All information is current as of 25 June 2024

Organisations, big and small, face the challenge of keeping up with the digital age, and the first step is often the most crucial – transforming manual processes into digital workflows.

In this blog post, we will walk you through six form digitisation options within Microsoft 365 to highly advanced options to kickstart your journey of form digitisation and data capture:

Whether your needs are basic or complex, Microsoft 365 provides a versatile suite of tools designed to streamline these essential tasks. We’ll explore each option in detail, discussing features, benefits, and ideal use cases to help you determine the best fit for your organisation’s unique requirements.

Microsoft Forms 

Microsoft Forms is a straightforward tool designed for creating surveys, quizzes, and polls. Part of the Office 365 suite, it allows users to easily collect and analyse responses.

Key Features: 

  • Ease of Use: The intuitive interface is user-friendly, making it accessible for all skill levels.  
  • Quick Setup: Forms can be created, shared, and filled out within minutes. 
  • Real-time Responses: Responses are updated in real-time and can be viewed instantly. 
  • Integration: Seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft 365 services like Excel and Teams. 
  • Sharing Options: forms can be shared via link, QR code, email, or embedded in web pages. 


  • Simplicity: Ideal for quick, simple surveys or quizzes without needing advanced features. 
  • Accessibility: Easily accessible and usable by non-technical users. 
  • Analytics: Built-in analytics tools provide basic data visualization and insights. 


  • Limited Customisation: Customisation options are basic compared to other solutions. 
  • Basic Logic: Limited support for advanced logic and functionality. 

Ideal Use Cases: 

  • Gathering feedback from employees or customers. 
  • Conducting quick polls or surveys. 
  • Creating educational quizzes. 
Example: Microsoft Forms survey interface

OOTB SharePoint List Forms

Out-of-the-box (OOTB) SharePoint List forms are the default forms provided when creating a new SharePoint list. These forms allow users to enter and manage data directly within a SharePoint site. 

Key Features: 

  • Ready to use as soon as a list is created. 
  • Allows for basic data entry and item management. 
  • Utilises SharePoint’s capabilities for permissions, versioning, and workflows. 


  • Available immediately: No additional configuration needed. 
  • Directly integrated with SharePoint’s ecosystem. 
  • Leverages SharePoint’s security and permissions settings. 


  • Limited customisation: Basic forms with minimal customisation options. 
  • No advanced logic: Lacks support for advanced logic and conditional formatting. 

Ideal Use Cases: 

  • Internal data collection and management. 
  • Task and issue tracking. 
  • Document library metadata management. 
Example: Standard SharePoint list form 

SharePoint List Forms with JSON Formatting

Enhance the appearance and functionality of your SharePoint List forms through JSON formatting. This method offers a greater degree of customisation, allowing users to tailor the look and feel of their forms extensively.

Key Features: 

  • Customisable layout: Modify form layouts and field formatting using JSON. 
  • Apply conditional formatting based on field values. 
  • Enhanced user experience: Create more visually appealing and user-friendly forms.


  • Improved aesthetics: Custom layouts and styles improve user experience. 
  • No code customisation: Enhancements can be made without complex coding. 
  • Dynamic fields: Conditional visibility and formatting of fields based on user input. 


  • JSON Knowledge Required: Requires understanding of JSON for customisation. 
  • Limited to UI Changes: Customisation is mostly aesthetic, with limited logic capabilities. 

Ideal Use Cases:
Enhancing the visual presentation of data entry forms. 

Example: Customised SharePoint list form using JSON formatting

Power Apps List Integration Forms

Power Apps List Integration allows users to create custom forms for SharePoint lists using Power Apps. This enables more advanced customisation and functionality compared to OOTB and JSON-formatted forms.

Key Features:

  • Advanced customisation: Design highly customised forms with complex layouts.
  • Integration with data sources: Connect forms to various data sources, not just SharePoint.
  • Responsive design: Forms are mobile-friendly and adapt to different devices.
  • Advanced logic: Implement complex business logic and workflows. 


  • Utilise a wide range of controls and multimedia elements.
  • Include advanced validation, conditional logic, and workflows.
  • Suitable for more complex and interactive applications.


  • Requires more time and expertise to develop.
  • Requires Power Apps licensing.
  • Higher maintenance effort compared to simpler forms.

Ideal Use Cases:

  • Complex business forms requiring integration with multiple data sources.
  • Forms with advanced validation and conditional logic.
  • Custom applications for mobile devices.
Example: Power Apps customised SharePoint form

Power Apps Model-driven apps

Model-driven apps in Power Apps offer a data-driven approach to app development. Unlike canvas apps, which start with the user interface, model-driven apps start with the data model. These apps are built on the Common Data Service (CDS) and are ideal for complex business applications where data structure and relationships are key.

Key Features:

  • Data-Centric development: Focus on the underlying data model to drive the app’s functionality.
  • Out-of-the-box components: Use pre-built components for forms, views, charts, and dashboards.
  • Automatically adapts to different devices and screen sizes.
  • Easily integrates with other Microsoft 365 services and external data sources via CDS.
  • Security and compliance: Leverages CDS security roles and policies for robust data protection.



  • Ideal for applications where data relationships and integrity are crucial.
  • Rapid development: Leverage pre-built components and templates to speed up development.
  • Ensures a consistent user experience across different devices.
  • Scales well for enterprise-level applications with complex data requirements.



  • Limited control over the user interface compared to canvas apps.
  • Requires understanding of data modelling and CDS.
  • Requires Power Apps licensing.


Ideal Use Cases:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions.
  • Complex business applications requiring robust data management.
Example: The Approvals Kit – New Business Approver form 

Power Apps Canvas App Forms

Power Apps Canvas Apps offer the most flexibility, allowing users to create standalone applications with custom forms. These apps can integrate with various data sources and provide a rich, interactive user experience. 

Key Features: 

  • Full customisation: Complete control over the app’s design and functionality. 
  • Utilise a wide range of controls, including galleries, media, and custom components. 
  • Connect to various data sources like SharePoint, SQL Server, and third-party APIs.


  • Create highly customised applications to meet specific business needs.
  • Connect and interact with multiple data sources.
  • Provides a dynamic and engaging interface for users.


  • Advanced knowledge Required: Requires expertise in Power Apps development.
  • Development time: More time-consuming to build and maintain.
  • Licensing costs: Requires appropriate Power Apps licensing.

Ideal Use Cases:

  • Enterprise-grade applications with complex requirements.
  • Custom solutions requiring integration with various data sources.
  • Mobile apps for field workers or remote data collection.
Example: Custom Power Apps canvas app using an OOTB template that enables creation, editing and deletion of items in one app.

Comparison Summary


Microsoft 365 comes equipped with a comprehensive set of tools tailored to suit a variety of needs and scenarios. Whether your aim is to quickly whip up simple surveys with Microsoft Forms, manage straightforward data entry using OOTB SharePoint List Forms, or design a highly customised business application with Power Apps Canvas App Forms, Microsoft 365 and Engage Squared have you covered.

To summarise:

  • Microsoft Forms are your go-to for fast, easy to set up surveys and quizzes
  • OOTB SharePoint List Forms are perfect for basic data entry with minimal setup required
  • SharePoint List Forms with JSON Formatting elevate your forms with enhanced customisation that doesn’t require strong coding skills.
  • Power Apps List Integration Forms step up to handle more complex requirements with advanced functionality.
  • Power Apps Canvas App Forms offer unmatched flexibility and power for crafting bespoke applications tailored to your organisation
  • Power Apps Model-Driven Apps are the best fit for intricate, data-driven business applications, providing robust frameworks that integrate seamlessly with your existing data systems.

Like what you see?

So now you understand the importance of form digitisation and the power of Microsoft 365 as much as we do, what’s next?

We recognise that starting your digitisation journey can feel overwhelming, which is why we’ve tailored our services to provide your team with everything they need to excel. Our Business Application Team offers comprehensive support to help you transform manual processes into efficient digital workflows.

Are you ready to start digitising your processes? Let’s have a conversation today.

Get in touch

About the author

Deklan Heider is a M365 Consultant at Engage Squared, specialising in the Power Platform and other Microsoft technologies to build applications, automate processes, facilitate migrations and more. He’s always excited to tackle new and novel problems with solutions that fit the bill for all parties involved. Outside of the office, you’ll find Dek somewhere in Bendigo, where he lives with his partner, playing video games, mowing the lawns, tending to the garden, or watching the latest films down at the cinemas. He also has a fantastic sock collection.

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