Replace that spreadsheet into your own custom software with Model-driven apps within Power Apps

Companies across the globe are using an ever-growing number of tools to manage their businesses. These tools generate huge amounts of data, and thus, there comes a need to collect all of this new data in one location. Unfortunately, many of these companies still rely on spreadsheets to manage customer data which poses a significant problem. Companies of all sizes spend countless hours creating, editing, and updating their spreadsheets that measure their performance and help provide data for strategic decision-making. 

Spreadsheets thus are an integral part of many businesses. Considering how critical the data is contained in them, their output must be accurate. Despite their many uses throughout the years, spreadsheets have become outdated and are no longer suitable for managing the large amounts of disparate data generated by modern businesses. 

Even with experienced users, spreadsheets are prone to errors. The larger the spreadsheet, the more chances of errors going unnoticed. Version numbering, lack of real-time updates, constant manual tracking, security risks, the list goes on and on for the issues a company runs into with spreadsheets. 

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Business Applications – moving forward with data. 

The modern-day business market has many data management applications designed to meet various industries’ requirements. You have an application for every business process, from accounting to project management, from sales to customer relationship management. These systems are device-agnostic, customizable platforms that help companies achieve their specific goals through integrations and personalization. 

However, some unique requirements cannot necessarily be met through an available application or a spreadsheet for some businesses. In such instances, companies usually opt to create a custom business application from the ground up. 

Microsoft Power Platform 

In the last few years, we have seen low-code development platforms rise. These robust business applications do not require complex software coding. The Microsoft Power Platform is the best example of a low-code/no-code platform. The platform can trace its roots to Dynamics CRM – Microsoft’s customer relationship management tool. Many businesses utilize Dynamics CRM as an xRM platform opting to replace the “C” in CRM with an “x” to denote its ability to be used to house more than just customer data. This approach helped shape the variety of tools available on the Microsoft Power Platform. 

Model-driven Power Apps to replace spreadsheets 

Canvas apps, model-driven apps, Power Automate, portals, etc., are a few methods users can create new solutions in the Power Platform. However, we will stick to the benefits of model-driven apps within Power Apps for this article. Power Apps are the most logical and commonly adopted step forward from a spreadsheet-dependent system. Furthermore, they are significantly less costly than Microsoft Dynamics 365. Model-driven apps have the same relational database as Microsoft’s bigger applications but are less complex and more “Citizen-Developer” friendly. One of the biggest advantages of Model-driven apps is that if a company’s needs outgrow the functionalities provided by the app, they can easily move to a bigger application.  

Let’s take a deeper look into the benefits offered by Model-driven apps: 

Access on the go: 

Model-driven apps are device agnostic and can be accessed anywhere through mobile phones, tablets, web browsers, etc. These apps then allow workers to leverage smart mobile functionalities and help them work on the go and easily access data, photographs, documents, etc. 

Easy to use no-code interface: 

Model-driven apps, much like other Power Apps, have a low-code, no-code approach to development. This enables more users to build applications as it does not require advanced technical experiences. With this approach, developers can deploy applications much faster than traditional procedures. 

Flexibility like Access – but far more advanced: 

For users familiar with Microsoft Access, PowerApps can provide similar capability but with a modern web-based interface and much more sophisticated functionalities. A key similarity is that a person with basic technical knowledge and skills can build an application on top of the database. The difference, however, is that Access was not primarily targeting non-developers. PowerApps, on the other hand, are enabling “Citizen Developers” to create usable applications. Model-driven apps are one of the most common forms of PowerApps created by modern citizen developers. 

Cost efficiency: 

Developing conventional applications is costly and time-consuming. However, Model-driven apps are relatively cheaper to develop. This is a huge advantage over managing spreadsheets or creating new traditional apps. The money spent in creating the app eventually turns into revenue generated due to the savings created by the app. 

Custom relational database structure 

Model-driven apps are built on top of a robust, flexible relational database structure that allows them to be molded into the clients’ needs easily. There are many other benefits of a relational database structure that a client can enjoy when opting for Model-driven apps. These include considerably high speed, password-protected tables, lack of complex structuring and query processing, etc. 

Integration with Microsoft Tools: 

Since Model-driven apps are a part of the overall Microsoft technology stack, it is fully capable of integrating with other Microsoft tools such as Dynamics 365, Power Automate, SharePoint, and even Excel. It also offers integration with other third-party services. Many connectors are available in the market that helps integrate Power Apps that make it easy to connect with other platforms. 

Hosted in the cloud: 

Model-driven apps are hosted in the cloud. This enables them to be accessed by multiple users and from various locations. Apps designed to streamline organizational communication and collaboration are ideally hosted in the cloud. Since one of the biggest limitations of spreadsheets is that they get unnecessarily complex when multiple users work on them, cloud applications are an ideal remedy for this problem. With model-driven apps, you have a highly available and distributed network that allows for scaling that a traditional spreadsheet cannot support. 

Conclusion: 

Spreadsheets were, and still are, a great invention worthy of the spotlight and useful for many different application. However, the modern world has outgrown many of its functionalities. The need has emerged for a more advanced solution to help business manage their often unique data. While business apps are the obvious upgrade from spreadsheets, they are essentially too expensive for most companies. However, with Power Apps and Model-driven apps, this problem has been addressed, and now businesses can easily replace their spreadsheets with cost-effective and efficient solutions. 

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