Microsoft Power Automate (formerly Microsoft Flow) is a program from Microsoft that is intended to make our everyday lives easier with specially created, automated workflows. Power Automate should streamline our day-to-day work, relieve us of annoying routine tasks, and help us save time. “Take care of what is important. Automate the rest”, is the Microsoft Power Automate slogan, restrict yourself to a few but relevant tasks and drive them forward.
By taking the time to define the workflow and giving the program instructions on how it should react when a certain situation occurs, we never have to do this workflow ourselves again.
With the help of workflows, we can automatically send notifications to ourselves, we can automatically synchronize data with other libraries, automatically save data in a certain location or automate approval processes. Power Automate enables us to concentrate more on our essential work. For example, we don’t have to waste our valuable time transferring data to other systems.
Checking e-mails regularly can take a lot of time. But anyone who depends on emails from a specific person or group of people can set up a workflow for this. Instead of constantly checking your inbox, you can have a specific person notify you via SMS when an email arrives.
The workflows were originally created by the Microsoft developers for the Microsoft Power Apps and were just a by-product. Microsoft then decided to make workflows its own service in order to expand the Microsoft product range again. The original name Microsoft Flow became Microsoft Power Automate.
Microsoft Power Automate integrates Microsoft programs such as Excel, Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint and Dynamics 365 as standard. All you need to do in Power Automate is to register the programs, i.e. enter your email and password. More and more third-party providers can also be integrated into flows, such as Twitter, Dropbox, Google Drive and Salesforce. In total, Power Automate has over 80 integrated services, with which a large number of workflows can be mapped today. Microsoft provides an overview of the services on the service’s website. Power Automate is available as an app for Android and iOS systems for your mobile devices.
Power Automate is easy to use, the program has a very logical structure and operation is intuitive. Using the menu bar, you can access my previously created flows under My Flows and create new flows without a template or Create from a template. You can see the flow templates provided in the menu under Templates. Services include all flow-supported, integrated systems. More on these follows in the next section. In the Info menu field, you have the opportunity to get to know Microsoft Power Automate better through interactive, guided learning and to take the first steps with guidance. Furthermore, details on creating and managing flows can be read under Documentation. In the Info menu field, support can be requested, consulted with the flow community, give feedback and read blog posts.
Power Automate provides a large number of templates to make it easier to use and to provide ideas for what flows can be used. The search function simplifies the search as the templates can be filtered for specific services.
The templates are customizable, i.e. adaptable to the specific situation or process. The saving of email attachments in OneDrive can be limited to the fact that attachments are only saved if a certain word appears in the subject. You can also specify the exact storage location of the attachments in OneDrive.
If there is no suitable template, you can easily create a new flow. However, it is advisable to use a template, especially when creating the first flow, to see how the program works.
To ensure the security of company-critical data, Microsoft Power Automate provides a separate admin interface for companies. Here administrators can specify which programs can be integrated into flows by employees.
Microsoft is not the first provider that enables us to create automated workflows and link our services together. There were already programs like IFTTT and Zapier that wanted to make everyday life easier for us with the help of workflows.
IFTTT, short for If This Then That, has been linking web applications since 2010 and is particularly useful for linking social media or creating time diaries. With the help of IFTTT, pictures that you were tagged on Facebook can be automatically copied to a Dropbox folder or how long you stayed in which location can be recorded. As with Power Automate, the created workflows can be shared with other users. IFTTT is super easy to use and especially interesting for private users who like to work with the latest technology. IFTTT is not to be seen directly as an alternative product from Microsoft Power Automate.
For Zapier, on the other hand, the introduction of Microsoft Power Automate means more competition, as both are geared towards corporate customers, which can already be seen in the range of their integrated programs. The big advantage of Zapier compared to Power Automate is the insanely large selection of programs that can be linked. With Power Automate, far fewer third-party programs have been integrated than with Zapier. On the other hand, the great advantage of Power Automate is that it is excellently networked with the other Microsoft programs.
|Basic Account||Tariff 1||Tariff 2 / Business||Integrated Applications|
|Microsoft Power Automate /Microsoft Flow||Free|
Checking Every 15 Minutes
|$5/Month Per User|
Review Every 3 Minutes
|$ 15/Month Per User|
Review Every 60 Seconds
Use 5 Workflows Simultaneously
Use 5 Workflows Simultaneously
With the help of automated workflows, services are connected through a program such as Power Automate, Zapier or IFTTT. Work steps are carried out automatically by defining a trigger and the associated further steps.
Automated workflows are not essential for survival and sometimes just gimmicks. Often, however, they can be of great support in our everyday work. The prerequisite for this is that only those processes are automated for which it really makes sense. In particular, repetitive routine tasks and everyday administrative tasks are easy to replace.
The most important point is that the tasks to be replaced are standardized, because Power Automate can neither think nor decide. We have to define the conditions for decisions for the flow in advance, the flow can only check whether the conditions are met or not and then carry out our defined tasks.
A major limitation with Microsoft Power Automate is that the selection of flow-triggering events is highly standardized for some services. For example, it is only possible to create a flow with email notifications from CRM when new data records have been created, data records have been changed or deleted. It is not possible to create an e-mail notification that is triggered if a data record in CRM, for example leads or sales opportunities, has not taken place for a certain period of time.
In order to generate ideas about what kind of flows should be created, it often helps to consciously go through the working day and to deal with the activities that keep cropping up in my everyday work.
Creating flows is not difficult and fun. Even if it’s only a few minutes a day that you save through it, the time adds up to the end of the year. The time saved is not only valuable for the entrepreneur, but also for the individual employee. Work becomes more pleasant when you no longer have to deal with the dumb entering of data in lists, when you can concentrate on the really important tasks.
There is no master’s answer here either. If you work almost exclusively with Microsoft products, as we are doing here with the Next Iteration, the decision in favor of Microsoft makes a lot of sense. It supports and links the various Microsoft programs excellently. However, if you work with programs and applications from many different providers, you should find out beforehand whether Zapier with its more than 750 integrated applications or IFTTT with its more than 360 applications do not better network my programs. Furthermore, the price of the provider plays a role, which depends on how many flows you run monthly or how many flows you use monthly. The basic account is free of charge with all three providers. In this post we have tried bringing you closer to the functions of Microsoft Power Automate. We would be happy to advise you on the use of Power Automate as part of our Microsoft Office 365 services.