Power Platform Insights: February/March 2023
If you build it, they will come. Read the latest edition of Power Platform Insights here and learn from our experts.Download the Newsletter
In this edition of INSIGHTS, we introduce you to a few of our rapid solution delivery team members who share their stories. For Microsoft Power Platform and what it can do for you and your enterprise, it’s all about taking that first step, and sometimes it can lead to a great career! Also, check out a new segment from Hitachi Solutions’ Power BI team!
The Microsoft Power Platform is a low-code platform enabling businesses and individuals to build
custom applications, automate workflows, and analyze data without needing extensive coding experience. As the demand for Power Platform developers continues to grow, many are exploring the opportunity to build a career in this field. Maybe you enjoy building apps and flows in your spare time, or you use it as part of your job, but you want to do it full-time as a Power Platform developer. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a full-time Power Platform developer, this month’s issue will guide you through recommendations on how to build a successful career in this field from people who work for Hitachi Solutions Rapid Solution Development practice.
Introducing a few of our RSD experts who share a bit of their Power Platform Journey in this Edition
- Hardit Bhatia is a Senior Power Platform Architect and Microsoft MVP
- Em D’Arcy is a Power Platform Senior Architect and Microsoft MVP
- Vivek Bavishi is a Power Platform Senior Consultant and Microsoft MVP
- Matthew Devaney is a Power Platform Senior Consultant and Microsoft MVP
Our Expert Interview
How did you get started with the Power Platform?
Hardit: By chance, the application I was working on for four years was discontinued, and I moved to Dynamics 365 CRM. I started studying for the MB200 exam, and the 1st chapter was Power Apps. I never went past the first chapter! It became an addiction!
Em: In my previous role, I was looking for ways to expand our product offering. I came across Power Automate and realized it could do so much for us that the old-school workflows couldn’t.
Vivek: In my previous job as a marketing manager, we used to create some interactive marketing content to be displayed on these big touchscreens at trade shows. During a chat with one of the salespersons, he mentioned that it would be great if they could show the same content on their phone whenever they visit a customer. So, while I was looking into some 3rd party app-developers, I stumbled upon this new Power Apps offering in the Office365 waffle menu and opened it up. I got hooked on it, and within a couple of hours, I created an app including all our marketing content and was ready to share it with the sales team. The app was a huge success, and that’s when I knew — I wanted to do more with this platform.
Matthew: I was previously an accountant. Accounting is a very repetitive job. Each month I had to create the same reports in exactly the same way while making zero mistakes. I found out about Power BI/Power Query and used it to automate my report building. Then I started making Power Apps in my spare time as a hobby. I worked hard at it every evening for two years until I became good enough to be hired as a developer.
What is the best thing about working with Power Platform for your day job?
Hardit: Instant gratification – you build something, and you see results right away!
Em: The way it can quickly improve someone’s work life. Being able to show a solution to a client coupled with — we can give you this quickly but at a lower than expected cost — it’s a lot of fun seeing them light up when they understand the possibilities.
Vivek: The best thing about the job is to tell our customers – “Everything is possible.” I love experiencing their reaction when we come up with creative solutions to solve their complex problems. Given all the available products within the Power Platform, there is so much you can do with it. However, developing the most optimized solution which brings great value to a customer is what keeps me motivated.
Matthew: My job allows me to go to companies, listen to the challenges they are facing, and ask questions so I can understand how to help. I am a curious person by nature. I love that people want me to ask questions. And I get to solve their problems with technology I love working with.
If you weren’t a Power Platform Developer, what would you be doing?
Hardit: I’m not sure. Maybe an architect for another software platform.
Em: Something else in tech, for sure. I’ve been tinkering with technology since I was about eight years old!
Vivek: After discovering my passion for building low-code solutions and working with Power Platform for nearly five years, I don’t think there is another job I would love to do more. This is what brings me joy. However, if I had to choose something else, it would be photography. I would travel the world and document my journey with photos.
Matthew: I’ve had a CPA designation for 10 years so I would go back to being an Accountant. Power Platform Developer is definitely much cooler.
Besides experience with Power Platform, what other skills are useful for Power Platform consultants/developers/architects?
Hardit: Communication and basic project management skills
Em: Being creative — a lot of solutions will require the ability to think outside the box. Be curious and ask the “what if” questions.
Vivek: There are a lot of things I learned throughout my Power Platform journey which helped me do things better. Some of these include:
- Understanding Agile Methodology / SCRUM – This incremental development system helps deliver the solution in a phased manner and also creates a minimum viable product quickly.
- UI/UX – This gets overlooked sometimes in order to create an app quickly and fast. However, understanding the personas of the people who will use the app will help in creating a better user experience for them, which will eventually also help increase user adoption. A great way to have better UI/UX in your app is to take inspiration from the apps you love using on your phone and to follow some UI/UX websites.
Matthew: Learn how to gather requirements for a new system. Then learn how to translate those requirements into a project plan and clearly communicate the vision for the project to your team.
What are the top mistakes people working with Power Platform make (and how to avoid them)?
Hardit: Assuming it’s all low code. It is lower than traditional development, but it isn’t low. So, managing expectations helps prevent disappointments and frustrations later. Also, trying to master every single component of the platform right from the beginning is a huge mistake. My suggestion is to focus on one and then expand. You don’t need to know everything about the platform to be a great developer.
Em: Low code means easy. It does not, it’s easier than building something like a java application from scratch, but don’t go into this thinking you’re going to be a pro developer in three weeks. Many in this industry have been doing this for several years. It takes time and practice.
- Don’t get comfortable with one thing. People sometimes get comfortable with one product like canvas apps and try to use the same for every use case, which is not always the best solution. So, keep learning about the different products within the platform and the Microsoft 365 apps, and learn how you can use them to offer your customer the best solution for their use case.
- Seek help. You can’t know every single thing, and there are times when trying to search for things by yourself and spending hours on it is not a viable solution. Ask your peers if they have done something similar and learn from them.
Matthew: One of the top mistakes I see is miscalculating the return on investment for Power Platform. Some products on the platform like Dataverse & AI Builder have additional licensing costs. Those suggestions can get dismissed. But they also have a clear benefit that outweighs the costs and adds value.
Are there any skills and capabilities that someone who is a citizen developer/hobbyist should learn to move into a professional Power Platform developer?
Hardit: I think it is important to get exposed to the challenges with the platform. There are multiple ways to do that. Go to the Power Apps community forums, or reach out to people who are doing this for their organizations.
Em: Being able to network will get you far here. Ask questions. Write content about what you find. Always be building!
Vivek: Knowing the power platform and building apps and flows is one thing, however, when you get into more of a professional Power Platform role, your soft skills play a huge role as well. You should have good communication skills to discover your client’s challenges and communicate the solution effectively. Presentation skills play an important role as well – presenting a pre-sales pitch, consolidating the requirements from a discovery session and presenting them, creating wireframes, documenting requirements and creating user stories, presenting solution demos, etc. All of these can make a huge difference, help you stand out, and increase customer satisfaction.
Matthew: Go get your Power Platform Certifications on Microsoft Learn. PL-100 Power Platform App Maker and PL-200 Power Platform Functional Consultant are great ways to prove your knowledge. Most importantly, build a portfolio of projects you’ve done to prove to others you can do the job.
Why Hitachi Solutions?
Vivek: I knew a lot of community members who worked at Hitachi Solutions and whenever I talked to them, I would hear about all the amazing solutions they were building with the Power Platform and using the latest and greatest. Also, everyone was very proud about working for the company, which is not easy to find in a consulting world where people keep switching employers.
After joining Hitachi Solutions and working here for two years — I feel the same, and I know the company values me as an individual and supports me through my ups and downs.
Also, we have an amazing internal community whose combined Power Platform knowledge is infinite. There is always something new to learn from each other.
Matthew: Hitachi Solution has experts in every area of the Power Platform and beyond. If your low-code project suddenly needs a specialist in Data science, UI/ UX, Azure Functions, etc. no problem. We can quickly add them to the team without missing a beat. You’ve got the collective expertise of our whole company behind you.
Power BI: If you build IT, will they come?
A segment by Sandeep Pawar
Do you know what’s common between a farmer in Iowa and a Power BI developer? They share a common goal — to build something that will be used and valued. Like the Iowan farmer played by Kevin Costner in the 1989 movie ‘Field of Dreams’, who built a baseball field on his farm only to find out it’s not enough to just build it. Data flows need to be designed, updated, and maintained to ensure people come and use it. Power BI reports must meet specific user requirements, be easy to use, and be updated to ensure they provide the intended insights.
Gather requirements to build a strong foundation.
Be intentional and thorough to ensure your report meets the needs of the users and addresses
the business problem at hand. Intentionality in the gathering phase means understanding how the
requirements will influence the design and architecture of the reporting solution.
It’s common to have multiple stakeholders who will use your report, so be sure to involve them in the
process to learn about their use cases. Below are a few common guidelines for building better reports:
|Which reports to build? What do you currently use? Who uses it? Who manages the existing reports? How do you get data for the existing reports?||This will help identify stakeholders, data sources, and data transformations (if any). It also helps understand how the new report can be validated. It will help understand common usage patterns.|
|How does the report help you in your process? Why this report is necessary? How will it help you with the next course of action?||Learn about the business objectives for the report and actionable insights users are trying to get from it.|
|How and when the report will be used?||Learn about the business processes, and when the report should be refreshed. Should the report be designed for Mobile devices, etc.?|
|Are there any specific insights the users are looking to glean from the report? Is there any related information to show along with the main KPIs?||Helps identify key KPIs and guides fields/attributes to use, DAX measures, visuals to create, etc. It will also help identify any supplemental data that will need to use to provide context|
|If it is an operational report, what about their business processes? What are they like?||Helps identify key KPIs at different stages in the processes|
|f this is an overall performance report, for example, sales performance how to measure performance? Normally it is by actuals vs forecast, is it similar or different?||Helps guide the layout of the report. Gives an idea about how to break down the main KPIs and type of trends to show in the report.|
|If this is a planning report, then how can the|
report help with forecasting?
|Do we need to use historical data trends to help with the forecasting or use of machine learning solutions, custom visuals, etc.|
Check out more from our Hitachi Solutions Power BI expert and blogger, Sandeep Pawar.
Why Hitachi Solution?
Hitachi Solutions helps its customers successfully compete with the largest global enterprises using powerful, easy-to-use, and affordable industry solutions built on Microsoft cloud services. Contact us today to get started!