Case Study: Using PowerApps to Make Meetings Easier

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Our client, a leading pharmaceutical company, embarked on several digital transformation initiatives throughout their World Wide Research and Development department. They wanted to enhance their alignment, engagement, and change control process.

The Challenge

They needed a better way to support internal subject matter experts (SMEs) in preparing for meetings. Often, stakeholders wouldn’t know what would be presented and why it contributed to their specific goals – causing confusion and inefficient use of their time.

The original process used portals on a web browser to get all stakeholders and SMEs on the same page for meetings. However, the web portals had limited capacity for data entry and transparency, resulting in limited stakeholder engagement. In addition, those web portals required users to navigate a plethora of links to prepare participants for meetings.

This resulted in the loss of critical information, created redundancies, and added more work for project managers. This inefficiency was multiplied as it manifested itself across all programs within the client’s portfolio. It was determined that a new technology solution was necessary to solve the organization’s efficiency gaps.

What makes you dive into a book quickly? It’s the impactful opening page that grabs your attention.

Briefings should be the same. Our stakeholders are always short on time, so their briefings need to be – well, brief. Providing facts, recommendations, and a clear statement on what you want them to do up front.

Stakeholders will be grateful that you got to the point quickly and unambiguously, and that they can move quickly to the additional information you’ve provided.

Frequently, we make the mistake of placing that key section chronologically – at the end of the document.

Here’s our suggestions to help your stakeholders better understand your proposals:

  1. Read your briefing to yourself and put as much information as possible into later sections or into appendices.
  2. Ensure the opening section of the briefing simply states:
    • What you want the reader to do:
      • Make a decision.
      • Provide help.
      • Acknowledge, but do nothing.
    • What has brought about this need for a decision, help, or briefing.
    • What hard facts or recommendations can be succinctly provided.

Keep those suggestions in mind when crafting your presentations, and your meetings not only be smoother, but they’ll give your projects a better chance at getting started.

Full article originally written by Tim Brett on pcubed.com.

The Solution

Operating within MI-GSO | PCUBED’s Project Management as a Service framework, a project manager was assigned to support this initiative. We interviewed the client and prototyped their ideas to define what our minimum viable product (MVP) was. Our team collected critical, early-stage product feedback from the client.

Based on this, we determined that developing a Microsoft PowerApps product would best suit their needs. It also helped that the client had an existing PowerApps license that we made further use of – keeping costs low and retaining familiarity.

The PowerApp allowed the SMEs to take ownership of their communication without having to go through the client’s project managers. We also tapped into how PowerApps and SharePoint Online work together. While people used to sift through links, the PowerApp was a standalone app on our client’s SharePoint homepage. We formatted it to have the PowerApp submit a form, making all the information visible and easy to enter.

To have PowerApp send emails to the right people, we automated our app to send agenda lists to a Program Directory List on the client’s SharePoint site. Then, an email would be sent to the team through Outlook. It could also send attachments, such as documents and presentations, so that all participants would have the right materials for meetings.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash.

After changing the graphics to the client’s liking, we launched the initial version of the PowerApp and monitored its data. These were the initial notes:

  • Highlighting which criteria was mandatory to send the message.
  • Denoting the exact purpose of the message, like decisions, feedback, or reviews.
  • Detailing the priority of topics.

We refined the information management data source to enhance the user experience (UX), ensuring that each form and button of the user interface (UI) would be clear to users.

We then relaunched the PowerApp and gathered more feedback with each following iteration.  After the PowerApp was refined to their liking and meeting the required functionality, the product was then handed over to the client. Our M|P consultant provided a learning session on PowerApps and allowed the client to brainstorm its potential for further use.

Full PowerApp Development Timeline

Requirement Gathering
Brainstormed/interviewed and prototyped client ideas
Requirement Gathering
MVP Definition
Collected critical early-stage product feedback from client.
MVP Definition
UX - Iteration 1
Designed application blueprint & integrated processes.
UX - Iteration 1
Client Feedback
Visualization and graphic change.
Client Feedback
First Launch
Live launch of PowerApp.
First Launch
UX - Iteration 2
Refined information management data source.
UX - Iteration 2
Second Launch
Second live launch of the PowerApp.
Second Launch
UX - Iteration 3
Enhanced interface. removed obsolete protocols, and confirmed go-live date.
UX - Iteration 3
Third Launch
Third live launch of the PowerApp.
Third Launch
Post-Launch Enhancement
Redesigned the PowerApp to better function with client's SharePoint site.
Post-Launch Enhancement
Product Handover and Training
PowerApp was handed over to the client, and M|P consultant conducted training session and allowed client to brainstorm potential future use.
Product Handover and Training

The Benefits

While the initial hurdles for developing the PowerApp were significant, the benefits for the client far outweighed them. The client’s work culture is better equipped to be independent since the PowerApp launch. Now, SMEs are accountable for driving critical collaboration engagements and for their initiatives to be transparent.

Our PowerApp is the single most used source of knowledge sharing throughout the client’s department and within the individual team. Project managers no longer have to click through numerous links and items to enter valuable info. Everything is in one place, and the PowerApp ensures that follow-up emails are transparent to everyone.

“M | P took on the challenge of transitioning the Hub page into being more user friendly while implementing many features asked for,” said our client. “I enjoyed their work ethic, resilience, and asked for their assistance on my own side project involving PowerApps.”

With transparency in place, our client is posed to enable better meetings that’ll help them achieve their strategic goals.

Will Parker

Will Parker

Program & Project Management Consultant
@ MI-GSO | PCUBED USA