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Microsoft Flow – All You Need to Know


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Spending each day carrying out tasks, attending meetings, traveling, and making important business decisions can be taxing. Add to it the hundreds of emails that clutter your inbox each week, the need to respond to some as a top priority, setting up meetings with clients, and a plethora of other tasks, that might appear small and inconsequential, but take up a lot of your time. With Microsoft Flow, you can automate a lot of these daily tasks and set up workflows between services like Facebook, Twitter, SharePoint, Dynamics 365, Yammer, Dropbox, Outlook, and OneDrive to synchronize files, get notifications, collect data and more - so you can allocate time to tasks that really matter and work more efficiently.

Key Features

Currently, there are more than 150 services you can connect to with Flow. Within Microsoft Flow, you can view all your flows, take a look at some of the most popular templates, automate and streamline your approval process, use connectors to connect from one service to another, and find extensive information that will help you quickly ramp up on Microsoft Flow.

Using these connections is very easy; all you have to do is log into a particular service, and use Microsoft Flow to automate actions between the services of your choice. You can begin with one of more than a hundred commonly used templates to create flows in a browser or on a mobile device. Some of the key features of Microsoft Flow are:

Types of Flow

There are different types of flows that you can create with Microsoft Flow:

1. Automated

An automated flow performs one or more tasks automatically once it has been triggered by an event. For example, you can create a flow that notifies you by email when someone sends a tweet that contains a keyword that you specify. 

2. Button

A button flow performs one or more tasks with just one tap of a button, once it has been triggered by an event. For example, if you want to send a quick email to your team to remind them to join the daily team meeting, you can do this by simply tapping a button on your mobile device.

3. Scheduled

A scheduled flow performs one or more tasks according to a schedule. You can either schedule a task once a day/hour/every minute/ on a particular date, or after a specified number of days, hours, or minutes. For example, you can schedule a weekly call with your suppliers every Monday to stay on top of all the updates.

4. Business process

Business process flows are representations of your business processes and typically consist of stages, and steps within each stage. When using a business process flow, you can see which stage you are in the process of completing, and what steps you need to complete before proceeding to the next stage. Although you are required to complete certain steps before you can move to the next stage, with custom or out-of-the-box entities, you can also jump stages. Since business process flows do not demand any conditional business logic or automation beyond providing a streamlined experience for data entry and controlling entry into stages, they are fairly simple. When combined with other processes and customizations, they can save time, reduce training costs, and increase user adoption.

List of supported connectors

There are over 200+ connectors available in Microsoft Flow. You can connect any of these services, and manage data either in the cloud or via on-premise sources like SharePoint and Microsoft SQL Server.

Approvals in Flow

With Microsoft Flow, you can manage approvals across several services, including SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, OneDrive for Business, Zendesk, and WordPress. You can easily automate approval processes and:

  • Set up single or multiple approvals
  • Lay a condition that every approver must approve a request
  • Configure timeouts and escalation of pending approvals
  • Approve and reject requests from your email and phone or the flow website
  • Add comments
  • Reassign requests

To create an approval workflow, all you need to do is add the approvals, and then start an approval action to any flow. Once you add this action, your flow can manage the approval of documents or processes. For example, you can create document approval flows that approve invoices, work orders, or sales quotations, or process approval flows that approve vacation requests, overtime work, or travel plans. Approvers can either respond to requests from their email inbox, the approvals center on the Microsoft Flow website, or through the Microsoft Flow app.

Creating a request using Microsoft Flow

Before you start creating a request using Microsoft Flow, it is important to understand that every flow has two main parts: a trigger, and one or more actions. A trigger is the starting action for any flow and can be anything from a new email arriving in your inbox or a new item being added to a SharePoint list. Actions are events you want to happen when a trigger is invoked. For example, using Microsoft Flow, you can enable a new email to trigger the action of creating a new file on OneDrive for Business.

Now let’s look at how you can create a vacation request using Microsoft Flow

  1. Go to My flows and select “Create from blank”.

  1. Click on the “When a new email arrives” tab.

  1. Set the Folder name and all other details.

  1. Click ‘add an action’ and select the “Approvals” connector. In the Approvals Connector select the “Start an approval” action and add necessary details.

  1. In the new step, select “Add a condition” and select the below mentioned values:

  1. Go to the “If yes” condition and add action as “Send an email” and select values as shown below:

  1. Go to the “If no” condition and add action as “Send an email” and select values as shown below:

  1. Name the flow Vacation Request and save it.
  1. Test the flow by sending an e-mail to yourself with the subject Vacation Request!
  1. If you’ve enabled notifications in your Microsoft Flow app, you will get a notification on the app as well as in the Approvals tab.

Streamline daily tasks

With employees struggling to manage important but time-consuming tasks on a daily basis, Microsoft Flow is like a breath of fresh air. Using pre-built or custom templates, you can set up custom notifications so you can avoid getting lost in junk emails, set up calls once you receive a high-priority email, get notified immediately if a certain client or manager is trying to contact you, create a workflow that captures social media posts based on certain hashtags, setup automated responses to someone who tweets about your business and more. You can also create flows to copy files from one place to another, send out reports on the same day each week, and automate a ton of other processes that tend to disrupt your daily tasks for improved productivity.


About the Author - Angna Thakkar

Angna Thakkar is a competent Senior Project Manager, Microsoft Dynamics AX Technical at Indusa with over 10 years of experience in managing multi-disciplinary teams of varying sizes and complex programs of work. She is always committed to professionalism, highly organized, able to see the big picture while paying attention to small details.

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Contributing Author: Malavika Nityanandam

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