Imagine if every employee had their own Personal Assistant. One that reduced their workload, and never made mistakes. Sounds too good to be true (right?)
Well, with Power Automate (previously Microsoft Flow), they can!
This nifty bit of tech handles all of the time consuming but necessary tasks everyone struggles with, freeing up time for staff to focus on projects that require more attention.
First of all, let’s take a look at…
What is Power Automate?
Power Automate is a super powerful tool that allows organisations to work smarter, not harder! And, chances are… if your company already has an Office 365 subscription, you’ll already have access to its powers – you’re just not using them (yet).
Power Automate eliminates all those repetitive tasks by connecting to your existing data sources and automating workflows.
- Get notifications when you have an important alert
- Automate approval processes
- Stay active on social media by automatically publishing content
- Track activity on leads
- And more!
Benefits of Power Automate
1. Increased employee productivity
Save time, increase productivity, and work more efficiently by automating time-consuming and repetitive tasks.
2. Streamline tasks across company systems
Power Automate integrates and automates processes across hundreds of applications, both within and beyond the Microsoft ecosystem.
3. Improves employee satisfaction
By automating time-consuming, repetitive tasks, staff are free to focus on the things that are truly important and demand greater attention. As a result, employees have better work satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment.
4. Less human errors
Us mere humans make mistakes. Computers, don’t (unless the humans program them wrong). Automation mitigates the risk of human errors, ensuring activities are completed to the highest standard.
5. Accessible anywhere
The Power Automate mobile app allows team members to create, run, and check on automated workflows even when they’re out of the office.
Power Automate built-in connectors
One of the big attractions to Power Automate is the large library of pre-built connectors, templates, and integrations, allowing you to connect to applications you already use.
There are hundreds of connectors available on microsoft.com and they fall into two groups:
- Standard connectors – free to use (including Dropbox, Google Calendar, OneDrive, Office 365, and more)
- Premium connectors – you may need to purchase a licence to use these connectors (Adobe Creative Cloud, Docusign, Mailchimp, and more)
Power Automate custom connectors
Can’t find a pre-built connector for your software/ application? No problem! We can create Power Automate custom connectors that allow you to create (and even share) a connector with its own triggers and actions.
- A trigger: is what kick-starts the flow. e.g. received an email with an attachment
- An action: is what happens once the flow has been triggered. e.g. a copy of the email attachment is saved to a folder in OneDrive (flows can have multiple actions)
After mapping out the triggers and actions, it’s time to get building.
How to build Power Automate custom connectors
1. The REST API
A custom connector is a REST API wrapper that enables Power Automate to communicate with the REST API. The first step is to create either a public (accessible on the public Internet) or private (visible only within your network) API.
2. Labelling your API for Power Automate
An OpenAPI definition (previously known as a Swagger file) or a Postman collection can be used to describe your API. You can also use the custom connection portal to create your API from scratch.
3. Creating your connector in Power Automate
After configuring and labelling your custom connector, you’ll need to add it to Power Automate. The easiest way to do this is using the custom connector wizard in Power Automate.
4. Put your custom connectors to work
Once your connector has been generated in Power Automate, you can start utilising it in your flow. Check out the examples below for some ideas…
Power Automate examples
Automated approval process
Hopefully, the days of printing out a holiday request, filling it out, and placing it on your manager’s desk are long gone. Even so, improving approval processes is still a popular request.
By teaming a simple Power App with Power Automate you can easily streamline the whole approval process.
When an employee requests leave, Power Automate sends an automatic request to their manager. Once the request has been accepted, the employee is notified via email, and a leave request field is added to your SharePoint list.
It’s not just holiday requests either. Organisations can leverage Power Automate to improve other approval processes such as expenses and sales contracts.
Log out of emails without missing anything important
Email distractions stopping you from finishing off a project? With Power Automate you can log out of your emails without the worry of missing an email from your boss (or anything else important).
When an email arrives in Outlook, the contents are checked. If the email meets the specified criteria (i.e. contains a specific keyword, or was sent by a specific sender), you’ll receive a notification in Microsoft Teams.
Get notified when someone completes a form
Trying to gather feedback or comments from team members, stakeholders, or even consumers is never a simple task. Constantly having to log back into the database or trawl through emails to check if responses have been submitted. Not to mention having to chase the ones who haven’t replied.
With the help of Power Automate, you can configure a flow to send a notification in Microsoft Teams each time a specific Forms response is submitted. You can even send reminders to the people who are slow to reply.
Want to see more Power Automate examples? Check out our blog on 10 ways you should be using Power Automate.
How to get started with Power Automate
There are plenty of training materials online about ‘how to use Power Automate’ or ‘how to build Power Automate custom connectors, but the most effective way is working with a Power Automate Specialist.
When you work with a company such as ourselves, you’re getting a whole team’s expert knowledge. And, as Microsoft Designated Partners – we know the platform inside out. We know what works, and what doesn’t.
We can create workflows and automate processes for you, or we can help train your teams allowing the business to continually develop.
Want to know more? Just drop us a line and one of our friendly experts will be in touch about how our custom Power Automate solutions can benefit you.