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Upcoming Webinar: How to make your first Microsoft 'Flow'

2 Nov 2016 by Emma Robinson

Want to find out how to build a custom flow, and use the advanced features? Register for the upcoming Flow webinar now.
After being in preview for months, Microsoft Flow is now entering general availability, so in this post we will take a closer look at the tool and learn how to make a simple ‘Flow’.
Flow is all about integration as a means to automate repetitive tasks, create intuitive workflows, and ultimately improve productivity. A large part of this is enabled through connecting up third party services with the Office 365 apps and ecosystem. It’s clear that Microsoft is laser-focused on positioning Office 365 as  the ultimate ‘hub’ for your work, whether this directly involves their applications, or whether its by accommodating other services that you rely on to get the job done. To this end, the number of integrated applications is ever-increasing, as well as the possibilities for what you can do with them.
A quick note on licensing: Currently it’s free to sign up for Flow, but once it’s released there are a range of plans you can choose from, including a free tier. More details can be found here.
So how does it work?
Flow is a very flexible tool, designed to accommodate a wide range of workflows. That said, it’s also a little complicated to configure, so there are plenty of templates available to help you get started. The templates have been built by both Microsoft and Preview users, so you have access to pre-built Flows that can do things like:

  • Set up push notifications every time your boss emails you
  • Automatically post your Instagram content to Twitter
  • Save Tweets that include a certain hashtag in a SharePoint Online list

Even the templates can be a little confusing, so we’ve taken a step-by-step look at a simple workflow template below.
How to set up a Flow from a template

  1. Login to Flow
  2. Go to ‘My Flows’ in the top left-hand corner
    my-flows
  3. Click ‘Create from Template’
  4. Take a look through the templates, and choose the one you would like – this is the one we picked:
    save-tweets-to-excel
  5. To get started, click ‘Use this Template’
  6. You will be able to see what the template requires before you create the flow. As you can see below, we need to create an Excel spreadsheet, and have the log in for Twitter available.
    to-use-template
  7. You can connect to the Office 365 applications via Flow, and any third party services can be authenticated in a pop-out window. Once this is done for all elements, click ‘Continue’.
    signed-in
  8. Once you’re connected, add in the details of the Workflow you want to create. For our example, we want to track any mentions of ‘Cogmotive’ on Twitter, so I created the Excel spreadsheet and named it ‘Twitter Monitoring’, then configured the Flow to add a new row including: the name of user, the user account name, the full tweet, and Retweet count.
  9. As you can see below, it’s easy to select the dynamic content you need for the Flow. Each time ‘Cogmotive’ is mentioned, a new row will be created and populated in my Excel spreadsheet.
    dynamic-content
  10.  Now that the first part is set up, next we want to exclude all mentions made by our own Twitter account. To do this, click ‘New step’, and there is the option to build on your Flow using ‘If YES’ or ‘If NO’ conditions.
    conditions
  11. As you can see, if the User Name matches @cogmotive, then the row will be automatically deleted from the Excel spreadsheet.
  12. Now that our configurations are all set, we can click ‘Create Flow’ at the top of the page to run it.
    done-flow
  13. You can review all of your ‘Flows’ in the ‘My Flows’ area of the app, you can turn them on or off, and make any edits as necessary.
    my-flow-done

Now you just have to wait for your Flow to run, and check the end result! One of the great things about Flow is if you don’t set it up exactly how you need it, or want to build another step into it, you can always go back into your workflow and make any changes or refinements you need.
That’s an example of how to use templates, but how do you set up your own Flow?
Our upcoming webinar: ‘Have you tried Flow yet? Exploring one of the latest tools in Office 365′ will show you how to use some of the advanced features of the tool, as well as providing tips and ideas on how to make custom Flows.
Register here, and join us on Tuesday 8th November at 1pm EST. Can’t make it, but don’t want to miss out? Not a problem, sign up anyway and we’ll send you a copy of the webinar and slide deck.
Cogmotive is the leading global provider of enterprise level reporting and analytics applications for Office 365. Find out more now.