Harness The Power Of Power Automation

Organisations who use Microsoft 365 typically use Outlook and Office apps first, before diving into OneDrive, Teams and SharePoint for content management and collaboration.

However, few realise the capabilities of the Power Platform. This is a built-in feature included with Office 365 and includes Power Automate, Power Apps and Power BI.  These added applications can save hours of time by automating simple workflows and processes.

This article will focus on Power Automate and provide an overview of how it works, when it should be applied and whether it is suitable for your business.

What is Power Automate?

Microsoft Power Automate enables businesses to automate routine processes and tasks, even without coding skills. These automated workflows are referred to as ‘flows’ and begin with a ‘trigger’, a pre-defined event which then prompts an automated response.

Why do I want Power Automate?

Not only will Power Automate relieve you from repetitive and mundane tasks, but it can also be used to produce reports to enhance your productivity. Essentially, Power Automate is like having an electronic personal assistant.

What can it automate?

Power Automate is suitable for “quick wins” and is best used for automating simple, daily tasks. Below are some examples of when Power Automate is ideal:

1. Working with email attachments

When receiving attachment documents via email, Power Automate can automatically save these attachments into the relevant SharePoint folder, based on who the attachment has come from. This would benefit the likes of Account Management teams, whereby client attachments can be automatically saved into a specific client folder, saving time spent searching through emails to find what is needed.

2. Document Approval

Important documents that require approval before publishing can often be time-consuming. Whether requiring authorisation from a manager, document sign off, or a signature from a customer, this process can involve several people and can be difficult to track and manage. Relevant employees will be notified of a shared document and the sender receives notifications when approvals are completed.

Approvals can be integrated with Microsoft Teams which is useful for internal documents.

3. Timesheets

Power Automate provides a simple Timesheet application to track employee working hours which are accurately reflected and properly counted. This is an ideal solution for companies using outdated methods such as paper-based timesheets, ensuring accurate times are logged to avoid mistakes.

4. SharePoint Notifications

Whenever a new entry is submitted to SharePoint that is relevant to the team it would be useful to notify them so everyone can stay up to date with the new information. Setting up a workflow with Power Automate can send notification and emails to the relevant staff on these occasions.

5. Tasks

Create a task in Microsoft To Do and Power Automate can automatically add it as an event onto your Outlook through simple integration.

6. Holiday Requests

Holiday requests can be automatically sent to a line manager when an employee requests leave. Notification of their response can also be automated, allowing effective management of time off throughout the year.

7. Push notifications for important senders

Using a mobile flow app with Power Automate you can get push reminders/ notifications of emails sent by important senders (e.g. manager, clients, CEO). This can be configured in just a few clicks and extremely helpful during training or traveling.

8. Integrate Outlook emails with Planner Tasks

Thanks to Power Automate you can very easily integrate Outlook with Planner. Using the Flag function with Outlook, this will automatically create the flagged item as a task in Planner, making it easier to manage and organise tasks.

What platform does Power Automate connect with?

Power Automate connects to more than 275 data sources, the most used are:

  • Outlook
  • SharePoint
  • OneDrive
  • Twitter
  • Trello
  • Dynamics 365
  • Adobe Sign
  • Google Drive

Do I have to create flows from scratch?

No, it is much simpler than that. There are hundreds of Power Automate templates which can be used to fit an array of processes. However, if you want a more bespoke flow and cannot utilise an existing template, you can create your own flow from scratch.

Is Power Automate fit for all?

In short, no. Power Automate is well-suited for implementing automation into simple workflows or tasks.

If you go to the list of most frequently used templates in the Power Automate console, you will find many self-explanatory examples including:

  • Set a reminder to myself in 10 minutes
  • Send custom email when a new SharePoint list item is added
  • Start approval process for a new file to move it to another folder

These examples show that Power Automate is suitable for “quick wins” and is ideal to implement simple settings that often call for triggered interaction via external solutions.

Power Automate is not a suitable solution if you are looking to automate critical tasks or processes with several components. This mainly is down to its poor error handling capabilities and its somewhat fragility when editing workflows.

Ultimately, the more complex a scenario is, the more difficult it is to implement Power Automate. This is where larger scale or bespoke ERP solution would be better suited, with the capacity to manage a full end-to-end workflow with several different components and multiple triggers.

Harness the power of Power Automation

More and more businesses are turning to process automation to improve workforce efficiency- a vital move in today’s climate.

Digitalising mundane, manual tasks means that time can be reallocated and focuses on the important and human-centric roles such as relationship-building or creative tasks.

If you need help with understanding the bandwidth of Microsoft 365 and whether Power Apps are the right fit for you, get in touch today.