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michaelc_yul
Regular Visitor

Power Platform vs Service Now

I'm hoping to get some high-level help: We would like to build a self-service portal where employees can make and manage requests like vacation requests, absence reports, travel requests, etc.  Requests would be routed to supervisors and/or other departments according to business rules. Supervisors would see only the requests from their own employees which they would approve or decline.  Backoffice users would perform further processing of requests (for example, purchase plane tickets on another platform and then update the request with the details in the service portal).  We would like to integrate with our HR and Finance systems through REST APIs, csv file import/export and/or direct SQL connections. 

 

Some requests would be simple, single record forms, while others would span multiple tables with parent-child relationships.  Some forms will display data from backend systems, for example, a vacation request form would show the number of vacation days remaining in the employee’s bank.  We would require a feature-rich interface, with cascading drop downs,  show/hide fields based on rules, etc.

 

We are considering two platforms for this project: Service Now and the Microsoft Power Platform.  Service Now does everything this project requires, but we are already firmly implanted in the Microsoft ecosystem so it would make more sense to go this way.  In terms of the Microsoft solution, from what I understand, we have three options:

 

Sharepoint Lists

  • Plan
    • Use Sharepoint lists as a database to store records
    • Use PowerApps  to customize forms where needed
    • Use PowerAutomate for workflows (would have to purchase subscription for premium connectors)
  • Pros
    • Low cost, already included in our O365 A3 subscription
  • Cons
    • Limited functionality, no native support for parent-child records, cascading dropdowns, etc ? 
    • Could we configure such that managers only see the records of their own employees?
    • Is this stretching Sharepoint lists for more than what they are intended?

 

PowerApps / Common Data Service

  • Plan
    • Use CDS to store records
    • Use PowerApps to create forms
    • Use PowerAutomate for workflows
  • Pros
    • Works with Sharepoint
  • Cons
    • Each user has to have a PowerApps license ?  Is PowerApps the only way to access the CDS ?
    • Potentially a lot of app building: It seems that each process will have to have a model driven app and a canvas driven app.  (?)

 

Dynamics 365

  • Plan
    • Use Dynamics 365
  • Pros
    • Full-scale cloud platform
  • Cons
    • Expensive
    • We are stuck with our back-end accounting and HR systems, we can’t get rid of them.  Dynamics would have to be integrated into them.  So we would essentially be using Dynamics as a front-end, I’m not sure if this is really its intended purpose.
1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Accepted Solutions
timl
Super User III
Super User III

Hi @michaelc_yul 

It's great that you're considering the Power Platform. There are lots of people here that would be happy to help you.

To answer some of your questions...

  • SharePoint - Limited functionality, no native support for parent-child records, cascading dropdowns, etc ?
    With SharePoint, we can create lists with lookup fields. This provides support for a parent-child hierarchy, and cascading drop downs.
  • >> SharePoint - Could we configure such that managers only see the records of their own employees?
    Yes, this is possible. In a Canvas app, we can filter SharePoint lists to show only relevant data.
  • >> SharePoint - Is this stretching Sharepoint lists for more than what they are intended?
    There are lots of people that use SharePoint for this type of scenario, so I think it'll be fine.

One point about SharePoint is that there is less support for delegable queries. This makes it more difficult to return accurate data when a SharePoint list contains lots of records, typically above 2000. If you search these forums for the word 'delegation', you can find out more.

  • >> CDS - Each user has to have a PowerApps license ? Is PowerApps the only way to access the CDS ?
    Yes, each user needs to have a PowerApps license. Dynamics 365 also uses the CDS. Therefore, users with a Dynamics 365 license can access the CDS without needing an additional PowerApps license.
    We can access the CDS through all the products in the Power Platform (Power BI, Power Automate etc). There is also a API, so you can write your own applications to access the CDS.
  • >> Potentially a lot of app building: It seems that each process will have to have a model driven app and a canvas driven app. (?)
    You can create a model driven or canvas app. There's no need to build both for each process.

Hopefully, that answers most of your questions. Feel free to post back if you need any further clarification.

View solution in original post

4 REPLIES 4
timl
Super User III
Super User III

Hi @michaelc_yul 

It's great that you're considering the Power Platform. There are lots of people here that would be happy to help you.

To answer some of your questions...

  • SharePoint - Limited functionality, no native support for parent-child records, cascading dropdowns, etc ?
    With SharePoint, we can create lists with lookup fields. This provides support for a parent-child hierarchy, and cascading drop downs.
  • >> SharePoint - Could we configure such that managers only see the records of their own employees?
    Yes, this is possible. In a Canvas app, we can filter SharePoint lists to show only relevant data.
  • >> SharePoint - Is this stretching Sharepoint lists for more than what they are intended?
    There are lots of people that use SharePoint for this type of scenario, so I think it'll be fine.

One point about SharePoint is that there is less support for delegable queries. This makes it more difficult to return accurate data when a SharePoint list contains lots of records, typically above 2000. If you search these forums for the word 'delegation', you can find out more.

  • >> CDS - Each user has to have a PowerApps license ? Is PowerApps the only way to access the CDS ?
    Yes, each user needs to have a PowerApps license. Dynamics 365 also uses the CDS. Therefore, users with a Dynamics 365 license can access the CDS without needing an additional PowerApps license.
    We can access the CDS through all the products in the Power Platform (Power BI, Power Automate etc). There is also a API, so you can write your own applications to access the CDS.
  • >> Potentially a lot of app building: It seems that each process will have to have a model driven app and a canvas driven app. (?)
    You can create a model driven or canvas app. There's no need to build both for each process.

Hopefully, that answers most of your questions. Feel free to post back if you need any further clarification.

View solution in original post

Thanks, @timl for your detailed reply.  One thing I'm having trouble wrapping my head around: If we were to go with the PowerApps CDS solution, what would be the tool for creating web forms for requestors ?  For example, if I wanted to create a web form for a vacation request that would be used exclusively by people on desktops with browsers.  The PowerApps canvas apps are mobile-centric... you can run them in a browser but it just looks like a workaround to me.  The model apps are more the look and feel I would expect, but they don't seem to be designed to build front end forms with.  Hope that makes sense.

Hi @michaelc_yul 

To create web forms that are designed for desktops, we would still use the canvas app designer.

As you say, these apps are by default targeted at phone and tablet devices. What we can do however, is to increase the canvas size of an app through the settings. We can then choose a smaller font size for the controls, and that will result in an app that renders much better on a desktop computer.

Thanks, @timl , I'm still struggling with the idea of using canvas apps in a browser.  Yesterday I was trying to do a simple app for browser desktop, one screen which lists all the records in a datatable control and another screen that shows the details of the record.  The datatable lacks basic features of a similar control, for example sorting.  I also couldn't figure out how to put Navigate on the selected item so that i could send the user to the detail screen.  This is straightforward in the gallery control but not in data table (but the gallery controls are clearly for mobile devices, doesn't make sense for browser).  I ended up using a Sharepoint list instead of the Powerapp.

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