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The Right Tool for the Job

The Right Tool for the Job (and it’s not always an App!)

If you’ve ever worked with tools of any kind – workshop, garage, kitchen etc – you’ll probably have been told, at least once, to “Use the right tool for the job”. I mean, sure, you CAN use a pair of pliers in place of a spanner (and I have) but they don’t do as good a job and actually can damage the nut/bolt. You can use a screwdriver to punch a hole, but you’ll ruin your screwdriver after doing that a few times.

With all the awesomeness that is the Power Platform and all of the attention that PowerApps has been getting, it’s become a very common thing to hear “We need to make an app for this”

But do we? Really?

Now don’t get me wrong, I am NOT hating on the PowerApps here! But… “Right tool for the job”

Image of Microsoft 365 Platform tools including PowerApps, Flow, PowerBI, SharePoint, Forms, Excel, OneDrive, CDS, Logic Apps, Dynamics, and Azure
So many tools, so little time – but which one is right for the job?

Recently the excellent Forms Pro went into General Availability (1st July) and with it, you have a whole new realm of possibilities. Not just for the Voice of the Customer stuff, but also for a decent chunk of the old InfoPath forms that have, up until now, been immediately transferred to a PowerApp.

If we consider a simple checklist form. A series of questions for the person to answer Yes/No/Other and provide a text box depending on their answers. We want that data to go into CDS and we have no requirement for the person filling in the checklist to review their data. They fill it in, submit it, and away it goes.

I will confess at this point that this is similar to a scenario I faced this week, so if any of the folks at work read this please DON’T TAKE OFFENCE!!!! I will come back to that in a minute.

If that list of requirements is all that is needed then we don’t automatically need an App. We could build one, and it would be undoubtedly a work of art, but it’s actually a simple form – which we can also turn into a work of art. Once completed, that form may actually be all that is needed.

When we need to review the data we can use a PowerBI report or even something as simple as an Excel Data Feed.

At this point, I have got to point you towards the wonderful Megan Walker MVP 😎✨ who has done loads of posts and videos about Microsoft Forms (normal and Pro). If you want to really see what this tool is capable of then you have to visit her site!

Coming back to the scenario at work. I leapt in and immediately said “Would this work as a form” and, in this case, it wouldn’t. Why? Because there was a need to be able to take and attach photos depending upon the answers, and you can’t do that in Forms (yet).

There are genuine scenarios that would suit a Form, but the lack of attachments etc will push people towards the PowerApps solution – it’s not a bad thing, but I really hope the Forms team address this area as there are loads of Forms being made into apps that don’t always need to be.

I really want to stress that I am definitely not against building Apps, and I am *not* saying that Forms is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (42!). But with apps being developed every minute, we are potentially building ourselves into a new kind of technical debt. We can over-complicate sometimes, instead of looking at the options.

Some of this comes down to a constant awareness of what is happening in the world of Microsoft Business Applications, and also the ever-changing world of Microsoft Licensing, but some of it comes down to us leaping onto a bandwagon or the familiar.

PowerApps/Forms is probably the biggest example I can discuss at the moment – but the same thing can also apply with Logic Apps and Flow, and even PowerBI and Excel.

I absolutely love the Power Platform, and think that we have been given an amazing toolset to use for developing some seriously awesome stuff, but we need to ensure that we are most definitely using the Right Tool for the Job!

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