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June 1, 2021

10 Ways to Automate Business Processes Using a Tool You Already Have: Microsoft Power Platform

We all know that the past year has driven innovation throughout the economy. As business conditions shifted in early 2020, innovators across the globe were forced to use any means to keep their organization open. The digital transformation we have seen in our society over the past year is not going away anytime soon, so it’s important for leaders and visionaries across organizations to understand the tools available to them to survive in a rapidly changing and increasingly digital landscape using automation. 

Microsoft Power Platform is the leading low-code platform to implement innovation and automation at your organization. Regardless of your organization’s size or IT capacity, with training your employees can build secure solutions specific to your needs without a costly team of software developers. What makes the Power Platform so powerful is its user-friendly approach to streamline the journey from an idea to an end solution. Not a developer? No problem. The Power Platform is for everyone and you may already have access to parts of the Power Platform included with your Microsoft 365 subscription. 

Here are a few specific examples on how the Power Platform can help you innovate at your organization. 

1) Use AI to Read and Process AP Invoices Emailed To Your Company

Are you receiving invoices by email? How do these invoices get into your system to be processed for payment? As part of the Power Platform, Microsoft offers low cost and easy to use AI models which can detect, read, and save information from standard documents like invoices, purchase orders,and contracts. If you are still relying on a team to transpose details from a PDF, consider using Power Apps AI builder to reliably extract the key parts of these documents and free up your team’s time for other tasks.  

Power Platform Blog 1 AI Model Builder

2) Key Invoices into Your Legacy ERP

Many organizations are using applications that have limitations to how transactions can be imported into the system. By design, these legacy applications limit your options for automation. Until recently, the only solution was to engage in a repetitive task of keying the data into the Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP) which limited the hours these users had available for high-value work. The answer is desktop automation, specifically, Power Automate Desktop.   

Power Automate Desktop uses a low-code/no-code Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate the repetitive busy work tasks like data entry. RPA makes it possible to automate workflows across both modern and legacy applications on your desktop by allowing you to record any action you could perform on your own within the app. Functionally, it is similar to how macros work familiar Office apps like Excel, only much more secure and easier to build. 

Paired with ready-to-use AI, you could quickly build and deploy a solution that reads the contents of an emailed PDF invoice and enters them into your legacy ERP system with no user intervention.   

Power Platform Blog 2 RPA Legacy Invoice

3) Move Your Purchase Request/Approval Process to Teams

Do you have an approval process for your organization’s purchase requisition process?  Power Automate Approvals is included in most Microsoft 365 license. This feature is designed to accommodate whatever approval structure your organization has. It can automate sign-off requests and combine human decision-making for your specific workflows.   

When a request is made, you can choose how the approver is notified and they can approve or deny the request within the email or Teams notification.   

4) Send Quick Surveys to Your Work from Home Employees

A good manager is checking in with their employees regularly for support with their day-to-day challenges. In a face-to-face office setting this is often taken for granted. As the workforce is increasingly remote and dispersed, keep your employees engaged with an easy-to-deploy weekly check-in survey built as a Power App. The results can be aggregated and shared with management. A feedback loop can be built in for managers to provide comments or schedule a meeting with an employee after reviewing their survey.  

Power Platform Blog 4 Employee Survey App Designer View

5) Create an Interactive Tradeshow Showcase

Want a new way for your salespeople to show your portfolio of products? Create a tablet-friendly canvas app in Power Apps to use at the next tradeshow. The interactive nature of canvas apps will engage a prospective buyer more than a paper pamphlet. It will also allow you to control the exact layout and content Display a gallery of product photos, embed videos and capture contact information, it’s all possible within Power Apps. 

Power Platform Blog 5 Power Apps Showcase App App Only View

6) Capture Notes, Pictures and Details In Real Time From the Field

Do you have technicians out in the field capturing critical information for customers, projects or bids? What systems do you have in place to ensure that the information makes its way back to your office for operations? If you are still relying on pencil or paper, consider creating a mobile-friendly low-code/no-code Power App to assist your field employees in capturing the information that you need them to provide. In addition to capturing typed notes, the app you build in Power Apps can capture pictures, location, audio recordings and more.  All of which can be securely transmitted back to the office in real-time. 

7) Detect Negative Sentiment from A Customer’s Emails or Tweets and Notify Customer Service

Customer satisfaction is usually one of the goals of a Customer Service Team. As part of the Power Platform, Microsoft offers AI models that can detect sentiment from an email, tweet, survey or any other source of natural language. This analysis is done near instantly. So, instead of waiting for a human to read the customer’s bad comment, a customer service representative can be notified instantly so that they can prioritize reaching out and resolving the issue with that customer. 

8) Build A Portal for Your Customers or Vendors

Does your organization offer a self-service way for external users to get relevant information? Power Apps Portal allows you to build low-code, secure and responsive websites which allow external users to interact the data that you choose to provide to them. These websites can integrate with Microsoft services such as Power BI, Power Automate, SharePoint and Azure to enrich the experience for the user. 

9) Replace QA/QC Paper Checklists with A Digital Mobile Accessible Solution

Do you have a quality control process in place for your organization’s output? A mobile friendly low-code/no-code checklist app can be created in Power Apps to ensure your quality standards are being met. Create your own custom lists and let your users capture pictures, hand keyed notes and other relevant information. Use Power Automate to monitor the results and notify the appropriate users in Teams or Email when exceptions occur.  

10) Keep Your Data Secure

Unlike local Excel files passed around via email, the custom-built Access databases that you can’t rid yourself of, a one-off 3rd party SaaS solution, or any other rogue application you may be using, app development on the Power Platform is not only scalable but secure and governable by design. Microsoft offers an array of tools such as Data Loss Prevention (DLP), the Center of Excellence (COE) kit and a robust Power Platform Admin center to help you administer governance and oversight for your data and critical apps and workflows. 

These 10 examples are just a preview of the many ways that your organization can use the Power Platform to innovate and automate business processes. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Anders Technology advisors has a team of innovators with experience in building solutions on the Power Platform and helping organizations like yours get the best use of these powerful tools. We can help deploy and consult on low code/no code platforms so you can scale while not overwhelming IT staff. Contact an Anders advisor below to get started. 

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