Best of Inside Track: How Microsoft employees turned to the Microsoft Power Platform in 2020

Dec 21, 2020   |  

Sometimes it’s best to solve problems yourself, especially in 2020.

Citizen development became a big theme at large companies in 2020, including internally at Microsoft, where employees of all types and experience levels used the Microsoft Power Platform to solve challenges on their own.

The Microsoft Power Platform empowers employees to use Microsoft Power BI, Microsoft Power Automate, and Microsoft PowerApps to build applications, workflows, and other processes to do their IT-like work. With all three tools, the goal is always to allow these citizen developers to build the solutions they need with minimal code.

At Microsoft, employees embraced citizen development enthusiastically in 2020, crafting their own solutions all over the company. Examples ranged from creating a new automated banking process in Microsoft Finance, to managing a complex web of speaking engagements, to simplifying complicated meetings.

Automating banking

Vinni Dang and her team turned to Microsoft Power Automate to solve a key challenge they had in the Microsoft Treasury—they needed to automate and centralize their online banking portals and to track their access requests.

We were empowered to do it ourselves, and do it efficiently.

– Vinni Dang, senior treasury manager

Rather than wait for someone to do it for them, they took matters into their own hands.

“We were empowered to do it ourselves, and do it efficiently,” says Dang, a senior treasury manager on Microsoft Treasury’s Global Cash Management team.

Read how Microsoft used Microsoft Power Automate to create its new centralized banking portal.

Managing speaker engagements

Juggling all the requests that come in the door can be all too consuming for any team.

That was the case for Microsoft’s Cloud + AI team, which was getting overwhelmed with invitations to have its people share their story—with customers, partners, and other employees.

Tahira Al-Faham sits on the couch while on her laptop.
Tahira Al-Faham, a business manager at Microsoft, manages speaking engagement requests in the Cloud + AI division of the company. (Photo submitted by Tahira Al-Faham | Inside Track)

It was so much that it felt like it was getting out of control—until the team turned to the Microsoft Power Platform for help.

“This year, we’re receiving more requests for virtual engagements than ever, which gives us even more opportunities to tell our story,” Al-Faham says. “This was a great time to bring in this tool, and I’m excited to keep using it.”

Check out how Microsoft’s citizen developer platform helped the Cloud + AI team wrangle its speaker engagement challenge.

Rethinking supplier onboarding

The experience of onboarding new suppliers used to be very challenging at Microsoft.

Microsoft employees would use a cumbersome process to submit requests to onboard new suppliers in support of the company’s worldwide professional services organization.

“It wasn’t very intuitive—there was a lot of duplicative information,” says Jeff Cluff, the Microsoft Services business program manager who spearheaded the project. “The form was dull, grey, and boxy, and there was no way to tell how far along in the process you were.”

That changed when Cluff and team became citizen developers and built an automated solution using the Microsoft Power Platform.

Payments workflow transformation

Microsoft’s payment process was aging and needed an overhaul—it was far too manual and ad hoc.

It wasn’t just a matter of taking a manual process and then automating. We had to build the process. Then we built an app around that process.

– Russell Maw, director of procurement services

Instead of waiting for IT—at Microsoft Digital—to have time to take on the project, several enterprising citizen developers on the Microsoft Treasury team took matters into their own hands.

Using Microsoft Power Automate, they not only automated the way payments across Microsoft are handled, but they also overhauled the entire process.

“It wasn’t just a matter of taking a manual process and then automating,” says Russell Maw, director of procurement services. “We had to build the process. Then we built an app around that process.”

Learn how citizen developers at Microsoft streamlined the company’s payment processes with Microsoft Power Automate.

Automating content management

The Microsoft Inside Track team needed to modernize its aging content management system and wanted to see if they could do the work themselves.

Thanks to Microsoft Power Automate, Microsoft Power BI, and Microsoft Azure SQL, they were able to do it—and just in time.

“As the previous content management system got used more, it just couldn’t scale—it got slow, very slow,” says Tracey Peyton, a developer vendor from Microsoft and co-leader of the transition. “It was really a no-brainer to go to SQL for the back end and use Power Apps for the UI with Power Automate as the workflow, because the scalability and interoperability is there.”

Learn how the Microsoft Inside Track team is revamping its content management system.

Simplifying complex meetings

When company leaders get together in meetings, they need to get a lot done and be very efficient about it.

Erinn Rominger sits on the couch and looks to her left.
Erinn Rominger used Meeting Orchestrator to plan large-scale meetings and bring content together. (Photo by Aleenah Ansari | Inside Track)

That’s exactly the case for Erinn Rominger and the complex series of meetings she manages for Microsoft Digital, the engineering organization at Microsoft that builds and manages the products, processes, and services that the company runs on.

Rominger was running things manually, and frankly, things were getting out of hand.

“There were 10–25 people that may be involved in creating and delivering content for meetings,” says Rominger, a principal engineering PM manager at Microsoft. “We needed a tool to streamline the logistics and consolidate information in a consistent, visual way.”

That’s when her team turned to Meeting Orchestrator, an internal tool that was originally built for the Microsoft Office of the CEO that manages and runs complex meetings using Microsoft Power Automate. She used it to smoothly run her team’s large meetings and to bring content for the meetings together.

Learn how Microsoft Power Automate helped Microsoft teams get their meetings running more smoothly.

To learn more about how Microsoft used the Microsoft Power Platform internally in 2020 and to learn more about how Microsoft deploys its own technology and services across the company, visit the Microsoft IT Showcase website.

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