How to Increase Project Visibility with a RACI Matrix

How to Get Started with Power Automate Workflows

June 8, 2022 by

Released in April 2016, Microsoft Power Automate (formerly Microsoft Flow) is used by over 350,000 organizations to automate business processes and tasks.

 

Watch free webinar: BrightWork 365 leveraging Power Platform for PPM

 

A no-code solution with pre-planned templates, the application connects to over 300 data points and publicly available APIs.

Keep reading to learn more about Microsoft Power Automate and how to get started with your first ‘flow’.

Table of Contents

What is Microsoft Power Automate?
How does Power Automate work?
How to create a flow
How You Can Use Power Automate Workflows for Project Management
Five project management processes that Microsoft Power Automate can help you set up

What is Microsoft Power Automate?

Microsoft Power Automate is a no-code/low-code drag-and-drop solution that allows users to create workflows to automate repetitive tasks and business processes.

The app is available on desktop, mobile, and Microsoft Teams, and as a browser app.

Microsoft Power Automate Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Power Automate in Microsoft Teams

 

Users can start quickly with out-of-the-box templates and connectors, which can be customized as needed.

Templates include notifications, copying files, moving email attachments to OneDrive, and approvals.

Use cases for Power Automate are varied, ranging from new employee onboarding to document approval, collecting customer feedback, and managing help tickets.

 

 

Power Automate includes over 300 connectors, which allow users to access and use data with a set of pre-built actions and triggers.

Unlike SharePoint Designer, Power Automate works with non-Microsoft apps, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Twitter, and more.

For IT teams, the ability to add automation to legacy systems without replacing or configuring those systems is a huge benefit.

Based on your Azure Active Directory, Power Automate is highly secure and easy to audit.

Plus, automation replaces paper-based processes, increasing data protection.

Pricing for Power Automate starts at $15 per user per month, which includes unlimited active flows.

Power Automate includes robotic process automation (RPA) and Process Advisor.

 

Robotic Process Automation

This capability, available with Power Automate Desktop, allows users to create workflows at scale – without coding.

With a point-and-click interface, a user can record their mouse and keyboard strokes when completing a task. The RPA system transforms this information into an automated workflow, for example, collecting data for a weekly report.

Users can enhance flows with pre-built actions and connectors, and add exception handling to validate flows automatically.

Users can create two types of workflows:

  • Attended RPA, which runs when the user is logged in. This is ideal for processes that still require human intervention, for example, approving a vacation request.
  • Unattended RPA, which runs when the user is not logged in. A defined trigger starts the flow.

 

Process Advisor

Process Advisor, a new addition to Power Automate, is a process mining tool that provides insights into how people work. Process Advisor maps workflows, finds bottlenecks, and identifies tasks that can be automated.

The tool will figure out which applications your team uses frequently and how to automate key actions, for example, copying data from one app to another.

Process advisor also makes it easier for teams to collaborate with business analysts or administrators to improve processes.

Microsoft Power Automate Process Advisor

How Does Power Automate Work?

Power Automate workflow, or flows, are based on triggers and actions.

  • A trigger starts the flow, for example, receiving an email from a key project stakeholder.
  • An action is what happens once the flow is triggered. This can include creating a task when an email marked as high-importance is received. A flow can have one or more actions.

 

There are five main types of Power Automate flows, categorized as cloud, desktop, or business process flows.

Cloud flows include:

  • Automated, a flow triggered by an event, for example, send an email if an item in a SharePoint list is changed.
  • Instant flows allow users to manually trigger a flow from the mobile or desktop app with the click of a button. As an example, easily send a reminder email to your team before a meeting.
  • Scheduled, which runs at certain times.

 

Desktop flows are used to automate tasks on the web or your desktop with Power Automate Desktop.

Business Process flows are based on a defined set of actions to help people complete tasks faster and with fewer errors.

 

There are three ways to launch a flow:

  1. Start from scratch with one of the workflows listed above.
  2. Use an existing template.
  3. Select a connector.

 

 

 

How to create a Power Automate Flow

In this example, we’re going to use a template to post a message in Microsoft Teams when a new item is added to Planner.

To start using Power Automate, log in to Microsoft 365, and use the app launcher to open the program.

From the homepage, you can:

  • Get started quickly with templates.
  • Check available connectors.
  • Manage your flows.
  • Create a new flow.

 

Search for ‘Planner’ to find the template.

You may need to sign in to Microsoft Teams and Planner.

Power Automate Teams Planner Template

 

Select continue.

On the next screen, you’ll see how the workflow is constructed. Power Automate is a highly visual tool, simplifying the management of workflows.

Power Automate Edit the Workflow

 

Here, you can add important information such as the Plan ID, Team, and Channel.

Click Save. That’s it – you’ve created a simple flow to improve team communication.

There are a few ways to validate the flow, including Flow Checker and Test.

At any time, you can check the status of a flow under ‘My Flows’.

In this area, it’s easy to:

  • Edit individual flows
  • Share flows with a team member
  • Check the history of a flow.

 

To see more details on a flow, simply click the name of the flow.

Power Automate Check Status

 

 

How You Can Use Power Automate Workflows for Project Management  

Project management is made up of a series of processes for task management, team communication, project reporting, change requests and approvals, and so on.  

While these routine processes are essential to keep projects running smoothly, they are often quite time consuming for project managers and team members alike. Business process workflow software can streamline and automate many of these routine tasks and processes so team members can focus more on getting work done and project managers can make sure projects stay on track instead of chasing updates.  

Microsoft Power Automate is a fantastic tool to improve project workflows because it integrates with so many of the other Microsoft 365 tools that you’re already using in day-to-day project management. 

 

Five project management processes that Microsoft Power Automate can help you set up

Approvals

To manage approvals from stakeholders on project requests, permission requests, documents, budget, etc. through out the course of projects. Power Automate helps you set these approval systems that make it easier for the project to proceed with no communication gaps or bottlenecks.

Microsoft Power Automate Approvals

 

Document management

One of the biggest challenges of working with large project teams is maintaining all the project documents in one place with easy access to each team member. It is also difficult to track and record all the updates in the documents. This challenge grows manifolds when you are working with remote teams. Power Automate project templates help you centralize the storage of your project documents where you can easily track updates and new files.

Power Automate Document Templates

 

Report creation and sharing

Project managers understand the importance of business intelligence and how it can improve business outcomes. As a project leader, you need tools to transform data from various sources into interactive reports that can relate the progress of your projects. Power BI helps you do that and further make data-backed business decisions.

Microsoft Power Automate Power BI

 

Workflows and communication

Microsoft Power Automate is available as an app in Microsoft Teams. While you’re on MS Team, you can easily create and manage workflows without needing to switch between apps. You can also communicate the same through channels with your project teams.

Microsoft Power Automate Microsoft Teams

 

Productivity management

You can use templates under ‘Productivity’, ‘Notifications’, and ‘Events and Calendar’ to organize your project tasks and manage deadlines. A huge pile of tasks can sometimes overwhelm the best of managers and it can lead to reduced efficiency. The above-mentioned templates will help you set the right order or priority for your project commitments and also communicate them to your team members when need be.

Microsoft Power Automate Productivity Templates

 

Here’s a detailed read on the above Power Automate PPM processed and what more can you do with it.

Project Request Management with BrightWork 365 Using Power Automate

One of the many workflow challenges that project managers face is managing new project requests.

Which new project should take priority? Do you have enough resources to start a new project? Which team member has initiated a project request? Who are the reviewers and approvers responsible for approving the project requests? Answering these questions before starting a new project is crucial. A standardized workflow to manage the new project requests is the solution. BrightWork 365 PPM solution helps you create a project request management workflow with the help of Power Platform.

Using Power Automate, BrightWork has built a project request process flow to manage new project intake. The Business Process Flow has 0-1-2-3 stage processes. The simplest process skips the approval process and goes directly to project site creation. In the 3-stage process, a draft request must move through Accept, Approve, and Create Project stages in order to be kicked off. 

Our Request dashboard gives ample visibility and a unique control for managing new project requests. With these stages, you can: 

  • Capture new project requests
  • Review and approve the right projects
  • Create project sites based on approved requests

Project Request Management PRM

You can select from a range of out-of-the-box templates for each stage of your project selection process as you go.

 

Image Credit

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2021 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness

 

Learn how to leverage Microsoft Power Automate for project management with BrightWork 365 in your Microsoft 365 cloud
Shubhangi Pandey
Latest posts by Shubhangi Pandey (see all)