Innovators have an innate quality, they break down complex structures into basic elements and then, combine permutation and combinations of those elements to form another module. This leads to groundbreaking inventions, thereby ushering a wave of innovative solutions. It is an indigenous cycle that is adopted by developers and Technical Architects in order to revolutionize the industry.
Solution experts at Microsoft have also embraced this strategy and thus keep emerging with various services that realize the user’s requirements. One such service from their suite of services is Microsoft Flow. It is an extraordinary cloud based amenity to empower Power Users and citizen developers to automate business processes with little or no knowledge of development technologies enabling apps and services to talk to each other. It is a part of Business Application Platform called the Power Platform that comprises of Power BI, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow. Using Microsoft Flow enables the users to act swifter, smarter and be more efficient by adopting automated workflows in Dynamics 365 CRM.
Microsoft Flow allows easy integration between multiple apps using connectors made available for those apps. Currently there are more than 200+ connectors available for various applications that have been made available by their respective vendors to ease communicating with their applications. It has two components, Triggers, and Actions. Triggers are driving factors in one of the connectors using which an action is called. For e.g., assume there is a scenario where when someone tweets about your company, a trigger is “fired off.” The next one is the Action to be performed when the trigger is fired. You could configure the flow to send you an email notification or create a record in your favorite business application to ensure a follow-up action on the tweet. Here Twitter, Common Data Service are Connectors using which the trigger is invoked and the Actions are performed. Using Microsoft Flow we can sync data between Dynamics 365 Online and Azure SQL to maintain synced copies of the data.
It is a synonym of “Low-Code/No-Code” development platform. LCNC platform is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that allows Business Users or Business Analysts to drag-and-drop application units and connect them to build a system. Like Power BI, Microsoft Flow is also an extremely powerful service by Microsoft that provides abilities surpassing the routine way of creating workflows.
Let’s delve deep and have a look at the benefits of functionality of Microsoft Flow:
Ease of implementation
All you need is to sign up for the services on Microsoft Flow website. Post signing up you can choose from the range of templates created for commonly integrated applications or start fresh with a blank template and create your own flow diagram connecting the applications of your choice.
Minimal learning curve
Integrating applications has usually involved custom development due to the diverse applications available in the market with each one having their own standards for communicating with their applications. Flow helps standardize this and makes it agnostic such that the user need not have any technical knowledge of these applications to design integration flow for them.
Traditionally developed applications have always had the overhead of maintenance as well as has been challenging to design easily scalable integrations between applications. Using the power of Microsoft Flow which is built on the Azure stack, these solutions are highly performant and easily scalable to volume.
One of the limitations of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement has been the ability to schedule recurring jobs/actions. There are hacks available to get that done, however the Dynamics 365 platform does not provide this service. Flow fills this gap with the ability to schedule actions to be performed. The actions could be scheduled to execute at specific time intervals that includes executing it multiple times in a day or selected days of week or month.
Accept user input through dialogs
While flows have mostly been known for automation to trigger automatically on messages like Create, Update or Delete, we could also configure the flows to be invoked manually. For flows designed to be executed through ribbon button, it is possible to accept user input. The user input is then available for processing in the rest of the flow design. This option is helpful to fulfill the feature provided by the traditional Dialogs in Dynamics 365. Do note Dialogs are not supported in the new Unified Interface of Dynamics 365.
These were a fistful of benefits of Microsoft Flow from the bulk of advantages it has. Some of the use cases that we have utilized the power of Flow to deliver robust solutions for our clients with an astounding feedback.
Customize OOB Qualify Lead Process
We often get clients asking to customize the behavior of OOB Qualify Lead process. Say for example, extend the dialog box presented for Qualify button to request creation of opportunity or other custom entities when a lead is qualified. In the past, this had mostly involved designing of a custom web resource and override the default Qualify ribbon button and perform the requested actions. But now with Flow we can achieve same thing by designing a Microsoft Flow that can be invoked through a ribbon button and request for user input based on which the actions could be performed. Similarly, we can add custom business logic on OOB as well as custom Entities and processes.
SharePoint folder permission
Recently we had a requirement where the client wanted to moderate the access level of users for folders in SharePoint. We created a Flow for it which specified that whenever a record for Employee Entity in Dynamics 365 CRM was created, few folders were auto-created in SharePoint against the employee. The employee to be provided only read access to the folders and the moderator or administrator could read, write and delete all the folders on SharePoint using accessibility options. This requirement was met by designing a Flow using the connectors available for SharePoint and Dynamics 365 CRM/Common Data Service.
On Demand Microsoft Flows
Sometimes we want to give the user an option to manually call the flow similar to the on-demand workflow we have in Dynamics 365 CRM. Flows designed to trigger on the “when record is selected” trigger of the Common Data Service connector will show up in Dynamics 365 CRM under the Flow ribbon button now available throughout the Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement application.
Triggers on each mail received and parse the content and use it to perform further actions. Using the Outlook connector, we can very easily send out emails without having to write any code to connect to Outlook or compose the email.
As a Microsoft Partner offering development and outsourcing services for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform that includes Power Apps, Flow and Power BI, feel free to reach out to us for any assistance with designing custom apps or automation needs using any of these technologies.
So what are you waiting for, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for all your Microsoft Flow needs.