Is there an easy way to create a report in Power Apps?

You are here: >

Is there an easy way to create a report in Power Apps?

Back in 2015, Microsoft introduced Power Apps and with it gave everyone a way to quickly build and share low code applications. Their prebuilt templates and drag and drop simplicity made it possible for businesses to increase their agility and get productivity enhancing software into the hands of customers and employees alike. This democratization of development was a turning point in leveraging the big data that many businesses are built upon, but struggled to effectively make use of where it mattered most, in the hands of the people on the work-floor, in the branches, offices or warehouses, or out in the field.

The Power Apps ethos is one we can all get behind. Complex processes made simple, manageable, and usable by all (with little or no exposure to development). Building simple apps from your spreadsheets is now a 1-click operation that anyone who can use Excel can do (and that’s most of us). Yet amongst all this innovation it seemed that a simple, yet crucial, process slipped through Microsoft’s net. What is this process?

 

Reporting.

From a basic receipt slip, letter, worksheet or itinerary, all the way up to lengthy paginated reports, (including charts, graphics, calculations, cover-pages, indexes, table of contents, etc) – somehow, all of these everyday documents that we all rely on, missed out on the Power Apps revolution.

‘What about Power BI then’, you might ask? Whilst Power BI already existed as a plugin to Excel long before Power Apps, and has come to play a crucial part in the Power Platform ecosystem, bringing its beautiful visualizations and in-depth drill down analytics, it still eschews a straight forward ‘citizen reporting’ tool that can quickly turn round perfectly formatted and paginated documentation of any length (btw, ‘print screen’ is not reporting solution).

Additionally, you could also argue that Power BI is also one step removed from the low-code / no-code ethos of Power Apps. You can certainly throw together a relatively straightforward portal or visual report with little training or knowledge, but to really get the most out of Power BI you need to start getting your hands a dirty with the code.

Looking at the other Microsoft offerings you may be forgiven for looking at SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), especially if you haven’t used it already. After all the clue is in the name, right? But, if you were to consider Power BI a step or two away from the ethos of Power Apps, then SSRS is a small point somewhere off in the distance, separated by time, money, patience and not an insignificant amount of knowledge. The thought of ‘simply’ creating a report to quickly respond to a sudden change in market conditions or circumstances is no mean feat. To then get this report into an easily distributable format (print / email) and distributed to the people that matter, whether it’s in the boardroom, or in the field, is yet another headache to contend with. It is not uncommon for something as seemingly straightforward as a customer invoice to take a good 10 days to create in SSRS!

Surely there has to be a better way? A way that is more in keeping with the Power Apps ethos of low-code / no code usability, that side-steps the requirement for Power BI or SSRS completely as well as the knowledge, cost (time and resources) that these solutions demand?

 

That better way is Lasernet.

Simply put Lasernet is ‘the missing app’ for reporting on Power Platform. It might sound like a bold claim, but after seeing the software in action we’re certain you’ll change your mind. To put it simply, the whole reason behind Lasernet’s existence, and its success, is to make data easy to consume (and let’s not forget – beautiful). Like Power Apps, it works using simple drag and drop tools, grabbing the output from your Dynamics / 365 / 3rd party software and databases, and allows you to arrange it exactly how you want it on the page, letting you create great looking reports and documentation with ease. The best bit is there is no coding required, so you dont need to be a developer to get things done. No lengthy development cycles, or code commits to your live source system.

By adding Lasernet to the Microsoft Power Platform it gives you a true operational reporting system, that:

  • Saves money by eliminating SSRS programming costs
  • Is proven to be over three times faster than SSRS
  • Enables comprehensive operational reporting and printing
  • Is simple and straightforward to use, in true Power Apps style

So how did we arrive at using Lasernet as a reporting solution for the Power Platform? It all began with Paul Saxton, CTO of DXC, who had run into the problem of reporting – time and time again – when working with clients who did not have the SSRS knowledge, budget or the resources to bring in such an overly complex tool. From his years of experience working with Dynamics he knew that 20% / 30% of each project could be spent on amending and updating documentation. Knowing it should be significantly easier than it currently was, he looked to the market for a better solution. After being introduced to Formpipe and the Lasernet software, and seeing the value it could bring to DXC and their customers, Paul and his team decided to form a partnership with Formpipe, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It was, and still is, a partnership in the truest sense, where both businesses really benefit from the knowledge of the other. DXC bringing their years of experience, developing and implementing solutions across Microsoft’s platforms, whilst Formpipe have been doing the same in the field of output and document management, for both public and private sector industries across the world.

Paul and the Business Solutions Group (BSG) at Formpipe often bounce ideas off one and other, and it was in one of these sessions that Paul relayed the problem of reporting on the Power Platform as he saw it.  Wondering if Lasernet could fill this gap as it already did in so many other areas, the teams came up with a POC that used the XRM toolbox to create an OData request that Lasernet could use to query CRM / Dynamics directly and pull back data into its forms development tool. From here the data could then be easily mapped into any type of form / document which could then be returned to the app or sent on to the end user(s), (or all of the above – as well as many other options).

Buoyed by the initial success of the POC and seeing a real opportunity in the market we wanted to reach out to other users of Power Apps and the Power Platform and ask if you too have shared the frustrations of reporting and would be interested in finding out more about our solution? What types of documents or reports do you wish you could easily generate, but are struggling to do so? Which reports do you already have that you wish you could easily tweak to make them more useable, but dont have the knowledge or time to do?

Leave us a comment below or why not get in touch with us on the links below:

 

Contact Formpipe  / Contact DXC Microsoft Business Applications

 

Author: Joe Ferro – Product Marketing, Formpipe

Author: 
DXC Technology

Get in Touch

Email or call us now to
discuss how Microsoft
Business Solutions can
improve your business

Join our list

eBECS will invite you to webinars, events and keep you up to date with relevant news. You can unsubscribe at any time.

UK: +44 (0) 8455 441 441
Ireland: +353 (0)1 893 4831
USA: +1 (678) 701 5856
Saudi Arabia: +966 (11)920 007299

© 2021 eBECS Limited. All rights reserved.
Registered office: Royal Pavilion, Wellesley Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, England, GU11 1PZ