Power Apps for the SMB Sector: The new CRM

Busy Barber Shop with power apps logo in foreground

The biggest change to how we run our business over the past year has been in the PowerApps for the SMB sector. It used to be that, if you wanted a CRM system, you would buy a CRM product like Dynamics 365 Sales or Dynamics 365 Customer service. Both of these are fully formed, mature products with a huge, standard set of features baked right into the system. But things have been changing over the past couple of years. These classic, off-the-shelf CRM systems are still available. However, I am struggling to remember a project within the last 12 months at Rocket CRM where we have implemented with one of them.

We are all different, yet the same

The best use case for these first-party products would be if your requirements match exactly the pre-included feature sets. Unfortunately, we live in a real world where everyone is different. What used to happen was that companies would sign up for these expensive products and only use 30% of the standard features. Then, after realising that it wasn’t a perfect fit for them, they would pay a developer to create some custom code in an attempt to get the software to “fit” their specific requirement. There wasn’t a great deal of scope to change much with the configuration options in the off-the-shelf offerings.

The universal truth in business is that every organisation has their own way of getting things done. Every customer has their own unique requirements and processes around the data they want to capture and what they want to do with that data.
However, having said that, there is almost always a high level of commonality between the way all businesses and organisations operate. You could liken it to the houses we all live in. When most of us look for a house, we share common requirements, such as the need for somewhere to cook and eat as well as a place to sleep. But, ultimately, my house looks and feels completely different to your house. My home has been built around my tastes and preferences as well as around the needs of my family. It’s not been made to a standard set of requirements where I might have the same pictures on the wall as everyone else and only use 30% of the house.

Power apps

It’s for these reasons that Microsoft introduced Power Apps to the business community. Power Apps allows us to use the same first class Microsoft cloud platform that Dynamics 365 is built on to rapidly create bespoke, less expensive applications without the need for code. Apps that are designed specifically for a very defined set of requirements.  There is a lot of functional areas that are included in Power Apps when you first provision an environment. The platform comes, already set with standard entities for Companies, Contacts and Activities so that anyone building an application doesn’t have to completely start from scratch.

Intuitive Design

Because we are building very targeted Power Apps for the SMB sector, the age old problem of user adoption is not a problem anymore because everything that users see in the App is something that will be familiar to them and the whole experience is intuitive. It also means that costs are lower because we are not paying for a whole load of functionality that we aren’t using.

Events Power App

Who are Power Apps for?

From speaking to customers, it’s clear that a lot of confusion and general unawareness exists around Power Apps. What are they?… or who are they for? In fact, the vast majority of business leaders we talk to aren’t even aware of Microsoft PowerApps until we tell them about it. Microsoft are great technologists. But, as it often the case, they don’t a great job of communicating effectively to the “real” world when there is something to shout about.
So, who are they for? In a nutshell, Power Apps are for any organisation that needs somewhere to record, store and use data. Regardless of the size or type of business. So, that’s pretty much any company!  From the barbershop that needs to manage hair-cutting stations and bookings to the hedge fund manager who needs a secure database for interactions with high net worth individuals.

Power Apps can be used in almost any scenario. Here’s just a few examples of some of our recent Power Apps for the SMB sector that are not typical sales or customer service.

  • Travel agent (customer records, trips and excursions)
  • Membership organisation ( memberships, renewals and requests)
  • Venture Capital Trust company (funds, investors, IFA’s and commission payments)
  • Industry body (events, speakers, attendees and comms)
  • Charity (donations, campaigns and fundraising)

All of the above projects were carried out for very different types of organisation with differing cultures and needs. Yet, all of the above systems were rapidly built out using the Power Apps platform in a short space of time.

In the mocked up example below we might create an app for a venture capital company that only contains items that the fields sales team needs. Whereas, the back office team might require a different app. The underlying data would be the same but we would build an app for the back office team that shows the things that they are interested in.

Power App VCT

How much does it cost?

This is often what it boils down to. No matter how attractive and useful something is, we all still have our budgets to manage. The good news is that all of the above projects were created in such a way that the license costs were less than £10 per user per month. Rocket CRM, famously, always keep a close eye on licensing changes and will ensure that you are using the most economically available license for your needs.

The other costs around implementing a Power Apps application are the time spent on design and actual creation of the App. Remember, you are starting with a platform and therefore an app needs to be built. With Power Apps, the creation of apps, using just the out of the box configuration, doesn’t take long if the person making the app knows what they are doing. The long development cycle, of software projects of yesteryear no longer exists.

Of course, the amount of time required to creation a Power Apps will depend on how big the requirement is, like anything else in life, the more you want, the more It’s going to cost. But, bear in mind, the flexibility of Power Apps means that it’s realistic to build out something basic and import your first set of key data in just a few days in order to get to your minimal viable starting point. Then, over a period of time, work with a partner to develop your system into a thing of beauty that delivers exactly what your business requires.

HR System Power App

Can I save money by creating my own Power Apps Application?

Yes, of course you can. Microsoft offer all their training content for free nowadays. (here’s a link: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/browse) . If you want to spend time on learning Power Apps when you could be working on your business, then good luck to you. I hope it goes well.
But if you back to the analogy of a house. If I want to build a house…Yes, I could learn about architecture and design, I could learn how to lay bricks and all about plumbing and electrics… but at the end of today, we all know that its going to be a lot cheaper and easier to pay someone who knows what their doing and who will probably deliver a better result anyway.

This is the real benefit of working with an experienced partner who knows Power Apps and has CRM and business experience. A partner like Rocket CRM will listen to your requirement and design something that works specifically for you, as building Power Apps for the SMB sector is pretty much our bread and butter business these days.

Rocket CRM has experience in CRM and business application experience going back to the 1990’s. But we also, quite literally, have our heads in the cloud!
Talk to us about your business application requirement.

share with your friends