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a software company plans to use power automate

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a software company plans to use power automate

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Workplace Automation with Power Automate: A Guide for Small Businesses

The day of a small business owner often starts before sunrise and stretches long after sunset. Whether managing employees, sourcing materials, defining or servicing new products, serving customers, or keeping up with a mountain of administrative work, their to-do list always seems to continue. Running a small business can be a Herculean task in today's competitive landscape. Financial constraints are often the first stumbling block. Every dollar counts, and there is a constant need to maximize the use of each penny. Wastage and inefficiencies, therefore, are luxuries that small businesses can ill afford.

Secondly, time management poses a significant challenge . With multiple responsibilities pulling the business owner in different directions, ensuring that the most pressing tasks get addressed effectively is a constant battle. Faced with a never-ending barrage of tasks, owners often wish for more hours in a day. Last but not least, there's the challenge of staffing . For many small businesses, 'all hands on deck' isn't just a saying; It's a daily reality. When the team is limited, ensuring consistent productivity becomes a task unto itself. Meeting customers' needs while ensuring the business is growing and evolving can feel like an impossible balancing act. Each of these challenges, individually and collectively, can significantly impact the success and sustainability of a small business. Wouldn't it be a game-changer if there was a way to tackle these challenges head-on, freeing up the time, resources, and people required to drive growth and innovation? The solution is closer than you may think. Read on to find out how easy-to-access technology might be the key to transforming how small businesses operate.

The Burden of Repetitive Tasks

Often, the tasks that seem the smallest can take up the most time . Think about your average workday. How much is consumed by checking emails, entering data, scheduling appointments, or generating reports? These repetitive tasks are an unavoidable part of running a business. Still, they also represent a significant drain on resources and human energy.

Repetitive tasks can be characterized by their predictability. They are usually simple, routine, and follow a strict sequence or pattern. That's precisely why they can be a burden. They demand attention and time better spent on tasks requiring creativity, strategic thinking, and human interaction. For a small business owner, every minute spent on these routine tasks is not spent on growing the business, innovating, or connecting with customers.

a software company plans to use power automate

Power Automate is a service provided by Microsoft that enables businesses to automate tasks and business processes. It's part of the Microsoft Power Platform, a suite of tools designed to help companies to analyze data, build solutions, automate processes, and create virtual agents.

The central idea behind Power Automate is simple yet transformative: automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks to free up your valuable time and resources . Whether it's routine data entry, generating reports, managing emails, or scheduling appointments, Power Automate can handle it all. It allows you and your team to focus on the tasks that need your human touch, which drive growth and innovation in your business.

What sets Power Automate apart is its user-friendly interface and the versatility of its features. Even if you're not a tech expert, you can quickly grasp how Power Automate works and start making it work for your business. And with a wide range of connectors, Power Automate can seamlessly integrate with the software and apps you already use in your business, like Outlook, Excel, SharePoint, and more.

Case Study: Small Businesses and Power Automate

To truly understand Power Automates' impact on a small business, let's look at some real-world examples.

Our first case is a local parts workshop that faced the challenge of managing its inventory and keeping track of customer orders. By implementing Power Automate, the workshop was able to automate these processes. The software now keeps track of inventory levels in real-time. It automatically generates reports that allow the owner to make informed decisions about reordering supplies.

Furthermore, it automates confirming customer orders, ensuring everything runs smoothly. As a result, the workshop has seen improved efficiency, reduced waste, and enhanced customer satisfaction.

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The second case is a small consulting firm burdened with scheduling appointments, tracking billable hours, and generating invoices.

With Power Automate, the firm was able to automate these tasks. Now, the tool integrates with the firm's calendar to schedule and manage appointments. 

It also tracks billable hours automatically and generates invoices at the end of each billing period.  Using Power Automate freed up valuable time for the consultants, increased the accuracy of their billing, and improved their cash flow.

Finally, consider the case of a retail store that had to manage a loyalty rewards program for its customers. Before Power Automate, managing the program was time-consuming and required manual data entry. 

However, after implementing Power Automate, the store was able to automate the process of updating customer reward points and sending out personalized offers. Power Automate made the process more efficient and improved customer engagement without there being need to hire a developer.

In each of these cases, Power Automate handled repetitive tasks that were previously managed manually. The results speak for themselves - improved efficiency, cost savings, increased accuracy, and the ability for business owners and their employees to focus on what they do best.

By using Power Automate, these small businesses could transform their operations and achieve a new level of success. This could be the future for your business as well.

Implementation of Power Automate for Small Businesses

You've heard examples of how other small businesses have used Power Automate to improve efficiency and save time. To explore how you can bring these benefits to your own business, here's your guide to get you started with Power Automate:

  • Define Your Needs : Before diving into Power Automate, it's important to identify the repetitive tasks that are eating up your time. Start by documenting your daily processes, noting which ones are repetitive and time-consuming.
  • Explore Power Automate : Visit the Power Automate website and familiarize yourself with its features. The Collab365 Academy offers various resources, including how-to videos, a quick start challenge for beginners and lots of articles and use cases to help you understand how to use the platform.
  • Choose the Right Plan : Power Automate offers different plans tailored to various business needs. Choose the one that aligns with your business requirements and budget. You can get a free Microsoft 365 licence to try it (and other Power Platform tools) out for Free. You can also invest into the Microsoft 365 tooling for as little as $5 per month with a Business Basics Licence . 
  • Build and Learn about your First Flow : 'Flows' are the backbone of Power Automate. They define the automation process from start to finish. Begin by creating a simple flow for a task you want to automate. Power Automate provides templates for common tasks, which can be a helpful starting point. They work generally within a few clicks of a mouse and with connection to the Microsoft 365 account you have. 
  • Use it, Test it and Optimize : After creating your flow, test it to ensure it works as expected. Over time, you can refine and optimize your flows to better suit your business processes.
  • Expand It and Evolve : Once you are comfortable with Power Automate, start to automate more complex tasks and processes. The platform is versatile and scalable, growing with your business.

Remember, implementing Power Automate is not just about picking up skills and automating tasks; it's about learning how the tool can work for you. Solving YOUR specific problems can and ultimately transforming the way your business operates. 

Our  BLUE  model (Build it, Learn It, Use It, Enhance It) underpins all of the training at the  Collab365 Academy and provides tangible examples you can work through to solve real world problems from your business.

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All training involves a learning curve, so be patient and persistent. Use the available resources at the Academy and more widely, and don't hesitate to seek help if needed. We have a team of coaches at the Academy willing to help.

We also have over 8000 members who share a desire to use these tools in the same way. So we recommend you take time to interact and ask questions in the Academy Forum. It will boost your learning. 

In the end, the time and effort invested in learning and implementing Power Automate will pay off in the form of saved time, reduced costs, and a more efficient business operation.

Overcoming Concerns about Automation

Embracing automation can bring with it a set of concerns. One of the most common fears is job loss due to automation.

As a small business owner, you value your employees and their contributions to your business, and the last thing you want is to put their jobs at risk. However, it's essential to understand that automation, particularly with a tool like Power Automate, is not about replacing human workers but enhancing their productivity and removing daily waste, which means more fulfilled and focused people in your business.

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With Power Automate, routine, time-consuming tasks are automated, freeing your employees to focus on tasks requiring human judgment, creativity, and personal interaction. This means your employees can contribute more effectively to your business, increasing growth and success.

Training and upskilling your employees to work in an environment with automated processes is another crucial factor. By learning to work with Power Automate, your employees can improve their skills and increase their value to your business and the broader job market. Remember, the goal is to work with technology, not against it.

Finally, understanding the role of employees in an automated environment is key. Even with automation, people are essential in maintaining and improving business operations. They bring unique insights that can help optimize computerized processes. They can oversee processes to ensure everything is running smoothly.

In short, automation should be seen as a tool to improve your business, not as a threat. By embracing it and preparing people in your business for it, you can maximize its benefits while minimising potential drawbacks.

Actionable Steps to Start Your Automation Journey

Interested in the possibilities that Power Automate offers? Here are three actionable steps to kickstart your automation journey:

  • Identify One Repetitive Task : Look at your daily operations and choose one task that is repetitive and time-consuming. This task should be something that doesn't require critical thinking or creativity, such as data entry, scheduling, or generating reports.
  • Explore Power Automate : Get a Microsoft 365 Licence (or a free trial) and head to make.powerautomate.com .  Familiarize yourself with the features and functionalities of Power Automate. Start by looking through the Templates to create a 'flow' for the task you identified earlier. Use these templates gives a helping hand to help you get started.
  • Dive Into Collab365 Academy : Collab365 Academy is a treasure trove of information and resources on Power Automate. You'll find in-depth tutorials, challenges, live sessions, and a workshop designed specifically for beginners (plus ones for more advanced makers). The beginners workshop will guide you through the process of automating your first task and provide you with the knowledge and skills to further explore Power Automate for your business.

Remember, the goal of this first experiment is not just to automate a task but to start changing the way you approach repetitive tasks in your business. As you get more comfortable with Power Automate, you can start automating more complex tasks and processes, saving you even more time and resources.

Sound interesting? Then it's time to embrace the power of automation and take your small business to new heights!

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Using Microsoft Power Automate for Project Management Automation

Shubhangi Pandey

By: Shubhangi Pandey | Published on: Apr 17, 2023 | Categories: BrightWork 365 , Microsoft 365 , Workflows | 0 comments

Project management automation, the use of software to complete tasks with little human input, can transform project processes (we recommend Power Automate for project management because it is built right into the Microsoft 365 platform).

Think about how much time you spend answering emails, finding information, remembering to remind your team about upcoming tasks!

Now, imagine how your day would like if these tasks were running in the background with little to no input from you.

Sounds good?

Keep reading to learn more about a no-code automation solution that anyone can use: Microsoft Power Automate.

Jump to a section

  • What is Project Management Automation
  • Why Use Project Management Automation
  • What is Microsoft Power Automate

Power Automate: Approval Workflows

Power automate: document management.

  • Power Automate: Reporting
  • Power Automate: Communication

Power Automate: Notifications

Power automate: productivity, manage project approvals with microsoft power automate.

Streamline the new project pipleline with Microsoft Power Automate and BrightWork 365.

a software company plans to use power automate

What Is Project Management Automation?

Project management automation refers to the use of software tools and technologies to streamline project management processes, reduce manual work, and improve overall efficiency.

This involves automating routine tasks such as scheduling, task assignment and notifications, resource allocation, and communication, among others.

Automated project management can be achieved using various software tools and platforms that automate different aspects of project management, including project planning, budgeting, time tracking, reporting, and risk management.

These tools can help project managers to manage projects more effectively, reduce the risk of errors and delays, and improve overall project outcomes.

One key aspect of automated project management is the use of project management software , which provides a centralized platform for managing all aspects of a project.

It also involves the use of other technologies such as workflow automation, which can help to streamline routine processes such as approvals and notifications, freeing up time for more strategic work.

Why Use Project Management Automation?

Improved efficiency: Approvals, task reminders, tracking deadlines, vacation requests, purchase orders. There are multiple project processes you can easily automate.  This can free up time for more strategic and value-added activities, improving overall efficiency.

Increased accuracy: Automation is suited to well-documented processes, helping reduce errors and rework in project management processes, providing more accurate data and better project outcomes.

Better collaboration: Automation tools can help facilitate communication and collaboration among team members, stakeholders, and project sponsors, improving overall project performance. As teams work remotely, automating project processes will help you to track work and improve communication without adding more administration work.

Real-time tracking: Automation can enable real-time tracking of project progress, providing greater visibility into project status, milestones, and potential risks.

Cost savings: Automation can reduce costs associated with manual labor, such as data entry and administrative tasks, improving project profitability.

Improved quality: Automation can help enforce quality control standards, such as ensuring that all necessary reviews and approvals are obtained before moving forward with a project.

Scalability: Automation tools can help manage larger and more complex projects, enabling project managers to handle greater volumes of work with greater ease.

Integration: Automation is also ideal for teams using multiple tools to manage their work. With the right processes, you can pull information together from different sources to create a single source of truth. This way, your team can use the tools they prefer whilst you maintain visibility and control over progress.

Automation makes it easy to keep tasks on track, manage documents, and ensure your day runs as smoothly as possible. 

For the rest of this articles we’ll focus on how and why you can use Microsoft Power Automate for project management.

What is Microsoft Power Automate?

Microsoft Power Automate (formerly known as Microsoft Flow) is a cloud-based service that enables users to create automated workflows between different applications and services.

With Power Automate, users can automate repetitive tasks and streamline workflows, without requiring any coding experience.

Power Automate integrates with over 400 different applications and services , including Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint, Dynamics 365, Salesforce, and many others. This makes it easy to connect and automate different tools and services that are commonly used in business workflows.

Using Power Automate, users can create workflows that automate tasks such as data collection and entry, approval routing, email and notification automation, and data synchronization.

Workflows can be triggered by events, such as receiving an email or updating a record in a database, and can be configured to take different actions based on specific conditions.

Power Automate provides a visual interface for building workflows, using a drag-and-drop approach that allows users to easily connect different applications and services.

The platform also provides templates and pre-built connectors for common tasks, making it easy to get started with automation.

Microsoft Power Automate Project Management Automation Examples

There are many ways to use Microsoft Power Automate for project management, here are a few examples:

Use to: Manage approvals for documents, forms, travel, vacation requests, and more.

Power-Automate-Project-Management-Automation-Approvals

Throughout your project, you’ll need to get approval from stakeholders or other departments, such as finance, to move work forward.

A manual approach to approvals – and reminders – is very inefficient.

Automating approvals combines human input with background workflows to ensure you get what you need quickly.

Power Automate supports five types of approvals and custom approvals:

  • Single : The approver can respond via email, Power Automate, or the mobile app.
  • Sequential: Pre-approval is required before the final approver can agree. For instance, a purchase order above a certain amount may need pre-approval from your finance team before stakeholder approval.
  • Parallel : Multiple people are required to give approval and approval is independent of other approvers.
  • Everyone : All assigned approvers have to agree but any approver can reject the request.
  • Add attachments to approval requests.

To deploy an approval flow, simply search for an approval template or create a custom flow.

Approvals are tracked in the ‘Action Items’ area. Here, you’ll find approvals created by you or shared with you, and the history of your approval flows.

Use to: Store documents in a central location and track the creation of new files.

Power-Automate-Project-Management-Automation-Document-Templates

Storing documents in a central place is key to collaboration, especially for remote project teams.

However, not everyone will remember to use your document library!

Using Power Automate templates, you can easily:

  • Move files shared via email attachment to OneDrive or SharePoint.
  • Move files between SharePoint libraries or within OneDrive (accounts and folders).
  • Copy new files from your computer to SharePoint.
  • Sync files from Google Drive or Dropbox.

This way, you’ll always know where to find the files.

On large projects, it’s easy to lose track of new files or changes to existing files. Use templates to automatically track the creation of new files or to trigger an approval workflow for new items.

Power Automate: Power BI

Use to: Create and share project reports.

Microsoft-Power-Automate-Project-Management-Automation-Power-BI

Power BI and Power Automate are part of the Power Platform from Microsoft.

Power BI is a business intelligence tool used to transform data from various sources into interactive reports and dashboards.

As covered previously, project managers can use Power BI to report on the timeline, ongoing tasks, and late items.

Power BI also generates powerful portfolio reports,  giving senior executives real-time visibility into risks, resources, and timelines.

Power Automate is often used to refresh the datasets behind Power BI reports and to send alerts if a data threshold is exceeded.

In terms of projects, you can combine Power Automate and Power BI to:

  • Update reports if a SharePoint file is updated.
  • Create and share reports via OneDrive or email.
  • Create a task from a Power BI report.

For more ideas and uses, see the Microsoft Power BI Community .

Power Automate: Microsoft Teams

Use to: Manage flows and processes directly in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft-Power-Automate-Project-Management-Automation-Microsoft-Teams

Microsoft Power Automate is available as an app within Microsoft Teams. From here, you can create and manage your flows without needing to switch between multiple apps.

Microsoft Power Automate also includes templates for Microsoft Teams, including:

  • Post a welcome message when a new team member joins the Team.
  • Schedule a meeting with a message sender.
  • Send a meeting reminder to Microsoft Teams during weekdays.

Use to: Manage email alerts, reminders, and notifications

Power Automate can be used to automate project notifications, such as email reminders for upcoming deadlines or alerts for critical project updates.

For example, you could create a workflow that automatically:

  • sends an email to team members when a task is overdue, ensuring that everyone is aware of the potential impact on project timelines.
  • assigns and alerts new tasks to team members when they are added to a project plan, to ensure team members are aware of the new task and any deadlines associated with it.
  • alerts the appropriate team member that a document is awaiting approval or that a document has been approved.
  • send a new project request for review and approval.

Use to: Manage your time and stay on top of your to-do list.

Microsoft-Power-Automate-Project-Management-Automation-Productivity-Templates

There are numerous ways to use Power Automate to reduce your daily ‘busywork’ and create more time to spend with your team.

You’ll find templates under ‘Productivity’, ‘Notifications’, and ‘Events and Calendar’, including options to:

  • Keep track of project tasks in Planner with daily emails and notifications.
  • Get a daily email of upcoming meetings.
  • Manage your calendar with automated time-blocking.
  • Create a OneNote page for meeting to record notes and minutes.
  • Get a push notification when you receive an email from a manager.
  • Copy important emails to OneNote.

Project management automation of repetitive tasks can save time, increase productivity, and improve project outcomes.

With Power Automate project management templates, you’ll have more time to complete your work and help your project team.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Image credit 

Shubhangi Pandey

Shubhangi Pandey

Shubhangi is a product marketing enthusiast, who enjoys testing and sharing the BrightWork 365 project portfolio management solution capabilities with Microsoft 365 users. You can see her take on the experience of the template-driven BrightWork 365 solution, its unique project management success approach, and other personalized services across the site and social channels. Beyond BrightWork, Shubhangi loves to hunt for the newest Chai Latte-serving café, where she can read and write for hours.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Microsoft Power Automate (2024)

  • March 9, 2023

a software company plans to use power automate

In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven world, it’s crucial to be as efficient as possible to keep up with the demands of work and life.

Microsoft Power Automate , previously known as Microsoft Flow, is a powerful cloud-based service created by Microsoft that provides a solution for automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, streamlining workflows, improving productivity and freeing up time for more important activities.

If you’re new to Power Automate, this beginner’s guide will provide you with a comprehensive introduction to the platform and its features.

We’ll be covering some common use-cases of the Power Automate platform, types of flow, the basics of creating flows, triggering events, and how you can integrate it with other common day-to-day applications and services, drawbacks, and more.

By the end of this blog post, you’ll have the knowledge and skills you need to kick-start your Power Automate journey and elevate your productivity to new heights.

What is Microsoft Power Automate?

Microsoft Power Automate (previously known as Microsoft Flow) is a cloud-based automation and workflow platform that enables users to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, integrate with other third-party applications and services, streamline business processes, and connect to various data sources.

It simplifies your daily routine by reducing the number of manual tasks you have to perform again and again.

Power Automate is a no-code or low-code platform, meaning you don’t need to write any code to automate your processes and workflows. With its visual, drag-and-drop interface, Power Automate makes it easy for anyone, regardless of technical ability, to create custom workflows, known as flows, that can be triggered by events, scheduled, or manually initiated.

Power Automate leverages connectors to interconnect applications and facilitates communication and task execution. With a vast collection of over 900 connectors and more , and with the list constantly expanding, you have the flexibility to integrate with a diverse range of popular tools and services that you will be using in your day-to-day lives.

It is part of the Microsoft Power Platform and works seamlessly with other Microsoft products such as SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, Power BI, and Dynamics 365 and is available to all users who hold an Office 365 license.

It is available on desktop and you can also download and use the Power Automate mobile app for Android, iOS, or Windows Phone.

With its wide range of capabilities, Power Automate can help organizations increase efficiency, reduce errors, and improve collaboration.

What are some common use-cases of Power Automate?

Microsoft Power Automate has a wide range of use cases and can be applied to many different industries and scenarios. Some common examples include:

Automating repetitive tasks

Power Automate streamlines everyday tasks by automating repetitive processes, freeing up time and increasing efficiency.

For example, tasks such as sending emails, copying and pasting data, updating data in Excel, uploading attachments in OneDrive, automating data entry, and more can be done effortlessly.

Streamlining workflows and processes

Power Automate optimizes and simplifies workflows and processes by providing seamless integration and automation capabilities, resulting in increased productivity and efficiency.

For example, tasks such as approvals, project management, document management, and more.

Sending notifications and alerts

Power Automate facilitates timely communication by sending automated notifications and alerts, ensuring important information is never missed or overlooked.

For example, tasks such as customer service automation, reminders, updates, escalations, tracking brand’s social media mentions, and much more.

Synchronizing data between different systems

Power Automate can also be used to synchronize files between different applications. It eliminates manual data entry and ensures data accuracy by seamlessly synchronizing data between different systems and applications, saving time and reducing the risk of errors.

For example, when a new customer signs up for your product, create a record in your CRM and send them a welcome email.

Automating HR processes

Power Automate can streamline HR processes by automating tasks such as onboarding, benefits enrollment, time off requests, and performance evaluations, increasing efficiency and improving the employee experience.

For example, setting up a flow to automatically send an email to new hires with all the necessary onboarding information and documents, reducing the manual effort required by HR staff and facilitating a wonderful onboarding experience for new employees.

By leveraging Power Automate workflows, businesses can save time, reduce errors, and improve productivity across various areas of their operations.

Which industries can benefit by using Power Automate?

Power Automate is a tool that can be used by businesses of all sizes and industries. Let’s explore which industries can benefit the most from using Power Automate.

Power Automate can revolutionize the Healthcare industry by automating tasks such as patient scheduling, appointment reminders, billing, lab result notifications, patient record updates, medication reminders, and more enhancing the quality of patient care and improving overall operational efficiency.

It can transform the Education industry by automating administrative tasks such as class schedules, grading, and student attendance tracking, freeing up time for teachers and improving the student experience.

Power Automate can enhance the Finance industry by automating tasks such as invoicing, payment processing, financial reporting, and expense reporting, streamlining financial operations and increasing efficiency. It can also be used to integrate different systems, such as accounting systems and billing systems.

Power Automate can be used to automate various processes, such as software testing, deployment, and incident management. It can also be used to integrate different systems, such as help desk systems and project management tools. This can help to streamline the IT process, making it a valuable tool for the technology industry.

The retail industry can greatly benefit from using Power Automate. Power Automate can be used to automate various processes, such as inventory management, order fulfillment, and customer service. It can also be used to integrate different systems, such as point of sale (POS) systems and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This can help to streamline the retail process, reduce errors, and increase efficiency.

Manufacturing

It has the potential to boost the productivity of the manufacturing industry in several ways, including inventory management, production scheduling, and quality control. By automating these tasks, it can improve supply chain management and provide real-time updates based on production data, ultimately leading to increased efficiency and cost savings.

Power Automate can be used to automate various processes, such as email marketing campaigns, lead management, and social media management. It can also be used to integrate different systems, such as marketing automation tools and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This can help to streamline the marketing process, reduce errors, and increase efficiency.

Microsoft Power Automate can also help in improving efficiency in areas such as budget management, procurement, and citizen services. For example, Power Automate can be used to automate the process of citizen service requests, allowing for faster response times and improved citizen satisfaction.

Power Automate is a versatile tool that can be used by businesses across various industries to automate their processes, integrate systems, reduce errors, and increase efficiency. These are just some of the industries that can benefit from using Power Automate.

Discover various real-world examples shared by Microsoft on this link . Enjoy browsing through these case studies to learn how Power Automate is making a difference for businesses all over the world.

How does Microsoft Power Automate Work?

Microsoft Power Automate simplifies processes and tasks by generating automated workflows, called flows, that enhance operational efficiency.

Users can easily create workflows through a highly visual and user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. These workflows can then be triggered by specific events or conditions.

Power Automate operates on the principle of triggers and actions.

A trigger initiates a workflow, for instance, receiving an email in your Outlook account. An action is the subsequent step that takes place once the trigger has been activated, like posting the Outlook message on Microsoft Teams or Slack.

Workflows can consist of one or more actions. Users have the option to either create a new flow from scratch or choose from pre-existing templates.

What are the Power Automate Flow Types?

Microsoft Power Automate provides three types of flows based on how the flow is created. They are Cloud Flows, Desktop Flows, and Business Process Flows.

three types of flow in power automate

Cloud Flows

Cloud Flows are created when you want your automation function to be triggered either automatically, instantly, or via a schedule. Under Cloud flows, it is possible to create three different types of flows.

Automated Cloud Flows

With Automated Cloud Flows, you can create an automation triggered by any specific event defined by the user.

For example, when a new email is received in your Outlook inbox, any attachments that come with it could automatically be downloaded and saved to a specified folder in your OneDrive account, thereby removing the need for you to manually download and save each attachment.

automated cloud flow in power automate

Instant Cloud Flows

With Instant Cloud Flows, you can start an automation with a click of a button. These flows can be triggered manually from either a mobile device or computer, allowing for convenient automation when required.

For instance, you could use Instant Cloud flows to send a reminder to your sales team regarding an important prospect’s trial that is due to end soon.

Instant cloud flow in Power Automate

Scheduled Cloud Flows

With Scheduled Cloud Flows, you can create an automation that runs upon a schedule. These flows run on a recurring schedule, such as daily, weekly, or monthly.

For example, daily or weekly upload of documents to SharePoint or a simple flow that sends a daily summary email to the team with the key highlights and updates. 

Scheduled cloud flow in Power Automate

Desktop Flows

Desktop Flows in Power Automate are a type of flow that runs on a user’s local computer instead of in the cloud.

These flows allow users to automate tasks and processes that are performed on the desktop, such as moving files, opening and closing applications, or sending emails with the help of Microsoft Power Automate for Desktop.

Desktop flows expand the robotic process automation (RPA) functionality within Power Automate and provide the ability to automate all repetitive desktop-based processes.

Desktop flow in Power Automate

Business Process Flows

Business Process Flows in Power Automate are a series of steps that automate a business process, reducing manual labor and errors, and increasing efficiency and consistency.

These flows automate business processes, such as customer onboarding, sales process, or purchase order approval.

How to create a Power Automate Flow?

In Microsoft Power automate, there are three methods to launch a flow:

1. Start from a blank.

2. Use an existing template.

3. Pick a connector.

In the sections below, we will provide a detailed explanation of how to create a flow using a few examples.

Creating a Cloud Flow from scratch

1. Sign into Power Automate.

2. Go to the ‘Create’ tab and select ‘Automated cloud flow’ option from blank.

automated cloud flow option from blank

3. Provide a name for the flow in the ‘Add a name or we’ll generate one field’.

4. Type Gmail in the ‘Search all triggers’ field.

5. Choose Gmail – When a new email arrives.

choosing gmail as trigger in power automate

6. Click on the ‘Create’ button at the bottom of the screen.

7. If you haven’t already connected your Gmail account with Power Automate, select Sign into Gmail, and then enter your credentials.

Specify your action

1. Select New step.

selecting new step for an action to happen

2. In the box that shows different Search connectors and actions, choose the one you’re looking for.

For this example, we’re looking to integrate Gmail and Google Drive so that each time an email arrives in your Gmail inbox, the attachments will automatically be saved to a folder in your Google Drive.

3. Select ‘Google Drive’ as the connector, and if prompted, choose the ‘Sign in to Google Drive’ option and enter your login credentials.

4. In the ‘Actions’ tab, choose the ‘Create file’ option.

creating attachments in Google Drive

5. Provide the necessary details such as ‘Folder path’, ‘File name’, and ‘File content’. You can also make use of the dynamic content for the email body, which can include the sender’s email, email subject line, and other customizable content to suit your requirements.

google drive and gmail integration in power automate

6. After doing the required steps, click on the ‘Save’ button to save the automation.

action-step-for-the-power-automate-integration

7. On the top bar, click Flow Checker to check for any errors or warnings. If there are none, proceed to the ‘Test’ option and send a test email to your Gmail address to see if the automation is working correctly.

8. To monitor the progress of your flow, go to “My Flows” and choose the flow you created. At the bottom, there will be a tab displaying the 28-day run history. If the status is marked as “succeeded,” then your flow has been working without any errors.

tracking flow status in power automate

In Microsoft Power Automate, there is a feature called ‘Peek code’ that allows you to view and edit the underlying code or JSON representation of an action or flow in Power Automate.

When you use the ‘Peek code’ option, you can see the code that Power Automate is generating behind the scenes to automate your workflow.

This can be helpful if you want to make more advanced customizations to your flows, or if you want to learn more about how Power Automate works.

However, note that making changes to the code using ‘Peek code’ can be risky and should be done with caution, as any changes made to the code could potentially break the flow. 

It is recommended that you have a good understanding of JSON and the structure of Power Automate flows before attempting to make changes using ‘Peek code’. It’s advisable to have a developer’s assistance when you use this option.

peek code feature in power automate

Creating a Cloud Flow from existing templates

Microsoft Power Automate has a vast collection of templates.

For this example, we’ll create a flow using pre-existing templates such that whenever an email comes to your Outlook account, you will receive a notification in your Microsoft Teams ‘it-support’ channel.

1. Sign into Power Automate, and then select Templates from the left-side navigation menu.

power automate templates

2.In the templates section, search for all available Outlook templates in Power Automate by entering ‘Outlook’ in the search box. Alternatively, you can search for templates related to both Outlook and Microsoft Teams by entering ‘Outlook Microsoft Teams’ in the search box.

outlook templates in power automate

3. If you haven’t already connected your Teams and Outlook account with Power Automate, you should sign into them, and then enter your credentials. Connect your accounts, and when two green ticks appear in front of the connectors, you can proceed to ‘Create Flow’.

connecting outlook and teams connector

4. Select continue.

5. In the next screen, you’ll see the flow details on the screen. Click on the edit option to see the workflow.

6. Here, you can enter important information such as the Team ID, Channel information, and Message.

flow steps between Outlook and Teams

7. After doing all the required steps for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ conditions, click on the ‘Save’ button to save the automation.

Once the flow is created, you can test it to ensure that it is functioning correctly.

8. On the top bar, click Flow Checker to check for any errors or warnings. If there are none, proceed to the ‘Test’ option and see if the automation is working correctly.

Creating a Cloud Flow using Desk365 Connector

You can also create a cloud flow using a connector. For this example, we will see how to use the Desk365 connector and how to establish automated workflows connecting Desk365 with other third-party applications such as Asana.

1. Sign into Power Automate, and then select Connectors from the left-side navigation menu.

choosing connectors option in Power Automate

2. Go to the ‘Data’ menu and select the ‘Connections’ tab from the menu to view your existing connections or create a new one. If you haven’t yet connected the Desk365 connector, you can establish the connection by providing your API Key and clicking on the ‘Create’ button.

enter Desk365 api key

Once the connection is created, you will see it listed under the ‘Connections’ tab in Power Automate.

3. Navigate to the ‘Connectors’ tab and enter ‘Desk365’ in the search box and choose the Desk365 connector from the search results.

searching for Desk365 connector in the connectors search box

For this example, we’re going to add a task in Asana when a ticket is updated in Desk365. When a ticket status is changed to ‘Move to Asana’ in Desk365, a task gets added in Asana with the ticket details.

4. Select ‘When a ticket is updated’ trigger.

selecting 'when a ticket is updated' trigger in Desk365

5. Enter ‘Move to Asana’ in the Status field of the trigger.

using move to asana as the status in ticket is updated trigger condition

6. Click on ‘+ New Step’.

7. Enter Asana in the Search connectors and actions box.

8. Select ‘Create Task (V2)’ action.

choosing create a task in Asana as the action step

If you haven’t already connected to your Asana account, you should sign into them, and then enter your credentials.

9. Enter your workspace ID and project ID.

10. Place the cursor in the ‘Task name’ field and select ‘Subject’ from the dynamic content and type ‘{{Desk365-‘ and then select ‘Ticket Number’ and type ‘}}’. Similarly, place the cursor in the description field and select ‘Description Text’ from the dynamic content.

adding required details for a task to get created in Asana

11. Again, click on ‘New Step’ and enter Desk365 in the Search connectors and actions box.

12. Select ‘Update a ticket’ action. Place the cursor in the ‘Ticket Number’ field and select Ticket Number from the suggestions displayed.

13. Place the cursor in the ‘Status’ field and select ‘Moved to Asana’ from the dropdown (You need to create another status like ‘Moved to Asana’ by going to Settings > Admin > Ticket Fields in Desk365).

update ticket in Desk365 once a task gets created in Asana

15. Click on the ‘Save’ button.

That’s it. Whenever a ticket is updated and status is marked as ‘Move to Asana’ in the ticket, a task gets created in Asana with the required details provided by the user.

Sign up for a 21-day free trial of Microsoft Teams Ticketing System and test out the Desk365 connector by creating your own cloud flows.

Who can use Microsoft Power Automate?

Power Automate is a tool that can be utilized by anyone, regardless of coding skills, to automate repetitive and rule-based tasks that were previously done manually. This means that both coders and non-coders can benefit from its capabilities to automate tasks, integrate data, and streamline business processes.

Microsoft Power Automate is designed for a wide range of users, including:

Business users

Power Automate provides an intuitive and user-friendly interface that makes it easy for business users to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as data transfer, email and message communication, document generation, and more. They can create workflows to streamline business processes and increase efficiency.

IT professionals

Power Automate provides IT professionals with a way to automate tasks such as provisioning users, managing SharePoint permissions, monitoring system alerts, integrating applications, and more, making it a useful tool for managing and maintaining the technology infrastructure of an organization.

Developers can use Power Automate to create custom workflows that integrate with various applications and services. They can use the Power Automate API to automate tasks such as creating new users in Active Directory, managing SharePoint lists, or triggering workflows based on custom events.

Power Automate can significantly enhance team productivity by automating time-consuming and repetitive tasks, freeing up team members to focus on more high-value work. Moreover, it can improve communication and collaboration among team members by providing real-time updates, notifications, and alerts, enabling team members to stay on top of their tasks and work together more seamlessly.

Freelancers

Freelancers often have to perform repetitive tasks, such as sending follow-up emails or invoices, which can be automated using Power Automate. It can integrate with a wide range of tools and services, such as Office 365, Trello, Asana, Dropbox etc. enabling freelancers to automate tasks across multiple platforms which helps freelancers save time and increase their productivity.

Power Automate is designed to be accessible to a wide range of users, regardless of technical proficiency, making it a versatile tool for organizations looking to automate their operations.

What are some drawbacks of using Microsoft Power Automate?

While Microsoft Power Automate offers many benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider:

While Microsoft Power Automate provides a free plan, it has limited features, and users may need to upgrade to a paid plan to access premium features. The cost of the premium plan can be high for small businesses, and it may not be worth the investment if the business does not have a high volume of workflows.

Integration limitations

While Power Automate integrates with hundreds of Microsoft and third-party services, there may be limitations in terms of the data and functionality that can be integrated with certain systems.

Complex workflows

For more complex workflows, Power Automate may require a significant amount of time and effort to set up and maintain. Users may find it challenging to create workflows that involve multiple conditional statements or complex data manipulation. In such cases, they may require the assistance of a coding expert to develop more sophisticated workflows.

Dependence on external systems

Microsoft Power Automate is dependent on external services and applications to create workflows. If any of these services are unavailable or experience downtime, it may disrupt the workflow. Users need to ensure that they have a backup plan in place to mitigate the risk of disruption.

Challenging for first-time users

It has a lot of features and capabilities, which can be overwhelming for first-time users. It can take some time to learn how to use the tool effectively and efficiently. Automating complex workflows, debugging and error handling can be challenging, especially for users who are not familiar with programming concepts.

Need Office 365

The requirement of having an Office 365 subscription can be a limitation for some users who want to use Power Automate. This means that in order to use Power Automate, users must first have an Office 365 subscription, which can be an added cost for some organizations or individuals.

Potential security risks

Microsoft Power Automate connects with multiple services and applications, making it vulnerable to security risks. Users need to ensure that they configure the service correctly to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data. Power Automate also stores data in the cloud, which may raise concerns about data privacy.

Data Backup remains only for 30 Days

The limitation of data backup staying for 30 days in Power Automate can be a concern for some users, particularly those who need to retain data for longer periods. This means that after 30 days, the data stored in Power Automate may be lost, unless users take action to preserve it.

Microsoft Power Automate offers several benefits, such as saving time and effort, simplifying complex and time-consuming processes, and increasing productivity. However, it also has some drawbacks, including potential security risks, dependency on external services, and more. Before incorporating Microsoft Power Automate into their business operations, users should carefully consider these potential drawbacks.

How much does Power Automate cost?

One of the most common questions that arise when considering Power Automate is how much it costs. The pricing of Microsoft Power Automate platform varies depending on the plan and the services and features that are required.

You can choose from a range of pricing plans to meet your specific needs.

1. Free Plan

Microsoft offers a free plan of Power Automate that includes basic automation features, such as the ability to create flows and integrate with Microsoft services. It has access to a limited set of connectors and doesn’t offer the ability to use premium connectors. It’s ideal for individuals or small teams who want to automate their simple tasks without incurring any costs.

2. Per User Plan

The Per User plan is designed for businesses with more advanced automation needs. This plan is designed for individual users and businesses who want to streamline their processes and is priced at $15 per user per month. It allows users to create and run an unlimited number of flows and access premium connectors that are not available in the free plan.

3. Per Flow Plan

The Per Flow plan is designed for businesses that require a high volume of automation. This plan is best suited for large enterprises with complex automation needs. It allows users to create and run an unlimited number of flows, access to a wide range of connectors, and premium features such as AI Builder and Approvals. The cost of the Per Flow Plan is $500 per month for 5 flows.

4. Per User with Attended RPA Plan

The Per User with Attended RPA Plan is a paid plan that offers advanced features and capabilities. This plan is designed for businesses that need to automate repetitive tasks that require human intervention. With this plan, you can create attended RPA workflows that run on a user’s desktop. This plan includes all the features of the Per User Plan, as well as access to desktop flows and AI Builder. It costs $40 per user per month and comes with 5,000 AI Builder service credits per month, making it easier for individuals or organizations to use.

5. Per User with Unattended RPA Plan

If you need to automate complex, high-volume tasks that don’t require human intervention, the Per User with Unattended RPA Plan might be a better fit. This plan lets you create unattended RPA workflows that run on virtual machines in the cloud. You’ll also get access to all the features of the Per User Plan, as well as additional security and compliance features. The cost of the Per User with Unattended RPA Plan is $150 per bot per month, with a minimum purchase of 5 licenses.

6. Pay-As-You-Go Plans

This plan allows users to pay for their usage on a per-flow basis, as opposed to committing to a fixed number of flows per month. This is a more cost-effective option for businesses that do not have a consistent workflow or do not want to commit to a monthly subscription.

You can find detailed information about Power automate pricing on the Microsoft Power Automate pricing page here .

power automate pricing

In conclusion, the cost of Power Automate varies depending on the plan you choose and the level of automation your business requires.

The Free plan is great for individuals or small businesses with basic automation needs, while the Per User and Per Flow plans are better suited for larger businesses with more complex automation requirements.

Regardless of the plan you choose, Power Automate is an excellent tool that can help streamline your processes and increase efficiency.

Power Automate is an incredibly powerful tool that can help automate repetitive tasks and streamline workflows. With its user-friendly interface and extensive library of pre-built connectors, anyone can start automating their work processes with Power Automate.

This beginner’s guide has covered the fundamentals of Power Automate, including how to create flows, connectors, and triggers.

Users can create workflows quickly and efficiently by following the best practices outlined in this blog post. And with the ability to troubleshoot and debug workflows, users can ensure that their automated processes are running smoothly and efficiently.

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Microsoft Power Automate is a very simple drag-and-drop workflow-based automation software created by Microsoft to automate manual and repetitive tasks. It is part of the Business Central suite. The main aim of creating Microsoft Power Automate (earlier known as Microsoft Flow) was to allow coders and non-coders to automate repetitive tasks following a sequential rule-based flow.

In simple words, suppose you have a process that you’d want to automate. Before starting, you can try to visualize the process flow by creating a flowchart. This flowchart contains different steps, variables, loops, and even conditions. Once done, you can replicate the same flowchart on Microsoft Power Automate.

Sounds interesting? A lot of tasks can be automated using the Power Automate platform.

This blog post will dive deep into Microsoft Power Automate (formerly known as Microsoft Flow). We will understand the components of the software, try to build business process flows, and go through various aspects of automating business processes.

While discussing the intricacies of Microsoft Power Automate , it's worth noting that the landscape of workflow automation is constantly evolving. If you're looking for an agile solution to automate manual tasks and build robust workflows, look no further than Nanonets' Workflow Automation platform. Our intuitive platform allows you to create seamless workflows in minutes using natural language, integrate with various apps effortlessly, and leverage AI to enhance your automation. Discover how Nanonets can transform your workflow efficiency at Nanonets' Workflow Automation .

What is Microsoft Power Automate?

What is power automate?

Microsoft Power Automate (earlier known as Microsoft Flow) allows business professionals (coders and non-coder) to automate repetitive manual tasks and paper processes using a drag-and-drop workflow interface.

Microsoft Power Automate can create workflows to sync data across apps and software, generate real-time notifications to alert stakeholders, update databases with new information and collect data from Power Apps or other data sources.

The intelligent automation platform allows users to set triggers to take a particular set of sequential actions by using workflows. All Office 365 license users can use Power Automate. The users can automate tasks between 500+ applications, including Microsoft applications like Sharepoint, Azure, Excel, Online Office, etc, and third-party applications like Twitter, Youtube, Gmail, and more.

Try Nanonets to automate all your manual document processes in <15 minutes.

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Power Automate use cases

What is Microsoft Power Automate used for?

Power Automate can automate repetitive tasks, and here are 6 Microsoft Power Automate example workflows that give a basic understanding of how you can use the intelligent automation platform :

Perform a task

Think of any task that requires you to switch applications. That task can be automated with Power Automate workflows like Zapier. This can be used personally to reduce manual efforts and focus on more valuable tasks.

E.g., Send a Tweet when a Google Sheets row is added, Send an email when an attachment is received

Synchronize Data and Files

Microsoft Power Automate connectors can sync new data across different enterprise applications. This updates business data across different applications.

Eg. When a new customer signs up, update the record in CRM, Marketing Automation & Sales Dashboard.

Send Real-Time Notifications

Send alerts via email to relevant stakeholders so that they stay up to date on recent happenings of the company.

E.g., When a customer complaint is received, send an alert to the Sales and Customer Success teams via email.

Automate Processes

Microsoft Power Automate can automate business processes with rule-based workflows created via Power Apps. e.g., Invoice Approval Process

It can also automate data collection processes like converting pdf to text , extracting text from image , as a website scraper , converting pdf to word and more.

Mailroom Automation

You can automate all mailroom activities like sending an email, saving email attachments, categorizing an email, and processing the contents of the email.

E.g., Save all email attachments in Microsoft SharePoint or Personalize your OOO message.

Collect Data

With Microsoft Power App, you can create a front-end application to digitize data capture and use the data to perform further activities.

E.g., An automobile service station can create an app to capture customer and vehicle information and store information in their CRM.

Above, we’ve mentioned some of the use cases of Microsoft Power Automate. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it gives you a general idea of how businesses can use the software.

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How does Microsoft Power Automate Work?

To work with Power Automate, select the process you want to automate. Here is what the process looks like:

  • You can create an entirely new flow from scratch or choose any of the available templates.
  • Building a flow from scratch requires additional steps which will be discussed later on.
  • Once your flow is outlined, connect it with the required datasets via connectors.
  • You can test it via the “Run” option to check for errors.

Before deep diving into a tutorial on creating an automated workflow on Microsoft Power Automate, we should look at the different flow types available for users.

Power Automate Flow Types

There are three types of flows based on how the flow is created.

Different Types of Cloud Flows

Cloud Flows

Cloud Flows are online flows that start with a trigger or some action. Under Cloud flows, there are three options based on when you want the action to take place after the trigger conditions are met:

Instant Cloud Flows

You can use instant cloud flow when you want to take action at a click of a button.

Eg. Send a reminder to your sales team about an important churned customer now.

Automated Cloud Flows

Automated Cloud Flows

Automated Cloud flows follow a series of sets when your conditions are met.

E.g. If any tweet mentions your company in a hashtag, you want the system to retweet the tweet and send a team message to your marketing team.

Scheduled Cloud Flows

Scheduled Cloud Flow

Scheduled cloud flows can be used periodically to carry out a set of actions. Eg. Save all your email attachments in a folder at 8 AM every day.

Desktop Flows

Desktop flows are used in an offline format. You can record yourself performing a set of actions, and once Microsoft Power Automate codes your actions, you can automate the flow.

Desktop Flows - Power Automate

Business Process Flows

As a business professional, this will be the most important tab. You can automate all your paper-based processes and digitize your processes with Business Process Flow. Business process flow allows you to create a standardized process for your employees to follow so you get similar outputs no matter who uses the product.

The output of business process flow is a working front-end app that your employees can use to perform tasks.

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Tutorial: Using Microsoft Power Automate Templates

Microsoft Power Automate has a massive library of templates.

Let’s select a simple one for this tutorial, where we will save our Gmail attachments into our Google Drive Folder.

Step 1: Go to the templates section. If you search for “Gmail” you should find the template we’re talking about in the first row. If not, scroll down to search for it.

a software company plans to use power automate

Step 2: You’ll be asked to link your accounts after selecting the template. Link your accounts, and when two green ticks appear in front of the connectors, you can click Create Flow.

Step 3: Once you’re on the screen, you’ll see the flow details on the screen. Let’s select edit to see the workflow.

You’ll be redirected to a page like this:

Microsoft Power Automate Tutorial - Step3 Edit Flow

Step 4: Select the proper variables. Do you want to consider emails only to your inbox or promotional messages? Take a look at the options in the drop-down.

Step 5: Let’s say you want to receive a notification every time this flow occurs. I’ll add another step where I receive an email saying your attachment is uploaded.

Click on the new step to see a screen like this

Microsoft Power Automate Tutorial - Step 5 - Add another step

Step 6: Select Gmail and select send an email (V2). Fill in the details.

Don’t forget to look at the dynamic content for the email body. You can enter the sender's email, email subject line, and other dynamic content to track the notifications.

Microsoft Power Automate Tutorial - Step 6 - Sending Gmail notification

Step 7: Once done, Save it. On the top bar, click Flow Checker to see if there are any errors or warnings. If not, move on to the next option, which says Test. Try to send a test email to your email id mentioned in the steps.

Step 8: To check your flow progress - Select “My Flows” and select the flow you’ve just created. At the bottom, you’ll see a tab that shows the 28-day run history. If the status shows succeeded, your flow works without an error.

Power Automate Tutorial - Step 8 - checking Flow progress

You can follow similar steps for other templates. All the Microsoft Flow templates have pre-defined steps created for easy usage.

Power Automate for Business Process Flows

One of the major use cases for Microsoft Power Automate is to create automated Business Process Flows. Now, business process flows could be anything:

  • Building a front-end application for your employees to collect data in a streamlined way- eg. Building a customer service app to collect caller details
  • Automating Document Processes - eg. Extracting data from invoices and uploading them into a database.
  • Streamlining approvals - eg. Setting up a workflow to send content to review to relevant stakeholders

Or any other process that can be converted into a flow diagram.

Microsoft Power Automate Tutorial

How to create an invoice processing flow from scratch.

Before even starting to work on the process in Microsoft Power Automate, we will first take a look at all the steps, datasets, tables, and connectors we will require. We need to set everything else up before we start making business flow in PowerApps.

So our flow would be simple, we want to create a flow

When we receive an Invoice in our Inbox -> Extract Data From Invoice -> Store information in a table in Excel

In our case, we will need the following:

  • Connectors : Gmail, One drive, Excel
  • AI Model : Invoice Processing Model
  • Tables : An Excel with proper headers

So let's start with creating the AI model first.

Building AI model

Step 1: Select AI Builder, select custom to extract data from standardized documents, and click get started.

You need to have an AI Builder license for this step

Step2: You’ll be redirected to a list of action items. Select all the options that are relevant to you. In our case, we assume that the invoices are fairly standardized, hence we will select the first option

Building AI Model on Power Automate platform

Step 3: Adding the variables

In the next step, select the information you want to extract from your invoices . In this case, pre-planning the variables come in handy.

Adding variables in AI model in Power Automate

We would like to select fields for invoice numbers, invoice data, and total amount. We can also select the single-page table to select an entire table of all the items mentioned in the invoice.

For the single table, mention the number of columns and rename it appropriately.

Adding table in AI model on Power Automate platform

Once you’ve listed all the information you want to extract, select Done and choose next.

Step 4: Adding collections

Collections are set of files that have the same format. Upload your invoices from the same vendor in different collections. Once you upload the documents, select the fields and tables to reflect the necessary values.

Open any document that you’ve uploaded. Select detect words to see the fields that are automatically detected. Hover your mouse over the fields that you want to select. Then select the value for each field.

Adding collections in AI model

Follow the same steps for all the uploaded invoices in all the collections.

Step 5: Once done, select the Train model . Then choose Go to Your models. The list should show your model with the name you gave at the start.

So now, our AI model is complete. Let’s create a flow where we will use the AI model to extract data from our email attachment and save the information in excel.

Step 6: Go to flows, and select create an automated flow . And choose the trigger that you want. In this case, we will select Recieve email on Gmail and create.

Step 7: You’ll see a flow where only Gmail trigger is added. Select the required option. I’ll add a filter where in it processes emails with invoices in the subject line and has an attachment.

Adding dyanmic email content in Power Automate workflow

Step 8: Add the next step for processing the invoice using the AI builder. Select +New Step and select AI builder. Select “Extract custom information from documents” and select your AI model from the drop-down. Add the document type and select attachment content for Form.

Adding a step to collect invoices from Gmail automatically on Power Automate

Step 9: Select New Action and select Excel. Select add new row as you want to extract information from the invoice and add the data into a new row in your Excel document.

Adding Extracted information to Excel

Step 10: Input all the locations of your excel, the table, and the column data from the drop-down. Here, you will assign the data extracted from the invoice to the correct columns in your excel.

Final look of adding information to Excel in workflow

Step 11: Once done, select save and Test the Flow by sending an email with an invoice to the email mentioned in the flow.

You can check the flow's activity and progress by checking My Flows or Monitor > Cloud Flow Activity.

We need to add more steps to add more checks, validations, and approvals.

When to use Power Automate?

Microsoft Power Automate can be powerful if used properly. Here are some scenarios when you can use Power Automate:

  • When all your process elements are mapped out.

Before you even start creating your Power Automate flow, you need to map out all variables and all the stages in the entire flow. Why?

You’ll have to create all the variables in Microsoft Power Apps. Therefore, it is a great exercise to map out all elements: variables, AI models, stages, conditions, connectors, and templates, well before you start creating on the Power Automate platform.

2. When your process is sequential.

Most of the flows follow the trigger and action approach. Creating loops is difficult. It is advisable to convert your processes into sequential steps. If you need loops, make sure you work with a developer.

3. When you have access to all the admin accounts.

If you’re connecting two applications, you need to have admin rights to both accounts. Make sure you have the right permissions before you start working.

Automate your tasks independently without using complex tools. Nanonets users learn workflows in 15 minutes!

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Who can use Power Automate?

Anyone can use Power Automate, coder or a non-coder, to automate any kind of task which is manual, repetitive, and follows a set of rules. Anyone with an email id can use Power Automate with a free plan. Here are the best use cases for using Power Automate:

Freelancers - Freelancers are solo entrepreneurs and generally work with a small team or by themselves. Freelancers can use Microsoft Power Automate to automate manual tasks like setting up autoresponders, alerting when they receive a message on email, automatically posting on their social media accounts, and more.

Managers - Managers working for enterprises or brands can use workflow management software to create automated alerts, sync data across applications, set up OOO messages, and more.

Finance Department Users - A lot of finance tasks are manual. Power Automate can be used to set up workflows for approval processes , invoice processing, and more. It can also be used to automate accounts payable on Business Central.

Entrepreneurs - Handling a business is no easy task. Entrepreneurs can automate multiple aspects of their business with automated workflows like sending a thank you message, getting alert notifications when a customer sends an email, syncing customer information across platforms, setting up automated email responses, and more.

Here, we’ve listed some of the users for Power Automate, but frankly, it can be used by anyone to automate any task!

Limitations of using Microsoft Power Automate

Power automate is a great platform for people looking to automate manual processes. It has many upsides, but here are some cons of using Power Automate.

Difficult for first-time users

Microsoft Power Automate is easy to use for 2-step connections like connecting Youtube and Twitter, Email and Team chats, etc.

But the process gets progressively difficult when you’re trying business process flow. The entire process is set across multiple platforms and might require knowledge like WDL or creating JSON files which are a little confusing for a non-coder.

Need Office 365 to use it

If your organization uses Microsoft Office 365, you’ll have most of the tools. But if you don’t have one, you’ll have to either buy one because to use Microsoft PowerApps, you need a license .

Need Admin access for Business Process Flows

When you’re creating a business process flow, you’ll be working with Dataverse (known as Common Dataverse earlier) which requires admin rights. You won’t be able to use all the features of Business Process Flows without admin access.

Not a stand-alone application

Microsoft Power Automate is not a stand-alone application. It is available via Microsoft Power Apps.

Security issues

Attackers can use the automated workflows to download company data, extract passwords, or send malicious applications to your customers. In one instance, Microsoft announced that they found attackers downloading data from MNC organizations for over 200 days.

Microsoft Power Automate flows to bypass security gateways which makes it possible for any third person who has access to a single company email, to get access to the entire company’s data.

Difficult to control access to Power Automate

If your company provides an Office 365 license to all the employees, and several people have the ability to create workflows, it becomes difficult to keep license limitations in check.

Data Backup stays for 30 Days.

Your workflow data stays in the system only for 30 days. This becomes difficult if you use workflows to maintain audit trails and compliance-related activities.

Limitations on workflows

You can only use 250 actions per workflow (around 90 for free trial users). The limit can get exhausted quickly if you use loops to repeatedly check the conditions.

Non-intuitive navigation for simple tasks

Microsoft Power Automate can be non-intuitive in certain scenarios. For example,

  • Connections are added via the option under Data, not the Connector option in the navigation menu.
  • There is no save option. There is a save as option but saves a copy of your existing workflow.
  • Error messages are frequent and a proper explanation of the cause does not accompany the error. You'll lose the entire process if you save without resolving the errors.
  • Power automate workflows can run without a warning and there is no option to stop that.

OCR Tool is not advanced

The OCR tools for data extraction under the AI Builder are not as advanced as other tools present in the market. [ Source ]

Work without limitations with Nanonets.

Extract data & automate processes with advanced workflows & OCR. Get Started with Nanonets today.

Nanonets for Business Automation

Nanonets is a no-code intelligent automation platform that helps businesses automate manual tasks with smart workflows without the IT team. Nanonets provides its users with an intuitive interface, drag and drops modules, and extensive customer support to make business process flow automation a breeze. Furthermore, you can set up Nanonets in 1 day without any external help!

Nanonets is a secure platform with GDPR and SOC2 certification. With role-based access options, you can control who can create workflows and gain access to the company data.

Here are some features that make Nanonets a perfect choice for Business Process Automation :

  • Modern UI visual editor with drag-and-drop elements to create workflows of your choice
  • Advanced OCR API, which extracts data with >95% accuracy.
  • Integrates with 5000+ applications via API and Zapier.
  • Strictly no-code environment - No need to write a single code to automate business process
  • Available on cloud and on-premise hosting options for your requirements.
  • Maintain data logs for every action taken on the platform and be ready for audit every time.
  • Deliver automatic updates to relevant stakeholders directly in their inboxes
  • Role-based access control to restrict platform access and improve security
  • No hidden charges
  • 24x7 online chat support and personal client managers

Nanonets can be used for several use cases:

  • Financial Automation Platform - Invoice Processing, Accounts Payable , Accounts Receivable , Ledger, Book Keeping, Spend Management
  • Banking Automation Platform - Claims Processing, Customer Query Resolution, Bank Statement Processing
  • Logistics Automation Platform - Sales Order Matching, Vendor Management, Inventory Management
  • Healthcare Automation Platform - Patient Scheduling, Survey Digitization, Patient Experience
  • Retail Automation Solution - Customer Service, Customer Onboarding, Inventory Management
  • Insurance Automation Platform - Underwriting, Claims Processing
  • KYC Automation Platform - ID verification, Passport OCR, License OCR
  • Document Conversion - Convert pdf to text , image to text , website to text , image to excel , pdf to csv,

If you want to automate manual document processes, try Nanonets. Automate everything from document upload, pre-processing, data extraction , approval workflows , and document storage .

Click below to learn more about Nanonets Enterprise Automation Solution .

Nanonets vs Power Automate

We’ve seen how to perform a similar task on Nanonets and Power Automate. Through the steps, we saw some differences in how the platforms operate. In the table below, we will compare the Microsoft Power Automate and Nanonets platforms.

Want to automate repetitive manual tasks? Save Time, Effort & Money while enhancing efficiency!

Is Power Automate the correct choice for you and your business?

Whether Microsoft Power Automate is a good choice for your business depends on multiple factors mentioned below:

Availability of Developers in your team

A non-coder might not be able to use Microsoft Power Automate at its fullest capability. You’ll need to allocate some developer resources to carry out complex operations, fix errors, integrate tools, and maintain variables as required.

Microsoft Power Automate plans under per-user and per-flow categories. Per User, plans have low performance. Per-flow plans have the highest performance, but the plan costs around $100/flow/month. This price will increase with add-ons like AI builder and additional RPA capabilities.

If we consider 10 flows with AI builder, the price reaches $1500/month. And it keeps increasing as you can’t control who creates a new workflow.

In contrast, tools like Nanonets cost $499/month . Check out Nanonet's pricing plans .

Requirements

Do you need to connect simple tools or do you want to carry out complex tasks? Do you need it to automate paper document processes , build front-end apps for employees, connect business software, etc?

Based on your requirement, you need to evaluate other tools along with Microsoft Power Automate, rate your experience, and select the alternative.

You can consider easy-to-use automation software like Nanonets. Start your free trial or request a free product tour .

Microsoft Environment

If you’re already using the Microsoft environment, shifting to Power Automate can be easy as it integrates easily with existing Microsoft products.

IT team supervision

In order to prevent license over-charges, IT teams need to supervise account activity, stay alert on who is creating workflows, and try to keep checking for malicious workflows. IT team needs to carry out these tasks to prevent phishing activities actively.

Strong Security

As we discussed above, Microsoft Power Automate has some security breaches. In order to prevent this from happening, you need to have a very strong security check, an active team looking out for anomalies, and monitoring account usage on a regular basis.

If you have dedicated resources, Microsoft Power Automate might be a good choice for you.

Requirement of OCR capabilities

Microsoft Power Automate has OCR API under AI builder. The OCR model is not on par with other vendors in the market like Nanonets. If you rely heavily on the OCR features to automate your manual processes, you can opt for options like Nanonets.

Use OCR software to extract data with >95% accuracy. Start your free trial or request a free product tour .

Time to Implement

With admin requirements, the implementation of Microsoft Power Automate can be delayed. If you want to start immediately with no delays, this might not be the right choice for your business.

Even with the above-mentioned pointers, your team must evaluate Microsoft Power Automate based on all your requirements and then come to a solution. According to the pointers, Microsoft Power Automate might be a good choice for organizations using a Microsoft environment, having a lot of IT staff to overlook implementation, fewer flows, and high budgets.

Business process automation will become a necessity for businesses due to improved efficiency, productivity, and security. The market is still nascent and will improve over time with better features and improvements. Businesses need to start adopting the technology now to reap the benefits in the future.

In this blog, we evaluated two BPM software , Microsoft Power Automate, and Nanonets, for process automation.

Microsoft Power Automate has a lot to offer to enterprises, from powerful integrations to enhanced connectivity options (more like Zapier!). As the software continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see what the new additions to the platform will be.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Microsoft Power Automate for free?

Microsoft Power is not free for all users. You can use the free version to access the Microsoft Power Automate platform with limited capabilities. The platform is free if your organization has access via Microsoft Office 365 subscription. 

What is Power Automate vs Microsoft Flow?

Microsoft Flow is the older version of Microsoft Power Automate. On the branding side, there is no difference between Microsft Flow and Microsoft Power Automate but there are some differences between the two platforms if we look at some features. 

Microsoft Power Automate has cloud deployment and does not overburden your systems as Microsoft Flow did. Microsoft Power Automate is a low code environment as compared to its earlier counterpart, Microsoft Flow. Microsoft Flow was more driven towards creating rule-based workflows whereas Microsoft Power Automate is geared towards enhanced unattended robotic process automation in organizations. 

What can Microsoft Power Automate automate?

Microsoft Power Automate can automate any data sync between 500+ different data sources, create front-end apps for efficient data collection, automate manual processes and send real-time notifications to required stakeholders. Microsoft Power Automate can automate any process as required. 

Is Power Automate an RPA tool?

Yes, Power Automate is a Robotic process automation tool. It can be used to automate anything from a data sync to complex multi-step processes like invoice management, approvals, and more.

What is the difference between Power Apps and Power Automate?

Microsoft Power apps are geared towards creating a front-end User interface for efficient data collection by using connectors. Microsoft Power Automate gives users the ability to use the data from the interface to carry out further activities like storing, analyzing, or enhancing.

What are the different elements on Power automate screen?

When you enter Microsft Power Automate, you will be greeted with a screen that resembles the image. Let’s look at what every component in the left-side navigation menu can do for you.

Action Items

Action items give you an overview of all your business processes and any pending approvals requests.

Shows all the flows you’ve created in your account at a glance.

Lets you create a new workflow.

This option leads you to the workflow template library which contains templates segregated by your requirement. You can also use the search bar to find a template that suits your requirement.

Connectors just list all the software that can be connected. This is not the place where you can connect your software with Microsoft Power Automate. That option sits under Data. (that’s a little confusing)

This is one of the most important options in the navigation bar after +create. Data allows you to create tables (database to collect, sync, or store data), connections (shows all software that you’ve integrated with Power Automate), custom connectors, and gateways (create a gateway to store data on-premises but still share the data with the cloud when required securely).

Things to note: Basic connectors are available in the free trial version. You can connect your account only. You need admin access to get the API key to connect to most other applications.

Shows an overview of cloud and desktop flow activity. It has another option where it shows your system health where desktop flows are actively running.

AI Builder helps users extract information from text, images, structured datasets, and documents. Users can choose from templates or create their own custom models.

Process Advisor

Process Advisor advises how current processes can be improved in two ways. You can either upload data from various sources or record yourself performing any activity.

All your databases are added here which contain all variables you want to work with. You can create a new process by selecting the database you’re comfortable with.

Self-explanatory. It is your help section.

Nanonets online OCR & OCR API have many interesting use cases that could optimize your business performance, save costs and boost growth. Find out how Nanonets' use cases can apply to your product.

The post was originally published in July 2022 and was updated on 16th March 2023.

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May we suggest an author.

7 processes you should automate using Microsoft Power Automate

If you are unfamiliar with Microsoft Power Automate, it enables businesses to automate routine processes and tasks. These automated workflows are referred to as ‘flows’ and they begin with a ‘trigger’, a pre-defined event that then triggers a response.

Ultimately, Power Automate is all about automation and simplifying tasks.

Businesses often ask how they can make Power Automate work for them. Below, we cover seven examples of tasks that can be automated within your organisation, using existing templates…

Power Automate Examples

Example 1: automatically save email attachments.

Who this could benefit: Account Managers

How Power Automate can help: When attachments get sent regarding a client, Power Automate can save them into the relevant SharePoint folder. This saves time searching through emails to find what you need, as it will be stored within the correct document library.

automatically save email attachments to SharePoint template

Example 2: Manage Holiday Requests and Approvals

Who this could benefit: Employees and Managers

How Power Automate can help: In order to effectively manage time off throughout the year, it would be beneficial to have an automated approval process. Power Automate allows an automated request to be sent to a manager when an employee requests leave and then a notification of their response.

How we use this: We built a Microsoft Power App to manage our employee holiday, which also leverages Power Automate for the request/approval process. View our demo video  here .

automate leave request approvals template

Example 3: Request Approval for new documents and notify employees via Teams

Who this might benefit: Project Managers

How Power Automate can help: Critical documents might require approval before they can be sent, which can often be a time-consuming process and can involve following up with several members of staff. This process can be automated within Power Automate, whereby an approval can be requested whenever a new document is uploaded to SharePoint. Once completed, team members are notified by Teams. A scenario where this could be used: At the start of a project, you might have various documents that need to be generated, approved and sent before things can move forward. You could generate the relevant documents, add them to a SharePoint file, this would then automatically notify the relevant team members via Microsoft Teams and alert them that this document requires approval. They can then action this, and you would receive a notification once the approval is completed.

critical document approval template to automate this process

Example 4: Get a push notification when you receive an email from your boss

Who this might benefit: All employees

How Power Automate can help: Never miss an important email from your boss again. As soon as an email from your boss is received, Power Automate will send a push notification to alert you, enabling a timely response. For this template, a Microsoft 365 (previously named Office 365) email address will be required, alongside the installation of the Power Automate app.

Power automate example template - push notification when you receive email from boss

Example 5: Stay on top of new Dynamics 365 Opportunities

Who this might benefit: Sales Directors/Managers/Representatives

How Power Automate can help: Each week, you can receive an email with an overview of all new opportunities logged in  Microsoft Dynamics 365 . This ensures you stay on top of your pipeline and nothing slips through the net.

automate weekly email that displays new opportunites

Example 6: Receive an email when a Power BI alert is triggered

Who this might benefit: Support Team

How Power Automate can help: Send any audience an email when a  Power BI  data-driven alert is triggered. Examples of this are: send the support team a heads up when the incident volume is over 100, alert sales managers when ten or more leads haven’t been updated in over two weeks, or make sales reps aware if they haven’t hit their target and the deadline is less than 5 days away.

automated alert sent if data exceeds set metrics

Example 7: Stay on top of your social media mentions

Who this might benefit: Social Media Managers

How Power Automate can help: Your role may involve routinely collecting popular tweets with your company name or product mentions. However, this can be a manual and time-consuming activity. Power Automate can send push notifications if a tweet with a certain keyword was retweeted more than 20 times. For example, this could be triggered by brand mentions, allowing you to monitor the impact of your brand on social media. For this template, the installation of the Power Automate app is required.

receive a notification if brand is mentioned on twitter

Possibilities beyond Microsoft…

As demonstrated in Example 7, Power Automate is not limited to connecting with Microsoft-only products (SharePoint, Dynamics 365, Outlook, Power BI, etc). Within the  Power Automate connector library , you will see the diverse range of 3 rd Party Connectors available too. Popular ones include Asana, Mailchimp, Twitter, Adobe Sign, DocuSign, Google Drive, Eventbrite, FreshBooks and Trello. Some may require additional licenses, however, these connectors greatly expand the possibilities of what you can build and automate within your business.

It is also worth noting that the examples provided in this article are using existing Power Automate templates (of which there are hundreds). If you cannot find a suitable template, you can build a flow from scratch  using any of the connectors available.

power automate connectors

3 more Power Automate Examples

Power Automate is constantly developing and Microsoft is always releasing new templates that can support your business. Below are a few more examples, however, there are limitless scenarios that can benefit from automation. If you have questions about other cases , please contact us .  

Example 8: Automate project assignment notifications

How Power Automate can help: It can be difficult and time-consuming to stay on top of all relevant tasks and projects, especially if your employees are busy, and information can get lost in translation. By automating a project notification system employees are consistently kept informed about important project details such as deadlines, resources, and more. This allows your team to focus on the right tasks at the right time, improving efficiency and decreasing miscommunication.

Find out more about how your business can keep projects on track with Power Automate .

automate project assignment notifications with power automate

Example 9: Extract data from invoices

Who this might benefit: Finance Teams, Administrative Teams, Sales Teams  

How Power Automate can help:   Businesses that conduct manual invoicing are often faced with time-consuming, inefficient processes, that can be more prone to human error. Power Automate has the ability to extract data from invoices, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and share the results via email. As a result, this automation decreases the time your employees spend on invoicing and gathering key data.

automate invoicing process with power automate

Example 10: Automating the onboarding process for new employees

Who this might benefit: Managers and new employees  

How Power Automate can help: Having a smooth onboarding process, not only ensures new team members are set up correctly but also minimises the impact on current employee activities. To support this process, Power Automate can create a workflow that automatically sends new team members the necessary onboarding materials, as well as scheduling any compulsory meetings or other activities. This not only saves time but ensures that new employees have exactly what they need to start their new role and are ready to go in no time.  

Automating the onboarding process for new employees

Want to learn more about Power Automate?

To learn more about Power Automate, take a look at our webpage which provides further details around benefits, features and pricing.

Ready to get started with Power Automate?

If you have any questions about Power Automate and how your business can get started, please get in touch. You can fill out the contact form below and a member of our team will be in touch shortly, or if you’d prefer, call us on  01908 038110 .

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Types of flows in Microsoft Power Automate - Blog Header

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Create a form in Word that users can complete or print

In Word, you can create a form that others can fill out and save or print.  To do this, you will start with baseline content in a document, potentially via a form template.  Then you can add content controls for elements such as check boxes, text boxes, date pickers, and drop-down lists. Optionally, these content controls can be linked to database information.  Following are the recommended action steps in sequence.  

Show the Developer tab

In Word, be sure you have the Developer tab displayed in the ribbon.  (See how here:  Show the developer tab .)

Open a template or a blank document on which to base the form

You can start with a template or just start from scratch with a blank document.

Start with a form template

Go to File > New .

In the  Search for online templates  field, type  Forms or the kind of form you want. Then press Enter .

In the displayed results, right-click any item, then select  Create. 

Start with a blank document 

Select Blank document .

Add content to the form

Go to the  Developer  tab Controls section where you can choose controls to add to your document or form. Hover over any icon therein to see what control type it represents. The various control types are described below. You can set properties on a control once it has been inserted.

To delete a content control, right-click it, then select Remove content control  in the pop-up menu. 

Note:  You can print a form that was created via content controls. However, the boxes around the content controls will not print.

Insert a text control

The rich text content control enables users to format text (e.g., bold, italic) and type multiple paragraphs. To limit these capabilities, use the plain text content control . 

Click or tap where you want to insert the control.

Rich text control button

To learn about setting specific properties on these controls, see Set or change properties for content controls .

Insert a picture control

A picture control is most often used for templates, but you can also add a picture control to a form.

Picture control button

Insert a building block control

Use a building block control  when you want users to choose a specific block of text. These are helpful when you need to add different boilerplate text depending on the document's specific purpose. You can create rich text content controls for each version of the boilerplate text, and then use a building block control as the container for the rich text content controls.

building block gallery control

Select Developer and content controls for the building block.

Developer tab showing content controls

Insert a combo box or a drop-down list

In a combo box, users can select from a list of choices that you provide or they can type in their own information. In a drop-down list, users can only select from the list of choices.

combo box button

Select the content control, and then select Properties .

To create a list of choices, select Add under Drop-Down List Properties .

Type a choice in Display Name , such as Yes , No , or Maybe .

Repeat this step until all of the choices are in the drop-down list.

Fill in any other properties that you want.

Note:  If you select the Contents cannot be edited check box, users won’t be able to click a choice.

Insert a date picker

Click or tap where you want to insert the date picker control.

Date picker button

Insert a check box

Click or tap where you want to insert the check box control.

Check box button

Use the legacy form controls

Legacy form controls are for compatibility with older versions of Word and consist of legacy form and Active X controls.

Click or tap where you want to insert a legacy control.

Legacy control button

Select the Legacy Form control or Active X Control that you want to include.

Set or change properties for content controls

Each content control has properties that you can set or change. For example, the Date Picker control offers options for the format you want to use to display the date.

Select the content control that you want to change.

Go to Developer > Properties .

Controls Properties  button

Change the properties that you want.

Add protection to a form

If you want to limit how much others can edit or format a form, use the Restrict Editing command:

Open the form that you want to lock or protect.

Select Developer > Restrict Editing .

Restrict editing button

After selecting restrictions, select Yes, Start Enforcing Protection .

Restrict editing panel

Advanced Tip:

If you want to protect only parts of the document, separate the document into sections and only protect the sections you want.

To do this, choose Select Sections in the Restrict Editing panel. For more info on sections, see Insert a section break .

Sections selector on Resrict sections panel

If the developer tab isn't displayed in the ribbon, see Show the Developer tab .

Open a template or use a blank document

To create a form in Word that others can fill out, start with a template or document and add content controls. Content controls include things like check boxes, text boxes, and drop-down lists. If you’re familiar with databases, these content controls can even be linked to data.

Go to File > New from Template .

New from template option

In Search, type form .

Double-click the template you want to use.

Select File > Save As , and pick a location to save the form.

In Save As , type a file name and then select Save .

Start with a blank document

Go to File > New Document .

New document option

Go to File > Save As .

Go to Developer , and then choose the controls that you want to add to the document or form. To remove a content control, select the control and press Delete. You can set Options on controls once inserted. From Options, you can add entry and exit macros to run when users interact with the controls, as well as list items for combo boxes, .

Adding content controls to your form

In the document, click or tap where you want to add a content control.

On Developer , select Text Box , Check Box , or Combo Box .

Developer tab with content controls

To set specific properties for the control, select Options , and set .

Repeat steps 1 through 3 for each control that you want to add.

Set options

Options let you set common settings, as well as control specific settings. Select a control and then select Options to set up or make changes.

Set common properties.

Select Macro to Run on lets you choose a recorded or custom macro to run on Entry or Exit from the field.

Bookmark Set a unique name or bookmark for each control.

Calculate on exit This forces Word to run or refresh any calculations, such as total price when the user exits the field.

Add Help Text Give hints or instructions for each field.

OK Saves settings and exits the panel.

Cancel Forgets changes and exits the panel.

Set specific properties for a Text box

Type Select form Regular text, Number, Date, Current Date, Current Time, or Calculation.

Default text sets optional instructional text that's displayed in the text box before the user types in the field. Set Text box enabled to allow the user to enter text into the field.

Maximum length sets the length of text that a user can enter. The default is Unlimited .

Text format can set whether text automatically formats to Uppercase , Lowercase , First capital, or Title case .

Text box enabled Lets the user enter text into a field. If there is default text, user text replaces it.

Set specific properties for a Check box .

Default Value Choose between Not checked or checked as default.

Checkbox size Set a size Exactly or Auto to change size as needed.

Check box enabled Lets the user check or clear the text box.

Set specific properties for a Combo box

Drop-down item Type in strings for the list box items. Press + or Enter to add an item to the list.

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Process design

  • 4 contributors

When you design a process automation, the first step is to decide when and what to automate. Looking at the business process you currently have, you should first identify which part of the process to automate.

Identifying automation areas

The types of benefits you can potentially gain by automation falls into these categories:

Consistently apply standardized business rules

Reduce manual work on repetitive processes

Reduce human error

Streamline approvals.

Gain efficiency in high-volume transactions

Efficiently move data between systems (reduce manual data entry)

Maximize the use of available resources

Increase throughput, apply standardized business rules.

Business rules are the if/then logic that applies your business policies. Automating them ensures that they'll be followed consistently every time.

In our sample expense reporting scenario, a business rule requires that if an expense report amount exceeds $10,000, it needs to also be approved by the CFO. By automating the process, Abhay ensures that no high-dollar expense report will slip by unnoticed.

Automate repetitive processes

Automating repetitive processes can help your employees avoid mental and physical burnout. Processes that are done the same way every time should be high on your list to consider for automation.

For example, Abhay the accountant must collect expense forms and receipts from everyone. The receipts might be a paper receipt from a restaurant or paper invoices from vendors. Abhay has to manually scan these papers into a PDF file and store it. Abhay also needs to enter what's written on the paper and post it in the financial system for every expense report submitted.

Tasks like copying and pasting values from one system to another, or keying in data from paper forms, are processes where human errors can occur.

An example case for the expense reporting scenario is where Abhay needs to reimburse cash to the employee by looking up the employee banking details, then accessing the banking system.

Possible areas of business process to automate for reducing human error.

Diagram showing a business process flow for Abhay the accountant. Two steps in the process ("Lookup employee banking details" and "Reimburse cash to applicant") are circled in red to indicate the potential areas where Power Automate can reduce human errors by automating these steps.

A different type of error occurs when people forget to perform their tasks. You can set up automation to remind them to work on the task or process that they've been assigned.

For example, Lee has submitted an expense report but Nick hasn't responded to the approval request for some time. An automation can be set up to remind Nick to make a decision, and even provide a button to respond directly from the reminder.

Possible areas of business process to automate for streamlining business process.

Diagram showing a business process flow for Abhay the accountant. The approval process is altered so that a reminder for approvals is automated by setting up a trigger automation to check status. If approval is complete, the automation is ended; and if approval is not complete, a reminder is sent to the approver and the reminder automation will be run again to check until the approval is completed.

Gain efficiency in high-volume processes

Another area you may want to automate are high-volume processes. High-volume processes are processes that occur very frequently on a daily basis. It is closely tied to repetitive processes but is slightly different. You may have a process that can only have a step or two that can be automated. However, if a process must be done many times, even small improvements can have large impacts.

For example, if the expense reporting scenario holds for 1,000 salespeople, each minute of improvement would equate to two working days' worth of time saved. Analyzing the actual impact can be done by using the analytics features .

Automate data entry

You might be manually entering data because you have two systems that don't talk to each other. In our expense reporting scenario, this is where Abhay inputs data into the accounting system by reentering values from the submitted expense report.

Example scenario to improve efficiency.

Additional good automation candidates are those processes that can be run independent of human interaction. This type of process isn't as easy to identify, so the best way is to imagine whether there are processes that can be completed outside your normal business hours. Such an automation acts as a "multiplier" of your people and fully uses your other resources (such as PCs).

You might also use automation for processes that take too much time compared to a human interaction, but is tolerable if done during night time when there's no rush for the automation to finish. For example, if a person starts their day by processing orders that came in overnight, you might create automation that processes the orders as soon as they come in, so that your team can start fulfilling the orders first thing in the morning.

Diagram showing a person performing a process from 9 AM to 6 PM, and automation performing a related process from 6 PM to 9 AM.

Similar to maximizing the use of available resources, automation also helps you increase the throughput of a particular process. With this type of automation, your current process can be performed by humans in parallel with the automation.

For example, Abhay the accountant may be the only person processing the expense reports and their standard work hours may be between 9 AM to 6 PM. By setting up an automation, you could also have Power Automate to process the expense reports as well, and therefore have both Abhay and the automation to process it, resulting in a higher throughput.

Diagram showing a person performing a process from 9 AM to 6 PM in parallel with automation that runs for 24 hours.

Example scenario

When all of the automation areas are applied, the example below shows how an expense reporting business process can be covered by Power Automate with improvements to throughput, maximizing the available resources, automating data entries as well as streamlining approvals.

Diagram of process after all of the automations are applied.

Next step: Determining which automation method to use

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