Part 1: Work smarter – Start assign tasks to machines

Do you miss a certain integration from Office 365 services, or third party, to Microsoft Teams? Have you looked if you can build that integration yourself?

I’ve come across multiple users doing repetitive tasks daily and either they aren’t aware that machines can help them or they don’t know how to get started with automations or they are intimidated by the names like Power Automate. Power + Automate, two strong words that end users aren’t comfortable with.
But fear not, see Power Automate as your “friendly robot” helping you do the tasks that can save you time. Time you can spend on something more important like actually sit down and think for a bit about a task or taking care of your own wellbeing which in the end will make you more productive.
It is about time to learn how to learn the robot help you on a daily basis.

In this article we will focus on getting started with Power Automate and in coming articles we will advance to build more powerful custom solutions.
My goal is to give you basic understanding in the Power Platform products so that you know how they integrated into our Office 365 tools and can make our work a lot smarter.

Introduction to Power Automate

Exampel of a flow in Power Automate

Power Automate was formerly named Flows and within this product we can build machine/robot tasks which is named flows. Each flow starts with a trigger action and then we decide step by step which actions that should be performed. A flow can be built for us personally, for our team or for our whole organization.
Power Automate is designed so that we can create flows with no code or low code and we simply use click, drag and drop. Of course with more advanced flows we might need more coding into our flow, but for basic tasks anyone can start building automations.
When you use actions with other services you create connections allowing the flow to connect to specified services as you.

A flow can be triggered by different actions such as automated flow, instant flow or scheduled flow.
An automated flow triggers on an designed event that you specify like when you receive a new email or someone posts in a channel in Teams.
An instant flow triggers when you press run on the flow.
A scheduled flow triggers when you want it to trigger by a specified time or how often it should run per hour/day.

Get started with Templates

In the Power Automate portal (https://flow.microsoft.com) menu we have Templates. In this section we can browse between hundreds of template flows that we can easily install to our account and let them run.

We have templates that can perform actions like:

  • Message/email people
  • Move files from one location to another
  • Give us a reminder in 10 minutes

To create a flow from a template, simply press on the template of your choice and after that press “Create Flow” and the flow will be created with necessary connections to services the flow needs to being able to operate on your behalf.
When adding some templates it is required by you to edit some actions with necessary information on where the actions should be executed. As an example if you move SharePoint files to another location you need to specify in which document library and folder the files that should be moved are and to what location they should be moved to.

Email attachments saved to OneDrive for Business template

As a tip for all of you who works more in Teams then in Outlook is to create the “Save Office 365 email attachments to OneDrive for Business” template flow because our OneDrive is integrated to the Files app in Teams and we can then easily access file attachments sent to us without leaving the Teams client.
This flow doesn’t require any modifications by you and will by design save all email attachments to a folder in your OneDrive named “Email attachments from Flow”.

If we look deeper into this template with editing the flow from the “My flows” section we can see that the flow does the following:

The flow triggers on received emails with attachments.
Since some emails contains multiple attachments the flow needs to do some actions for each attachment.

For each attachment the flow will first create the file in the specified folder path with the file content such as the original file name and the file content.
If the creation was successful the flow will stop.
If the file creation failed the flow will first wait 30 seconds and then try to create the file again.

In Part 2 we will build flows from scratch and use one actions objects to another action. I hope you found this informative and hope to see you again when next part is published.

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