The verb defines the App
The literal meaning of to flow is to continue to be produced and it’s true for Microsoft Flow : I create a self-acting process in the cloud and then it is running.
Indeed when I create a Flow:
- my Flow is in Azure
- my Flow is pending
- my Flow starts when something happens
- after running it is pending again
I can create Flows for a lot of usages:
- simple Flows automating usual tasks
- more complex Flows for actions sequences, including conditioned actions
Let’s see how these Flow’s concepts can be transformed in real use cases.
Triggers : conditions to start
The trigger is the first thing I must define when I’m designing a Flow.
I choose one in available triggers, in those examples we can see that a trigger:
- Can be the weather or the time (schedule)
- Can come from Office 365
- Can come from a cloud service like DocuSign, Facebook, JIRA, …
- Can be an button in the Flow mobile App
Behind triggers there are connectors, it’s illustrated below.
Personal productivity usage
I can create a Flow :
- To add in my Outlook calendar the events of my Gmail calendar
- To create a OneNote sheet 15′ before each meeting in my calendar
- To quickly block my calendar for one hour from now, having a Flow button for this in my mobile
These individual usages are similar to the possibilities of IFTTT, where Flow is more « my day at work ».
Collective productivity usage
Flow brings possibilities for quick digitalisation:
« What if we change our validation process? »
« Can we use a digital signing service? »
« Is there a connector(s) like this in Flow? Yes! »
« So we can try it now with a Flow between SharePoint and a signing service! »
But this could seem to be theoretical.
Have a look at a nice demo made by Serge Luca (MVP), showing in details how flows looks like in an contract’s lifecycle with Adobe Sign : https://youtu.be/k5kCVv5HqOQ
Moreover, Flow’s connectors are using REST.
This post (in french) explain how to create yourself the connector for K2 with the json API’s file https://www.enk2besoin.com/2018/05/15/integration-avec-ms-flow/
Validation workflow usage
In Flow’s working area I can create and manage my Flows. I also can see « Approvals » in the menu:
- « Approvals » is my sign-off space
- « Approvals > Received » ⇒ Flows are running and waiting for my decisions
- « Approvals > Sent » & « Approvals > History » ⇒ manage my past approvals
Those « Approvals » features are linked to the « Start an approval » action that I put in a Flow when I want to design a validation workflow. Typically useful for documents needing to be submitted to a manager for approbation.
By design these kinds of Flows can be started from a SharePoint library or list:
- I select a document (or a item in a list)
- I create an instance of a validation Flow for this selected document
- A Sign-off status column will be automatically created the first time
Flow usages vs Flow licences
In conclusion, thanks to its multiple available usages, Flow can be a part of your digital transformation strategy.
So you can invest more or less in Flow’s licenses, depending of your goals:
- For individual or small teams uses, Flow is included in Office 365 and Dynamics 365
- Flow Plan 1 and Flow Plan 2 could be more appropriate for uses in large teams or across your company
- Premium triggers are available in Flow Plan 1 and Flow Plan 2
- Only Flow Plan 2 give governance functionalities
- Remember that number of runs per month is limited in all licenses
Limits and prices per licence : https://emea.flow.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/?currency=EUR