Should I use PowerApps?

If you need rapid development of applications that are easily deployed to your internal users for Android, iOS, or Windows on phones, tablets, or desktops, PowerApps is a great platform. PowerApps allows you to create mobile applications for all these devices.

With an appropriately licensed O365 login and permissions your users can begin installing and leveraging your applications as soon as they are deployed. Your applications can be designed towards mobile or tablet layouts and can access a wide variety of both on-premise (using the gateway) and online data sources. The more of the Microsoft services you use (SharePoint, OneDrive, PowerBI, etc) the more you will be able to leverage the “power” of PowerApps.

When should you not consider PowerApps? If you are wanting to expose your apps to external users, PowerApps is likely not a good fit due to licensing/login requirements. Also, if you need to write custom code, remember that PowerApps is a “no-code” environment: this means no JavaScript, HTML, C#, etc. But – keep in mind –  you can connect to REST APIs through PowerApps.

Cornerstone can help you with all of your PowerApps questions and requirements – simply give us a call today.

What are the components of Newstar menu-level security and should I use it?

Menu-level security is the most advanced security offered in Newstar Enterprise and consists of:

* Permissions for each menu item (allow visibility to, allow add/edit, allow delete)
* Permissions for many on-screen buttons
* Permissions offered from basic security level (Batch, Invoice and PO approvals, AP Processing Rule)

Menu-level security gives you the most flexible and secure way of managing permissions and audit compliance in the Newstar Enterprise system, so we recommend that you begin using it as soon as it is feasible for you to do so. Cornerstone has created a guide and implementation plan so you can determine your best path forward, just reach out to us and we’d be happy to help.

People are not using our SharePoint site that we worked so hard on. How can I drive adoption?

You are probably overthinking the answer. It’s simple: it doesn’t get used because it is not yet a tool for your organization. If you SP site is a group of links to other sites, people don’t need to go there, they simply bookmark their favorites sites on their favorite browser. If your SP site is a place to store forms, but those forms have existed on your network for years and are still there, people will go to the old place to get the necessary documents.

To drive adoption, design your site to have great functionality such as the ability to fill in HR forms online and have them electronically routed to the right people when the user submits the form. Use your SP site to regularly share important as well as fun information about your organization. Implement workflows and forms and collaboration modules to make this a tool. Yet, be sure to make it cool. Don’t recreate the mess that may be in your old network storage. And be sure to continually communicate the features of the site, train the staff and implement the feedback mechanism so you will know what they want and need.

I need a low budget phone app for Supers in the field to submit VPO requests, but my ERP doesn’t have external access. Help!

Good news! There is something out there made just for this type of activity: it’s called PowerApps from Microsoft.

The PowerApps software is designed to allow people with no coding experience to create applications that will run on phones, tablets, or through a browser. The design is done through a browser, so you can access your design environment from work, home, or wherever you have internet access.

When you’re ready to publish your application, you simply click a button and it will be available to access by whichever of your organization’s users you choose to share it with. PowerApps is included in many of the Office 365 plans and currently you can access PowerApps with a 60-day free trial, so give it a try!

We want to build a Help Desk issue tool in our SharePoint site. Should I use the Task template or the Issue Tracking Template?

This depends on the functionality you need.

If you are looking for the ability to enter tickets, categorize them, notify people when tickets have been assigned, then the Issue Tracking template is excellent.

But, if you wish to have your tool sync with MS Project or Outlook, you would need to use a Task template. The task template also gives you more views and a timeline.

So, keep your needs clear. Are you tracking an IT project or Help Desk tickets?

My ERP system has a Microsoft SQL Server backend. How often should I be rebuilding my table indexes?

Microsoft SQL Server indexes can be reorganized or rebuilt. The frequency will depend upon how fragmented it is. Whenever your indexes have more than 10% fragmentation it is time to clean up your index.

If your fragmentation is between 10% and 30% an index reorganize will be sufficient. If you have 30% or more fragmentation it is a good idea to run a an index rebuild.

A fragmented index can result in decreased performance so why this critical maintenance task is often ignored is a puzzle for sure. Re-indexing can be done with a script, through the SQL Server Management Interface, or can be included as part of a Maintenance Plan. Regardless of fragmentation levels, rebuilding indexes once a week is a good minimum threshold for this task.

I’m new to the residential construction industry. Can you help me understand inventory turnover ratio?

You bet! First, let’s start with the formula:

Inventory Turnover = Cost of Goods Sold/Value of Average OnHand Inventory

Because of the high dollar value of inventory in home construction, it’s critical for a home builder to monitor and maintain a healthy Inventory Turnover rate. Too much inventory = too much risk and too little inventory = missed sales opportunities. A lower than optimum number indicates low demand, while a high ratio is indicative of under-stocking.

Identifying appropriate inventory levels for each season can mean the difference between a builder who survives market fluctuation and one that doesn’t. The optimum rate will not only depend upon season, but also whether or not the builder is focused on single vs. multi-family and if they primarily sell spec homes or strictly build-to-suit. For a typical single-family builder with a mix of both spec and custom homes, a ratio of 6 to 8 is a good starting point. Tune from there based on your specific environment.

Need more help with your performance indicators? Don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Cornerstone Solutions.

We have plenty of technology, but our processes have bottlenecks and we need to be better at making deadlines – any thoughts?

Often, our internal business processes are a result of the strongest player in a department or organization defining how things will be done. It becomes more of an evolution than an intentional process. The result may look like one semi-smooth department, but a one dimensional point of view doesn’t consider the overall organization.

Typically the reality is that the organization is riddled with duplicate work and multiple points of checks and balances. When this occurs, it is time to consider performing a Business Process Review. Reviewing the process, identifying the pinch points and the unnecessary efforts, determining and implementing change are all part of the steps in becoming more productive.

While reviewing your processes can be done internally, the fresh set of eyes an external review can bring is often very effective. Whether you go it alone or work with your friends at HMS Cornerstone Solutions, remember to document the current process as your first step.  It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re leaving from.

Can I send an email directly from my PowerBI Dashboard?

Yes you can with the PowerApp custom visualization, which is in preview mode for PowerBI and available to download now. Embed this new customization within your PowerBI Dashboard, add an existing or create a new PowerApp associated to the dashboard’s data, and leverage the PowerApp’s ability to send an email.

Want more information about PowerBI?

Download our great whitepaper on our Resources Page

View the PowerBI webinar on our YouTube Channel