From Tornado to Functional – Rapid Application Development with PowerApps
On Sunday, August 6th 2017 at 1:30am a EF3 tornado ripped through my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma going right through a highly populated business area.
One of the buildings in it’s path of destruction was the Remington Tower where my company ThriveFast offices out of. The tornado took no mercy on the 19 story high rise building, completely destroying the top floor and blowing out windows throughout the rest of the building.
Thankfully no one was killed and only a few minor injuries were reported but this tornado took a devastating toll on the over 200 businesses in it’s path. Ten businesses were condemned, while many others were left without furniture, computer equipment and a place to office. For the other businesses such as mine in the Remington Tower, we weren’t even allowed to enter the building to get any of our stuff due to falling glass.
My business was pretty fortunate because we work off laptops which we had with us at home and all of our data is in the cloud so we could technically still operate. Unfortunately, a lot of people that I came to know in the building weren’t as lucky. My company teamed up with some other local businesses to organize an effort to help businesses effected by the tornado get supplies they needed to get operational again. Many businesses stepped up and offered to donate office space and equipment (laptops, monitors, keyboards, etc). The donations were coming in at a lightning fast rate and I quickly realized that we were going to need some way to track all of the donations. This is where PowerApps came to the rescue.
I needed some kind of form (preferably a mobile app) to input the equipment details so we could keep track of the inventory and match them up to companies in need. We use Office 365 at my company and I had been reading up on a new feature called PowerApps. PowerApps is a tool that allows you to create no-code apps that are accessible on desktop, tablet and mobile. As I was looking through some of the pre-built templates that are available in PowerApps, I saw one called Asset Checkout. It looked like this template would get me about 80% of what I needed so I decided to see if I could customize it to my needs.
|PowerApps Asset Tracking|
I was amazed at how easy it was to set up and configure. All I really needed to do was change the data connection to save and pull the data from a SharePoint list I had already set up rather than OneDrive. I made a few other other changes and within two hours I had a fully functional asset tracking system! I was able to easily track my inventory and get several companies paired up with the donated equipment that they needed.