Transitioning SharePoint business automation to Power Platform

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If your business is still running its automation processes on legacy forms and workflows, you might want to start thinking about transitioning them to Microsoft’s modern automation technologies in Power Platform.

As of November 2020, the SharePoint Online 2010 Workflow engine was turned off for all tenants, meaning existing 2010-based workflows no longer function. While the SharePoint Online 2013 Workflow engine continues to work, Microsoft announced its plan to deprecate it. This means it will also no longer function as of July 14, 2021 for new tenants and July 13, 2026 for existing tenants.

End of support for SharePoint products in Microsoft 365 tenants: Key dates to be aware of

Why you should transition your existing forms and workflows to the Microsoft Power Platform  

At first it may seem like your organization will need to spend more money to recreate forms and workflows that are already working. The good news is, if you’re a Microsoft 365 customer, you won’t have to.

There’s a simple way to transition your legacy forms and workflows to a solution you already have access to – Microsoft Power Platform.

Microsoft Power Platform is a collection of products designed around a citizen developer concept, offering a no code, low code solution that allows user to build complex business solutions, analyze, draw data visualizations, automate business processes, and build virtual agents for communication. Since Power Platform is already part of your Microsoft 365 licensing, it can be a relativity easy change if done correctly.

The 4 major components within Microsoft Power Platform

  1. Power Apps. A suite of tools that allows users to create custom apps leveraging the many features of the Microsoft 365 environment. While it can be used by developers, it’s simple enough for non-technical users to create custom apps and realize the power of automation.
  2. Power Automate. Formerly known as Flow, Power Automate is Microsoft’s cloud-based workflow engine. It enables users to build out workflows and business processes across different applications, including SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive.
  3. Power BI. Known as the reporting stack, Power BI is a cloud-based reporting and analytics platform that connects users to a broad range of data through interactive reports, dashboards, and compelling visualizations that tell a story.
  4. Power Virtual Agents. The newest addition to the Power Platform family, Power Virtual Agents is a no-code tool that allows users to create a chatbot that can be on a standalone website or even integrated into Microsoft Teams. In just a few clicks, non-technical subject matter experts can create and easily embed a chatbot into their company website.

For experienced developers that are already familiar with different environment concepts and have the skill sets needed to build solutions, Power Platform enables them to easily apply Dev Ops policies and practices into their development. But it’s also a developer-friendly environment where solutions you normally have to code for are available through connectors, making API usage a lot easier.

How to transition to Power Platform

Now that we know why the Power Platform is a good replacement option for SharePoint 2010 and 2013 workflows, let’s talk about how you can transition to these applications.

Step one: Think about how business processes run in an organization

Typically, there are two versions of business processes we see within any organization:

  1. User initiated workflows. These can be form centric (when a form is used to collect and submit data to start a process) or document centric (e.g., a document review or approval).
  2. System initiative/triggered workflows. In this scenario, an event trigger can start a business process, or a process can start from a timer or a schedule (e.g., a recurring event).

Understanding these differences will help you in steps two and three, as you consider what applications you already have in place and how to deploy them in the new environment.

Step two: Audit and assess your existing environment

During the assessment phase, you’ll want to take inventory of the following:

  • Where do your business processes reside?
  • Are you using all of them?
  • How many are there?
  • Where does the data collected from these business processes reside?
  • Do you need synchronization between SQL and Azure SQL?
  • Do you need to set up a data gateway to access the data?

Knowing all of this will help you determine the business processes that need to be recreated, redesigned, or rethought altogether.

For example, when moving from SharePoint Designer to Power Apps, you might think, “I have two applications here, so I’ll need two there.” This isn’t necessarily the case. There may be opportunities to combine two workflows into one or take one workflow and redesign it into two. Your requirements might not be the same on a different platform technology.

Step three: Deploy your environment

Once you’ve evaluated your current forms and workflow environment, you can begin your journey to the Microsoft Power Platform. In this stage you’ll want to:

  • Get trained on how to use the applications within the Power Platform
  • Deploy the Power Platform Center of Excellence to your Microsoft 365 environment
  • Develop custom forms and applications with Power Apps
  • Leverage Power BI to create interactive, immersive dashboards and reports for business insights
  • Get an understanding of best practices for deploying solutions to the Power Platform
  • Apply business process deployment and conversion approaches
  • Convert existing forms, workflows, and reports to the Power Platform

Let SHI help you migrate with greater speed and success

The relativity easy part about transitioning to Power Platform is that you already have it (if you’re a Microsoft 365 customer). The more challenging part is the audit and assessment covered under step two and the deployment activities covered under step three.

SHI has been migrating SharePoint on-prem environments to the cloud for years and has a team of highly skilled consultants who offer custom services to help you accelerate the value of Power Platform in your digital transformation journey. These include:

SHI Power Platform Assessment Service

SHI helps organizations take get an inventory of their current legacy forms and workflows, and discusses migration and conversion options as well as best practices in building and deploying apps. Most businesses choose to work with SHI during this stage not only to ensure they’re making informed, confident business decisions, but because they also realize the opportunity of gaining a better understanding of the business capabilities of the Power Platform.

Learn more about SHI’s Power Platform Assessment Service

SHI Power Platform Deployment Service

We find many organizations need support when converting the old to the new. Our Power Platform Deployment Service is for businesses who need guidance during the actual conversion phase, helping them with business process deployment and conversion approaches that will transition existing forms, workflows, and reports to the Power Platform.

Learn more about SHI’s Power Platform Deployment Service

To learn more about transitioning your existing forms and workflows to Microsoft Power Platform, contact SHI or reach out to your Account Executive.