Microsoft Flow is a key component, helping to tie together the Microsoft cloud services (Office 365), as well as non-Microsoft cloud services.
It allows end users to automate business processes through workflows that can be created without any coding skills by simple templates and drag and drop functionality. This is going to open a lot of opportunities for everyday users to be able to automate their own processes, such as getting an alert when their boss emailed them, without having to rely on IT departments and developers.
The idea of workflow isn’t a new one to Microsoft’s cloud solution – you’ve had tools like SharePoint Designer workflows in SharePoint Online and CRM Online includes workflow capabilities. The challenge, however, has always been that these tools sit within one piece of the stack. Yes, you can create connections between different systems, but at its heart, a SharePoint workflow is designed to work within SharePoint and a CRM workflow is designed to work within CRM.
Flow is different. It sits across the Microsoft cloud platform and has connectors out to a whole load of other cloud solutions as well, allowing you to build automated processes that cross technology boundaries.
Flows can be triggered based on conditions or scheduled to run on a regular basis. There are already many templates to choose from, which you are free to customise. Or you can build your own from scratch.
Key areas within Microsoft Flow
The main areas that you will use are in the top menu:
- My Flows – where the Flows you’ve created live
- Activity – where you can view your Flow history and view run history
- Browse – this is where you can browse the pre-built templates
- Learn – discover documentation, support, give feedback etc.
Here are some of the sample scenarios where flow can be utilised:
The most common use of Flow is to trigger notifications.
For example – when a new lead is added to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, an automated workflow can send sales representatives an email or text message with details about the lead.
Flow can also be used to copy files. For example, when a new file is added to Dropbox or OneDrive, an automated workflow can instantly post a copy of the file to SharePoint.
Flows can also be used to collect data. For instance, if the user wants to see what people are saying about a particular brand, he can create a trigger that will capture new tweets that mention the brand and put a copy of each tweet in a SQL database for sentiment mining.
Here are some of the examples:
- Automatically store email attachments in a SharePoint library
This is handy for when you’re on the road and collaborating on a project and you want to send a file back for the team to work on. This flow provides a quick and simple way to share a document with the rest of your team. It could also be used to store CVs or job descriptions as part of an internal job submission process.
- Automatically translate emails
If you sometimes receive emails in a foreign language, you can have them translated automatically and delivered straight to your inbox.
- Engage with your customers
Microsoft Flow can notify appropriate employees when a visitor posts on your Facebook page or responds to a tweet. Take this a step further, and you can add this information to a SharePoint task list for follow up, or create a lead in Dynamics CRM.
- Get notified when a file is added or updated to a SharePoint or OneDrive library
This is useful if you want to make sure you always have the latest document to hand – such as a pricelist or specification sheet.
- Track activity on Twitter
Set your Flow so you receive notification when a certain keyword or hashtag has been tweeted, or store them for future analysis in an Excel file within Office 365.
Once a flow is built, it can be managed on the desktop or through an app on a mobile device. Flow integrates with various Microsoft services, including PowerApps, Dynamics 365 and Office 365. The Microsoft Flow Admin Centre allows an administrator to manage users, permissions and roles and ensure that employee-created flows comply with data loss prevention policies.
Flow mobile apps
Microsoft has released mobile Apps for IOS and Android to use the flow. Using this app, you can now get notifications, manage flows, and trigger manual flows.
Please feel free to contact Prometix to understand more about Flow or any other Office 365 App and how it can be used within your organisation.
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About Prometix: At Prometix, we design implement and support Microsoft based technology solutions that help our client’s staff to more easily use and share information as individuals and in teams. We work with our clients to establish a structure that makes information easier to create, store, find and share with others. We’ve worked hard to understand how people want to access and share information.
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