Microsoft Adds Power BI Premium and Power Automate (with RPA) to Self-Service License Purchases

More Products for End Users to Buy

In November 2019, Microsoft launched an initiative to allow users with an Azure AD account belonging to an Microsoft 365 tenant to self-purchase licenses for a limited set of products. At that time, the range was Power Apps, Power BI Pro, and Power Automate. The uproar from customers was such that Microsoft was forced to backtrack on the plan until they introduced the ability to disable self-service purchases through PowerShell. Sales then began in January 2020.

Roll on to August 2020 and Microsoft augmented the range with Visio and Project Online. Now, MC245825 posted on March 22 tells us that the range increases again to cover Power BI Premium and Power Automate with RPA (Robotic Process Automation) from April 19, 2021.

The Arguments Around Self-Service Purchases

Tenant administrators usually object to self-service license purchases because they want to know what’s happening in the tenant. They point out that it’s difficult enough to exert any control due to the volume of changes introduced by Microsoft. Adding the need to track what spending end users do to buy licenses from Microsoft just complicates matters, especially if cheaper (discounted) licenses can be bought through a software purchase agreement at the organization level.

End users like self-service purchases because they can buy licenses with a credit card through in-app purchases or a Microsoft product website. Access to software they need is immediate without having to involve administrators.

Microsoft loves self-service license purchases because they’re selling to a captive audience. It’s an easy way to sell direct to a targeted audience (anything to drive usage and sell more licenses is grist to Microsoft’s mill; auto-claim policies also fall into this category). Read Microsoft’s FAQ for more details about self-service purchases.

New Products on Sale

The new products eligible for self-service purchases are:

From a technical perspective, RPA is the more interesting. Adding an RPA license to Flows allows the automation of repetitive actions (the robot part of the name). For an insight into what’s possible, you can watch these Microsoft Mechanics videos for an introduction to RPA and how to setup the Power Automate desktop.

Disabling Self-Service Purchases

You can only disable self-service purchases by running cmdlets in the MSCommerce PowerShell module. The current version is 1.6. The commands are simple:

  • Import the MSCommerce module.
  • Connect to the MSCommerce endpoint with an administrator account.
  • Run the Update-MSCommerceProductPolicy cmdlet to disable purchases for each product you want to bar. The product code identifies the target product.
  • Check that the current purchase status is as you require by running the Get-MSCommerceProductPolicies cmdlet.

Here’s the code I ran to disable purchases for the two new products:

# Import the MSCommerce module
Import-Module MSCommerce
# Connect to the MSCommerce endpoint
Connect-MSCommerce
# Disable Power BI Premium per user license self-service purchase
Update-MSCommerceProductPolicy -PolicyId AllowSelfServicePurchase -ProductId CFQ7TTC0KXG7 -Enabled $False

Update policy product success

ProductName                   ProductId    PolicyId                 PolicyValue
-----------                   ---------    --------                 -----------
Power BI Premium (standalone) CFQ7TTC0KXG7 AllowSelfServicePurchase Disabled

# Disable Power Automate with RPA license self-service purchase
Update-MSCommerceProductPolicy -PolicyId AllowSelfServicePurchase -ProductId CFQ7TTC0KXG6 -Enabled $False

Update policy product success

ProductName        ProductId    PolicyId                 PolicyValue
-----------        ---------    --------                 -----------
Power Automate RPA CFQ7TTC0KXG6 AllowSelfServicePurchase Disabled

Get-MSCommerceProductPolicies -PolicyId AllowSelfServicePurchase

ProductName                   ProductId    PolicyId                 PolicyValue
-----------                   ---------    --------                 -----------
Power Automate per user       CFQ7TTC0KP0N AllowSelfServicePurchase Disabled
Power Apps per user           CFQ7TTC0KP0P AllowSelfServicePurchase Disabled
Power Automate RPA            CFQ7TTC0KXG6 AllowSelfServicePurchase Disabled
Power BI Premium (standalone) CFQ7TTC0KXG7 AllowSelfServicePurchase Disabled
Visio Plan 2                  CFQ7TTC0KXN8 AllowSelfServicePurchase Disabled
Visio Plan 1                  CFQ7TTC0KXN9 AllowSelfServicePurchase Disabled
Project Plan 3                CFQ7TTC0KXNC AllowSelfServicePurchase Disabled
Project Plan 1                CFQ7TTC0KXND AllowSelfServicePurchase Disabled
Power BI Pro                  CFQ7TTC0L3PB AllowSelfServicePurchase Disabled

After updating the commerce policies, all self-service purchases are blocked in my tenant (all are disabled).

Nothing Against Self-Service Purchases

I don’t really have a problem with the concept of self-service purchases, but I do not like the implementation inside Microsoft 365. If Microsoft wanted to help organizations manage self-service purchases, they could create a customizable app which could be distributed to end users. Microsoft writes applications based on Power Automate to demonstrate concepts (the Milestones and Bulletins apps are examples). Maybe something similar to allow users to request approval for self-service purchases would work?


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