What is Microsoft Power Automate?
Microsoft Power Automate, formerly known as Microsoft Flow, is a cloud-based service that enables users to create and automate processes and actions that save a lot of time and effort with repetitive tasks. It allows us to integrate and synchronize all our data analysis and applications in an automated way, with the aim of increasing productivity and business efficiency.
This online service, besides automating processes and tasks in a simple and intuitive way, also allows us to have a functional flow. Power Automate allows us to connect two or more applications and perform actions that automate the most routine business processes.
We can use Microsoft Power Automate to automate workflows between our apps and services to sync files, send reminders about tasks, get notifications, collect data – and so much more.
Examples of automated workflows include:
- When you receive an Outlook email attachment, save Outlook email attachments in your OneDrive
- When you set up weekly notifications of financial operations and sales insights from a CRM system
- When you make a new file, copy files between Dropbox and SharePoint
- When a new event is scheduled, receive an alert on Outlook or Google Calendar
- When you tweet with a hashtag, instantly save those tweets to a specific SharePoint location.
List of actions for Power Automate are varied, ranging from document approval to new employee onboarding, collecting customer feedback, and managing help tickets.
Can anybody use Microsoft Power Automate?
Power Automate is a licensed product. However, some capabilities of Power Automate are available to users of Office 365 and Dynamics 365 free of any additional charge. When your needs are beyond this limited version, Power Automate can be separately licensed.
How to use Microsoft Power Automate?
Getting started with Power Automate is simple, we just need an email address and a web browser. The first step is to register for free and we would be ready to start.
The app comes with ready-to-use templates and recommendations on which applications can be linked. The navigation is very intuitive, which makes it perfect for users with little or no programming knowledge.
From there we can create a flow that takes the data of a potential client and transfer it to Dynamics, capture tweets with certain parameters and retweet them automatically, save document attachments in emails on OneDrive or SharePoint, receive notifications on your mobile device… The list is endless.
What are connectors in Power Automate?
A connector is a tool which links two or more external applications together. Therefore, a connector makes it possible for us to connect our MailChimp to Slack, SharePoint, or to other apps.
This list is constantly growing and allows us to work with data. In addition, if none of these connectors fits our needs, we can create a custom.
To understand them better, we must have clear three terms:
They are the ones that start the workflow. It can be a new email, when a new document is saved or a new video on your YouTube channel. Each connector has at least one trigger.
When the process has already begun, we must define what actions to take. For example, upload a file to OneDrive, start an approval process, when we get an email from a specific person… Each flow has one or more actions.
The third element refers to when we want to connect two applications, as the tool will ask for the credentials of each application we want to connect. These are encrypted with Microsoft security and can be deleted easily when we want.
There are 3 ways to launch a flow:
- Start from scratch with one of the workflows listed earlier.
- 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 save Office 365 email attachments to OneDrive for Business:
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.
You can see that one of the popular templates on the home screen is the one we’re looking for. Click on “Try it”, then you can see the screen below:
Select create flow.
On the next screen, you’ll see how the workflow is constructed. Power Automate is a highly-visual tool, simplifying the management of workflows.
Benefits of using Microsoft Power Automate
- Increase productivity
- Quickly and securely automate
- Put intelligent workflows to work
- Save time
- Application Integration
- Pre-built connectors