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Showing posts from 2021

Microsoft Power App Price Cuts

This month Microsoft announced major price cuts for Power Apps .  Starting October 1, 2021, the per user plan will be priced at $20/user/month, a fifty percent reduction from the previous price.  The Power Apps per app plan will also be slashed in half to $5/user/app/month. There are no license minimums for these subscriptions.  The Power Apps portal price has also been reduced for high volume customers. Portal logins and page views were formerly quite expensive for public websites with large numbers of authenticated users.   Nothing pleases customers more than price cuts, so Microsoft is likely to help its customers have a happier summer as well as planning for broader adoption of Power Apps. 

Understanding Software for Fund Accounting

Many organizations such as nonprofits, non-governmental agencies, K-12 school districts, state, and local government agencies depend on grants to fund some of, or in many cases, their entire operations.  In the United States alone there are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations [1] .  Winning grants can be difficult, especially for competitive programs, so managing the grants that your organization receives is critical to making grants successful and to paving the way for additional grants in the future. Grants nearly always come with compliance requirements such as post-award reporting and spending guidelines.  A surprising number of organizations track grants in spreadsheets and use email as their  principal means of sharing information and automating workflows.  This increases the risk of poor data integrity and usually requires monthly spreadsheet updates and distribution to decision-makers. Organizations that receive grants should use a financial solution, such as  Serenic Navi

Microsoft Power Apps and Oracle

Recently I was demonstrating a Microsoft Power Apps solution and I was asked what options are available for handling data in Oracle along with Power Apps. Can Oracle be migrated to Power Apps and Dataverse? Can Power Apps access data stored in Oracle?  Can I use Power Apps to replace Oracle Forms? Like Oracle, Power Apps offers both a front end user interface and a database (Dataverse).  This post introduces some options on how Oracle data can fit with Power Apps as well as some migration paths to get to Power Apps from Oracle. Microsoft offers a Power Apps connector for Oracle   First, a reminder that there are two kinds of Power Apps: model-driven apps and canvas apps . Model driven apps store their data in Dataverse, the repository used by Power Apps and Dynamics 365 apps such as Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and others. Model-driven apps give a more complete low code environment for solution development, and are tightly integrated with the Microsoft Cloud. There is no option t

Welcoming Wen-GAGE to the Sylogist Corporate Family

  In March 2021, InfoStrat’s parent company Sylogist acquired Municipal Accounting Systems Inc. (MAS) , a provider of student information systems and accounting solutions to K-12 public school districts. MAS was founded in 1985 and has grown to serve nearly 85% of the Oklahoma K-12 public education market with its integrated Wen-GAGE platform. This SaaS solution includes budgeting and accounting, a student portal, comprehensive student information tracking, grading and scheduling, and lunchroom administration. Wen-GAGE expands our company’s offering and customer base in K-12 dramatically, and we are excited to bring these products to other states.  

Using Analytics Software to Ask Different Questions

Analytics is one of the fastest growing categories of software.  Sales of products like Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, Qlik and Splunk are growing rapidly and analytics is being placed in the hands of more users than ever before.  Analytics tools make it easier to visualize and understand your data, but there is still plenty of work for us as analytics end users.  Now that we have analytics, what can we do with them?  Here are some approaches that may help you harness analytics for your business or research. Learn from others . Like writing an original song, a good place to seek inspiration is by learning the works of others. Check out reports in your industry and other industries to get ideas on new analytic approaches.  COVID-19 provided a great opportunity for analytics, especially geographic representations of case and mortality data.  You can view sources like the Johns Hopkins COVID map https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html or the informationisbeautiful visualizations https://inform

Microsoft 365 for Nonprofits: Software Grants

Microsoft makes it easy for nonprofits to get the software they need for office productivity through grants of Microsoft 365 to eligible organizations.   Microsoft 365 is a suite which includes Windows and Office 365.  It is available in Basic, Standard, and Premium editions which contain different products: Microsoft 365 Business Basic -- Free up to 300 users Microsoft 365 Business Standard -- $3/user/mo. Microsoft 365 Business Premium -- Free up to 10 users and $5/user/mo.  You can begin the eligibility process to show that your organization meets all five of these criteria: Organization muts be a nonprofit or non-governmental organization Mission must benefit the local community Users must meet eligible categories Meet license restrictions Meet Microsoft non-discrimination qualifications Combined with the Microsoft Nonprofit Cloud that I have discussed in other posts, this offer means that Microsoft provides a broad suite of products at no or low cost. 

Microsoft Power Apps Community Plan

  If you follow this blog or have attended any webinars or other events where I present, you know that Microsoft Power Apps is growing like gangbusters and that many people are turning to Power Apps for their line of business solutions. But where should you start?  For some organizations, the best way is to choose a Dynamics 365 app such as Dynamics 365 Sales Enterprise or Customer Service and roll it out for your organization.  These off-the-shelf apps are built on Power Apps but are fully functional from the start.  You can learn Power Apps by configuring and customizing them with your own new tables, fields, workflows and reports. This is the best scenario when you have a business need that maps closely to one of these apps. Another way to start is to build a custom Power App from the group up, either as a canvas app or model-driven app.  You can purchase Power Apps for all the users who need these apps and start with one which is simple enough to build quickly. You can also start l

Meet Power Fx: The Language of Microsoft Power Apps Canvas Apps

Last week Microsoft made many announcements on Power Apps.  One of the most important was naming  Power Fx , the unified language used in Power Apps Canvas Apps and other Power Platform products. This announcement is more than just naming a language because it unveils a long-term plan for standardizing the Power Platform stack of development tools.  April Dunnam of Microsoft provides a concise explanation in the video above, relating the announcement to the groups of products and developers who are affected by the change.  Formulas in Power Apps are based on Power Fx which uses expressions derived from Microsoft Excel. Power Fx is easier to learn than JavaScript.  It gives immediate results (or error messages) to the developer in a similar way to Excel.  The following shows functions highlighted in green which are shared by Power Fx and Excel. Source: https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/what-is-microsoft-power-fx/ Microsoft is targeting citizen developers or power users as a key

Low Code Software Tradeoffs

Recently I wrote on The Enduring Appeal of Low Code Software Development  and 6 Reasons to Choose Microsoft for your Low Code Application Platform which explain why low code development is popular and why Microsoft is especially successful among the low code application development platforms.  Like many decisions, moving to low code software involves tradeoffs, so this post is devoted to some of the considerations that may shape your decision on whether and how far to move toward low code. Performance The first tradeoff is performance.  If your goal is to squeeze every bit of performance out of a system, low code may not be the best option.  Low code platforms involve layers of abstraction and code that introduce overhead,  For extremely large data sets, intensive calculations, or real time operations, you do not see many low code systems.  Instead, the highest performance systems use full code and get as close to the data as possible to max out speed.  User Experience Low code syste

More Microsoft Clouds for Industries, Including Nonprofits

Today Microsoft announced three new industry computing clouds for financial, manufacturing and nonprofit.  The new clouds join the healthcare and retail clouds.  Based on Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform and other Microsoft services, the industry clouds consolidate components, tools, solutions, and data models that are geared toward industry needs and standards.  Since my focus is public sector, I am most interested in the nonprofit cloud among these three new clouds.   According to Justin Spelhaug, who leads Tech for Social Impact at Microsoft, "Specifically, we are bringing together the power of Microsoft 365, Power Platform, Dynamics 365, Azure and LinkedIn. This will make engagement and fundraising, staff collaboration, volunteer engagement and management, and program design and delivery more efficient. In addition, Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit is underpinned by a Common Data Model for Nonprofits, making it easier and less expensive for nonprofits to integ

Multi-Channel Customer Support

Customer service automation is evolving rapidly, and I experienced this myself this week.  Here is an example of excellent use of multi-channel customer service from SiriusXM Satellite radio.  The entire transaction went smoothly even though it switched between four channels. Channel 1: Mail I received a letter telling me that my SiriusXM Satellite Radio subscription was up for renewal, and my credit card would be charged for another year.  I no longer owned the car associated with the subscription and had forgotten to cancel it.   I called the phone number on the letter.  My phone number was associated with the account and used to look up my account information.  I was told that to avoid a wait for a customer service rep I could switch to text message (SMS) support.  SiriusXM sent a text to my phone number. Channel 2: SMS Text Message The text message told me it was from SiriusXM and asked me to confirm my account number and vehicle information.  I was cautioned not to enter this in t

More on Microsoft Power Apps: Model-driven Apps, Canvas Apps and Portals

  As I have written elsewhere in this blog, Microsoft is one of the leading providers of low code software development platforms with its Power Apps family including Power Automate, Power BI and much more. One of your key design decisions is when to use model-driven apps , canvas apps and portals . One place to start is with your database.  The most low code approach is to use model-driven apps with your data stored in the Dataverse data platform that comes with Power Apps. This is the same database that powers Dynamics 365 apps such as Sales, Marketing, Field Service and Customer Service. Dataverse makes it easy to create a database and data relationships, and has the largest number of built-in functions that require no coding.  If you want integration with Excel, Word, or Outlook, these are all out-of-the-box features.  Your data will be hosted in the Microsoft cloud and accessed via Office 365 login. The more standard your application is, the more likely there is already a Power A