We invited Microsoft in to run an ‘App In A Day’ session with us, which we opened up to colleagues that are currently working on concepts in our exploration pipeline. For those of you who don’t know, Bromford as a whole are in the thick of a transformation programme, central to which is the move to a Microsoft Dynamics platform. As an Innovation Lab, we are currently operating on the fine line between being close enough to the programme to make sure we aren’t duplicating work but also being far enough away so we can challenge design and ensure we can continue to evolve as a business long into the future.
There is good reason for this - business improvement projects like this have an end date, but once the programmeOne wagon has hitched up and left, we still need to be pushing colleagues to constantly improve so Bromford can continue to deliver the best service to all our customers. In the Lab, we know that the work programmeOne are doing will give us a platform from which we can push the boundaries of what is possible. That being said, it’s no good us being excited about something when our fellow colleagues don’t know the possibilities, so we wanted to bring them on that journey with us.
There were a couple of caveats to this session - we were learning this as a means of accelerating concepts within exploration (so nothing that directly challenges the programme, rather, the stuff that happens afterwards or plugging any gaps) and whilst we wanted to empower colleagues with this knowledge, any ideas would still need to go through the proper governance that already exists. This part is crucial - you don’t want to have spent all this time, effort and dollar on streamlining a platform for colleagues to be creating apps all over the place in an uncontrolled manner.
It’s fair to say colleagues were hesitant at the outset - I mean, building apps used to be the domain of developers, with all their strings of code and C++. Using PowerApps, however, (which is part of the Power Platform within the Microsoft suite) they quickly came to realise that if you can navigate your way around an Excel formula and work a Powerpoint, you can easily put together visually aesthetic apps that actually work. It becomes more difficult when you start to connect in datasources and programming rules, but in fairness, that’s what people like myself in the Lab are there for - you tell us what you want to do, and we’ll proof of concept it. Tom’s face in this picture says it all - it really is that easy!
I need to say a huge thank you to the guys at Microsoft for hosting this session - everyone involved gave us great feedback and we’ve generated a huge list of ideas to work with as a result. The next steps will be for us to sift through all of these and, with colleagues, work out which items we want to progress as a priority. We intend to do this as a series of ‘hackathon’ style events in the New Year, so watch this space.
In the meantime, I’m going to teach myself the rest of the platform because it has definitely sparked my interest - I would encourage you to do the same!