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Development Best Practices

Microsoft Office 365 and the Power Platform have opened up endless possibilities for process improvement and automation, and many "citizen developers" across campus are taking the initiative to build tools that streamline parts of their job. These no/low-code solutions are easy to learn and surprisingly powerful, but there are a few potential challenges that come with widespread adoption. If you are designing a business process or app that needs to continue functioning even if you change positions or leave the university, please take some time to consider how it will be maintained by your successors.


OneDrive versus SharePoint

When deciding where to save data, consider who might need access to it if you leave the university. Files in your OneDrive folder are considered your personal information. If you leave, everyone will lose access to these files, even if you have explicitly shared them by sending a sharing link or invitation.

Any files that someone else might need to access in the future should be stored in a SharePoint document library. Unlike OneDrive, SharePoint sites will persist after an employee’s departure. Even if that employee was the sole owner of the site, data will remain intact and a new owner with full access can be added.

Before creating a new SharePoint site, consult your colleagues and KGM IT to see if one that suits your needs might already exist. If a new site is appropriate, choose a name that will make it easy for Office 365 administrators to identify its purpose. 



Note that any form you create by going to belong to you as an individual. The data, including any uploaded files, will be uploaded to your personal OneDrive folder. In the event of your departure, this data will become inaccessible to anyone else, even if you have previously shared it with them. Eventually, the form will stop saving submissions when your OneDrive folder is archived.

In order to create a form that will continue to function if you leave, begin by going to the Documents folder of a SharePoint site. Click New and select Forms for Excel, then build your form as you normally would. All submissions will be uploaded to a spreadsheet on the SharePoint site, and uploaded files will be placed in a folder within that document library. After creating a form this way, you will still be able to access it within the Forms portal, just as you would your other forms.

Finally, it’s a good idea to share a collaboration link with someone else in case changes need to be made in the future. KGM IT strongly recommends sharing it with a departmental account that will persist beyond any single person’s time with UH.


Power Automate/Power Apps

If you are building Power Automate flows or Power Apps, be aware that the connectors you may be using to do things like access SharePoint lists or send and receive email are authorized by a specific Cougarnet account. The default behavior is to use the credentials of the user who is currently signed in when building the flow. If you leave the university or your role changes and you no longer have permission to access those resources, the flow or app will stop working.

For the most stable results, consider using a departmental account instead of your personal account when building and testing them. You can also build them on your own account but explicitly sign-in to individual connectors with a departmental account. Note that you will need to grant this departmental account permission to access resources.

Like your forms, if you build a flow or app under your own account be sure to share it with another individual or a departmental account so that it can be maintained in the future. Additionally, consider using the Export link at the top of your flow's page to save a downloaded copy of the flow. Flows that are accidentally deleted cannot be recovered, and there is no simple way to revert unwanted changes. Having an exported copy of the last stable version of the flow will allow you to restore deleted or broken flows without having to reconstruct them from scratch.



No matter how you develop your processes or where you store your data, it’s important to take the time to document your work. Make sure there is some way for your successor to step into your shoes. They’ll need to know where to find important files, what the address of the SharePoint site you use is, and how to get to your forms and flows. If you develop flows or apps, what kind of maintenance might they require? Are there hard-coded email addresses that will need to be updated if someone's job changes? If you publish forms, where have you published links to them? If a new form needs to take its place, will someone be able to find all of those links to direct people to the new version?


As we begin to embrace the expanding world of the citizen developer, it’s important to start thinking in some ways like a traditional developer and planning for the upkeep of the important resources that you build. KGM IT is available as a resource should you have questions about any of the above topics or need help designing processes or data architectures.