How to Get Started with Power Automate Workflows
Released in April 2016, Microsoft Power Automate is used by over 350,000 organizations to automate business processes and tasks.
Watch free webinar: SharePoint Workflows for Project Management
A no-code solution with pre-planned templates, the application connects to over 270 data points and publicly available APIs.
Keep reading to learn more about Power Automate and how to get started with your first ‘flow’.
What is Microsoft Power Automate?
Power Automate (previously Microsoft Flow) is a no-code solution that allows users to create workflows to automate repetitive tasks.
Users can start quickly with out-of-the-box templates, 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 also includes robotic process automation (RPA). This capability, called UI flows, allows users to create workflows at scale – without coding.
With a point-and-click interface, a user can record their keystrokes when completing a task. The RPA system transforms this information into an automated workflow.
RPA was extended further during Ignite 2020 with the launch of Microsoft Power Automate Desktop.
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 trigged. 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:
- 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.
- Business Process flows are based on a defined set of actions.
- UI flows, used to record clicks and keystrokes and automate the execution of tasks.
There are three ways to launch a flow:
- Start from scratch with one of the workflows listed above.
- Use an existing template
- 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.
On the next screen, you’ll see how the workflow is constructed. Power Automate is a highly-visual tool, simplifying the management of workflows.
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.
Using Power Automate for Projects
Below are some ideas on how to Microsoft Power Automate to streamline your projects.
Remember, you can customize an existing template or build a flow as needed.
- Use Approval templates for documents, forms, travel, vacation requests, and more.
- Keep track of project tasks in Planner with daily emails and notifications.
- Manage your calendar with automated time-blocking or create a OneNote page for an upcoming event.
- Get a push notification when you receive an email from a manager.
- Copy important emails to OneNote.
- Save Outlook attachments to OneDrive.
Power Automate and SharePoint
Power Automate also works with SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-Premises with the on-premises data gateway.
There are several SharePoint templates to try, such as:
- Start approval when a new item is added.
- Save email attachments to a SharePoint document library.
- Receive an email when an item is added to a SharePoint list.
In her free time, she enjoys a challenging session at the gym, tucking into a good book, and walking the beautiful Galway coastline with her dog.