Power Automate is a quick, no-code platform for automating routine tasks anywhere within your organization with hundreds of free ready-made solutions deployable with a single click of a button. The Power Automate Desktop Automation license is free while the cloud and robotic process automations are available on a per-user or per-flow basis.
This article describes Microsoft Power Automate – a part of the Microsoft Power Platform package, discusses its potential applications, costs and provides a recommended implementation process in context of the organization, department and an individual user.
Microsoft Power Automate is a no-code tool for automating practically anything in your organization: from redundant desktop tasks to complex robotic processes. Unleashing the full potential of Automate is possible when used together with the other Power Platform tools. In this case the process (called a flow in Automate) acts as a marble going through an obstacle course and interacting with the different objects. For example, a flow can be triggered with a social media post that has mentioned your company name, send the post’s contents to Power AI to analyze for positive or negative sentiments and then send the poster a nice reply or direct their complaint to the Customer Service department. The same flow can also add the original poster as a contact to Salesforce or Dynamics 365 Sales and emails you, the internal employee, a notification.
Imagine building a mobile phone app to record your expenses in Excel, creating a process that pastes the data directly into your legacy expense report app and then emails your manager for approval. Imagine a call center agent building a chat bot that automatically collects customer data and books service appointments in your software of choice. Imagine doing that in an hour just by following simple tutorials. These are just a few quick and basic examples of what Microsoft Power Platform users, even without prior coding knowledge, can do for your organization. They being employees, whose job descriptions say “clerk”, “accountant”, “service agent” or “security guard”, and not “software developer”. Power Platform does not distract them from their main role, but instead empowers them to enhance internal processes, without the IT overhead and the technical “know-how”. Microsoft refers to this “low-code developer” persona as a “citizen developer”.
You can start using any of the process templates that come pre-built with Power Automate with just a single click. Each template is easy to customize and share for the specific needs of your job role, department or the entire organization. Don’t be misguided with the wording- Microsoft Power Automate works with third-party software applications in the same way it works with ones native to Microsoft. Also, the word business flow should not be a constraint to your imagination: you can automate practically anything in you day-to-day life. For example, imagine having a flow that scans your schedule for outdoor activities and sends you weather forecasts for your location when you are about to leave.
The Process Designer inside of Power Automate is a visual flow editor featuring an intuitive interface and hundreds of components, conveniently grouped into searchable lists. It has just enough building blocks to trigger the flow, and pass the results between the processes. Use the freely available 200+ connectors plus many more premium and third-party integrators to get and and pass values to/from external apps. No connector? No problem: create your own – no certification from Microsoft is needed if used internally in your organization.
The Process Designer inside of Power Automate is a visual flow editor featuring an intuitive interface and hundreds of components conveniently grouped into searchable lists. It has just enough building blocks to trigger the flow, and pass the results between the processes.
Use 200+ free plus many more premium and third-party connectors to get/pass the values from/to external apps. No connector? No problem: create your own – no certification from Microsoft is needed if used internally in your organization.
One of the major uses of Power Automate is with legacy software applications. If you are using an outdated app that requires many manual steps, Power Automate can record all of them once and then push them to run automatically next time in the exact same way it was manually executed. Not only does this reduce the possibility of error, it also saves time and extends the lifecycle of your legacy software.
Legacy automation is the easiest and fastest way to avoid wasting man-hours on routine tasks anywhere in an organization. Our customers have seen up to 80% time savings with Power Automate implementations.
Power Automate truly shows its full potential when used in a combination with the other Power Platform tools.
For example, let’s take the process most popular among our clients – invoice approval. Imagine a vendor emails you an invoice attached as PDF. Once an email from the specific account is received, a Power Automate flow passes the PDF to AI Model that extracts the valuable data such as Due Date, Number, Vendor and Total from the attachment. It then inputs the invoice into your accounting software and shoots you an email with all the data plus two buttons – “Approve” or “Reject”. You can picture the time saved with pushing a button versus opening the PDF and re-typing everything and then approving.
Another popular use of the Power Automate is re-ordering the same items on a recurring basis through a supplier’s legacy system. We can build a flow which does it for our clients and shoots them an email confirmation with a”Cancel” button, so they are still in control.
Sharing a flow within your organization is a single-click process, since the flow is hosted in the cloud. You just select the users whom you desire to give the access to, or select the entire department or even the entire organization. You are still in full control of the flow you created, but can give certain users ability to edit the flow, if desired.
An alternative way of sharing a flow is to export it as a .zip package. The process is simple and straightforward, and the resulting flow could go anywhere you want, even to a different organization, on desktop, or in the cloud.
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