Revamping a content management system at Microsoft with Microsoft Power Platform - Inside Track Blog (2022)

Early this year, the Microsoft Inside Track team set out to modernize its content management system.

The decision to overhaul a legacy platform is not one companies enter lightly. Considerations such as time, people, and budget must be weighed before undertaking such a massive shift—even if the original system is outdated and clunky.

The original system ran on an older version of SharePoint. The new content management system uses Microsoft Power Apps with a Microsoft Azure SQL back end, Microsoft Power Automate as the workflow engine, and Microsoft Power BI as the reporting engine.

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“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.”

Running legacy systems can come with a host of challenges, including performance and compliance issues. But even with low user satisfaction, modernizing platforms isn’t necessarily where companies want to put their money.

After issues with the previous platform reached a peak, it became abundantly clear that it wasn’t performing how they needed. The Microsoft Inside Track team decided to make the leap, and the results did not disappoint, Peyton says.

The Inside Track team, which sits in Microsoft Digital, creates content that shows IT decision-makers, IT pros, and others how Microsoft uses its own technology and services to support its employees and internal business groups.

Peyton, who is on the team, has been doing web development since 1993 as a pro developer. He says that the move to Microsoft Power Platform (which includes Microsoft Power Apps, Microsoft Power Automate, and Microsoft Power BI) and Microsoft Azure SQL had numerous benefits that couldn’t be ignored.

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[Learn how Finance transformed global payroll processes with Microsoft Power Automate. Read about how citizen developers have used Power Apps to build an intelligent launch assistant. Check out the business solutions different groups in Microsoft have built with Power Automate.]

The best of both worlds

On top of Microsoft Power Platform’s increased capability to scale, it’s a system that both pro and citizen developers can agree on and synergize within because of its flexibility and capabilities that accelerate their work.

The Microsoft Power Platform is a no-code or low-code platform for setting up sophisticated systems and is well suited for citizen and professional developers alike, Peyton says. Pro developers don’t want to write more code than is necessary. The ability to set up a workflow that can call a SQL query with no lines of code is a win for everyone.

Peyton led the vanguard for the migration to Microsoft Power Platform with Daniel Cumner, a senior business project manager with Microsoft who recently hit his 24-year mark at the company. Cumner considers himself a citizen developer, which is an employee that creates business applications even though their job doesn’t require it. He credits Microsoft Power Platform for its short ramp-up time and extensive ability to connect with other platforms. As of the writing of this blog post, you can connect to over 350 connectors⁠—and the list continues to grow.

“Almost out of the box, anyone can start building an app—with the wide variety of connectors available and the ability to leverage data and functionality from other systems, it’s straightforward,” Cumner says. “It gives you ease of access for citizen developers.”

Compliance is also an aspect that can easily outrun the abilities of a legacy system.

“Policies change much quicker than tech requirements—our move to Microsoft Power Platform allowed us to respond to policy needs much more quickly,” Cumner says.

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The migration from the old system to the new included:

  • SharePoint data to Microsoft Azure SQL: The team took the opportunity to move our data from SharePoint and Microsoft Excel to SQL. Most of the static data moved easily. But because the team wanted to keep the new environment in sync while tested, it used Microsoft Power Automate to sync changes and transform any data that needed extra attention.
  • Custom SharePoint UI to Microsoft Power Apps: To ease user transition, the team tried to keep a similar interface with the new UI, but some controls (like multi-select combo boxes and People Pickers) didn’t work the same in Microsoft Power Apps. In these cases, the team built alternatives where needed.
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  • Microsoft Power Automate for workflow: Because Microsoft Power Automate seamlessly integrates with the platforms the team was using, Cumner and the rest of the team had already been moving their workflows to Microsoft Power Automate. With the ability to invoke stored procedures in SQL, the team has even more options and flexibility to meet its automation needs.
  • Microsoft Power BI for dashboards: This was the heaviest lift of the migration. With plenty of deprecated data in the old system, it was time to rebuild these from scratch. The team moved to shared data sources, making it easy to create multiple reports without rebuilding its datasets each time.

Flipping the switch

The development took place over six months.

Cumner and Peyton embarked on the migration first in an exploratory sense. There was much back and forth about how Microsoft Power Platform could meet the business needs without any functional loss—and with the exploration, a lot of prototyping was involved.

Months later, when it came time to complete the migration, the system only had to go offline for a few hours.

“When it was time to flip the switch, it was scary, and we were both a little nervous at first,” Peyton says, explaining that they need not have worried—everything worked seamlessly. “I was really pleased with the increased performance—things were loading much quicker.”

Microsoft Power Platform enables pro developers like Peyton to accelerate their solutions. Using Microsoft Azure SQL with Microsoft Power Platform meant that Peyton could hook up a SQL database with workflow, reporting, and a powerful front end without writing code. Pro developers don’t want to build more code than necessary.

“Whereas before we had to do some wild data transformations on the previous system (the older SharePoint), we were able to step back and say that we can do this with SQL,” Peyton says. “Because of the interoperability of the Power Platform, we can move to managing data in native environments where you can get much more efficient processing.”

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But, he says, there were pain points.

With Microsoft Power Platform, they did initially give up some functionality. One of those, Cumner says, was related to data sheet views.

“We lasted only a week before the people who used data sheet views said ‘nope,’” Cumner says.

The data sheet view offered the ability to make changes to multiple fields across several records directly to the underlying data without using the main form. It was only really for power users. But, within hours, Cumner was able to build a separate Power App that provided the necessary access to the desired fields without compromising the data.

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“We could roll that out without being too concerned about breaking something,” Cumner says.

Microsoft Power Platform allows full customization that can be fitted to the needs of those using it.

“There’s such a breadth of interoperability,” Peyton says. “The system allows you to focus on what you need and offload what you don’t.”

Problem-solving without the burden of technical problems

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From a business perspective, Cumner says, Microsoft Power Platform “allows the people who know the business to solve business problems and not have to worry too much about technical problems.”

From being faster, more easily customizable, scalable, fully compliant, and having capabilities that charm both citizen and pro developers, Microsoft Power Platform has become the answer to a legacy system that Inside Track had outgrown.

“We have the agility and flexibility to take this system wherever we want from here,” Cumner says.

The success of Microsoft Power Platform, Peyton says, can ultimately be traced to the system being able to flawlessly integrate—and Microsoft’s willingness to cater to the “next level” of integration.

“Over the last few years, Microsoft has made a great effort to refocus, ensuring they provide tools to developers so that they can interoperate with any environment; it doesn’t matter what you want to integrate with, regardless of platform,” Peyton says. “They are giving developers the tools that they need to do what they need to do.”

Learn how Finance transformed global payroll processes with Microsoft Power Automate.

Read about how citizen developers have used Power Apps to build an intelligent launch assistant.

Check out the business solutions different groups in Microsoft have built with Power Automate.

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Tags: Azure SQL, Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Platform, SQL, Workflow

FAQs

What content management system does Microsoft use? ›

SharePoint ECM integrates the familiar tools of the Microsoft Office system with the central management and collaboration features of SharePoint products and technologies.

What is the purpose of the Microsoft Power Platform? ›

It combines low-code application development, workflow automation, AI bot development, and data analytics with broad connectivity through Microsoft Dataverse—all designed to work with the secure, trusted, Microsoft cloud services of Azure, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft 365.

Why do you need one content management system and how it can help you? ›

Having a content management system for your website allows you to have control of your content. It means having the ability to update, change or delete any images, text, video, or audio. It allows you to keep your site organised, up to date and looking great. So many websites never review their content after launch.

Is SharePoint a content management system? ›

As a content management system, SharePoint helps organize and manage corporate documents, records, media assets and web content throughout their lifecycle, from creating to archiving.

What is content management system examples? ›

Examples of content management systems: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Squarespace, Wix, Ghost.

Is SharePoint similar to WordPress? ›

WordPress is a website and blog creation and publishing platform with tools for aesthetic designing, visitor tracking, content... SharePoint is a collaboration & content management platform which can be used to build portals, collaboration sites, & also...

What are the features of Power Platform? ›

Microsoft Power Platform enables users and organizations to analyze, act on, and automate the data to digitally transform their businesses. Microsoft Power Platform today comprises four products: Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents. It also has two add-ins: AI Builder and Power Apps portals.

How good is Microsoft Power Platform? ›

Power Apps is an amazing tool that accelerates application development. The Microsoft Power Platform (and Power Apps Specifically) has been tremendously beneficial to our organization, enabling rapid process automation and iterative development without sacrificing user experience, security, or customization.

Why should I use Power Platform? ›

Why use Power Apps as part of Microsoft Power Platform. Quickly build professional-grade apps, create automated workflows, connect to diverse data sources, and embed dashboards into your apps when you use Power Apps with other Microsoft Power Platform solutions.

What are the advantages a content management system CMS can provide to us using the Internet technologies? ›

Advantages of CMS
  • user-friendliness.
  • quick deployment.
  • ease of maintenance, including updates.
  • cost-efficiency, especially with out-the-box solutions, open source or freeware.
  • extendable functionality, through a large number of plugins and extensions.
  • SEO-friendly features.
  • developer and community support.

What are the features of content management system? ›

Popular web CMS features
  • SEO-friendly URLs.
  • customisable templates to manage content presentation.
  • permission-based access control.
  • user and group functionality.
  • content organisation structures, eg hierarchy and taxonomy.
  • content virtualisation.
  • versioning and workflow management.
  • collaboration platform.

What is the purpose of a content management system? ›

A content management system (CMS) is an application that is used to manage content, allowing multiple contributors to create, edit and publish. Content in a CMS is typically stored in a database and displayed in a presentation layer based on a set of templates like a website.

What are the benefits of using SharePoint? ›

Microsoft SharePoint Features and Benefits
  • Multi-purpose functionality built in.
  • Centralized administration.
  • Customizable.
  • Document management and collaboration.
  • Site consolidation.
  • Integration with your existing apps.
  • Enhanced security.
  • Ease of use and design assistance.

What do you mean by content management? ›

Content management refers to the end-to-end process of sourcing, creating, managing, and delivering content.

Can you make a website in SharePoint? ›

Select + Create site on the SharePoint start page. In the wizard: Select whether you'd like to create a Team site or a Communication site.

What are 3 content management systems? ›

The three most popular web content management systems dominate the CMS market: WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

What are the 3 different types of CMS? ›

There are three broad types of CMS software: open source, proprietary and Software-as-a-Service CMS, including cloud-based solutions.

What is content management system and how does it work? ›

A CMS is an application that is used to manage and publish web content, allowing multiple users to contribute, create, edit, and publish without having to beg a developer. It also provides version management and authoring workflow to keep large, global sites consistent.

How do I compare two SharePoint sites? ›

To start the wizard click File → Wizards → Compare SharePoint Sites.
  1. STEP 1 - Choose source of compare.
  2. Compare Sites in current workspace. ...
  3. Sites from workspace file. ...
  4. Sites from separate workspaces. ...
  5. Sites from PWA. ...
  6. STEP 2 - Choose target of compare.
  7. Sites from PWA. ...
  8. Sites from workspace file.

Which three Microsoft products are part of the Power Platform? ›

The 'Power Platform' is a collective term for three Microsoft products: Power BI, PowerApps, and Power Automate (previously known as Flow).

What are Power Platform tools? ›

Power Platform Tools for Visual Studio supports the rapid creation, debugging, and deployment of plug-ins. Other capabilities include development of custom workflow activities, web resources, integration technologies like Azure Service endpoints and webhooks, and more.

How does a Power Platform help a business? ›

With the power platform, businesses can create, automate, and analyze data with ease. The power platform brings the functionality, capabilities, and controls of Power BI, Power Apps, Power Virtual Agents, Power Automate, Power Pages into users' existing systems.

Is Microsoft PowerApps easy to learn? ›

It is effortless to create applications with PowerApps because it connects your business data stored in cloud services such as Microsoft Excel workbooks, SQL tables, DropBox, Sharepoint, Dynamics 365, etc. By looking at the previous data set, it spontaneously creates a basic application for the user.

How much time it will take to learn PowerApps? ›

Mindmajix's Power Apps training program offers 18 hours of practical either Live online training or Self-paced Video learning in building and managing cross-platform applications for B2B businesses.

How do I become a PowerApps developer? ›

Power Apps Developer
  1. 2+ years of experience as a SharePoint Site Owner and/or Site Collection Administrator.
  2. 2+ years of business systems analysis and support experience.
  3. 2+ year of experience with Office 365 development utilizing PowerApps, Flow, and Power BI, Teams and SharePoint Online.

What is MS Power Platform developer? ›

The Microsoft Power Platform helps organizations optimize their operations by simplifying, automating and transforming business tasks and processes. In this course, students will learn how to build Power Apps, Automate Flows and extend the platform to complete business requirements and solve complex business problems.

Which of the following are part of the Power Platform? ›

The Power Platform includes Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents.

Is Azure a CMS? ›

An Azure headless CMS is a headless CMS that is hosted on Azure. The front-end presentation layer and back-end content repository are separated like other headless CMS platforms.

What is enterprise content management system? ›

Enterprise content management (ECM) — sometimes referred to as document management or records management — is the process of managing the entire lifecycle of an organization's content, including documents, spreadsheets, contracts and scanned images.

How do I turn off Microsoft content? ›

In Start Search type gpedit.

This will open Local Group Policy Editor. Now move to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Cloud Content. Select Turn off Microsoft consumer experiences. Right click it and select Edit.

How do I host a WordPress site on Azure? ›

Create WordPress site using Azure portal

Type myResourceGroup for the name and select a Region you want to serve your app from. Under Hosting details, type a globally unique name for your web app and choose Linux for Operating System. Select Basic for Hosting plan.

How does a headless CMS work? ›

A headless CMS is a content management system that separates where content is stored (the “body”) from where it is presented (the “head“). You can store the content in your headless CMS and then send it to display anywhere – offering a lot more flexibility as to how it's presented in different places.

What is CDN Azure? ›

Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN) offers developers a global solution for rapidly delivering high-bandwidth content to users by caching their content at strategically placed physical nodes across the world.

What do you mean by content management? ›

Content management refers to the end-to-end process of sourcing, creating, managing, and delivering content.

Which of the following are the benefits of using enterprise content management system? ›

Here are five business benefits of ECM.
  • ECM provides the repository of record for important business documents. ...
  • ECM supports a single source of truth for collaborative work. ...
  • ECM maintains content security. ...
  • ECM makes content findable and useful. ...
  • ECM is essential for content governance.
3 Feb 2021

What is a content services platform? ›

A content services platform (CSP) is a set of services and microservices, embodied as an integrated product suite and applications that share common APIs and repositories. A CSP exploits diverse content types and serves multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization.

What is content from Microsoft start? ›

Microsoft Start will surface top stories, personalized recommendations, and sports scores or the weather in its feed.

What is Microsoft content background host? ›

backgroundtaskhost.exe is part of Microsoft's Cortana virtual assistant for Windows. Cortana is a virtual assistant that can assist you while you use your PC, similar to Apple's Siri. For example, you can ask Cortana the weather, or have Cortana search files for you on your PC.

What is Microsoft edge content process? ›

Many programs in Windows use helper processes to make sure they can get the job done earlier. Microsoft Edge Legacy uses one such process called Edge Content Process. Such system processes are loaded as soon as you start Windows, and this makes Edge load faster.

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3. Build collaborative apps with new Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams collaboration controls | OD05
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4. Create an App End to End in Under an Hour with Microsoft’s Power Platform!
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5. Microsoft Power Platform Fundamentals Certification Workshop (PL-900) | Easily Pass the PL-900 Exam
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