Working out the true cost of Microsoft Power Apps and Power Automate.

19 November 2020

One of the big considerations when looking at Microsoft Power Apps and Power Automate is the equation between cost and benefit. In this blog, we look at the amount you’ll have to pay and we weigh that up against the potential rewards you can expect to achieve. We also ask if there is anything you can do with these Microsoft Power Platform services for little or no cost?

Too pricey for some

It’s true, at first sight both products look on the expensive side. Power Apps starts off at £7.50 per user per month for just one app and this rises to £30.20 per user per month if you want to run an unlimited number of apps.

Similarly Power Automate starts off at £11.30 per user per month, rising to £30.20 for Robotic Process Automation. Alternatively, you can pay an enterprise charge of £377 per month for running just five flows per month. For a large organisation with complex needs this can soon amount to a sizeable overhead.

Something for nothing

The first thing to note is that Power Apps and Power Automate come free with M365 Enterprise licenses. Running a standard E3 M365 License includes the basics for both Power Automate and Power Apps. This is what you’ll see when logging in:

Power Apps

Power Apps and Power Automate image

Power Automate

With an E3 or E5 license, all the core capability to make canvas apps and flows with standard connectors is available for free. Take a look at the features you get for nothing:

E3 or E5 license features image

SharePoint Support Center

With Power Apps and Power Automate, you get a wide range of free standard connectors you can use to sync up with various data sources and third-party apps. Here, for example, is a range of Power Automate connectors:

Power Automate connectors image

So, with all these features available free, why shell out for the extra license fees ranging from £7.50 to £377 per month?

How the charges work

There are two main ways that charges are incurred – either from consuming data, or from using Premium connectors, for either Power Automate or Power Apps.

Once Azure data is being consumed there are two charges: one for the data itself which is based on a per usage basis, and a second charge for using a premium connector. If there’s a business need to connect to Adobe, Mailchimp, or even Microsoft’s own Dynamics platform, then there is an additional charge for that.

What this means in practice, is that if an app doesn’t consume any Azure data, Common Data Services (CDS) and doesn’t need a Premium Connector, then it’s free to use.

At Resonate we have built a range of apps that ‘live’ in Teams. A couple of examples will help show the kind of things that could be done by your IT team or in conjunction with a partner like Resonate for a modest investment:

Resonate Sales Team App

We have a Sales Team App we use to manage and structure our Teams and Channels for customers. It builds Teams Channels out and populates them with folders. It even provides notifications when there are updates.

The app can also follow the sales cycle moving from pre-sales, through to delivery and support, replicating content as it goes through the cycle. It’s free for us to use. If a customer bought the app from Resonate, it would be free for them to use too and there would be no ongoing Microsoft costs.

Resonate Teams Creation App

We have another app called the Teams Creation App. This app runs a PowerShell script remotely and allows IT Admins to decide if they want User Groups to create Teams or not. It consumes a small amount of Azure data when running the PowerShell scripts.

Reasons to consider taking the plunge

For those of you considering making more of a financial commitment to enjoy the full benefits of Power Apps and Power Automate, you’ll first need to know what those benefits are. It has to be said, there are more than a few of them:

  • Reduced costs: Save time, and subsequently cost, by implementing business apps and automated workflows
  • Fast development: Customised solutions can be developed and deployed into your environment quicker and more efficiently than with conventional methods
  • Office 365 and third-party integrations: Use all your Office 365 environment data and current third-party services to deliver a seamless and tailored solution
  • Mobile-ready: Your users and fieldworkers can run their business applications, trigger automated workflows and view data dashboards, all from their mobile devices
  • In-depth analytics and insights: Connect to various data sources and receive real-time analytics together with actionable insights. The information is presented in easy-to-understand dashboards and reports, which you can publish on websites or within Teams
  • Streamlined and automated processes: Automate manual processes to enable your staff to avoid carrying out repetitive tasks, saving valuable time and effort
  • Reduced environmental impact: Minimise paper processes with the automation of tasks
  • Increased productivity: Your employees will complete a range of different tasks faster and with less effort, making them more productive
  • Full Teams integration: Power Apps and Power Automate can be seamlessly integrated into your current Teams platform

Sizeable return on investment (ROI)

A recent Forrester Total Economic Impact study found that using Power Apps and Power Automate resulted in an average ROI of 362%. Suddenly, those charges we outlined earlier don’t seem quite so intimidating after all.

On top of that, development costs reduced by 70% and process efficiency increased by 15%. That’s partly because you can get underway in seconds and begin workflows in minutes, at a lower cost, thanks to the familiar Microsoft interface.

The major saving provided by the Power Platform was found to be process automation. Forrester concluded that, over three years of using Power Platform, the customers tracked in it’s study had realised $5.32 million in efficiencies.

Gartner MQ for Low Code Application Development

More endorsement for the Power Platform comes from Garner In its latest Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low Code, published in August 2019. Gartner reviewed 18 vendors, finding that Salesforce; Microsoft Power Apps; Outsystems; and Mendix were out in front as market leaders.

Of the four, Microsoft Power Apps was considered more functional than Salesforce, and more scalable and more mature than Outsystems and Mendix.

Gartner MQ for RPA

In its latest MQ for Robotic Process Automation, Gartner identified Microsoft as the company with the most complete vision of all vendors reviewed.

The integration of Softomotive and WinAutomation is likely to improve Microsoft’s ability to execute and could soon put it in Gartner’s leaders’ quadrant for RPA.

Every organisation is different

The closer you look into Microsoft Power Apps and Power Automate, the more value they seem to offer and the stronger their market leadership credentials appear. Each business case will be different and you’ll need to do your own calculations to work out the real value for your own organization.

We can help with that. As qualified experts, Resonate can tell you everything you need to know about all the services of the Microsoft Power Platform, including Power BI and Power Virtual Agents. Please just get in touch and we’ll be delighted to help in any way we can.

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