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By Nigel Clarke, Operating Model Modeller 

Different teams from across our Co-op have come together to save time, money and solve business problems using Power Platform – a suite of tools we all have access to. Power Platform can help all of us to automate processes, create applications and build detailed reports. The Citizen Developer Programme, which is open to all colleagues at the moment, provides you with the chance to develop skills in Power Platform.

I work on the Store Operating Model, with a focus on understanding the tasks store colleagues complete and the time it takes to complete them.

I started using Power Platform for a need we had within our team. We had to measure how many hours were required for store colleagues to complete a particular task. To do this we have to observe colleagues carrying out these tasks and create a record. 

This is a really important piece of work that helps us to plan for our stores but the options we had open to us weren’t great.

The first option was very manual – literally noting every task on a piece of paper and later adding it to Excel. This would have taken hours and I’m not sure we’d have actually been able to complete this piece of work properly.

The other option would be to hire some equipment which would have cost around £15,000.

I’ve seen PowerApps before and, being interested in tech, I decided to investigate its capabilities. I attended two workshops with Microsoft and with that – as well as some common sense and Google at my fingertips – I was able to build a PowerApp that would allow us to capture observations and automatically feed into an Excel spreadsheet. 

As a result, we were able to capture 23,000 single colleague observations across 90 stores. I genuinely believe that without this solution, we wouldn’t have been able to deliver this piece of work in a meaningful way.

One of the great things about Power Platform is the reusability. I have been able to copy and paste the app I created to build a new app for another type of observation – the return on investment continues to grow. 

To anyone starting on this journey, my advice is don’t panic! When I first saw the Power Platform tab, I backed away. But it isn’t scary and if you like to solve problems you should give it a go. I’m now on the Microsoft Fundamentals learning course and becoming a champion in my own team. 

The Citizen Developer programme is open to any Co-op colleague wanting to develop their skills in Power Platform. If you’d like to find out more, take a look at the Citizen Developer site

You can sign up to be a Citizen Developer too.