Education & Diversity Non-profit implemented a cloud-based program search tool with the Microsoft Power Platform, achieving flexibility, integration, and data insights.
An Education & Diversity Non-profit Foundation was facing challenges with its existing program search tool and sought a solution that could evolve with its changing needs. They required integration with a public-facing website and various cloud-based apps. Their objective was to gather usage insights from the website, which their previous vendor’s solution could not provide adequately.
To address these challenges, the foundation decided to migrate its program data to a cloud-based approach, aiming for the following benefits:
- Flexible and scalable cloud computing platform: The foundation wanted a platform that could adapt to modern advances in technology and accommodate their evolving needs over time.
- Integration capabilities: Seamless connectivity between different systems, applications, and data sources was crucial for efficient operations.
- Interactive data visualizations: Visually appealing data representations were desired to enhance user experience.
Challenges faced by Reintivity:
Reintivity, the chosen team, planned to leverage Microsoft’s Azure platform to house the data in a modern cloud environment and develop low-code business applications for tracking and reporting purposes. However, during the building and testing phase, they encountered the following challenges:
- Non-declared data types in the source database, leading to incorrect data storage.
- The need for an out-of-the-box approach to track the usage and activity of the public search tool, which was not supported by the intended platform tools.
- Replication of internal usage activity for a bespoke view of staff data management, resulting in additional storage costs.
The team decided to re-evaluate the standardized platform and development approach, leading to a redefined project strategy. The client’s needs were divided into two categories: data cleansing and business intelligence development. Key solutions implemented were as follows:
- Data cleansing: Working closely with subject matter experts from the foundation, multiple rounds of data cleansing were conducted to ensure a reliable dataset for the go-live date.
- Database structure and environments: A new database structure was built on Azure SQL, incorporating stage, test, and live environments. This setup allowed future development without impacting production. Additionally, separate databases were created to store online activity data from public-facing tools, internal tools, and data management activity.
- Program search tool: A custom-designed data search tool was developed as the foundation’s public-facing program tool. It was integrated into the client’s website and included the following features:
- A solution to capture tool usage by website visitors, tracking each instance that the tool is accessed by website visitors and the programs that visitors accessed.
- Power Automate for transforming and loading the activity into Azure SQL.
- A Power BI report enabling the foundation’s staff to view user activity.
- Staff data management activity: A record management tool was developed to cater to the foundation’s bespoke view of staff data management. It allowed staff to create, edit, and manage program records. A customized tracking job was implemented, writing record changes to a database to facilitate tracking.
The implemented solutions brought significant benefits to the foundation’s operations:
- Scalability and Flexibility: Leveraging Azure provided a flexible and scalable cloud computing platform. Migrating program data to Azure SQL allowed the foundation to utilize modern technological advancements and easily scale resources based on demand. This ensured that the solutions could accommodate a growing user base and increasing data volumes.
- Integration Capabilities: The implemented solution offered robust integration capabilities, enabling seamless connectivity between the foundation’s systems, applications, and data sources. This streamlined processes, enhanced data flow, and improved overall efficiency.
- Data Insights and Analytics: The custom tracking solution empowered the foundation to gather usage insights from their public-facing search tool. With Power Apps (Power Automate and Power BI) and Azure SQL, real-time tracking and reporting of user behavior became possible. These insights facilitated improvements to the tool’s functionality, user experience, and data-driven decision-making.
- Interactive Data Visualizations: Power BI, part of the Power Platform, provided visually appealing and interactive data visualizations. It transformed program data into an attractive and user-friendly program search tool on the foundation’s public website. Additionally, it generated informative dashboards and reports for the foundation’s staff, enabling effective data analysis and informed decision-making.
- Customization and Bespoke Solutions: The Power Platform allowed for future customization and development of bespoke solutions. The foundation could create additional record management and reporting tools using Power Apps. The customized tracking job facilitated efficient tracking of record changes related to staff data management. These bespoke solutions catered to the foundation’s specific needs, ensuring efficient program management.
In summary, by leveraging the Microsoft Power Platform (Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power BI), the Education & Diversity Foundation achieved a flexible and scalable cloud computing platform, seamless integration capabilities, interactive data visualizations, and addressed their data cleansing and management challenges. The Power Platform empowered them to create customized and bespoke solutions for their program search tool, public-facing website integration, and data analysis requirements.