- 14 Nov 2020
PowerApps and Mi-Apps, Which is Better for your Business?
- Updated on 14 Nov 2020
Microsoft’s PowerApps and Mi-Corporation’s Mi-Apps are both low-code solutions that replace paper forms, manual reporting, and static files such as PDFs and manually updated spreadsheets. The efficiency gains and time-saving elements from both products have been well documented from case studies recorded by the companies. If you are relying on paper forms, email, and static files like PDFs then you’ll see enormous benefits from using either solution. But which is better for your business?
No introduction should be needed for Microsoft. Their numerous solutions power businesses big and small. Their PowerApps offering, however, is new to the game and a late entry to the low-/no-code business apps category. It was released in January 2017 as “PowerApps”. It had previously been released in 2015 as “Project Siena”. The reviews for the release were mixed. The UI caused some problems for new users and there were bugs that caused the apps to crash, data syncing to delay, and some integrations were buggy.
Microsoft has cleaned up the app since, fixing many of the bugs and integrations and refining the user interface. The 2020 reviews on G2 don’t mention as many bugs or delays in data syncing as 2019 reviews.
Overall, PowerApps scores 3.8 out of 5 stars on G2. (G2 had the highest number of reviews for PowerApps.)
Mi-Corporation was one of the first companies to enter the low-/no-code business apps space. 20 years ago they pioneered data capture on tablets and coined the term “mobile data capture”. Their sole focus is on their data capture and analytics products. This allowed them to build a specialized and highly experienced engineering and customer success team. They are comfortable making suggestions and recommendations during implementation and, if any questions come up, they can pull in a member of the executive team who helped create the software.
Their reviews have been consistently positive since the first review was posted in 2013. They have 4.8 out of 5 stars on Capterra. (Capterra had the highest number of reviews for Mi-Corporation.)
PowerApps is part of the Microsoft Office suite. While it does support integrations outside of the suite, such as Google Drive, it’s clear it was intended to work primarily with other MS products. Its strength lies in its template library. If your business is committed to the Microsoft suite and you want to get up and running very quickly, PowerApps offers a robust template library. It can take you from zero to, say, a ticketing system integrated with Outlook with low development effort.
The backend development is another win for PowerApps. It is relatively easy to work with. The connectors make it easy to connect with different platforms, it integrates well with other Microsoft products, and you can build complex applications. The few recent concerns from developers were around adjusting UI elements and a sluggish environment, as reported by G2’s and PC Magazine’s reviewers.
The frontend, however, is where PowerApps does not score as well as other low-/no-code solutions. G2 reviews, as well as PC Magazine, consistently mention a steep learning curve for users who are not developers. As late as July 2020, reviews mention that it is difficult to learn, with little training or tutorials available. Some of the functionality requires somewhat Excel-like functions to control things like navigation components, table controls, field editing, and interaction behavior.
This could definitely outweigh the benefits of getting the system up quickly. Poor usability requires more training time and resources, longer time to fully adopt, a lower likelihood of full adoption, and makes the user prone to more errors.
Microsoft offers a ton of resources on training for developers building the apps. There’s robust documentation, a training template, examples, and third party forums like StackOverflow. However, this does not seem to extend to non-technical users. In recent 2020 reviews, users complained about the lack of training available and about having to learn through trial and error.
The cost is another area that PowerApps does not rate as well as alternative solutions. When it was originally released, PowerApps was viewed as cost-effective. Some customers saw a dramatic increase in price when new pricing took effect in 2019 and have reported the licensing and pricing is frustrating and confusing to figure out. A severely limited version of PowerApps is available with a 365 license, but users must pay for additional PowerApps licenses to use most features of the product.
The limited version of PowerApps lets the subscribers make up to 2,000 total API requests per day (for a rough idea, you would need at least 1 API request per submitted form). It also limits the connectors you can use. The limited version, for example, does not allow subscribers to use the SQL connector.
Mi-Apps is a standalone product. Mi-Corporation’s software integrates effectively with any system that the customer is currently using. The engineering team is also available to work with new customer integrations. They offer an experienced resource to help evaluate the existing processes then setup integration and automation very quickly. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Mi-Corporation can flawlessly integrate with all Microsoft products.
Mi-Corporation’s team offers custom forms and templates if you have them do a custom set up, which takes any implementation effort off of your own IT team. Once implementation is complete, your non-technical team can easily create new forms and automations. Any technical needs are easily done by your IT team or Mi-Corporation’s team, but most customers don’t need anything additional after the setup.
Your (non-technical) team can drag and drop fields to build forms with no coding required. Designing and using forms in Mi-Apps is consistently reviewed as intuitive and easy to do with no learning curve. Users who are not technocrats will greatly appreciate the level of usability Mi-Apps offers.
Building an application is very easy, leaning strongly on drag and drop fields with clearly labeled properties. Most users will be familiar with this type of tool and it requires no learning curve. You can even drag and drop database columns that are connected through Mi-Apps onto the form fields to map the database column to that field.
Customer service is another stand-out area for Mi-Corporation. Reviews frequently mention outstanding customer support both during and after installation. Mi-Corporation is referred to as a partner, invested in the customer’s success.
In some of the customers’ own words:
“They have locked arms with us from the beginning to create our end vision.”
“Mi-Co is very responsive; they engage us in a win-win way.”
Pricing is straight forward, Mi-Co offers licenses on a per user basis. They also offer three-year contracts to prevent any price increase surprises. None of the reviews of Mi-Corporation and Mi-Apps had any concern over pricing.
Which Platform is Right for You?
PowerApps is a powerful option for businesses committed to the Microsoft suite who are looking to get up and running quickly using the robust template library. The user interface is not the best, which makes it hard to recommend for non-tech savvy users. Companies considering PowerApps may see the usability as a tradeoff for getting the apps up and running so quickly.
Mi-Apps offers a powerful solution vetted by almost two decades of use. The interface is user-friendly and the customer support is outstanding. They offer custom installation and expertise for the best ways to streamline and organize your workflows.
Questions? Comments? Reach out to the Mi-Corporation team!
About the author
Becky Davis is CRO and UX consultant experienced in building, testing, and improving SaaS tools. She has led and advised development teams to improve adoption and retention for enterprise-level SaaS solutions. Find more about her on her website.