lightbulb glowing (image for Microsoft power platform: that lightbulb moment blog)

Microsoft Power Platform: that lightbulb moment

Power Platform

Posted by Akari Solutions

Imagine what your business could achieve if you had a set of tools that made it easy to turn innovative ideas into reliable software solutions.

Well, that’s what Microsoft Power Platform brings with its raft of applications. Whether you choose to create your own solutions in-house or take advantage of Akari’s ready-made offerings, with Microsoft Power Platform you can boost efficiency, lower costs, and automate operations.

Today, we're going to explore some head-turning examples that we've created so you can see what's possible. But first, let's understand the platform a little more.

What is Microsoft Power Platform?

Here's a straightforward definition:

Microsoft Power Platform is a set of app development, app connectivity and business intelligence applications. The platform uses Power Fx low-code programming language to make rapid, intuitive software development significantly easier.

Within Microsoft Power Platform, you get four tools:

  • Power Apps (empower your whole team to build custom apps).
  • Power BI (analyse data from multiple sources).
  • Power Virtual Agents (build chatbots to engage with your staff and customers).
  • Power Automate (enable everyone in your team to automate processes).

These tools work in synergy so you can create solutions to even your most complex business challenges.

Here are some of our resources and offers so you can learn more:

Now, to give you a better sense of what's possible, let's look at three solutions created by the Akari team using Microsoft Power Platform.

Onboarding made easy

With The Great Resignation still in full swing, the recruitment market has been tumultuous, to say the least. This makes it more important than ever to have an efficient onboarding process that gets staff up to speed quickly.

To make it easier for companies, we've built an all-in-one software that uses Power Apps, Power Agents and Power Automate to deliver an intuitive and informative experience.

The software takes new hires on an automated journey. Initially, it provides presentations and information where they can learn about your organisation, see org charts, get relevent resources, and get links to connect with your staff members on LinkedIn.

As you progress, the app triggers automated flows that prompt certain people to book a meeting with the new starter. For example, you might create a flow that on day 12 prompts someone from HR to reach out and book a meeting about health and safety. You can also use flows to automatically add the new joiner to the right channels in Microsoft Teams.

New staff members inevitably have plenty of questions about their role and the company. Using chatbots in Power Virtual Agent, you can answer many of these (often similar) questions. If the chatbot doesn't have the answer, it will refer you to the best person to ask.

Ultimately, using this tool boosts the efficiency of the onboarding process, ensuring every staff member gets a brilliant experience, whilst not burdening management and other team members with extra work.

Simplified expense management

Turning Point Scotland (TPS) came to Akari with the problem of a complex and time-consuming expense management system.

Specifically, staff passed Excel spreadsheets to managers for review, and periodically administrators would have to collate and send the spreadsheets for the financial manager to review and action.

Using Microsoft Power Platform, we brought a faster, automated, all-in-one solution that makes it easy for staff to make expense claims. Now, TPS can manage expenses all within one app without the headache of passing files between staff. Users can also benefit from uploading expenses 'on the go' using their smartphones.

When a team member logs in, a Power Automate flow finds the relevant people who can approve an expense request for that person. Then, on the home screen the user gets a summary of their expenses with a list of total 'approved', 'pending', and 'declined' expenses.

Creating a new expense request is straightforward with a form submission page. Here, you also have the handy benefit of being able to attach files, or pictures from a camera (perfect for adding receipts).

Line managers using the app will get a summary of expenses waiting for their approval. They can go through each submission and approve or decline them as they see fit. This feature dramatically sped up the approval process for TPS.

Crucially, the final approval is still manual, but many of the previous manual, tedious processes leading up to this stage are now simplified and/or automated.

It's another great example of what's possible with Microsoft Power Platform.

YourSpaces

With the huge increase of hybrid working caused by the pandemic, we saw an opportunity to help organisations better manage their physical environments.

After all, it's been difficult to manage office spaces to follow Covid distancing guidelines, as well as supporting staff as they use facilities at different times.

Using YourSpaces you can now effectively manage the booking of desks, meeting rooms, parking spaces, and equipment. As a business, it empowers you to create, manage and deliver flexible working environments. Significantly, it also means you can guarantee your work environment is safe and secure.

With interactive floorplans, staff choose the space that they want to book and then make a request to use that space at a given time. Managers can click to approve or deny spaces. In addition, users can message the chatbot to get advice, such as rules around mask-wearing or accessibility needs.

Things get more exciting when you make use of the information on the back end. Using Power BI, you can get valuable insights from YourSpaces. For example, you might find out you have rooms that you aren't using – what else could you do with this space?

Getting this data on the backend of your booking system is something unique to YourSpaces. It empowers you to better understand your business, how you use your office, and how best to optimise costs.

If you'd like to find out more about YourSpaces, head over to this page.

The possibilities are endless

As you can see, we have a variety of compelling solutions built on Microsoft Power Platform that solve tangible and important problems for businesses. Making expense forms easy to handle, managing your office space, streamlining the onboarding process – these are all key issues that Microsoft Power Platform has helped resolve.

However, we have only scratched the surface of what's possible. Indeed, we haven't come across a challenge that we couldn’t solve using the platform.

If you'd like to chat with one of our expert team about one of the solutions we've touched on, or about how Microsoft Power Platform can solve an issue specific to your company, please reach out today.