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Everything you need to know about Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Apps

If you have been using a CRM system in your business for a while, there is a good chance you would have heard of Dynamics 365 which is Microsoft’s premier CRM solution for small businesses. If you are taking your first steps into the CRM world or have just used what basic CRMs have to offer, you may have no idea what Dynamics 365 is or even worse might not know what functions it performs or who it’s for. It is important for us at this point to bust the myth that Dynamics 365 is too complex and designed for only the biggest of organisations as this is simply not true as it can be used by all kinds of businesses, big or small! 

Now that we’ve put you straight on this myth, we are also going to discuss how Power Apps could be potentially used as an alternative to Dynamics 365. Before we discuss that, we will be comparing and contrasting both Power Apps and Dynamics 365. To give you the best possible perspective, we need to take you through some things below and tell you a bit more about the Microsoft Power Platform which is put simply the platform where both Power Apps and Dynamics 365 are created. 

So, what are the basics of the Microsoft Power Platform? 

Let’s get started by explaining exactly what the Microsoft Power Platform is by expanding on what we briefly mentioned above. 

The Microsoft Power Platform is used to create applications such as databases through the use of a set of low-code tools, allowing those that don’t have or limited coding skills to create applications that will help to resolve issues that they have in their business. At Advantage, we largely use this platform to create CRM databases, however it is important to note that there are no limits as to what it can do. The Microsoft Power Platform consists of 5 main elements: Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents, Power BI and Power Pages. 

Here at Advantage, if required we have the knowledge and knowhow to be able to create tailored CRM solutions through the use of Microsoft Power Apps. However, it is also vital to be able to have an understanding of how the other 3 components work to help you grasp this better and to give you a comprehensive overview of exactly what the whole Microsoft Power Platform can do for your business. 

So, what are the basics of Microsoft Power Apps? 

As we’ve alluded to earlier in this article, Microsoft Power Apps allows you to create a customised app to solve a problem or issue in your business such as databases. However, a Power App can be used in several different ways, either a Canvas App or Model Driven App. 

To explain what a Canvas App is, you can create it from scratch in exactly the way you wish it to be used through the use of a simple formula language to create it. Once created, you are able to hook it up to whichever data source you want. To give you a basic example of this, you could create a simple sales app to allow you to access customer information on the go. 

On the other side of the coin, you could choose to build a Model Driven App which is where you use a data model and build databases in a component fashion. You will find that is usually the main way used to create CRM / databases and is precisely how Dynamics 365 and Power Apps based CRM solutions are created. Furthermore, these are both sat within the Microsoft Power Platform and are built through the use of the same tools and elements. 

How do Power Apps compare to Dynamics 365? 

So, if they basically sit in the same place, why would you pick one over the other option? It is important to take into account that there are a number of considerations that will determine which product you decide to go with. Let’s start with Dynamics 365 as it's been around much longer under a different name, it came into the market in 2003 under the name ‘Microsoft Business Solutions Customer Relationship Management 1.0’ before being changed to ‘Dynamics 365’ in 2016 after several updates and enhancements. Microsoft Power Apps on the other hand came into the market in November 2015. 

We’ve already alluded to the fact that both are Model Driven Apps, however the most important thing to note here is the fact that there is some functionality in Dynamics 365 that you cannot get in Power Apps unless you choose to create them in Power Apps. This largely depends on how much time and resource you wish to allocate to make this a reality from the very start. You may wish to consider if you are a small business with a very low budget and don’t really need to have the latest in AI technology or the bells and whistles of Power BI dashboards, then the Microsoft Power Platform could be the best approach if you want a very basic sales CRM system. 

On the other hand, you are a more established organisation with more complex needs, fed up with the lack of functionality in past systems. In this scenario, you don’t want to be limited to functionality when it comes to upgrading your CRM, therefore, it would make logical sense to go with Dynamics 365 as it will have all the pre-set functionality you need from the start. 

Taking this one step further, these pre-set features are extremely flexible in the sense that they can be fully customised depending on exactly what your business requires as well as what your users and customers require. In the vast majority of cases, these features need to be modified, configured and enhanced so it’s the perfect option to choose for your business as it gives you the best of both. 

From our 20+ years of experience in working in this market, we find that this is where CRM systems become flawed as they don’t take into account the needs of both users as well as customers. The evolution of CRM systems has gone far beyond being a basic contact database to hold customer information. The features and impact of CRM systems can be used across the whole customer lifecycle making use of highly complex and sophisticated data. This is why it is so crucial to consider the requirements of both users and customers at every stage of the process. 

How can cost savings be achieved through the use of Microsoft Power Apps? 

Another benefit of choosing to use Power Apps over Dynamics 365 is the fact that it can be much cheaper. Let’s cut to the chase here, Microsoft licensing can be a bit of a minefield and can therefore make it a little tricky when using a CRM database across your business. Whereas on the other hand, Power Apps licenses are much more cost effective than Dynamics 365.  

This is where working with a dedicated and reliable Dynamics 365 partner such as us can pay dividends as we are able to help you navigate your way through licensing and can help to provide you with the best possible options for your business through various exclusive discounts and offers and much, much more. 

The great thing about working with a leading CRM partner such as us is the fact that we can help to ensure you don’t pay any more than you have to and can help you pick the right license that best suits your requirements. To put this into context through an example, your business might only need a simple Power Apps license that is a fraction of the cost of what a Dynamics 365 one is with functionality that your business doesn’t want. A lot of businesses don’t realise this at all. 

If you use basic logic, you could say that as a sales team you will need a Sales Enterprise license – however your specific requirements might be extremely basic meaning that you could save a significant amount of money by using a different license. It is important to note that you can use a combination of different licensing depending on exactly which users' needs, what level of access and so on. 

Want a CRM solution built exactly the way that you want? Why not go for a Power App? 

One of the main reasons you should consider going for a Microsoft Power App over Dynamics 365 is the fact that you could in practice build a customised solution that you wouldn’t get from a standard CRM solution.  

In certain cases, some CRM users as well as managers get headaches from out-of-the-box CRM solutions hitting the CRM market that don’t give them the flexibility that they need. Even if they state that they are very flexible and fully scalable, they can only be flexible and scalable to a certain degree. 

To sum this up, you will find that both solutions are very similar in both the look and feel. This is perfect for those that are familiar with Dynamics 365 already as Power Apps will easily resonate with them too. As well as this, the seamless nature between the Microsoft products will feel easy and intuitive. 

Next Steps? 

If you are a complete novice to the world of Microsoft Power Apps, then we hope the above has helped you to gain a better understanding of the Microsoft CRM options that are available and that you can use this knowledge to decide whether you go for one of our Quick Start CRM packages or wish to discuss the creation of a Microsoft Power App with a member of our team by contacting us today

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