Yes and no.
In Microsoft’s terminology, various fragments, modules of software from this manufacturer stem from a single source, which sometimes leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretation of facts. An example of this is Power Apps within Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) and the extensive platform that is Microsoft Power Platform.
Power Apps in Microsoft 365:
Within Microsoft 365, Power Apps serves as a specific tool for creating applications, eliminating the need for developing traditional software. These applications primarily focus on expanding capabilities within Microsoft 365, such as SharePoint, Teams, or Excel. They are usually dedicated to individual productivity or handling small teams. They work well for enhancing existing features in Excel or SharePoint lists, such as managing lists or simple projects, for instance.
Issues arise when attempting to integrate a part of the ecosystem into more complex processes involving a greater number of people, departments, or stages of a given process. Everything we “program” relies on the identity of the user-creator, making management, maintenance, and ensuring security a challenge. A simple password change or an employee leaving the company without prior preparation can cause the solution to “fail.”
Microsoft Power Platform:
It is a comprehensive, separately licensed set of tools that includes Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate (formerly Flow), and Power Virtual Agents. This toolkit is designed for data analysis, application development, process automation, and chatbot creation. Power Platform handles much broader business processes, where information, states, statuses, and actions flow between various areas on multiple levels. It supports permissions and data access at the record level, and even specific cells. It allows for utilizing permission groups based on a hierarchy built either in the application or at the user management level in Azure Active Directory. It is a framework for creating virtually any process, handling larger data quantities, nesting, etc. On the flip side, it is a more costly solution in terms of preparation, requiring investments in configurations.
Sometimes there is a mistaken assumption that “Power Apps” refers only to the ability to build applications within Microsoft 365, overlooking the broad set of tools (framework) available within the Microsoft Power Platform. Therefore, it is important to clarify the differences so that stakeholders and citizen developers understand the full range of possibilities offered by both solutions and their impact on organizational structure. Often, a simple need addressed using Power Apps in Teams can evolve into a complex undertaking based on the complete Power Platform. For other, less elaborate processes with minimal data, Power Apps with an M365 license will easily suffice. But the more something we want to program involves a larger number of people or a complex structure with selective data access, the more we should think about licensing the Microsoft Power Platform.