Playing an integral role within an organization can be taxing – Traveling, attending meetings, making vital business decisions to grow the business, etc. Managing all of the larger tasks that you have to do throughout the day makes you run around enough, but then there are simple things such as answering the hundreds of emails that clutter your inbox each week, remembering to respond to certain messages, setting up meetings with clients, and all of the other tasks that are small, but take up so much time.

With Microsoft Flow, you can automate workflows with many applications so you can work more efficiently. All of the members in your team can benefit from automating smaller tasks so they can work on other projects and work more efficiently.

Users familiar with IFTT may notice some similarities with functionality, and it is indeed a direct competitor in some ways. However, tools like IFTT and Zapier are made for consumers, while Microsoft’s Flow is built for the enterprise, with deep integration with Office 365, MS Dynamics, and other platforms such as SalesForce.

Let’s dive into some of the key features that allow Flow to boost your productivity.

Daily workflow

Microsoft Flow can benefit your daily workflow in a number of ways. How many junk emails do you get in a day? It’s easy for the important emails to get lost in those that you don’t need to pay attention to immediately. Microsoft Flow is a great tool to use to set up custom notifications and prioritize. You can set up text messages to be sent to you once you receive a high-priority email based on who is sending that message. For instance, if you want to be notified immediately if a certain client or manager is trying to contact you. You can also setup other conditions based on other data. Tired of sifting through all of those tweets? You can create a flow that captures tweets based on certain hashtags you want to stay up to date about or setup automated responses to someone who tweets about your business. By creating entries into a structured query language (SQL) server table, this scenario allows users to mine the data later on.

Sharing data

Microsoft Flow is ideal for its convenient sharing abilities. Users can create flows that copies files from one place to another place where others can have access to that data as well. For instance, if you store files in OneDrive and need to share data with the whole team via Dropbox. Microsoft Flow is an IFTTT-like service to connect apps so they can talk to each other. Although Microsoft Flow does focus on connecting Microsoft business tools including Microsoft Office 365, Dynamics CRM and Power Apps, other services are also supported such as MailChimp, GitHib, SalesForce, and select Facebook and Twitter functions.

Microsoft Common Data Model

Earlier this month, while your flows already have the capability to connect to over 40 different services, you might need to find a way to store new data somewhere. Microsoft Common Data Model (CDM) is an out-of-box business database for storing and managing business entities. By using the CDM integrated in Microsoft Flow, enterprises can improve efficiencies with a unified view of business data. If you want to collect data about your organization, you can store that data in the CDM.  CDM is also customizable and runs in the cloud which means easy access to said data. CDM is also integrated into Microsoft PowerApps in order to build views in addition to the data that is being put into Microsoft Flow. CDM can import data from the following:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Cloud-based Microsoft Excel files
  • Microsoft SQL database (both on-premises and in the cloud)
  • Custom APIs defined to connect to your organization’s systems

Automation

One of the key points to take away from Microsoft Flow is that it automates processes that tend to interrupt your daily workflow, as previously mentioned. By taking advantage of Microsoft Flow’s ability to send automate messages, you won’t have to worry about missing or forgetting about any business leads that follow-up with you while you’re away or traveling. Missing one follow-up could very well mean lost business. Keeping up with email in general is hard enough while you’re at a conference all day. You can start with a template that is designed for whatever purpose that fits your needs such as creating a flow to send you notifications when you receive emails from a certain customer or team member. You can start with a pre-built template or you can create a flow yourself using data sources such as a Sharepoint list, SQL Azure table, or cloud-based Excel file. You can also create flows that have multiple actions and conditions. Need to send out a report on the same day each week? Create a flow for that! You can send updated data reports to your team as necessary whether it’s daily or once per month. What matters is that you don’t have to think about taking time out to send that same email out each time, especially if it’s being sent out daily! It’s one less thing to worry about each day. Scheduling reoccurring flows is very handy when new data is released and needs to be shared amongst the whole team.

Go Mobile

Recently, Microsoft Flow launched a new iOS application so you manage your flows on-the-go! From your smartphone, you can manage a flow’s properties to make sure everything is running smoothly while you’re away from the office. The app also has an activity feed where you can see recent flow actions and get more in-depth details about particular workflows. You can also configure the app to send push notifications if a flow isn’t working properly or an error pops up that needs to be fixed. It’s Microsoft’s solution to yet again be constantly connected. As this feature is new, more features are to come in the future so stay tuned!

Although Microsoft Flow is still coming out with new features, the features that are publicly available today mean vast improvements in operational efficiencies. Why put in extra hours when it’s not needed? Microsoft Flow is a very useful tool for enterprises to automate and integrate processes from various cloud-based data sources. Just think of everything your team will achieve with Microsoft making your daily worklife, flow.