I recently overheard a client giving someone a quick primer on O365 and all the wonderful features of the product. OneDrive, SharePoint, and the entire Office Suite – all just a click away from anywhere, with any internet connected device. When they got to Microsoft’s Flow application, they warned “stay away from Flow, it’s complicated!”
I couldn’t help myself, I had to jump into the conversation: “It might take a bit of time to learn, but Flow can do awesome things.” If you can write Excel formulas, writing Flows won’t be a problem!
To tame Flow from terra incognita (“here be dragons!”) into a powerful business tool, it just takes a few minutes to understand the product. Flow is basically a way to automate tasks and let O365 do them so you don’t have to.
Initiating Tasks with Flow
There are three main ways to initiate a task:
- You can trigger a task, such as taking an action when an email with a certain subject line hits your inbox, or somebody sends a Tweet with a chosen keyword.
- You can schedule a task on a timer (daily, once a week, 1st of the moon, or total eclipse of the sun)
- You can make a “button”. Press the button and your Flow does its thing!
What can you do with Flow?
Your imagination is the limit, but here are a few examples:
- Use Flow to automatically save all incoming Office 365 email attachments in a designated OneDrive folder. You can also “filter” this by searching for a keyword in the subject or body of the email.
- Notify the team with some Tweets with a particular hashtag. This can be a very effective way of staying on top of any possible negative social media that could impact your company’s reputation.
- Flow can be integrated with apps like Salesforce, Slack, Twitter, Office 365, and Google Drive. One example of how to use this is when a new file is added to Google Drive, you can have a flow that automatically copies the file and adds it to SharePoint. There are also plenty of “template” flows that take advantage of this powerful integration. There’s a flow that will track Microsoft Forms responses in an Excel Online sheet, and another that tracks Outlook emails in a Google Sheet.
A good way to get started quickly and easily is by using one of the dozens of available Microsoft Flow templates:
Scores of “connectors” exist from numerous software vendors that work with Flow, and new connectors are being added frequently. Most are free, some require a premium fee. Here’s an example of some connectors:
How much does Flow cost?
Depending on your O365 plan, using Flow can be completely free or may require supplemental licensing. Check with your ADNET Engagement Manager to see how you are affected.
If you need to get supplemental Flow licensing, there are three pricing plans:
- Flow Free: The free plan lets you create unlimited flows, but you only get 750 runs per month and checks happen every 15 minutes.
- Flow Plan 1: This plan runs $5 per month. You get 4500 runs per month and checks happen every three minutes. You also get some premium connectors to services like MailChimp and Salesforce.
- Flow Plan 2: This plan runs $15 per month. You get 15,000 runs per month and checks happen every minute. You get the same premium connectors provided by Flow Plan 1, and you also get access to organization policy settings and several business process flows.
Like the daring prospectors of yore willing to explore terra incognita, rich rewards await. Go ahead and kick the tires on Microsoft’s Flow application. If you need assistance, the ADNET team is more than happy to help out.