Supercharge Your Solutions: How Power Apps and Power Automate Work Better Together

Fraser Beadle
August 30, 2023


Power Apps and Power Automate are two pillars of the Microsoft Power Platform, providing low-code platforms for building apps and automating workflows respectively.

Power Apps empowers users to quickly develop custom web and mobile apps that can connect to data sources and run on a variety of devices. It provides a visual canvas for building UIs, mapping data connections, and applying logic through formulas.

Power Automate gives users an intuitive way to automate repetitive processes and tasks through graphical flows. It connects to hundreds of data sources and cloud services out of the box and provides various triggers that kick off flows.

While powerful individually, these tools truly shine when combined together to create robust end-to-end solutions. Power Apps handles the front-end application layer while Power Automate manages the backend processes and integrations.

In this post, we'll explore some of the key ways Power Apps and Power Automate can integrate deeply to build more powerful solutions than either could deliver on its own. Through native connectors, triggering capabilities, and shared data storage, these tools perfectly complement each other.

By bringing together Power Apps for responsive UIs and Power Automate for workflow automation, citizen developers can rapidly deliver high-quality solutions. Let's dive in to see these capabilities in action!

Key Integration Points

Seamless Connectivity with Native Connectors

Power Automate comes with a host of connectors that make integrating with Power Apps easier. These provide quick links between the two products.

Connectors in Power Automate provide several benefits for integrating with Power Apps:

  • Trigger flows when actions occur in apps - Some connectors like "Power Apps" and "Power Apps for Users" can detect events in apps like form submits, gallery selections etc. to kick off flows.
  • Access and update data sources used by apps - Many connectors let flows connect to data sources like SharePoint, SQL, Dynamics 365 etc. which can be leveraged in Power Apps.
  • Invoke flows from apps - The "Flow" connector allows embedding and executing flows from within Power App logic for seamless integration.
  • Send notifications - The Power Apps and Microsoft Teams connectors enable flows to send in-app notifications to end users of apps.
  • Administrate apps - The "Power Apps for Makers" connector provides flow actions to handle app administration like managing connections, environments, copying apps etc.
  • Leverage flow logic - Connectors to services like Twitter, Excel, RPA tools etc. allow reusing flows across apps to avoid rewriting the same logic.
  • Consistent data - Connectors can help keep data synchronized across backend systems, flows, and apps.

These connectors allow flows to detect events in Power Apps and access app resources. For example, you can build a flow that copies rows from an Excel table to a collection in Power Apps whenever a new file is uploaded to SharePoint.

The connectors provide a simple interface with all the necessary triggers, actions, and authentication configured out of the box. This lets developers seamlessly connect Power Automate and Power Apps without complex setup.

Initiating Flows from Power Apps 

Power Apps provides several ways to invoke Power Automate flows directly without writing any code. This allows seamlessly triggering automation from app events.

Some ways Power Apps can start flows include:

  • Action button/menu - Adding a Power Automate flow as the OnSelect action for a button click.
  • Form submit - Starting a flow when a form is submitted using the Form control.
  • Gallery selection - Triggering a flow when an item is selected in a gallery.
  • scheduled recurrence - Running flows on a set hourly, daily, etc schedule.

For example, you could create a flow that emails the project manager whenever a new item is submitted through a form in your app. Or trigger a flow on button click that updates a database based on user input fields.

Connecting events in Power Apps to flows enhances solutions by running critical automation in the background. Buttons, forms, galleries and other controls can initiate flows to extend your apps.

Embeding Flows Directly Into Power Apps

The "Flow" action in Power Apps allows you to seamlessly embed Power Automate flows directly into your application logic. This lets you call flows at any stage without leaving the app.

For example, you could:

  • Call a flow to look up data from a SQL database and store it in a collection on startup.
  • Trigger a flow to submit a SharePoint list item when a button is pressed.
  • Execute a flow to send a notification when a form is submitted.
  • Run a flow on a schedule to refresh reports or analytics.

The Flow action handles all parameters, connectors, and credentials behind the scenes so you don't have to configure anything manually. Just select the desired flow and provide any inputs.

This makes flows an extension of your app - reusable logic you can call anywhere needed. Flows can be used to query data, post updates, send notifications, integrate with APIs, and more.

Embedding them into Power Apps with the built-in connectors provides tremendous flexibility to extend app capabilities.

Sharing data

Outputs from flows can be stored in collections/tables used by apps, for example, you can create a flow in Power Automate that retrieves data from a SharePoint list and stores it in a collection in Power Apps. This collection can then be used to display the data in a gallery or data table within the app.

Key Benefits of Integrating Power Apps and Power Automate

Automating Process Workflows

Power Automate allows you to easily build flows that automate multi-step processes and workflows to run in the background of your solutions. For example, you could build a flow that:

  • On form submit in Power Apps, queries data from SQL, posts to SharePoint, and sends email notifications.
  • Nightly, fetches new data from Dynamics 365, transforms and stores it in Power Apps collections.

This frees your Power Apps to focus on creating responsive UIs and logic, while Power Automate handles orchestrating processes.

Enabling Real-Time Updates

Triggers from Power Apps can kick off flows to instantly respond to in-app events with notifications or data updates. For instance:

  • When an item is selected in a gallery, query details from SharePoint and refresh the UI.
  • On button click, post form data to Dynamics 365 and show confirmation message.

This creates real-time, bi-directional integration between apps and flows.

Maintaining Data Consistency

Storing data in shared collections/tables accessible to both tools ensures consistency. For example:

  • A flow that refreshes order data can store it in a collection used by order history screens.
  • Submitting a form updates a SharePoint list displayed in an app gallery.

Workflows and UIs access the same data source, preventing duplication.

Promoting Reusable Components

Well-constructed flows encapsulate business logic for re-use across multiple apps. For example:

  • A flow to validate and format user entries can be called from various form submissions.
  • A flow to fetch weather data can be triggered on multiple app pages.

Following best practices for creating reusable flows enhances consistency.

Enabling Citizen Development

Low-code capabilities of both tools allows business users to build complete solutions. For example:

An app maker can quickly build a collection schema and UI, connecting it to flows built by a business analyst without IT help.

The combined power of Power Apps and Power Automate empowers collaboration and productivity.

Power Apps and Power Automate Use Cases

Here are a few examples of real-world solutions combining Power Apps and Power Automate:

Inventory \ Asset Management System

  • Use a data source such as SharePoint lists or Microsoft Dataverse to store inventory and asset data .
  • Power Apps: Create a Power App with a user interface for managing inventory and assets. This can include features such as viewing inventory levels, adding new items, and updating existing items.
  • Use Power Automate to automate routine tasks, such as generating purchase orders and receiving notifications when inventory levels reach a certain threshold
  • Integrate Power Apps and Power Automate to allow for seamless data sharing between the two tools. For example, use a flow in Power Automate to retrieve data from the data source and store it in a collection in Power Apps.
  • Use Power BI to generate reports based on the inventory and asset data stored in the data source.

Learning Management System

  • Users access and manage courses and lessons through a user interface built in Power Apps.
  • Data for the system is hosted in Dataverse.
  • Power Automate flows could be used to automate tasks such and sending notifications and alerts on progress.
  • Power BI to create reports based on the inventory and asset data stored in Dataverse.

The Collab365 Academy has a great 2 part 9 hour workshop on a similar solution to this presented by Connor Deasey - Take a look here

Expense Reporting App

  • Power App form for capturing expenses with photo receipts.
  • Flow triggered on submission to extract details using AI Builder, post to Dynamics 365, and email approvers.
  • Approval flows assign reviewers and handle approval process.
  • Power BI reports visualize expenses using data from Dynamics.

Helpdesk Ticketing System

  • Power Apps portals for users to submit and track tickets.
  • Power Automate connects to Outlook to create tickets from emails.
  • Flows assign agents, update statuses, send notifications based on rules.
  • Analytics flows feed Power BI dashboards.

The Collab365 Academy has a great workshop on a similar solution to this presented by Stace Deere MVP- Take a look here

Change Management System

  • Power Apps that allows users to access and manage changes.
  • Using Microsoft Lists as the datasource to hold and manage the change data.
  • Power Automate Flows manage data updates, notifications and approvals to drive the change management logic.
  • Power BI could then be used to create reports based on the change data in the Microsoft Lists.

The Collab365 Academy has a great 5 hour workshop on a similar solution to this presented by Mark Stokes - Take a look here

Lead Scoring App

  • Canvas app displays leads from Dynamics 365 with scoring.
  • Flows triggered on form fills, website visits, calculate lead scores.
  • High scored leads kick off email nurturing flows.
  • Marketing automation flows feed data back to Dynamics.

Conclusion: Leveraging the Power Platform Duo for Maximum Impact

In summary, Power Apps and Power Automate integrate seamlessly through native connectors, triggers, shared data, and embedded actions. While powerful separately, combining them allows you to build robust, scalable solutions faster.

Power Apps provides responsive UIs and data-driven logic while Power Automate delivers workflow automation and integration capabilities. Any app maker or business analyst can start benefiting from these tools today to digitize processes and transform experiences.

To learn more, explore the built-in connectors, play with examples, and try building flows that complement your apps. Power Apps and Power Automate are better together - unlocking the full potential of the Microsoft Power Platform. Learn how all of the Power Platform services tie together in the Collab365 Power Platform Challenge!

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