Restrict creation of new Power Platform environments to admins only

A person buried under a pile of boxes

Note: This post applies to traditional environments, not Dataverse for Teams environments. Thanks to Loryan Strant for adding that clarification.

As long as someone in your organization is on a Power Apps or Power Automate per-user plan, they may have permission to create their own environment (unless you’ve already limited it previously in your organization). These environments can be used and shared by Dynamics 365, Power Apps portals and apps, and Power Automate flows. Environments can house multiple Dataverse tables (which can also be provisioned by a power user with appropriate licensing). Power Platform apps and Dynamics 365 can then connect to, read from, and write to these tables which would likely be shared across multiple applications/processes.

For example, if Megan Bowen is licensed on a Power Apps per-user plan she would, by default, be able to create new environments as she wished. And with the right training and deployed best practices, this may not be an issue. But if training isn’t provided and users are creating environments left and right, it may be time to limit who can create them (regardless of their licensing) until proper training and governance can be deployed.

So if you wish to manage environments centrally and prevent environment sprawl, you will want to limit the ability of users in your organization so they can’t create their own environments. Doing this may slow their individual productivity, but could also prevent duplicated efforts, inconsistent data organizationally, scattered naming conventions, and more. As long as you replace this restriction with a formal and effective governance policy, request form, etc. it will minimize disruption to your colleagues’ productivity.

Ready to do this? Let’s go over the steps to limit Microsoft Power Platform environment creation and management.

Limit new environment creation via the Power Platform admin center

As a Power Platform admin, sign in to the Power Platform admin center.

Choose the Settings gear in the upper right corner and choose Power Platform settings.

Click to enlarge

Then change Who can create production and sandbox environments to Only specific admins. As seen in the tooltip in the following screenshot, this limits creation to:

  • Global admins
  • Dynamics 365 service admins
  • Power Platform service admins and
  • Delegated admins

Click Save and you’re finished!

Note that this doesn’t remove existing environments or limit the abilities of their creator(s) to continue managing pre-existing environments. This setting will only apply to new environments and prevent additional unwanted sprawl.

Prefer to restrict environment creation and management via PowerShell? Check out this documentation.

Auto-approval of Microsoft Teams Shifts requests using Power Automate

Today I happily stumbled across a collection of Power Automate templates for auto-approval of different types of Microsoft Teams Shifts requests, such as time off requests, open shift requests, and swap requests.

Not familiar with Shifts? Check out my write-up.

The ability to auto-approve removes the current reliance on a Team owner to approve requests. In less formal Teams, this would be an excellent improvement to speed up the process and give autonomy to your team members.

While most of the templates’ triggers are set to use “Recurrence” (regularly reviewing requests and approving on the hour), you can also create your own flow using Shifts itself as a trigger instead.

Note: In high-activity Teams, using Recurrence as the trigger might cut down the number of runs/flows you use if that’s a consideration for you. Using Shifts as the trigger as seen below will run every time a request is made, but provides a faster response to your users.

Click to enlarge.

The templates for Power Automate auto-approval of Shifts requests range from simple flows to more complex flows. Check them out below:

  1. Auto Approve Offer Shift Requests
  2. Auto Approve Open Shift Requests
  3. Auto Approve Swap Shifts Requests and Send Email Notification
  4. Auto Convert Shift to Open Shift
  5. Share My Shifts as iCalendar Feed
Auto Approve Offer Shift Request
Image taken from Auto Approve Swap Shifts Requests and Send Email Notification template example. Click to enlarge.

Microsoft Flow vs SharePoint Designer (SPD) Approvals

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Perhaps one of the most useful automated processes out there is the ability to do approval processes. We fortunately have two tools on-prem or online that allows us to perform this action. Microsoft Flow offers some incredible connectivity between services (like approve a Tweet and post it, approve something from Google Docs and have it moved to SharePoint, etc.), but the approval process itself is very simple at this point and doesn’t offer some of the more robust features and customization options we get in SharePoint Designer 2013 approval processes.

I also will use both tools in the same business process occasionally, because they both have unique strengths.

But which do you use for approvals?

The quick answer to the question is: Use Flow for simple approvals, or approvals that involve multiple sites or external services. Use SPD for more complicated processes and customization options for approvals that involve a single site.

Continue reading “Microsoft Flow vs SharePoint Designer (SPD) Approvals”

How to create a dynamic “this week’s menu” button for your intranet

People jokingly (or not) sometimes tell me the only reason for which they use the intranet is the cafeteria menu. So on a recent draft of a redesigned homepage, I introduced a prominent “Menu” button that would always be linked to the most recent menu uploaded by dining services.

menu

Previously people would click a link which took them to a document library where the current menu lived, and would open it there. 2 clicks.

I had two goals for this project.

  1. Get it down to 1 click.
  2. Never have to manually update the link for the button. Set it, forget it.

Note: this could easily be applied to newsletters, updates, meeting minutes, etc. Anything that is published on a regular basis that could benefit from an always-current hyperlinked button.

Continue reading “How to create a dynamic “this week’s menu” button for your intranet”

Use Power BI to create a dynamic/live meeting room schedule

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I recently set out to create a “live” conference room schedule that could be presented constantly on an auto-refreshed screen outside conference rooms. This would replace printed schedules placed in holders outside the rooms. The following example uses a SharePoint calendar as the conference room calendar and can be refreshed constantly using Power BI’s scheduled refresh in O365 or Report Server.

Continue reading “Use Power BI to create a dynamic/live meeting room schedule”

Intro to conditional formatting & rules/validation when customizing SharePoint new item forms with PowerApps in Office 365

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This post will introduce you to some basic conditional formatting, rules & validation ideas you can implement today in your customized SharePoint forms using PowerApps. And don’t worry – if you start making changes to your form and don’t want to keep them, you can easily switch back to the original SharePoint form.

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Use Microsoft Flow to create a “today” column for use in SharePoint list calculations

Note: I previously shared how to do this in SharePoint Designer. The following method utilizing Flow is better, and does not use loops/pauses.

It’s well-known that SharePoint calculated columns don’t permit [Today] to be used as a formula for a calculated date column. And the “default to today’s date” setting only works upon creation, and doesn’t update daily. But we can create a standard date column and have Microsoft Flow automatically update it daily for us, therefore allowing us to effortlessly perform calculations against today’s date such as:

  • Age =(TodayDate-Birthday)/365
  • Years of Service =(TodayDate-StartDate)/365
  • Days Past Due =(TodayDate-DueDate)
  • Weeks until summer break =(SummerStart-TodayDate)/7

Here’s how to create your own, always accurate/updated, today column (see bottom of post for video):

Continue reading “Use Microsoft Flow to create a “today” column for use in SharePoint list calculations”

How to make a Microsoft Flow mobile button to be emailed Microsoft Forms or SharePoint data as Excel link or attachment

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Microsoft Flow mobile buttons are magical. One touch on your mobile device, and gears start turning to retrieve and deliver the data you need when and how you need it. Recently, I set out to deliver all Microsoft Forms responses to a recipient on-demand as an excel file using a Microsoft Flow mobile button they could press whenever they wanted the results. I also created a button someone could use to be sent all the birthdays coming up in the next week for our organization whenever they need it. You can adjust the following steps to fit your situation and tools, but the following outlines two ideas:

  • Sending someone all responses to a Microsoft Forms survey whenever they press the button (Take a snapshot in time of responses, or pull up-to-the-minute feedback into your meeting)
  • Sending someone SharePoint list items in an excel sheet that match a certain criteria (Projects ending in the next two weeks)

Continue reading “How to make a Microsoft Flow mobile button to be emailed Microsoft Forms or SharePoint data as Excel link or attachment”