Microsoft Power Platform | Power Automate (Video)


Ziad: Hello and welcome, everyone, to our Power Platform series. For our webinars today we are going to be discussing Power Automate. And we’ve already discussed Power BI previously. And we have a great deal of other blogs around Office 365, including Microsoft Teams, other applications like SharePoint or Outlook. We’ve got a whole bunch of blogs on our website. So if you are interested in any other ones that we’ve had recorded sessions for, feel free to go there and take a look.

And so today Power Automate, what is Power Automate? Now, we’re gonna talk about a few things here primarily around how do we kinda get started and set up with Power Automate. For some of us, it may already be a part of our license that we’ve got, some other people, we may not even have Office 365 licensing. So how do we get Power Automate? The short answer there is, well, you’d basically get an Office 365 license and can get started, as well as within them there are free number of runs and flows that you can create.

There are also additional packages that are out there as standalone offerings if you want to automate some other processes as well. So today, we’ll talk about how you manage those flows when we create one of our flows today, as well. We’ll understand how, you know, flows are developed. There are…actually there is some sort of academics behind the how or the logic behind how this gets put up, as well as we’re gonna understand how Power Automate can essentially be beneficial to our business.

And in order to understand that perfectly, we need to be able to set the story up to be able to say, “Okay, this is where Power Automate kinda fills in that within our organization.” So, how does this automation work? So within the, you know, Power Automate, the idea is to be able to take transactional processes and turn them and translate them through some business logic into an automation. So that way we are more effective as well as more efficient. We don’t have to constantly do the same rigorous steps where we can just, you know, approve or transact on those things automatically with a simple button.

So in that way, where a couple of years ago, we weren’t able to do anything like this as effectively as we do now. And, you know, we’ve kinda come to a working standpoint where digital transformation, this idea of having a business climate or a culture of data is seemingly making impossible things possible, right? So businesses constantly face pressure, and they’ve always faced pressure from every angle to become more productive and efficient. And, of course, our resources are finite, they’re limited.

However, you know, there are other things that we can do, for example, or ours that are limited, we can translate them into being more efficient by using Flow or Power Automate. Now as humans, of course, we excel at many different things, one of them being strategic thinking or creative…you know, we’re creative in nature. But there are obviously other visions that our organization has. So we’re not kind of, you know, getting people out of their work by having automated processes.

In fact, it’s hiring those people to be able to do other things now, rather than, you know, simply doing, you know, time entries or putting in, you know, calendar invites or those kind of reduce tasks that we do on a daily basis. So we’re shifting the digital scope to doing other things that, you know, we are built out to be able to do rather than constantly putting in data or things like that that can be transacted in an automation. What are some of the challenges, key challenges in businesses and business applications, and how they kind of structure their strategy around those applications?

The number one challenge that’s reported for most businesses that we deal with is budget constraint. So how much money can we allocate? What are the resources that are there that we can use and leverage and bootstrap to kinda get all of our work done effectively? The second is the time and resources. So, of course, we’re all busy, we’re always doing things, there’s always new projects that are at hand. As well as we may not even have the expertise, we don’t have the resource that can do it.

We don’t have any, you know, training material for that, we don’t know how things are going to be carried forward. And then, of course, there’s a list of other ones, you know, like security issues or concerns or, you know, trying to eliminate a paper process that we already have, it’s a bigger strategy. These are all different strategies that, you know, every business kind of faces, and if you kinda hit into any one of these, you’re not alone. And we deal with this on a daily basis.

So if you ever need, you know, training or things around, you know, how we kind of overcome these hurdles, you know, feel free to reach out and I’ll share my information afterwards. And we can share some documentation as well as get on a call and try to figure out how we can help you guys. But within Power Automate, most of these constraints actually diminish, because, you know, for example, budget constraints, I mean, you’ve got an Office 365 license that includes Power Automate.

The only thing that you really need to do is put a little bit of time in to create those automations at once, and then now you’ve got a button that every, you know, every other, you know, day you just have to press to be able to do those work. So same thing with security compliance. For example, security is no longer a concern, because everything is, I mean, on the cloud with Office 365 and, you know, Microsoft invests more than a billion dollars in just the research and development for security for Office 365.

So, huge amounts of money being put into, you know, the integrity of the product. So what is the Power Platform and where does Power Automate kinda fit into that story? This is basically to kinda get ready in terms of Power Automate or Power Platform, in general, the kinda stuff I’m talking about, but these are the three primary components. And then, of course, the fourth component, I’ll talk about Power BI, which we’ve already done as a webinar on an event and Power Automate now, which we’re talking about, basically to automate some of those processes, the idea is that all of these, and the third product that’s in the Power Platform is PowerApps.

The idea is to basically put these products together out there so that we can integrate the data and turn the data into meaningful information for our organization, quickly, you know, be able to see business analytics and reports through the dashboards that we create in Power BI, develop an application, gain insights from that, put it in front of the users within minutes, and, you know, report on Power BI, automate some of those processes through Power Automate. So we don’t have to constantly go back and refresh or sync or, you know, doing some of the rudimentary things that we already do. So this package really unlocks the value for, you know, the vision that we’re trying to create here for developments within our organization.

And then the fourth component within Power Platform is the Virtual Agents, which we can’t run at this time, but it exists within Power Platform as well. So for Power Automate, again, the idea is to automate and model business processes across the different apps that you’ve created. You can basically, you know, have trigger events that can relate to an action that actually does perform some particular action, and so on, so forth. And we’ll walk through how that looks. You can customize some of the applications that are…or automations that are there out of the box through templated versions. There are two types of different apps…or two types of the kind of automations that you can create.

There’s also, you know, you can kinda build in from a more of a canvas style, you can build manually automation as well or as a flow. And then, of course, you can roll these out into any of the systems. And it’s seamlessly integrated with all of the Microsoft products out there as well. So really, really cool, seamless integration between all of them. So how does Power Automate really get you to work smarter, right? So it helps you automate… I’ll give you a list of actually a few tasks that it helps you do. For example, if you want it to…for instance, you wanted to instantly respond to high priority emails or notifications that you want set up.

So you click a button and it takes all of the high priority emails that have come in your mailbox and now surfaces them up for you, for you to be able to quickly respond to, whether it’d be a generic response or a unique custom response. You can do that. You could also, for example, collect data from your business or about your business and share that information with your team. So if there were any insights that you want to gather from particular reports or spreadsheets, you can create an automation that takes and extracts those data, whether it’d be a recurring extraction or things like that. And basically, again, pushes them out to a particular team, whether it’d be on Microsoft Teams, or anywhere else, maybe on a BI report or something like that.

You can automate, and this is where it’s used, I think, the most is in through approval processes. So if there’s a process that you have for approvals, you can actually create an automation that would automatically approve some of that. An example is we’re working with one of the clients who automatically approves anything over, you know, $20,000. You know, we don’t need any kind of approval processes for that. And so, we’ve set it up on automation, where now anytime there’s a request for anything under $20,000, it gets automatically approved by the managers and moves up to, you know, the next chain in the approval process. So you can create workflows to be able to do that.

You can also, you know, capture and track and even follow up with sales activities. So you can look at leads that come up and be able to, you know, go through the Power automation tool to be able to do that. So it’s really a lot of power in many different areas within a business to enable these features. These are some of the quotes that we hear all the time. “We need to go faster. We need more information. We need more data.” And then we also hear, “We already have some of the data. Now, what do we do with this data?” So years ago, we would have this problem of, you know, people saying, “We don’t have enough data, we need to kind of, you know…”

This idea of big data started coming up, all these different concepts of how do we create that data culture? Now, it’s, “Now, we’ve got data.” Right now, it’s, “What do we do with this data? And how do we translate this to be able to make us, you know, enable us to do other, you know, really great, amazing things?” And then, of course, “What’s gonna be our return on that.” So if you look at short term savings or short term return on investments, you know, within the first year and a half to 2 years, you get about 5% to 10% of the savings that you would see, you know, in your entire business operations.

And if you look in the long term type of savings for automation in automating organizations, you could say, you know, 30% on cost for your entire organization, and basically reallocating those funds or budgets or resources, to focus on other matters that will help you grow, be innovative, and become essentially a bigger market, right? So taking advantage of the opportunities because of these certain reasons will help you understand how Power Automate can fit into your business, how we can empower the people to focus on things that matter the most for your business. Oftentimes, we put, you know, visions and values upon our organization and we rarely even realize them because we’re so busy doing other things that can be automated, right?

So how do we increase productivity especially in the light of things that we are facing today? How do we, you know, gain customer satisfaction? How do we do that, you know, being online? How do we use Power Automate to do that? That’s the discussion that we wanna have today, okay? So I’m gonna dive into now, what components are there for flow and who it’s really designed for. So from an end-user perspective, you know, you understand the business, you wanna be able to solve your own problems. We’re on…you know, end users are on the ground, they’re doing their work, they know what needs to take place and when. You can create Power Automate processes to automate that stuff on the floor.

For example, you can, as a professional, you know, developer or experienced developer you can use coding to unblock complex requirements and reduce time to develop as well as deploy those particular developing apps that you’re doing. As well as if you’re an IT or admin person or an IT professional, you can also automate, you know, mundane tasks and functions. You can automate or create automations that are, you know, obviously secure and compliant with policies. So you don’t have to go through, you know, rigorous steps of approvals to be able to do that, right? There’s visibility, there’s control, you can…you know, you’re always aligned with the corporate governance of things, right?

So it makes things a lot easier for you to use when those compliance features and security functionality is embedded within the flows. Now, here’s some components of flow. So this is how you’d basically build out a flow. Each flow begins with an event. That event has to trigger an action, right? So, the terminology here can be a little confusing, but basically, each action can have a condition that you attach to it that triggers other workflows. So each flow has two main parts in this case. It has a trigger and one or more actions, okay?

So when you think of a trigger, think of that as, you know, a starting action for something of the flow. So for example, the trigger can be like a new email comes into your inbox or a new item that’s being added to a SharePoint list or something like that. That’s a new trigger that pops in. An action then is what do you want to happen when this trigger is activated? So for example, if a new email comes in, if that new email trigger starts, the action then is to let’s create a new file on OneDrive for business, okay? So we’ll create a OneDrive for business file, as soon as this email pops in. Other examples of actions could be, you know, let’s include sending an email or a tweet or whatever, you know, or starting up a approval process.

Those are all, you know, actions. So a tweet comes in or an approval, you know, it is a waiting or pending approval, we take something from there, that’s the trigger, the action is we’re gonna approve it, not approve it, send it here, put it in that folder, etc, etc. It’s those kind of transactions that get automated with Power Automate, okay? And, of course, you can have conditional logic in here as well, you can trigger and link two different flows to be able to interact with each other and do that as well. So I’ve kind of alluded to this a little bit as well, but there is a lot of scale, you know, automation at scale, to bring effectiveness within the organization, which is huge.

We’re not gonna talk too much about that but we will address some of these key components again, in terms of triggers. There’s lots of triggers that are embedded within Power Automate. Now it offers a huge range of functionality from the triggers, as well as from integrations that are native to Microsoft Cloud. And basically, the holistic, you know, view of the automation process, you know, thousands of different actions are being made. There’s seamless integrations that are happening between PowerApps, Office 365, Dynamics 365, your ERP, CRM, and so on so forth. There is, and I’ll talk about this in the next slide as well, you know, more than 275 services that you can connect to, that are built-in connectors with Power Automate as well, right?

And I’ll show you a list of those, or at least a few of those in the next slide here. So really, the power of automation is real and it’s here. Here are some of the connected experiences and I can…you know, there’s a whole bunch more, but a couple of logos that you may be familiar with that you could potentially utilize and connect data to. So triggers, like I mentioned, there’s three types of triggers. Well, there’s three different types of triggers that begin a flow. So the first trigger is a manual trigger. So this could be an instant flow that’s created, right? And we’ll get into that a little bit later in our demonstration. There are also scheduled triggers. So these are like, you know, getting your to-do list sent to you every morning, right?

So that trigger will, you know, every morning you wake up, you get your coffee, there’s a list of things that you have to do that are already automatically sent to you. You don’t have to open up a calendar or anything like that. It’s just press the button, right? And finally, the last trigger is, you know, triggers that are based on events that actually happened. For example, if some event or transaction takes place in another application or in a cloud-based service, you could be alerted every time, you know, your company, for example, anytime your company gets mentioned on Twitter, right? That automation can alert you or notify you and take you to that tweet, okay? The next component of things is, obviously, around actions.

So there are obviously, you know, each trigger that I mentioned before, you know, then begins an action. So the possibilities of creating those actions are really on list because you can do anything, you could take those triggers and make it do anything for you. There are, however, some provided templates. And, of course, gives you the ability to create your own once you get used to it. And you can connect to any of the cloud services or web pages or, you know, you can basically have the trigger begin an action with your local database as well and so on, so forth.

So again, those transactions is what you want that trigger to be able to do. So let’s go into a little bit of a demo here, and then I can go through how this will…I can actually show you how you would utilize Power Automate and where that would show up. So if you look at my screen now I basically went to And just so I went into basically all my applications that opened up. So this is how your portal will look like. Now, if you don’t see Power Automate as one of the more popular apps that you use, you can go into all apps and you can see a list of all the apps that are basically included in your license, right? And if you go for Power Automate or Flow, formerly known as Flow, it opens up to a homepage for Power Automate.

Now within the home page, it gives you a couple of details, things that you can try. Sure, there’s a couple of times that, you know, different triggers or different flows have been created. For example, when you get a push notification when you receive an email from your boss, high priority emails, right? You can try this particular flow and create it right away, or anytime an Office email attachment

I haven’t created any approvals. But you could have a whole bunch of different approvals and processes placed here. And so any approval that comes in or has been sent, you actually see a history of as well, when you have created those flows. You could take a look at some of the flows that have already been created by yourself or your team, right? So we don’t have any team flows right now in this demo environment, but we use this all the time for having some flows created between business processes, right, and so on, so forth. And then, of course, you can create some. So like I mentioned to you, there were a couple of types of different triggers. There’s instant, right? So these are manuals, right?

There are scheduled ones, and then there’s business flow or automated flows as well, right? f the flows. So there’s top picks or approval ones. So there’s a couple of approval ones here, like starting approval when a new item is added, right? Or request manager approval for selected files. So if you click on any of these, it actually opens up a template that you can actually build out and request, you know, approval. So it’ll send me, okay, a list, and this flow is gonna connect your SharePoint, it’s gonna connect to your Office 365 license, it’s gonna connect to your notifications because when it wants to alert you every time that approval comes in. It’s gonna obviously go through your approval chain as well.

As well as it’s gonna send you an email when that’s coming out or if the email will be…the emails flow. And, of course, if I don’t need any permissions it should be good. Usually, it can ask you for a login or things like that. So if I go into this, again, more and more complex flows in that way. You could see, you know, here’s the file, or here’s the site address, I don’t have any right now. But let’s say our communication site is where it comes on… These are all teams that are created, whether it be on SharePoint or on Microsoft Teams, right?

So these are those kind of links that are being asked. Maybe my communication site is where we, for some reason, put all our approvals, right? And then within the library, maybe we want to put it in, you know, one of the documents, and we can put the message to, you know, with a message that’s gonna go to the manager and that way, like, “Hey, could you please approve this, etc., etc.?” Now within SharePoint, that’s on SharePoint still, that should show the file. Now, within SharePoint, what are the properties that we wanna fill? So for example, again, the site address is communication, the library that we wanna go into is the docs, and the entity field is gonna be an ID that we put in.

I don’t have an ID but basically, if you can figure out an ID, in this particular case, it should be able to do that. And then we have obviously no condition at this time. But you can add a condition in here to be able to say if it does this on your like, for example, that approval for amounts if it was anything over $20,000, make it go here, if it’s anything less than $20,000, approve it and put it over here, right? And you can add different roles and groups and make it equal too and so on, so forth. Now, in this particular case, this flow may not. I’m gonna show you another flow that actually will go through till the end, but this is a fairly comprehensive flow, as you can see. And there’s a few different approval processes that take place, a few different conditions that take place.

So for example, if that condition is met, yes, then send it to this email and, you know, put in this content. And if that approval is not, for example, okay, if the condition is gonna say, “No, it doesn’t meet the requirements that I put up,” then you put it in here. And then you can add more action. So if it’s a no, maybe the action is going to be reach out to that person via email and say, you know, please include this and this or whatever fields are missing, right? So these are some of the…this is a larger, much larger flow than I’m gonna show you today.

But this is an idea or example of how you can take those business processes from start to finish, add conditional logic to it, a business logic to it, and basically translate that into an action that gets taken place, right? And so if you look at, for example, templates, so there is a free connector so you can connect different data. I’m gonna leave this flow for now. Let’s go to connectors. You can actually connect, you know, different things, for example, Outlook or your OneDrive and so on so forth, as well as different data. So you can actually have entities that are coming in from PowerApps or other things like that. You could have custom connectors, right, so on and so forth.

And when you’ve built some solutions, you can actually have a solutions tab where you can actually work through this environment as well. That’s generally the few, you know, tabs that are here. We’ve got known solution. But if you want to create an environment, play with it, so you don’t, you know, ruin the rest of your business operations by just tweaking around with it, you can create solutions built to that. Now let’s go to those templates tab. I wanna show you some templated versions of…similar to what I showed you right now, of the flow where you really just need to put in a couple of entities and, you know, you basically get a button. So there’s a whole bunch of these templates here that you can utilize, right, and use, for example, trigger a flow with Power BI data.

So anytime there’s data that changes, maybe I wanna, you know, get an alert or, you know, create a task within Outlook, right? Or, you know, let’s, you know, email me a location for some reason, right? Any of these ones are generic, there’s a whole bunch more that you can use and it kinda keeps going. Let’s do…this one looks like fairly easy, block out my Office 365 calendar for an hour. So maybe you have a meeting coming up, or maybe you’re already in a meeting. And, you know, you wanna open up your calendar, send out another invite, you just wanna block out when you’re doing something, let’s block out that calendar for one hour.

Now, the reason why this is a little bit easier to make is because it’s really only, you know, affecting one, you know, calendars within Outlook. So it’s not gonna affect too many different triggers. And there’s for…you know, it’s a fairly easy flow to make. And with the amount of time we have, that’s probably a better thing. So there’s a manual trigger that comes into a flow, Create. It creates an event. So for example, the calendar that I want, this trigger to or this action to be is my own calendar, right? So it’s gonna affect my calendar, and the subject is, okay, sure, it’s blocked out for Microsoft Flow. I’m okay with that, right?

So Microsoft Flow maybe blocks all those calendars. That could be the subject of the meeting, or it could be a meeting, like let’s say it’s a meeting, like, for whoever. And then you wanna have a start and end timing here. Now, this is basically the time that it’s taken from now to another hour because I’ve said block it out for one hour. I can change this and add multiple more hours. There’s different content here that you can put in there as well if you need to. There’s some advanced options as well. So if you wanna have like different time zones, or other attendees that you want in that blocked hour, and so on, so forth.

Now, once you’ve built this trigger, you basically get a button out of it, right? Which is what this manual trigger means, is you basically get a button instead of you having to go in and do this stuff every time. You only have to do it once, which is now, and then once you save it, right, from now on to the next hour ahead. The only other time you’ll have to come back here is just to press that button and you’d get that hour booked off. Now I’ve saved that anyway. I wanna see if that actually is, you know, a pretty good flow or not. You can go to this flow checker. It looks like there’s a stethoscope here, right? So it checks if there were any errors. And it looks like there weren’t any warnings. No.

So if you’re building some more complex ones, this will point out any warnings or things that are basically broken or not working properly, okay? Then I can also test my flow. And I can say, “Okay, test it.” I just wanna see there’s no date, I know, okay, but I wanna perform a trigger test, just to make sure that that trigger is actually actioning something and let’s test it. Will it block it out? It’s gonna sign in to my Outlook. Okay, great. Sounds good. Continue that. And, yes, I wanna book it out for the next 60 minutes.

That’s what it’s asked me to do and run the flow. And now it says, “Your flow run successfully started. To monitor it, you can go to your Flow Runs Page.” And this basically will take you to My Flows and tell you if that flow is [inaudible 00:28:50]. Basically, you know, it was great. It ran successfully. I had a trigger. I created an event or an action from it, and within one second, right, I got something on my calendar. Now I could pull up my calendar here, right? If I pull up let’s say my Outlook, I could look at it in teams, right? So anyway, so let’s pull up my Outlook here and I go into my calendar. It should have booked out an hour. Oh, lots of things going on. It should have booked out… Here it is, right?

A calendar was blocked out. So if I go into that reminder, there you go. That was booked out from now. It looks like we’re almost done our time here as well to one more hour ahead of it. And it gives me a reminder, and I can do other things from within here. So it’s that easy to be able to create automatic flows, you can come back to your flows and see a whole bunch of different flows that have been created. You can play that one again, you can run it, and as soon as you run it, now that flow is… And, of course, I’m on an admin side, I’m on the back end, but you can basically press a button and basically get the entire process rather than you having to create a new event. Then go into the calendar and so on and so forth, and filling all those things out.

That’s it for our time today. We don’t have any, you know, much more to be able to address here. But basically, I want to be able to give you guys some contact information. So feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. We could take some at this time, or just reach out to me directly. And I can address those in helping you build your strategy for not only on Power Platform but also for your business. And if there’s anything else you have questions around licensing or things like that, feel free to reach out and we’ll go from there. Are there any questions?

Melissa: Thanks, Ziad. We don’t have any questions. We don’t have any questions at this time. So thanks for putting your contact info out there.

Ziad: Great. Thank you, everyone. Have a great wonderful day and stay safe and healthy out there.

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