Model-Driven Apps: Unlocking Business Agility in Dynamics 365

minutes reading time

Model-Driven Apps: Unlocking Business Agility in Dynamics 365

Businesses of all shapes and sizes need to evolve their digital systems to meet market demands in order to survive.

Organisations require agility to stay competitive, as being the first mover often leads to market leadership. With this relentless pace of change, traditional approaches to application development often struggle to maintain their edge, burdened by lengthy development cycles, complex coding requirements, and rigid architectures.

Accelerating business transformation with model-driven apps

Model-driven apps address this problem. It offers a streamlined and agile approach to building custom applications, empowering organisations to swiftly develop software that responds to market changes, compliance and legal pressures and drives innovation across the business. This application development methodology drives Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, enabling business flexibility, security and scalability.

This post will explore how Model-driven apps can shorten development cycles and facilitate native integration between service apps such as Sales and Customer Insights. We’ll also look at how businesses benefit from leveraging robust infrastructure in the cloud with enhanced security and reliability.

Shaping the future of business software development

Traditional development methodologies such as custom programming in C# performed the job businesses required for decades, but they had drawbacks.

Many applications were built from the ground up and required highly skilled programmers to maintain and customise. Additionally, comprehensive knowledge bases must be updated to preserve troubleshooting and customisation. You also face risks with the lack of built-in redundancy. For example, when key developers leave organisations, they potentially lose a full understanding of business-critical systems. Traditional methodologies also have longer development cycles and are resource-intensive.

Model-driven apps are a fundamental shift away from these challenges. They transform how businesses adapt to change and reduce the resources involved in reaching strategic IT goals.

When using Dynamics 365 or another model-driven app such as Power Apps, the application’s behaviour and structure are primarily defined by a data model. Developers focus on designing the data model and creating or configuring existing business logic, user interface, and other application elements using tools and frameworks provided by the platform.

Diagram of Microsoft Power Platform and how it connects with Dynamics 365 and connectors

Dynamics 365 is itself a collection of model-driven apps. However, organisations that may not need to utilise the full range of capabilities of apps such as Customer Service or Sales can create their own from the ground up.

Businesses can benefit from this in two ways:

Cost effective licensing: Purchasing a Power Apps licence, compared with a full Dynamics 365 application, may be suitable for businesses on a smaller budget.

Bespoke system configuration: Removes surplus data tables, interface options and unnecessary capabilities, simplifying application maintenance and training.

While Microsoft empowers businesses to create applications, they provide support through an easy-to-use designer wizard, select data connectors, and templates to streamline your application development process.

Diagram of Microsoft Power Platform and how it connects with Dynamics 365 and connectors

Streamlining Customisations: A scenario on how Model-Driven Apps Simplify System Enhancements

We can look at specific scenarios for various businesses that benefit from this paradigm. In our example, let’s examine an insurance company. They wish to add a field to the system, labelled customer occupation history to support underwriters.

In the traditional model, the underwriting team would need to submit a request to customise their existing system. The IT team would need to consider all the types of data the field would collect, create a validation system, and update all the related forms the underwriting team uses. They will also need to adjust workflows and finally test for bugs, security concerns and scenarios they didn’t plan for when originally designing the system. This requires highly skilled programmers to code at every step of the cycle.

The complexity required means extra resource overheads, too, such as development approval from management. The new update might also be scheduled inside a larger phase of development, leading to longer production environment deployment.

Dynamics and the Power Platform, using model-driven apps, overcome many of these hurdles. Using an easy, no-code interface to create fields, tables and customising forms, publishing a field to a system could theoretically be achieved in minutes. Of course, any business must still take into consideration how they apply changes, but this methodology has cut considerable resources. Additionally, security is built in, and the task can be assigned to a single Dynamics administrator with a drag-and-drop interface. Moreover, changes are applied in the Dataverse. This information can be found and securely controlled across the entire breadth of the cloud solution, encompassing apps within Dynamics 365.

The insurance firm also benefits from enhanced insights. Dynamics or Power Apps, powered by model-driven apps provide real-time visibility into claim status, metrics, and performance indicators. This enables data-driven decision-making and continuous improvement of claims handling processes.

Model-driven apps: Integrated approach to updates and AI

As a cloud-based service, Dynamics 365 and Power Apps receives regular updates and enhancements from Microsoft. Model-driven apps benefit from these updates, ensuring that businesses always have access to the latest features, improvements, and security patches.

Microsoft closely monitors industry trends and customer feedback to create its development roadmap for Dynamics 365 through Release Waves. Improvements often include features and functionalities that align with emerging industry trends, best practices, and regulatory requirements. The model-driven app environment helps deliver updates because they are data-driven and built to be flexible and robust for accepting new features.

Microsoft’s AI solution – Copilot supports model-driven apps to analyse large data sets to uncover insights and drive informed decision-making. Dynamics administrators can enable Copilot for their custom applications and select which tables and columns to use. Using conversation in natural language, Copilot helps app users boost their productivity through AI-powered insights and intuitive app navigation.

Empowering Business Innovation and Agility with Microsoft Power Platform

The rise of model-driven apps represents a paradigm shift in application development. A shift towards agility, innovation, and efficiency overcomes the challenge of fast-changing business environments. By embracing this new approach, organisations can unleash the full potential of Dynamics 365 or their own Power Platform apps. This drives business transformation and shapes the future of development.

Is your business facing challenges with long development cycles and difficulty maintaining legacy systems?  Let’s discuss your business requirements and how we can support your systems strategy. At ServerSys, we use our expertise across Dynamics and the Power Platform to quickly deploy model-driven apps fit to your requirements.

February 28, 2024

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Dan Norris - Communications Manager ServerSys

Daniel Norris

Daniel Norris is the communications manager for ServerSys. His role is to bring you the latest updates, tips, news and guides on Dynamics 365.

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