Microsoft Power Automate is a cloud-based platform that helps automate business processes. It provides several components to help you automate workflows, manage data, and integrate systems. The main components in Power Automate are:
- Flows: A flow is a series of steps that automate repetitive tasks, like sending an email, copying data from one place to another, or updating records.
- Connectors: Connectors are pre-built integrations that help you connect to various services and data sources, such as SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, Dynamics 365, and more.
- Triggers: Triggers are events that initiate a flow. They can be manual or automatic and can be based on specific conditions, like a new email or a change in a data source.
- Actions: Actions are the steps that you want to perform in a flow. You can choose from a wide range of actions to perform operations like sending an email, creating a record, or updating data.
- Conditions: Conditions are logical statements that determine whether a specific action should be performed or not. You can use conditions to control the flow of your automation based on certain conditions.
- Variables: Variables are a way to store values that can be used throughout a flow. They allow you to pass values from one step to another and use them in conditions or actions.
- Scopes: Scopes allow you to group together related steps into a single unit, making it easier to manage and organize your flows.
Identify Flow Types
Microsoft Power Automate has three main flow types: cloud flows, desktop flows, and business process flows.
- Cloud Flows: These flows are designed to run in the cloud and are created and managed through the Power Automate portal. They are best suited for automating simple, repeatable tasks that don’t require user interaction.
- Desktop Flows: Desktop flows are designed to run on a desktop or laptop computer and require the Power Automate desktop client to be installed. They are best suited for automating tasks that require user interaction, such as sending emails or creating tasks on a to-do list.
- Business Process Flows: Business process flows are a type of model-driven flow that allows you to automate a specific business process. They are best suited for automating complex processes that involve multiple steps and the involvement of multiple users. Business process flows are created and managed through the Power Platform admin center.
Based on the trigger type and set of available actions flows can be classified as different types. The flow types are:
- Automated flow: Triggered by a specific event or data change, it performs a set of actions in response.
- Scheduled flow: Triggered by a specific time, it performs a set of actions on a recurring schedule.
- Button flow: Triggered by a manual trigger, it performs a set of actions when a user presses a button in Power Apps.
- Instant flow: Triggered by a manual trigger, it performs a set of actions when a user initiates the flow.
- Business process flow: Triggered by a change in a record, it guides users through a sequence of steps.
- UI flow: Triggered by a manual trigger, it automates manual tasks performed in legacy desktop applications or web browsers.
- API flow: Triggered by an API request, it performs a set of actions in response to a specific API request.
Use case for Flows
Microsoft Power Automate, formerly known as Microsoft Flow, has a wide range of use cases, including:
- Automating repetitive manual tasks such as data entry or updating records in different systems.
- Integrating different applications and services, such as SharePoint, OneDrive, and Dynamics 365.
- Sending email notifications and alerts based on specific triggers or events.
- Creating approval workflows for documents, expenses, or leave requests.
- Automating file or data transfer between different systems or applications.
Available flow templates are pre-built flows that can be used as-is or customized to meet specific needs. These templates provide a starting point and save time in creating flows. Some examples of available templates include:
- Copy files from one location to another.
- Create and send an approval email for a new item in a list.
- Automatically save email attachments to OneDrive.
- Send a daily email digest of new items in a list.
- Automatically save tweets that mention a specific hashtag to a SharePoint list.
These templates provide a quick and easy way to create flows and automate processes, and they can be used as-is or adapted to meet specific requirements.
How Power Automate uses Connector, Triggers, and Actions
Power Automate uses connectors to connect with other apps and services, such as Microsoft 365, Salesforce, and Twitter. Connectors provide both triggers and actions that can be used to automate tasks between different apps.
Triggers are events or conditions that start a flow. When a trigger condition is met, a flow is started and can execute one or more actions. For example, a new email in your inbox can be a trigger that starts a flow to send a push notification to your phone.
Actions are the individual steps or tasks that make up a flow. Each connector provides a set of actions that can be used to interact with the app or service. For example, actions in the Microsoft 365 Outlook connector can be used to send an email, create a calendar event, or get a list of emails from a specific folder.
Power Automate also allows users to create custom connectors to connect with custom APIs, web services, or other services that do not have a built-in connector. Custom connectors can be used to provide additional triggers and actions for a specific service or to simplify the process of working with an existing API.
Loops and conditions including switch, do until, and apply to each
In Power Automate, loops, and conditions are used to control the flow of a workflow.
- The “Switch” control is used to evaluate multiple conditions and execute the appropriate actions for each condition. It’s useful when you want to perform a different set of actions based on a single condition.
- The “Do Until” control is used to loop through a set of actions until a specified condition is met. It’s useful when you want to repeat a set of actions until a specific condition is satisfied.
- The “Apply to each” control is used to iterate over a collection of items and execute the same set of actions for each item. It’s useful when you want to perform a set of actions on each item in a collection.
These controls can be combined to create more complex workflows that perform a sequence of actions based on various conditions.
Expressions in Power Automate are a type of code that allows you to manipulate and work with data in different ways. They allow you to customize and extend the functionality of your flows by enabling you to create dynamic expressions that can be used to manipulate values, parse strings, calculate numbers, and more.
Expressions can be used in various parts of Power Automate, including actions, triggers, and conditions. They use a syntax that is similar to programming languages and can be written using functions, operators, and operands.
For example, you can use expressions to format dates, extract values from JSON objects, or calculate the difference between two dates. The expression language is designed to be simple and intuitive, and there are many resources available to help you learn how to use expressions in Power Automate.
Use case for approvals
Power Automate offers approval actions that enable users to automate the process of approving requests or documents, and thereby streamline their business processes.
Some of the use cases for approvals in Power Automate are:
- Request approvals for time off, travel, expenses, and other business processes, and get notified when the request is approved or rejected.
- Route documents or invoices for approval to specific people or groups, and set up reminders for overdue approvals.
- Use approvals to trigger follow-up actions, such as sending notifications, updating records, or creating new documents.
- Create custom approval workflows for your business processes, and tailor the approval criteria, routing rules, and notifications to your specific needs.
- Monitor and track the status of approvals in real-time, and generate reports and analytics to identify bottlenecks and optimize your workflows.
- Combine approvals with other actions, such as sending emails, updating spreadsheets, or creating tasks, to create end-to-end solutions for your business.
Overall, approvals in Power Automate offer a flexible and scalable way to automate your approval workflows and can help you save time, reduce errors, and increase efficiency.
Power Automate Desktop, Power Automate Mobile, and Power Automate Portal
Power Automate is a workflow automation platform that allows users to create automated workflows between different applications and services. There are several different Power Automate apps, including:
- Power Automate Desktop: A Windows desktop application that allows users to automate tasks on their local computer or across multiple applications and services.
- Power Automate Mobile: A mobile app that allows users to create and manage workflows on the go. Users can create new workflows, view and manage existing workflows, and receive notifications when a workflow is triggered.
- Power Automate Portal: A web portal that allows users to create and manage workflows for external users. This app is designed for businesses that need to automate workflows for external customers, partners, or vendors.
Each of these Power Automate apps has a different use case and target audience, but they all share the same underlying technology and functionality. Users can create workflows and automate tasks using a variety of triggers and actions and can customize their workflows using advanced features like loops, conditions, and expressions.