Building a Power Platform Centre of Excellence for the University of Kent

10 March by Sam Saunders

University Of Kent

The Centre of Excellence (CoE) team ensure proper governance and control is in place to maximise the full potential of the Power Platform. This includes setting governance in working practices, standardising processes, installing the CoE kit and then actively monitoring the platform, all whilst providing critical information to management so that they can work jointly to shape a sustainable long term strategy.

The Story: Why Power Platform?

University of Kent have 3000 staff and hundreds of manual processes that need automation, apps that need enhancing and developing, and ultimately, student’s lives and careers that need enriching through the use of technology.

The Aim: To enable citizen and professional development, ensuring maximum use of current licensing and appropriate use of Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI and Power Virtual Agents to all staff across the University.

Criteria: As there was no technical experience within the project team, it was critical that the solution incorporated resource with technical expertise, to ideate a strategy, implement a solution and incite meaningful technological change across the university.

Project Timeline & Challenges

Since the start of COVID, the University have deployed many Microsoft 365 services to staff and students, including email, Teams and SharePoint Online. As one of the more complex services, Power Platform was kept until phase 2 and remains disabled for user access until the rollout is complete. This aspect of the project commenced in March 2022 and after a short period of time The University of Kent engaged Cognitive to develop an appropriate strategy for a gradual rollout of the Power Platform service.

Initially, the university engaged multiple generalist IT agencies to fill the role but soon discovered that they did not fully understand the requirements, and were therefore sending through contractors that were unable to successfully fill the brief. It was at this stage that Sam Saunders, Principal Consultant at Cognitive Group, reached out to Izzy Linthwaite at the University of Kent to offer his services as a specialist recruiting in the Power Platform space. Cognitive Group is a Microsoft specialist recruitment agency with 15 years' experience in this space, so were perfectly placed to support in the requirement to build a Power Platform CoE.

Why it pays to use a specialist recruitment agency

The Process: from brief to the swift delivery of project requirements

1. Assessment

As part of the initial meeting with Izzy Linthwaite and James Cordery - both of whom are key members of the implementation team and had been responsible for the rollout of M365 at the University - Sam reassessed the project brief and ran through aspirations for the platform, matching deliverables accurately to a refined requirements specification.

2. The search

After the appraisal, Sam suggested that the university would benefit from a more holistic approach to the project, detailing Solution Architects instead of Developers. Within a week of the call, Sam utilised his network to successfully match 4 highly skilled candidates to the requirements; all of which were subsequently invited to interview.

3. Guidance

Izzy and James then leant on Sam's expertise and guidance throughout the process to ensure they hired the right candidate both in terms of skill and fit for their growing team.

"Two very happy customers!" - Izzy Linthwaite

The successful candidate started a few weeks later and has made exceptional progress for the UoK having already installed the CoE kit, core modules and add-ons, along with establishing an interim strategy to ensure the University is constantly taking steps in the right direction and receiving value from the platform. In the meantime, the full strategy is being developed with long term tasks outlined and tangible goals and milestones already in place. The candidate has also conducted a full business appraisal to completely re-think how the UoK will use the Power Platform in the future, making sure that business needs are not only met, but exceeded.

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Are you building a team for your Microsoft implementation?

Sam is a consultant with 5 years of experience in IT recruitment, focusing on M365 originally, and now exclusively the Power Platform. Having placed over 300 IT professionals, directly impacting over 750 projects, Sam's network allows him to act quickly & professionally, always putting quality service before personal gain. His LinkedIn contains numerous testimonials citing his honest, transparent, efficient and value driven approach. He is the perfect recruiter for any organisation that needs a dependable resource partner.

Contact Sam:

IT Technology - Azure / Microsoft Dynamics
IT Recruitment

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