NTU EEE manager Yang Xin won 1st place in Microsoft’s #PowerAppsforAllCompetition. The competition was held from Jan 14 to Jan 28 by invitation from Microsoft and the winning entry was announced on Microsoft’s FaceBook and LinkedIn pages on 19 March 2021. Yang Xin had been looking for ways to digitize and automate her department work process for many years. It was only when her employer Nanyang Technological University launched cloud services for all NTU staff with Microsoft Office 365 in 2019, that she found the amazing tools Microsoft has available for users to digitize and automate the work process. The shift to cloud services provided NTU’s staff access to a suite of Microsoft’s applications.
She decided to learn more about the programs that was available for use. She learnt from YouTube about SharePoint, Power Automate, and Power Apps, and built up her work system. However, to get the system user-friendly, there is still some development work that needs to be done like UI and database security. In August 2020, Yang Xin attended the “App in a day workshop” that was organized by Microsoft and realised that Power Apps is the right solution for her aim to automate her workflow. Thanks to the amazing tools provided by Microsoft Office 365, Yang Xin was able to streamline and automate her department’s work process. A lot of the time, end-users are the ones who know what kind of system is suitable for their daily work, and with Microsoft Office 365, they can develop it themselves with no coding experience. The platform launched is currently being used in NTU EEE’s Lab Equipment Function Team. Lab users will submit research equipment purchase requests online, and the Equipment Function team will process the requests in Ariba and upload the PO, generate asset records in Microsoft Teams database.
Upon receiving the asset, a QR Code will be generated and pasted on the asset to allow the asset info to be obtained by scanning the QR Code. The asset will then be issued to the user and the asset accountability will be recorded in the Teams Asset database. Even with having many years of experience working in labs and having many ideas for smoothening out work processes and save man-hours, Yang Xin never got the opportunity to do anything about it because she was not experienced in coding. With MS SharePoint, Power Automate, and Power Apps, she was able to create a platform with no coding experience. As these new tools are quite new and not many existing training courses are available, she learnt from attending free Microsoft workshops, watching YouTube tutorials, and researching online. With the new system in place, the work process has been streamlined and optimized for both administrators and users.
NTU's staff has been empowered to work more effectively and efficiently. The user experience is simplified and the visibility, communication, and data sharing are improved.