Microsoft Flow – What do you need to know?
It’s a pretty connected world these days, with tasks undertaken by multiple platforms, usually simultaneously. This can sometimes make it difficult to stay on top of things – often one action in one service requires a manual step to follow up in another platform.
Throughout the technology world, integration seems to be the name of the game. You can create a great application or service, but how does it work with complementary tools, what is its interplay with the end user’s current environment? As Microsoft continues to build out their Office 365 offering, it is clear that integration and connectivity remains at the forefront of their focus with the recent addition: Microsoft Flow.
Flow acts as the connective nexus between other services, offering a simple, easy-to-use workflow creation process. While there are a number of apps out there that do much of this already (often with many more connection points), Microsoft Flow is the first to be fully integrated into Office 365, as well as offering integrations with the platform’s own business tools, including Dynamics CRM, Excel, OneDrive and Yammer, amongst many others.
Currently available in preview, Flow is free to all Office 365 users through a simple sign up process. The technology allows for some very simple but powerful workflows to be built around popular services. So let’s take a look around.
There are a number of existing connectors for many of the usual suspects:
The best way to use Flow is to dive right in and take a look at some of the workflow templates that are pre-built and ready to go. Alternatively, these templates can be used as a basis to construct more powerful or complex workflows.
Let’s start with one of the pre-configured templates called ‘Get a Push Notification when you get an Email from your Boss’. Select the Flow and it shows you some of the required connections.
Select ‘get started’ and the required connections configuration appear. Each one will need particular access. If it’s a non-Microsoft service, you will need an account for those services as well.
As the template has all the workflow processes built-in there isn’t much more to do here. However, if you want to create something more complex, you can use this workflow as a stepping stone for larger flows.
Naturally, this template will fall apart if you don’t have a defined manager in Active Directory, so if you want to use it make sure that the information is there.
Once you create the flow it will show up in My Flows and will be active.
Microsoft has also launched an iOS version, which ties in with their focused push on the mobile side of things. In the iOS app you can review your alerts and flows, start and stop them, enabling you to get real-time notifications for important events.