Office 365 and the cloud have opened a lot of doors for businesses who are trying to reduce the amount of repetitive tasks performed by their users. No app in 365 does this more so than Microsoft Flow, now renamed to Power Automate.

So what is Power Automate?

Power Automate, in simple terms, is an automation tool. It is like a macro, that runs in the cloud.

It can connect to many different apps (in the cloud) and not just Office 365, but many others as well, 300 at the time of writing. Including but not limited to:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • WordPress
  • SQL server
  • Gmail
  • Dynamics
  • You tube

You can see the entire list here:

So what does that mean?

Well, simply put, it means that any task, that needs to be run depending on an action in one of these web apps, Power Automate can do it.

So one example, lets say, you want create a sharepoint list item if someone mentions you in a tweet (in twitter). We can create a Power Automate that does it for us, in fact there is a pre-built template just for this:

Cool, so what else can I do?

Well, the limit is generally what we can and can’t think of, and our technical ability. There are some more complex things it can’t do, but just to give you some examples:

And if we want, we can create a Power Automate from scratch, add our own connectors and then program exactly what we need it to do, here is the custom Automate we use for our timesheet app:

We made each step, making sure to do all the bits we needed.

Simple example of an approval flow.

So, one thing a lot of businesses need is an approval process on certain documents, before they leave the building or even just to be saved in the relevant folder.

The approval process is really where Power Automate shines, because it is so simple to do.

If I go to a document library in SharePoint, there is an add flow button, right there at the top of the library, but first we need to add a column called StatusCode (ask for more info)

This brings up a list of stuff we can do, and if there is a time field in the metadata, it will give us a button to add reminders, for now, I will create a flow to request approval from a manager:

You may need to do some signing in, but once there, you should just need to click on Create Flow:

As long as the users have their line manager set in the active directory (ask for more information), it is done, we have nothing else to do. If we go back to our library now and select a file, we can now see a request approval button under Flow:

QIC Systems can help you on your cloud journey, including building flows and automation, for more information or for a demo, please call on 01962 711000.