, creating an simple data entry application is no longer the task it was as PowerApps is designed to get you up and running with minimal effort. If you are looking for a new web application, I highly recommend taking a look at PowerApps as you may be surprised how little effort is involved.