In our first episode, Sally identified a business problem and worked toward solving it with the Power Platform. We left off with Sally asking Art in IT for an explanation of Multiplexing.
Sally asked Art again, “Well, can you explain multiplexing to me or not?”.
“I’ll have to do some research”, replied Art, “Let me circle back to you later”.
Sally is losing patience; she has already wasted an entire day on this, but she really likes the idea of replacing her outdated process. She decides to do some research on her own and not wait for Art. Opening her search engine, she types, “What is multiplexing?“… about 177,000,000 results. The first one is a definition from the Oxford Dictionary; she might as well start there.
1. incorporate into a multiplex signal or system.
“thirty-two of these signals can be multiplexed together to form a 2Mb data stream.”
Okay, now Sally is perplexed; what does this have to do with anything? Maybe a more focused search… “What is Microsoft multiplexing?“
“Multiplexing” is when individuals use hardware or software to pool connections, reroute or indirectly access information, and/or reduce the number of devices or users that directly access or use a product. Multiplexing can also include reducing the number of devices or users a product directly manages.
Okay, this makes more sense, but why did the Microsoft partner warn about multiplexing? It seems like it would be a good thing. As she is pondering this, an email arrives from Art. “I called our partner for clarification”, writes Art, “It seems it is a licensing thing. Our partner was not clear either but said basically doing anything to avoid buying a license from Microsoft is multiplexing”. Sally grabs the phone and calls Art. As soon as he answers, she says, “What does this multiplexing thing have to do with my App?”
“Nothing, I suppose,” says Art, “I think it was the idea of using Power Pages as an alternative to buying licenses for the Recruits to use your app.”
“But they are employees!” fumes Sally. “Exactly!” says Art, “It’s a timing issue; as employees, they can’t use our systems without a license, but we don’t get their license until onboarding is complete”.
“OMG”, says Sally, “So my problem is what.. unsolvable?”.
“Let me talk with the CIO”, says Art, “Maybe he can change the process and buy the licenses sooner; I’ll get back to you.”
An hour later, Sally’s phone rings; he answers, “Hello, this is Sally.”
“Hi Sally, this is Rupert, the CIO”, says Rupert.
“Hi Rupert, yes I know who you are”, says Sally.
“Great. Listen, Art was explaining the problem, but I wanted to clarify some things with you”, said Rupert, “First, why are you building an app? It seems like something Art’s department should handle.”
“Art actually suggested it,” said Sally, “Bill and I even went to a class, and it was Super-Simple to do”.
“And you are comfortable doing this?” said Rupert, “It still feels like an IT job to me, but maybe explain what you are trying to accomplish”.
“I do have an MBA,” said Sally, “I am a very smart person”.
“Sorry, I did not mean to sound like I was questioning your intelligence,” said Rupert, “But building apps is a little out of your wheelhouse, wouldn’t you agree?”.
“I guess we’ll find out”, said Sally, and she went on to describe her current process in detail. When she finished, Rupert was silent for several seconds, and then:
“I’m familiar with some of Bob’s spreadsheets; he was an absolute Excel wizard,” said Rupert, “Can’t they be fixed”.
“Not unless you have another Guru handy”, replied Sally, “Plus, they are not very modern. I was reading up about some possible automation that could make the whole process even better”.
“I see,” said Rupert, “I am a little nervous about connecting it to our ERP. If it caused problems there, it could mean big trouble”.
“Well, I’m manually importing data into the ERP now; what’s the difference?” asked Sally.
“That’s just it”, answered Rupert, “I’m not really sure. I’ll tell you what: I’ll get you one license so you can build the first one, and we’ll see what it looks like. If it seems okay, we can consider updating our process and getting the licenses sooner for new employees.”
Perfect”, says Sally. “My time was not wasted after all! I’ll set up a meeting to share what I built”.
“Looking forward to it!” said Rupert, “Maybe this will be the answer for Bob’s other spreadsheets. I really don’t like depending on things we cannot support”.
Two days later, Sally entered Rupert’s small conference room carrying her laptop.
“Right on time!” said Rupert.
“Bill is right behind me.” said Sally, “Give me a few minutes to set this up”.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I also asked Art to sit in,” said Rupert as he returned to his desk.
Ten minutes later, with the four of them sitting around the small table, Sally clicked a button on her laptop to launch her app on the wall monitor.
“Isn’t it great!” beamed Bill, “It looks just like the spreadsheet!”.
Art was looking at Rupert, staring at the screen, clearly thinking. Finally, Rupert said, “It seems a little… rudimentary. Am I wrong?”.
A little flushed, Sally said, “Well, it’s just a first draft.”.
“Uhuh,” said Rupert, “can you open the spreadsheet you’re trying to replace?”
“Sure.”, said Sally and clicked again to display the spreadsheet on the monitor.
“Can you explain to me how this works?” asked Rupert.
“It’s really pretty simple,” answered Sally, “I email this to the new Recruits; they fill out the first page and send it back to me”.
“I see,” said Rupert, “and what is this other tab for?”
“Oh, that was some of Bob’s guru wizardry,” said Sally, “I’m not exactly sure.”
“Well, let’s open it up!” said Rupert, and Sally clicked the other tab. The tab had several formulas and calculations on it.
“I’m confused,” said Rupert, “if you don’t know what these calculations are doing, how could you build an app to replace this spreadsheet?”
“Well, I did!” said Sally, smiling.
“No, you didn’t,” said Rupert, “this is why I suggested Art’s department handle it. You are smart, but you simply cannot know what you do not know. Art, can you do something with this?”.
“Well, I’m pretty slammed,” said Art, “how about if Sally and I work on it together? She knows the problem the best.”
“Sounds like a plan!” said Rupert, “I am intrigued about what this Power Platform might be able to do for other parts of the organization, but I want to see if it can solve this first.”
Sally trudged back to her office feeling… unappreciated.
Art popped his head in and said, “Hey, don’t worry about it. I could not do your job either, but we’ll make something great together!”