Microsoft Flow, now known as Microsoft Power Automate, is a powerful tool that enables you to automate tasks, from the simple to the more complex. Office 365 is a solution with a great many moving parts and it can be difficult to stay on top of all its functionality when trying to make use of the various tools, applications and services. Power Automate is one of the Microsoft 365 universe’s moving parts, so let’s take a close look at what it is.
What is Microsoft Power Automate?
Microsoft Power Automate (aka Microsoft Flow) is an automation tool for processes and tasks. It helps with the integrations of different services and applications with one another. Many of the applications that are compatible are based in the cloud, but Power Automate can also be deployed in an on-premises environment.
Microsoft’s definition of Power Automate describes it as a tool for the creation of automated workflows between apps and services to synchronies files, get notifications, gather data and more. The solution is bundled in certain Office 365 licenses but can also be accessed on its own subscription basis. There is even a free version for individuals that is offered with various limitations, and there is an accompanying mobile app.
Power Automate is one of only a few Office 365 tools that helps empower non-technical audiences with process automation. This is because it is relatively easy to use and everything can be done in-browser. You won’t necessarily need the input of developers and IT professionals to take advantage of Power Automate.
However, to create custom business apps to deploy throughout your business, it works best alongside other automation tools from the Office 365 suite like Power BI Flow and PowerApps.
How does Microsoft Power Automate work?
Below, we’ll take a look at exactly how Microsoft Flow works, and some of the ways it can be utlised within your business.
Events and Actions
Let’s take a closer look at how Power Automate can be used to define workflows and connect different systems and applications together.
Fundamentally, the solution is used to help define an action that is taken after the occurrence of a certain event. For example, if you are using Microsoft Teams and want to receive a notification in a certain Teams channel whenever a direct message is sent to you via Instagram, Power Automate can help. The Instagram inbox may be something that you don’t visit often, so this could help keep on top of incoming direct messages.
The event, in this example, is the receipt of a DM in Instagram. The action is the notification that appears in Teams. Power Automate is the middle man, wherein you have defined the trigger and the desired response that connects different systems together. This may sound simple at first, but when you start to incorporate multiple events and actions then the automation can become quite sophisticated.
This supreme versatility is one of the most powerful aspects of Power Automate – it can be harnessed to build bespoke core business applications that your workforce can use, as well as individual workflows that are specific to certain functions or teams. And it is very impressive that the tools can be used by both developers and individual content owners.
Connectors and Templates
Another strength of Power Automate is its extensive built-in catalogue of templates and connectors. These cover many popular automations for different systems, ranging from the simple to the fairly advanced.
With templates, you have pre-built automations that can be implemented easily. It could be as simple as receiving weather updates or it could involve more business-centric workflow recipes like receiving weekly updates or new salesforce opportunities based on predetermined triggers.
Connectors enable connections between a range of different systems. It covers many popular platforms, like Facebook, Mailchimp, Salesforce and the full Office 365 suite. The number of connectors is constantly expanding.
One of the more recent integrations comes with Sage 200. Sage 200 is a highly popular Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, widely used by businesses to streamline their processes and take care of their financials.
Through Sage 200’s integration with Microsoft 365, Microsoft Flow has been utilised to increase efficiencies within the purchase requisition processes. Real-time notifications are sent to requesters and approvers, reducing the time involved in the approval process.
How can Power Automate help my business?
It’s difficult to define where to start with such a rich and varied tool as Power Automate. Individuals may only require relatively simple automation, while more complex workflows are available for the needs of larger businesses.
There are many ideas out there for using Power Automate, including:
- Logging support calls to enable users to track progress and receive notifications
- Ensuring governance of content on intranets and within policy libraries to remind authors and content owners to continually review pages/files to keep them updated
- Archiving documents, data and sites from the digital workplace to remain in line with governance framework and policies
- Deploying forms to streamline requests and approvals, aggregating notifications into a single place for user convenience
- Monitoring multiple social media channels in a single location
- Sales and marketing automation like sending follow-up emails based on customer actions
Is Microsoft Power Automate right for you?
If automation could be of use to you as an individual or an organisation, Power Automate is a user-friendly and richly-featured tool that could help you improve processes. Microsoft is committed to investing in the tool, adding new features, templates and connectors regularly.
It is definitely something to explore, particularly if you are already familiar with Microsoft business solutions.
Eventura – Microsoft Gold Partner, Sage Partner, NetSuite Solution Provider
Here at Eventura, we live and breathe business solutions. Having implemented countless Sage 200 and NetSuite deployments, we have helped businesses across the country achieve growth by working smarter not harder.
Our talented team of business analysts, developers, consultants, technicians and support staff can help you identify your business needs, and deliver a bespoke solution that works for you. As Microsoft Gold Partners and providers of managed IT services, we can scope your project in its entirety, looking after every aspect of your digital transformation.
If you would like to speak to someone about how we could help your business, you can request a free call back here.