Power Platform part 1: Power Automate

 

In this blogpost I will write about the simple and powerful tool called Power Automate which is one of the components in Microsoft Power Platform. My thinking is that we will cover all the different parts of Power Platform in upcoming blog posts in order to highlight the benefit that this functionality can bring to your organization, but let’s see if it is me or my colleagues that will continue with the rest of the parts.

I will start this post with writing a short explanation of what Power Platform is for those of you that has not utilized this functionality before. Microsoft Power platform consists of several different applications which utilizes the Dataverse (database) that is also connected to your Dynamics 365 system which makes it an extremely powerful and seamless tool to use.

Power Platform consists of 4 different low-code applications, which are:

  • Power Automate: Boost business productivity to get more done by giving everyone  the ability to automate organizational processes.
  • Power Apps: Turn ideas into organizational solutions by enabling everyone to build custom apps that solve business challenges.
  • Power BI: Make informed, confident business decisions by putting data-driven insights into everyone’s hands.
  • Power Virtual Agents: Easily build chatbots to engage conversationally with your customers and employees—no coding required.

I think that Power Automate is a good start to this blogpost series because it is a quite straight-forward tool to understand and use. As stated above, Microsoft’s own words for describing Power Automate is:

This means that Power Automate is a great tool to use in order to automate different processes. But what is it that makes this tool so great that I want to write a whole blogpost about it?

Simplicity

One of the major thresholds for learning anything new in life is how hard it is to learn it. If you need to spend a considerate amount of time to learn a new task, the risk is greater that you will focus your time on something else that you think gives greater benefit and is easier to learn, that’s just human nature. That is why one of the greatest things about Power Automate is that it is so easy and intuitive to use. Anyone who has worked with the old standard workflows in Dynamics knows that the interface is not the greatest and it takes some time to learn it. Power Automate is the complete opposite and even though you never worked with creating complex automatization of business processes, you will learn it in no time. It is a drag and drop interface that lets you build the flow with different components from start to end while maintaining a great overview of the flow at all times.

In order to show you this, I have attached a picture of a flow I built for one of our customers. This first picture shows it in its simplest form with all components collapsed. We have a trigger in the first step, fetching some information in the second step and applying a condition in the third step with an action after the condition is met. The flow was built because we needed to automatically send out an e-mail to a business unit within the company when an Opportunity was closed as won. The email needed to contain a button that automatically updated information back to Dynamics when it was clicked:

The second picture shows how it looks like if we expand all parts of it:

Integrations

In Power Automate, we have something called “Connectors”. It is basically integrations where you can connect your Power Automate Flow to another application/system. We mentioned previously that we have a seamless integration to your Dynamics 365 system through Dataverse, but that is just scratching on the surface when it comes to integrations. I googled the number of different connectors that Power Automate now supports, and the latest figure I found was from February 2020 where the number of connectors was over 300, with about 10 new connectors being added each month. This means that if you want to connect your flow to a system that is not under the Microsoft umbrella, there is a great chance that there already exists a standard connector for this. Also, if you are a developer, you can build you own connectors meaning that the possibilities for integrations are endless

Testing

If you are working with any form of IT-implementation, you know that testing new functionality rigorously is one of the most important steps in order to have a successful deploy. In Power Automate, we have a built in test tool that lets you test every step of your flow in order to make sure that it is working as intended. If any error occurs, you can get a detailed message regarding why the flow is failing and then adjust accordingly. This is not only a helpful tool when creating new flows, but also when debugging existing ones. If a user has experienced issues with an existing flow, you can select that users run and test your flow using the exact same input parameters. You can then go through each step of the flow and identify what the problem might be.

To summarize it, Power Automate is an extremely powerful, yet simple tool to use in order to automate your business processes to decrease manual and repetitive actions and decrease the risk of human error. You can connect it seamlessly to a vast number of systems that your organization uses or build custom connections and since it is a low-code application, you do not need to have any coding knowledge in order to create complex automated processes.

If you have an existing implementation of Dynamics 365 that you need to improve, or are looking into implementing Dynamics 365 from scratch, don´t hesitate to contact us at Sirocco for further information.

Jacob Söderdahl
Application consultant
jacob.soderdahl@sirocco.se