Technology that talks

11th April 2017

Microsoft Flow is a relatively new addition to the corporation's wealth of services that help businesses realise their full potential. The idea that we can all do less and achieve more is at the core of Flow's design and its real capacity to simplify and enhance our daily processes certainly underpins this pledge to increase efficiencies.

So what does Microsoft Flow actually do? – it's actually very simple, its function is to create automated workflows between the applications and services you rely on.

Part of the Office 365 suite, Flow naturally integrates with all of your data – leaving you in charge of deciding which applications you would like to talk to each other in order to achieve the most productive outcomes for your business.

To put a little more clarity behind this, Flow will happily connect with all of your favourite services including SharePoint, OneDrive, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox and Outlook. Microsoft Flow, very smartly and simply, turns repetitive tasks into multistep workflows, here are just a few examples you might decide to set up:

- Get a push notification when you receive an email from your manager or an important client
- Copy files between OneDrive and SharePoint
- Save tweets to an Excel file
- Track Facebook wall messages in an Excel table
- Receive an email when new files are added in SharePoint Online
- Save Office 365 email attachments to OneDrive.

To focus on the primary headlines of Flow, the reasons behind why so many businesses are now using it, you could split it down into:

- To get notifications: whenever a new lead is added in CRM or SalesForce you could opt to receive an email with details about the lead
- To copy files: perhaps from OneDrive to SharePoint
- To collect data: add new tweets into a database
- To automate approvals: triggering workflow approval for holidays.

Notifications is a popular motivation for using Flow, so if a client or interested party tweets about you - create a flow that follows them, sends a reply, adds them to a spreadsheet and then inserts this contact into SalesForce or your CRM.

Building a new flow is really very easy, all you need is a sign-in for the applications you would like to connect. There are pre-created templates that enable you to connect over 50 services, Microsoft guides you through each template with a series of straightforward clicks and instructions.

Each flow relies on 2 ideas – the trigger that kick-starts your flow and the thing you want to happen once this trigger has been set into motion. If you can't find your triggers or results within the Flow templates then you can go bespoke. When you create a flow from blank you get to decide the triggers and actions, giving you the ability to design all kinds of unique flows like email alerts containing responses to blog posts – using dynamic content to insert the contents of the blog directly into your email.

Once you have built a flow you can manage on either a desktop or mobile device, so no matter where you are working it's a straightforward click to see if your flows are working the way you envisaged.

If you have Office 365 and want to explore how you can automate and streamline your processes using Microsoft Flow, get in touch today and we can talk you through how it would work for you.