Unleash the Microsoft Power Platform

We have all become fixated with numbers lately – and monitoring some key indicators, to see if we are making progress in the battle against Covid-19. Many have also been getting used to a new way of working – adapting to some or all the team working remotely.

Some of us had moved to Office 365 some time ago and have seen the benefits of having our email and other files and applications running in the cloud. The next step was to migrate to MS Teams, and before the current crisis, many saw it as a new way of performing chat and doing video calls – a kind of better version of Skype in many respects. We looked on it as a communications tool. I think many companies have seen in a very short period of time that there is so much more to MS Teams. It’s really a productivity tool, that does the other bits too. What is interesting is that most people were forced into a way of working which required flexibility, needed good communication options to “stay connected” with colleagues, and which would help people be productive in less formal settings and possibly less formal working patterns. They also needed to collaborate effectively on documents, and other aspects of day to day work, but not in a meeting room, but where everyone was dispersed. The final challenge, and specifically for companies who had some workers on-site, and others working remotely e.g. a manufacturing company who was still in production, was to be in a position to continue to conduct the meetings and processes that had been developed over a number of years pursuing Continuous Improvement or Enterprise Excellence. Examples of this would be Daily Operations Meetings, Tiered Meetings etc. How could these be performed effectively ?

MS Teams was being looked at as an option. Could the normal metrics, visual management boards, and Operations discussions at the line level, the value stream level, site level, be conducted in an effective manner when some key Operations people were still on-site in the manufacturing clean-rooms, while other support staff and management were remote ?

In addition to this challenge, the crisis itself had brought the need to put new procedures in place, new processes, changes to existing production processes, and introduce new things that required data to be captured to support decision making, ensure compliance with new procedures, and give feedback on whether solutions and procedures were working as designed. Many of these had been implemented quickly, and originally as temporary measures, but as time passed, everyone realised that some form of these new processes may be part of the “new norm”.

Digital Transformation is not a choice- it’s now necessary – especially in the essential Life Science Sector

With all these new challenges, could companies who are now under more pressure than ever to drive efficiencies due to lost revenues, park or push out their Digital Transformation agendas ? Digital Transformation was a key strategy. Should it be parked or postponed, or could it be looked at through a new lens, one that could help address some of the new challenges, while also helping address some of the digital gaps that exist between the corporate level systems for key functions like Enterprise Resource Planning, Manufacturing Operations Planning, Automation, Laboratory Management Systems etc.

Digital Gaps

Back to the numbers for a minute. Gartner state that 65% of organisations report an App development backlog, while 37% of companies still use paper to manage critical processes.

Many companies are now seeing the Power Platform (Power Apps, Power Automate and Power BI) as an option to address these needs.

Power Platform

So what is different about the Power Platform ? What opportunities does this platform present for companies, and specifically manufacturing companies ? This is a No-Code Low-Code platform, that can be used to develop Apps quickly and to Automate Business Processes quickly. While it may not be the solution to all problems, there is no doubting that it is being seen as an accelerant to meeting these new challenges. It can also be used in conjunction with custom applications to meet complex needs.  But what do these three key elements of the platform offer :

  • Power Apps allows you deliver No-Code, Low-Code Apps quickly, and integrate these in MS Teams
  • Power Automate allows you connect to data, integrate to your existing systems and automate business processes.
  • Power BI focuses on the Visualisation and Reporting.

 

Some more stats before we continue. Microsoft have seen 70k new organisations using Power Apps this year. There has been an increase of 70% in professional developers using the platform since this time last year. And they have seen a 50% increase in new Power Users between Feb 2020 and March 2020. Microsoft have and continue to invest hugely in the platform. 

Maximise Your Existing Infrastructure to Accelerate Digital Transformation

But what can it do for you ? How can it help you maximise the use of existing infrastructure and investment – specifically Office 365 and MS Teams, to address your current challenges and accelerate your journey to get to the next level of Digital Maturity

Digital Maturity

To explain that, lets first look at the traditional method of developing and delivering systems without delving too much into the different methodologies. Typically, the business would capture their requirements, and then decide to build (develop and validate) or buy (select and off the shelf application and configure it), then implement the system. Typically, this would take a significant time from start to finish. This may still be the route for implementing large scale deployments e.g. implementing a Manufacturing Execution System. But in terms of the following use cases, is there a new way :

  • Automating a business process or workflow, that is largely paper based, involves people interacting with several systems, and also using tools like excel in the middle
  • Implementing a new process or change to a process as a result of a Lean or Continuous Improvement project, or the completion of an A3
  • Applying technology to Visual Management, to try and lean out the non value-add activities such as manually collecting data, transcription to white boards, transfer to excel for charting, and then printing out of the daily, weekly or monthly charts
  • Action Trackers and Problem Trackers
  • Addressing the new problem of involving key remote based staff in daily Gembas or Tiered Meetings in a meaningful way, reviewing metrics, and the different elements including Safety, Quality, Delivery etc.

 

We believe there is a new way of tackling these use cases, and moving forward on the digital transformation journey, in a way that develops a much more collaborative culture and involves more people in the organisation.

Mitigate Risk in your Processes and address Digital Gaps with No Code -Low-Code applications

We are working with clients in a collaborative way which brings software specialists and business users together, to build solutions rapidly, delivering incremental benefit, while also upskilling internal business users who would have gravitated to Excel and macros to use a more comprehensive No Code, Low-Code platform to deliver apps, automate processes and close these digital gaps between their core systems.

Power Apps

Collaboration is Key

Collaboration is key. You are closest to the challenges you are trying to address. We have the technical skills in the platform, and experience of delivering solutions to the life science industry.

But how does the engagement really work, what are the real benefits to the organisation in comparison to the “old way”. To be honest, its more of a journey than a process. But a journey that delivers benefits and productivity to the business as you progress.

We normally break the journey into three phases:

Phase 1: Collaborate & Build

  • Work in collaboration to close the digital gaps
  • Use Power Apps and Power Automate to close a specific gap or address a specific use case together.
  • Agile collaboration – peer to peer “development”
  • Deliver an App, review, iterate and improve
  • Built momentum
  • Foster greater collaboration and innovation

Phase 2: Mentor & Assist Development of internal Academy

  • Identify non-IT resources who are technical (users of excel, macros, etc.)
  • Work with you to establish an internal academy. Why not set the goal of becoming a Centre of Excellence within your own corporate organisation ?
  • We will help train and mentor internal resources as they upskill.
  • We will help put procedures in place.
  • Nurture the innovation and help build the capability, aligning to your digital strategies

 

Phase 3: Governance

  • We provide Administration, Support and Governance of your Power software infrastructure as a Service, under our Managed Services Offering.
  • Review of internal Apps to avoid duplication of functionality and identify opportunities where functionality can be merged with existing Apps and Power Automate Flows
  • We can provide Level 2/3 Support
  • Help implement a comprehensive Application Lifecycle Management

 

A final look at some more numbers. 97% of Fortune 500 companies are using the Power

Platform, and Gartner believe that 65% of problems can be solved with the Power Platform.

Is this a Perfect Storm ? Have certain things that are outside of our control helped change the mindset and opened this approach as a real possibility to meet the critical challenges that companies are facing. Its worth recapping on these critical challenges:

  • New processes have been put in place and this will continue to be the case
  • Can we afford to do these on paper or in excel ? No audit trailing, no easy access to data, extra overhead for people that are already busy doing their core work
  • Despite the investment in a number of large scale applications, we continue to have digital gaps across all functions
  • More than ever, we need to increase productivity while reacting to changes in business processes
  • The “new normal” may mean that key personnel will be working remotely

 

Can we maximise the tools that we have recently adopted for increased communication and collaboration including MS Teams. Build on the functionality you are using e.g. chats, video calls, document sharing and collaboration. Leverage the ability to plug in apps to aid planning, tracking, and digitise and modernise how you conduct your operations management and tiered meetings. Make MS Teams the Productivity Hub of your organisation.

 

If you would like to learn more about how we are helping our clients address their critical objectives, while also building their internal capabilities and tapping into the true potential that their own resources have to offer, contact us at sales@dataworks.ie or call us today on 051 878555.

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