The term “automation” is often associated with advanced manufacturing, robotics, and industrial processes. Although automation is deep-rooted in mechanical applications, it has also found its way to the modern workplace. Task automation is now commonplace in offices, enabling organizations to save time and money by replacing human labour with autonomous software routines.
Automation plays a crucial role in workplace evolution and digital transformation. A report by McKinsey shows that when it comes to business processes, 60% of occupations could save 30% of their time with automation. The repetitive tasks that could be automated include generating sales leads, approving paperwork, and processing documents.
The growing demand for automation has ultimately led to the proliferation of sophisticated, AI-driven software applications and services capable of handling multiple complex tasks at once. But even so, Microsoft’s Power Automate (formally known as Microsoft Flow) remains the go-to workplace automation solution for many companies. Let’s find out what makes Power Automate so popular and, more importantly, what it can do for your organization.
What is Power Automate?
Power Automate is a cloud-based workflow engine that allows users to create automatic tasks across multiple digital applications and services. The tool can move data between Microsoft apps such as Outlook, Teams, Dynamics 365, and SharePoint. It also has connectors for over 400 third-party services and applications, including MailChimp, Twitter, Salesforce, and Gmail. Power Automate basically lets you interconnect your workplace apps in order to synchronize data, get notifications and alerts, and consolidate information from various sources.
Let’s look at an example of an automated multi-step flow. Instead of tediously checking and replying to emails, you can create a flow that connects to your inbox, writes replies, and forwards important emails to your phone via text message. The same flow can generate emailing lists based on the emails’ content and synchronize new contacts with Dynamic 365 or Salesforce.
How does Power Automate work?
Setting up Power Flows is pretty straightforward. Microsoft does all the heavy lifting, so you don’t even have to write any code to create a flow sequence. Workflows can range from simple two-step tasks to complex systems involving multiple apps. The easiest way to create a workflow is by using the available pre-built templates that cover all the common functions in a typical workplace setting. But you can also create automated flows from scratch within the Power Platform.
You can design any of these five types of flow depending on the use case:
Automated flows are the most common types of flow in Power Automate. These are triggered by a pre-defined event, such as an incoming email with a specific subject or from a particular sender. Event-triggered flows are mostly used to start approval processes, send notifications to the relevant users, and move new data between connected apps.
These are flows that you can run on a particular schedule defined from the seconds level to the day and date level. Schedule flows are great for handling automatic reminders and managing deadlines for time-sensitive tasks.
UI flow is a relatively new robotic process automation in Power Automate. It allows you to create macros that record and playback UI actions such as keystrokes, mouse clicks, and touch inputs. These work for desktop apps running on Windows and web apps running on Microsoft Edge, Chromium, or Google Chrome. This type of flow captures and automates repetitive tasks on basic applications.
Instant flows are manually triggered by user action, such as clicking on a flow button. Users can create workflow trigger buttons on the Power Automate app itself or call and execute flows via UI interactions in Power Apps. This type of flow is ideal for work processes involving several different user inputs or trigger tokens.
Business process flow
This type of flow allows you to provide a user experience that guides employees through a particular business process. Business process flows are specifically designed for use in Dataverse and model-driven apps.
Benefits of using Microsoft Power Automate
Automation relieves your workforce from manually handling menial, repetitive workplace tasks. It also simplifies data flow and resource access across various platforms and services. Power Automate essentially lets you do more while working less. When it comes to work efficiency, here’s what Power Automate can do for your organization.
Improve HR productivity and cut costs
As labour costs keep rising, many organizations are keen on trimming down their labour needs and overheads. Automation is a great way to shed labour costs and maximize workplace productivity at the same time. A surprisingly huge portion of paid job occupations in a data-centric work environment can be automated. Mindless computers can easily take over otherwise tedious tasks such as data organization, customer and user support, email and social media management, and performance checking.
Saving only 30 work minutes per worker every day will amount to a whopping 35 hours a week when scaled up to just ten employees. Remember, time saved is time earned. Plus, you can streamline your HR by removing redundancies and reassigning individuals to more important posts than mundane labour.
Unify basic apps into a collaborative system
Power Automate lets you interconnect in-house and third-party apps in a unique way that best suits your data network and flow of information. Instead of manually pushing data from one platform to another, Power Automate brings all these apps together into a unified collaborative system. For instance, documents can seamlessly move across mailboxes, Teams, SharePoint, and Power BI, creating a system that automatically disseminates and utilizes incoming information through the collective capabilities of various apps and services.
Minimize errors and risks
Since automation reduces human interference, it also eliminates the risks associated with human error. Humans are obviously prone to making careless and unintentional mistakes even on simple tasks such as forwarding mail. But you never have to worry about consistency errors, having set up automated flows correctly. Also, Power Automate is part of the Azure family, meaning it’s fully secured with Microsoft’s most powerful online protection solutions. Workflows developed on the Power Platform meet all the required data security compliance standards.
Get Power Automate today
Power Automate is a vital tool for streamlining virtual workplace interactions within and outside the Office 365 environment. Your organization can optimize its business process and reap more from its digital enterprise solutions by tying workflows with Power Automate.
Sign up for a 90-day free trial of Power Automate to sample its immense capabilities. Premium plans start at $19.20 CAD per user/month, but licence terms and prices vary depending on the features included and the organization’s size. Click here to learn more about licensing, billing, and pricing for the Microsoft Power Platform.
Power Automate is the platform for you if you’re looking to optimize efficiency and productivity across your virtual workplace. Our team of IT professionals can help you integrate Power Automate with your daily business processes to streamline workflows, cut costs, and save time. Contact Softlanding to learn more about Power Automate and other essential Microsoft solutions designed for the modern workplace.