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5 Reasons Your University Needs to Make the Most Out of Power Platform


Power Platform can be a hugely powerful tool in any university’s toolbox. It’s a real powerhouse that can drive efficiency, harness automation, and help you unlock secrets hidden in your business data. 

However, its sheer breadth, depth, and complexity can be a lot for organisations to get their heads around.  

At Crimson, our Higher Education transformation experts recognise that some institutions aren’t using Power Platform to its fullest potential - or at all! This is a real shame considering how useful it can be across all business functions. 

We sat down with our HE transformation team to understand what Power Platform is capable of, and to explore 5 essential opportunities that a coordinated adoption of Power Platform can provide for universities across their whole IT estate. 

What Does Microsoft Power Platform Do? 

Power Platform is a family of app creation and data management utilities from Microsoft which comprises of 4 core pillars: 

  • Power BI, which provides powerful data management, reporting, and visualisation capabilities, including the ability to connect fragmented sources of business intelligence into cohesive reports and dashboards. 
  • Power Apps, which gives your teams the ability to create powerful custom apps and automations with no prior coding or app-building knowledge, thanks to its “low code/no code” functionality. 
  • Power Automate, which lets users create automations that streamline overly complex and/or manual business processes and workflows. 
  • Power Virtual Agents, which gives your teams the ability to create AI-powered chatbots to converse with end users. These bots can assist with common queries or issues that would otherwise take up valuable employee time. 

Understandably, when working together in harmony, these four feature sets can provide completely transformative benefits to any organisation. Higher education institutions who are constantly battling things like manual processes and shadow IT particularly stand to benefit from solutions like Power Platform. 

It goes hand in hand with fellow Microsoft solution Dynamics 365. This platform includes business operations functionality such as supply chain management, CRM, finance, customer service, and much more. 

5 Opportunities for University IT Leaders in Maximising Microsoft Power Platform 

Your Teams Can Build Their Own Efficiencies & Solutions 

Your teams likely have countless manual processes, scrappy paper systems, and scattered data sources that they rely on to do certain parts of their job. Maybe previous IT stacks have been unable to address these issues, or maybe these issues felt too insignificant to trouble the IT department with. 

The problem is that, university-wide, these manual inefficiencies add up. If universities were somehow able to tally up all of the time that’s spent interacting with manual, time-consuming workflows that could be partially or totally automated - across their whole institution - we are sure that many would be shocked! 

However, Power Platform provides your teams with a low-code/no-code tech suite to automate formerly time-consuming, manual tasks; slice and dice data precisely how they need it; and craft their own IT solutions to meet their exact needs. 

When you give your teams the tools to construct their own solutions, you’re giving them back some of their day. They can then spend that time on more value-added - and likely more fulfilling - work, automatically improving your investment in your people across the whole institution. They will also be better equipped to solve future IT problems that will inevitably arise too! 

Helps Eradicate Shadow IT 

Shadow IT is a massive problem for organisations of all kinds. When an existing tech stack fails a team, they’re naturally inclined to find their own solutions to a problem; potentially finding a free app (that’s not vetted by the IT department) to carry that particular load. 

However, any IT leader reading this will know how dangerous it can be for any well-meaning team to start entering sensitive data into a non-vetted application, or for employees to simply download free software willy-nilly. With the kinds of sensitive data that admissions and accommodation teams deal with, the risks don’t even bear thinking about. 

So, Power Platform to the rescue! Your teams no longer have to resort to shadow IT software when they can simply build their own solutions using the platform’s low-code/no-code functionality. 

And because that solution is totally built within Power Platform, your IT teams have full visibility over what is being built, and complete control and governance over that solution. 

A Single, Cross-Departmental, Cross-Functional IT Utility 

We all know that a simple tech stack is much easier for an IT team to troubleshoot, support, and govern. 

Power Platform’s ability to increase data and workflow connectivity can’t be understated - it reduces reliance on clunky third-party APIs and manual data copy-pasting which can become a single point of failure within particularly business- or data-sensitive workflows. 

And if you augment Power Platform with other Microsoft solutions like Dynamics 365, that’s all the more data and functionality that can be connected, analysed, and automated seamlessly! 

Not only does Power Platform cover an absolutely vast array of use cases but its benefits can be harnessed anywhere within an organisation. This might naturally lead to incumbent software being rendered obsolete - providing savings on licence fees for that outgoing software. 

Maximise Your Microsoft Licence Return on Investment 

Power Platform (or any of its 4 building blocks) are frequently brought in to solve a single problem for a single department. For example, Power BI might be used to visualise financials or to create sales and marketing dashboards. 

Yet this blinkered, single-use-case approach limits your ability to harness the full latent potential of Power Platform tools and it limits the return on investment you get from Power Platform too. 

Implementing tools like these for a single use case can be rather expensive, especially given that Microsoft tools are generally charged “per head”. However, when you use the same solutions to solve countless productivity problems across your whole organisation, you will get far more value out of those licence fees. 

In fact, institutions who have already invested in licences for a single Microsoft app might be surprised at how little the per-head price increases when you add more functionality onto an existing licence. 

With that in mind, and considering that Microsoft solutions are already in most universities’ tech stacks, it might be well worth any university exploring their options and broadening their view for new Power Platform use cases! 

Provides Strategic Benefit Now and Into the Future 

It’s an unfortunate truth that many organisations’ technical teams are so busy in the cycle of break/fix firefighting and battling ongoing issues that their leaders get stuck in short-sighted, tactical mode rather than taking a more strategic long view. 

Yet it’s this longer term, forward-focused strategic approach to IT that will drive many organisations forward, including those in the higher education space. 

The sorts of issues keeping technical teams tethered to the “now” can involve poorly interconnected tech, resulting in reliance on manual processes to get two or more systems to talk to one another. They may be busy detangling the mess (and the risk) of shadow IT that is being used across the institution. They may be swamped by the university’s growing digital needs, without enough resources to address them. Or it could be as simple as fighting outdated tech.  

These are just a few examples of course, but in any such circumstances, universities might not know where to start - or just what thread to pull at first. 

Solutions like Power Platform have the potential to solve multiple problems at once, but given that it could become such a wide-reaching, fundamental part of your IT estate, it needs to be approached carefully, with appropriate technical change guidance. 

Understand the Art of the Possible with Crimson 

Are you ready to refine your university’s tech roadmap? Our The Art of the Possible initiative aims to help identify and scope universities’ current technology challenges and provide actionable next steps to help you utilise Microsoft’s various low code/no code technologies to their fullest potential. 

In this 2-day workshop, our digital transformation specialists will guide your business and technical leaders through our battle-tested methodology, which is informed by UCISA best practice and university operational business models, and adheres to Microsoft “Success By Design” standards. Crimson is a Microsoft Solutions Provider and a proud UCISA Corporate Member. 

After attending, you will be left with a crystal-clear picture of your technical requirements and areas of opportunity; insight into Microsoft Dynamics and Power Platform utilities; a practical list of RAG-graded action points; and empirical evidence of your business case for technical change. 

In just 2 days, we will help you get to grips with how Microsoft Dynamics and Power Platform can propel your university’s technology forward. 

Book a discovery session with our transformation team today, or learn more over at Microsoft AppSource.