Different usages of Microsoft Flow

The verb defines the App

The literal meaning of to flow is to continue to be produced and it’s true for Microsoft Flow : I create a self-acting process in the cloud and then it is running.

Indeed when I create a Flow:

  • my Flow is in Azure
  • my Flow is pending
  • my Flow starts when something happens
  • after running it is pending again

I can create Flows for a lot of usages:

  • simple Flows automating usual tasks
  • more complex Flows for actions sequences, including conditioned actions

Let’s see how these Flow’s concepts can be transformed in real use cases.

Triggers : conditions to start

blog ai3 Flow_Usages_02 Different usages of Microsoft Flow

The trigger is the first thing I must define when I’m designing a Flow.

I choose one in available triggers, in those examples we can see that a trigger:

  • Can be the weather or the time (schedule)
  • Can come from Office 365
  • Can come from a cloud service like DocuSign, Facebook, JIRA, …
  • Can be an button in the Flow mobile App

Behind triggers there are connectors, it’s illustrated below.

Personal productivity usage

blog ai3 Flow_Usages_03 Different usages of Microsoft FlowI can create a Flow :

  • To add in my Outlook calendar the events of my Gmail calendar
  • To create a OneNote sheet 15′ before each meeting in my calendar
  • To quickly block my calendar for one hour from now, having a Flow button for this in my mobile

 

These individual usages are similar to the possibilities of IFTTT, where Flow is more « my day at work ».

 

 

 

Collective productivity usage

blog ai3 Flow_Usages_04 Different usages of Microsoft FlowFlow brings possibilities for quick digitalisation:

« What if we change our validation process? »
« Can we use a digital signing service? »
« Is there a connector(s) like this in Flow? Yes! »
« So we can try it now with a Flow between SharePoint and a signing service! »

But this could seem to be theoretical.
Have a look at a nice demo made by Serge Luca (MVP), showing in details how flows looks like in an contract’s lifecycle with Adobe Sign : https://youtu.be/k5kCVv5HqOQ

Moreover, Flow’s connectors are using REST.
This post (in french) explain how to create yourself the connector for K2 with the json API’s file https://www.enk2besoin.com/2018/05/15/integration-avec-ms-flow/

 

Validation workflow usage

In Flow’s working area I can create and manage my Flows. I also can see « Approvals » in the menu:

  • « Approvals » is my sign-off space
  • « Approvals > Received » ⇒ Flows are running and waiting for my decisions
  • « Approvals > Sent » & « Approvals > History » ⇒ manage my past approvals

Those « Approvals » features are linked to the « Start an approval » action that I put in a Flow when I want to design a validation workflow. Typically useful for documents needing to be submitted to a manager for approbation.

By design these kinds of Flows can be started from a SharePoint library or list:

  • I select a document (or a item in a list)
  • I create an instance of a validation Flow for this selected document
  • A Sign-off status column will be automatically created the first time

blog ai3 Flow_Usages_05 Different usages of Microsoft Flow

blog ai3 Flow_Usages_06 Different usages of Microsoft Flow

Flow usages vs Flow licences

In conclusion, thanks to its multiple available usages, Flow can be a part of your digital transformation strategy.

So you can invest more or less in Flow’s licenses, depending of your goals:

  • For individual or small teams uses, Flow is included in Office 365 and Dynamics 365
  • Flow Plan 1 and Flow Plan 2 could be more appropriate for uses in large teams or across your company
  • Premium triggers are available in Flow Plan 1 and Flow Plan 2
  • Only Flow Plan 2 give governance functionalities
  • Remember that number of runs per month is limited in all licenses

Limits and prices per licence : https://emea.flow.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/?currency=EUR

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