Microsoft's Power Platform, and in particular Power Apps, promises to make low-code applications easy to create. The slogan of Microsoft on their tool is " Today, everyone can create and share low code applications with Microsoft Power Apps ". During different projects, I was able to identify some strengths and weaknesses of the tool. Among the strengths, we can note:
- No need to waste time creating infrastructure (database, web servers, etc...) as in a classic development project,
- Fast learning curve and development of functionalities,
- Possibility of live correction during a demonstration.
And on the weaknesses side:
- Impossible to develop several applications at the same time,
- Difficulty to maintain a complex application.
With this in mind, I find that the tool is particularly well suited to agile methods, and I'll explain why by taking up the 4 values of the Agile Manifesto.
People and their interactions rather than processes and tools
Microsoft's idea is to allow end users to create their own applications easily. Who better than the end user to define what he needs? In fact, we realize that it is not that simple. Indeed, some elements can bring technical complexity to the product (interaction with other IS tools, subtlety of some components). A combination that I find works well is to create the applications together with the end user and the developer. This can be done in several ways, the developer creates and the end user tests. Or the end-user creates and the developer provides technical support on any blockages encountered. In any case, play the complementarity, in a user + developer team.
Operational software rather than comprehensive documentation
The big advantage of Power Apps, in my opinion, is the speed with which we can create features and make them available to users. This allows for very short iterations or sprints (up to a day) and to have a working software on a regular basis.
This speed is accentuated by the fact that the technical debt is very low. Most of the connectors are already preconfigured, the Power Apps platform is ready to use. We are in a cloud environment, there is no need to spend time creating infrastructure and setting up everything (database, web server, installation time). The cloud allows you to focus on the essential: the business; and to create value for it as frugally as possible (Lean agile approach).
Collaboration with clients rather than contractual negotiation
Another feature of Power Apps that I use very regularly is the demonstration directly from the development studio. The success of Teams and other video conferencing tools amplifies this practice. It allows to collect feedback from users and to make live adaptations in a few seconds. Wow effect guaranteed!
Adapting to change more than following a plan
The simplicity of the tool makes it easy to adapt to change. No need for weeks of training or large skill transfers to be autonomous on Power Apps. No need to know a specific programming language. The risk related to a departure or change of developer is therefore quite contained.
Changes in functionality and requirements along the way are possible and even welcome if they increase the value created for the business (products are developed for business users, and not just to please each other). Power Apps allows experimentation when it is useful for the product/project; it allows prototyping at a lower cost and quickly (for example in Design Thinking innovation approaches or for a Minimum Viable Product in Lean Startup). Moreover, this prototyping can be done on already existing applications without impacting the users. They will only have access to the evolution when the developer publishes his version.
In conclusion, Power Apps is a relevant tool for agile methods
Power Apps is therefore very well suited to agile approaches. Be careful, however, as the tool must be used properly to avoid excesses (especially overly complex applications). Good practices need to be defined and implemented in the company to reduce these risks, without limiting its power and flexibility.
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