Every month Lennert, one of our podcast hosts, uses Power Platform to build another interesting application. This time, he expanded one of his previous experiments for an event of his own team. The team-building app 'The Hunt', which was featured in the third episode (link blog), was given an extra secretive touch. By working with location recognition, the app could only be opened when his colleagues were present at the location of the event. This provided a pre-event teaser effect and an element of surprise at the beginning of the evening. For example, the app revealed with whom they would be sitting at the table that evening. The application was greatly appreciated by Lennert's colleagues!
Power Automate gives you more time
Microsoft Power Automate, included as standard in an Office 365 license, can herald the end of boring and repetitive work. This low-code automation solution makes it possible for tasks and processes to run automatically so that you no longer have to pay attention to them. More efficiency and higher productivity, who could say no to that?
As with most applications of the Microsoft Power Platform, this tool is easy to use. The low entry threshold makes it possible for people without programming knowledge to work with it. It also offers enough flexibility for the creativity of seasoned developers.
With the help of templates, you can set up workflows quickly and visually. You start by defining a trigger, the starting shot that sets the flow in motion. For example, creating a new item in a SharePoint list or tagging someone in Microsoft Teams. After the trigger, you determine which actions should follow. Those actions don't have to take place within the Microsoft environment. Because of the large range of connectors, you can also easily tap into all kinds of other applications such as Salesforce or Facebook.
Make your own life and that of your team easier
Think about the repetitive tasks you do every day or every week. These can be very small things that you don't even stop to think about, but they still take up some time and memory capacity that would be better spent on more valuable tasks. Power Automate is the perfect tool to boost your personal productivity, or that of your team, in just those scenarios. Do put some thought into it! Often, there are several steps in a process that can be automated.
Some nice use cases:
- Do you ever forget to turn on your out-of-office reply email? You can create a workflow that checks your calendar every day to see if you have any absences scheduled for the next day. If so, you can have a to-do item created so you don't forget, or you can have your OOO scheduled automatically.
- As manager, you don't like to lose track of your team members' birthdays. One way to keep track of these birthdays in an Excel file. Instead of opening this file once a week, you can use it as a source and let Power Automate send you reminders on the relevant days. If you have the Power Automate app installed, you will even receive a notification on your cell phone. Comes in handy on weekends!
- A database with recent CVs is important in a consulting context. To keep those CVs up-to-date, you can build a workflow that sends a notifications if a CV has not been updated for three months, for instance.
Automate business processes
Power Automate also offers significant benefits in a larger business context. The tool proves its added value in particular by digitalizing manual or paper-based business processes, and by automating processes in which several teams have to perform certain tasks. These scenarios often require more complex workflows with conditions and exceptions. Let's take an expense statement, for example, that needs to pass through several departments of an organization for approval. If the statement exceeds a certain amount, additional approvals are required, unless the expense is submitted by someone on the management team. Just perfect for Power Automate. In these kinds of processes, an API request often has to be put in place in order to link to another business application. This requires a bit more technical knowledge than you would expect with low-code.
Take it a step further with Robotic Process Automation
Power Automate Desktop and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) come into play when a flow contains actions that address an application for which no API or connector exists. This typically occurs when an outdated system needs to be involved in an automation. In this case, you have to build your own model to indicate how the process should run. You perform a lot of test runs to make the model stronger and smarter.
And you' re not on your own, by the way. The tool lets you take a screenshot while you go through the desired process. You click and fill in where necessary, and the tool distills the process from this itself.