Why keeping your Power Platform CoE Starter Kit deployment up to date is essential
If you are using the Power Platform CoE Starter Kit to manage and govern your Power Platform environments, apps, and flows, you might be wondering how often you should update it. The key thing to understand is that it’s not a formal Microsoft product, but rather a template solution built by using the very same products that it monitors. This means the maintenance and support process differs from the Power Platform products.
The CoE Starter Kit is free to download from GitHub, but every organization needs to deploy, configure, and monitor it. It’s not kept automatically up to date. You must do it yourself. (Or a Power Platform partner like Forward Forever can do it for you, of course.)
In this blog post, I will share with you the three reasons why you need to keep your Power Platform CoE Starter Kit deployment up to date:
1. Technical compatibility
The products in Power Platform evolve at such a pace that a CoE Starter Kit version from half a year ago is unlikely to reflect the true state of things. Also, since the Kit is built by using the very same products, changes like connector deprecations can cause errors in its operation.
For example, the Power Automate Management connector’s “List Flows as Admin” action was abruptly deprecated in June 2023. This means versions of the CoE Starter Kit from before May 2023 will start failing soon as they are not leveraging the new “List Flows as Admin (V2)” action. This action is used by several flows in the Kit to retrieve information about flows in your tenant. If you don’t update your deployment, you will miss important data and insights.
There’s a massive number of features in the “Starter Kit”, yet it’s not a formal Microsoft product. The small development team within the Power CAT unit can’t test everything – yet luckily there is a strong community around the CoE Starter Kit today. In the latest CoE Office Hours call there were 250+ attendees online. The GitHub project is a transparent & efficient way for everyone to report issues and help in getting them fixed.
For example, on May 24th I discovered that Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations based environments weren’t getting included in the inventory. I opened an issue on GitHub and on June 8th I had already received instructions for a workaround that solved the problem in the customer tenant where I was working at the time. On July 5th, the fix rolled out in the latest release package and now everyone with FinOps provisioned Power Platform environments can govern them as usual. (If they updated their CoE Starter Kit deployment, that is.)
Let’s face it: Power Platform governance is complex enough on its own. The last thing you want is the admin tools to make things more complex. Last winter we saw a massive UX overhaul that replaced the old canvas UIs with slick custom pages built in model-driven apps (the right client tech for admin personas anyway). Also, the setup and config process are now guided with a wizard UI, instead of having to keep MS Learn documentation pages open on one monitor while you poke around things in the other.
The latest example of point nr. 3 is the Power BI dashboards refresh that arrived in CoE Starter Kit August 2023 release. I just deployed this to our internal FF CoE environment and – wow! Not only is it a visual refresh, but there are also plenty of usability improvements here. Filters have moved from visuals into PBI filter pane. No more irritating flyouts, now we just drill through to details. Redundant pages have been consolidated to new “deep dive” pages.
Reasons why your CoE Starter Kit may not be up to date
With all these benefits from keeping up with the evolving Power Platform governance and admin tools freely available from GitHub, it’s still common to see customer organizations stuck with an out-of-date CoE Starter Kit deployment. The reasons are typically a combination of the following:
Lack of time and resources: IT admins often have other existing priorities and projects that demand their time. Power Platform governance related components and their usage & maintenance may be seen as yet another thing on top of that workload. It may often be seen as less urgent and something that gets postponed indefinitely. This approach, unfortunately, will not help in building up the capability to manage the low-code solutions in an organized and scalable way. Thus, the situation one year later is likely to be even worse, as the usage of Power Apps and Power Automate grows, generating more ad-hoc requests for IT to address.
Lack of expertise and guidance: if there is no established Power Platform ownership within the organization, chances are the level of skills in technical details related to administration and governance is also fairly low. External parties may have performed the initial deployment and configuration of CoE Starter Kit in a one-off project, yet the ongoing operations for using and customizing the Kit may not fall under any ongoing service contract. Building up internal competence should be the target state for organizations who want to take ownership of their digital tools. However, often this adoption journey would benefit from professional advise along the way.
Fear of breaking things: unless you have been hands-on involved with the deployment, configuration and updates of the CoE Starter Kit, it will be difficult to identify the parts you need to pay attention to. The scope of the “Starter Kit” is quite massive – around 300 PDF pages worth of documentation and growing. Most organizations will need and use just a small subset of it. Yet if you don’t have a clear picture of what governance tools, processes, reports, service identities and settings are currently in use, how do you ensure everything works after the update?
As with many tasks in life, the longer you postpone them, the bigger the barrier gets for even starting to work on them. Procrastination is a common human tendency and sometimes it is a healthy way to relieve stress faced by individual workers. On an organizational level, it’s crucial to be able to overcome this anxiety and find small, concrete steps to take you forward. Having a clear, reliable, and up-to-date view into your current usage and adoption of Power Platform based solutions across your Microsoft 365 tenant through the CoE Starter Kit is often the first step we would recommend.
I hope this blog post has illustrated the benefits of keeping your Power Platform CoE Starter Kit deployment up to date. There is immense value to be gained from having a configurable and extendable low-code template at your disposal while planning the detailed Power Platform governance model for your organization.
If you need a Microsoft partner to help you in deploying, configuring, or updating the CoE Starter Kit, feel free to contact us at Forward Forever. We are certified experts in Power Platform, specializing in Low Code Application Development. Whether you want to harness the existing citizen developer solutions in your tenant or build more advanced low-code apps for business-critical processes, our team can help you get the most out of your low-code investments.
Be sure to also check out my earlier blog post: 5 tips for Power Platform CoE Starter Kit admins.