Microsoft Flow? How Can I use?
I know you’re busy and managing tasks can be a tedious job but there are tools in the market that can help you automate workflows without much hassle – one of them being the “Microsoft Flow”.
Microsoft Flow is a cloud-based service that makes it practical and simple for line-of-business users to build workflows that automate time-consuming business tasks and processes across applications and services.
In simple terms, “Flow” is used to create automated workflows between your favorite apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data.
“Microsoft Flow”, just like SharePoint, falls under the category of O365 apps and can be used extensively for managing tasks.
Microsoft flows can be created for Modern custom lists and document libraries in O365.
The Flows can be created with predefined templates which are used to trigger the action performed.
Using the predefined templates, we can directly trigger a workflow. We can create our workflows exactly like our SharePoint designer by adding conditions and actions.
Below are some of the predefined connectors and triggers to which the flow is to be applied.
“Microsoft Flow” by default comes in 50 flows. Depending on our necessities, we can request for the flows:
- We can connect Flow to any REST API that uses JSON.
- We can share the workflows we created with the co-workers or groups in an organization.
- We can disable/delete a Flow created if that is no longer required.
Can the “Flows” be used in SharePoint On-Premises?
Yes, we can use Flow to work with SharePoint on-premises by deploying the ‘Microsoft Data Gateway service’ to a server.
Uses of Microsoft Flow
- Using Flows, we can add/copy files to SharePoint when a file is added to One Drive or Dropbox.
- It can be used to send automatic emails or text messages when a new lead is added to the team/Organisation.
- It allows collecting data from external sources like Twitter, Yammer, Instagram, Facebook, GitHub, RSS on an action performed on the corresponding source and can be stored in SQL or in SharePoint.
- Integrates with various Microsoft services like power apps, Office 365 or Dynamic 365
- Flows are also used for the form approval process.
How is “Microsoft Flow” different from SharePoint Designer?
SharePoint designer is purely a SharePoint-specific tool.
- The Designer does not allow for an easy interface with other applications like Yammer, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
- The workflows in the designer are to be designed by the developers, whereas in “Flows” even the end user can create a workflow.
- For developing the workflows in the designer, we need to know the logic syntax, but in “Flows”, we can create a workflow using the predefined templates without any prior knowledge of the logic.
Limitation of Microsoft Flows
- The “Microsoft Flow” supports mobile app only for iOS and Android.
- Anything other than the email addresses ending with .gov and .mi is supported in “Microsoft Flow”.
- For creating custom REST APIs, it doesn’t have complete documentation.
- Templates are to be used as if they are designed. We cannot add or remove a step in between the default templates.
- Not all column types are supported to write back in SharePoint like person field.
- People picker field with multiple selections is not allowed. It will not allow sending emails to all the people in the people picker field allowing multiple selections, a null value is returned.
- We cannot use the content in Multiple Lines of Text field in email using “Flows” as it returns a null value.
- No way of capturing the data from approval emails like comments entered or who clicked approve in the email.
“Microsoft Flow” can be a great tool to automate tasks and ensure great working within teams. Share your inputs about “Microsoft Flow” in the comments’ section below.