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What is Power Automate?

Microsoft Power Automate is a very simple drag-and-drop workflow-based automation software created by Microsoft to automate manual and repetitive tasks. The main aim to create Microsoft Power Automate (earlier known as Microsoft Flow) was to allow both coders and non-coders to automate repetitive tasks that follow a sequential rule-based flow.

The intelligent automation platform allows users to set triggers to take a particular set of sequential actions by using workflows. Power Automate can be used by all Office 365 license users. The users can automate tasks between 500+ applications that include Microsoft applications like Sharepoint, Azure, Excel, Online Office, etc, and third-party applications like Twitter, Youtube, Gmail, and more.


In simple words, Suppose you have a process that you’d want to automate. Before starting, you can try to visualize the process flow by creating a flowchart. This flowchart contains different steps, variables, loops, and even conditions. Once done, you can replicate the same flowchart on Microsoft Power Automate.

Earlier known as Microsoft Flow, Microsoft Power Automate was made live in November 2019. Microsoft Power Automated is a feature-rich version of Microsoft Flow that allows professionals to connect 500+ connectors using rule-based workflows via Microsoft Power Apps. Power Automate is not a stand-alone application; all flows are set up via Microsoft Power Apps. Power Automate can be used in desktop mode (offline), mobile, or web applications.


What is Power Automate used for?

Power Automate is a low code platform for automating tedious tasks on both personal and professional levels. These tasks can be anything from syncing data to creating front-end data collection applications.


We took a look at the platform and here are some ways to use Power Automate:

Process Automation

Any process that follows a set of rules and starts with a trigger can be automated using the automation platform.

Eg. Think about 3-way matching. Here, you need to match data from 3 different documents and then approve or disapprove the documents. This process follows a set of rules and can be automated with workflows. The first step is extracting data from documents, then matching the data followed by an if/then condition.

Business Process Automation

Businesses can ensure their employees follow a proper way of completing tasks. You can create front-end application where the employee gets an app.

The employee needs to follow the process steps and complete the task. This ensures all the data is uniform and makes a scalable process possible.

AI Models

Power Automate can be used to create AI models to complete tasks like data extraction, detect objects, prediction and sentiment analysis.

Optimizing Workflows

Power Automate Process Advisor can help you identify bottlenecks in your processes. It will give you an idea of how you can reconfigure your processes to improve performance of your workflows.

Automating Offline on Desktop

This is an amazing way to automate your desktop tasks.


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Who can use Power Automate?

Power Automate can be used by anyone, coder or a non-coder, to automate any kind of task which is manual, repetitive and follows a set of rules. Anyone with an email id can use Power Automate with a free plan. Here are the best use cases for using Power Automate:

  • Freelancers - Freelancers are solo entrepreneurs and generally work with a small team or by themselves. Freelancers can use Microsoft Power Automate to automate manual tasks like setting up autoresponders, alerting when they receive a message on email, automatically posting on their social media accounts and more.
  • Managers - Managers working for enterprises or brands can use workflow management software to create automated alerts, sync data across applications, set up OOO messages, and more.
  • Finance Department Users - A lot of finance tasks are manual. Power Automate can be used to set up workflows for approval processes, invoice processing, and more.
  • Entrepreneurs - Handling a business is no easy task. Entrepreneurs can automate multiple aspects of their business with automated workflows like sending a thank you message, getting alert notifications when customer sends an email, syncing customer information across platforms, setting up automated email responses and more.

Here, we’ve listed some of the users for Power Automate, but frankly, it can be used by anyone to automate any task!


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5 Different types of Power Automate Flows

Power Automate flow is a set of pre-decided actions to take based on different triggers. Let’s take a look at 5 different types of Power Automate flows.

Automated Cloud Flow

Automated Cloud Flows is a set of actions that you want to take when a particular action happens.

Example:

When a new row is created in excel, an automated email is sent out.

Instant Cloud Flow

When you want to take an action instantly, you can use this flow.

Example:

Send an alert to all your team members to team members about an upcoming webinar and send an email with the invitation links.

Scheduled Cloud Flow

Scheduled Cloud Flows takes an action in the future.

Example:

Save all email attachments to One Drive every week.

Desktop Flow

Desktop Flows are really amazing to automate tasks using your user interface. You can record yourself doing a particular task and then run the automation. The Desktop Flow will complete the action again and again like Macros in excel.

Business Process Flow

As mentioned earlier, business process flows are used to ensure data consistency across teams and geographical locations.

We’ve covered how to create a business process flow in our Microsoft Power Automate Tutorial here.


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What are the different elements on Microsoft Power Automate screen?

When you enter Microsft Power Automate, you will be greeted with a screen that resembles the image. Let’s look at what each and every component in the left-side navigation menu can do for you.

Action Items

Action items give you an overview of all your business processes and any pending approvals requests.

My Flows

Shows all the flows that you’ve created in your account in a single glance.

Create

Lets you create a new workflow.

Templates

This option leads you to the workflow template library which contains templates segregated by your requirement. You can also use the search bar to find a template that suits your requirement.

Connectors

Connectors just list all the software that can be connected. This is not the place where you can connect your software with Microsoft Power Automate. That option sits under Data. (that’s a little confusing)

Data

This is one of the most important options in the navigation bar after +create. Data allows you to create tables (database to collect, sync, or store data), connections (shows all software that you’ve integrated with Power Automate), custom connectors, and gateways (create a gateway to store data on-premises but still share the data with the cloud when required in a secure manner).

Things to note - Only basic connectors are available in the free trial version. You can connect your own account only. To connect to the majority of other applications, you need admin access to get the API key.

Monitor

Shows an overview of cloud and desktop flow activity. It has another option where it shows your system health where desktop flows are actively running.

AI Builder

AI Builder helps users extract information from text, images, structured datasets, and documents. Users can choose from templates or create their own custom models.

Process Advisor

Process Advisor advises how current processes can be improved in two ways. You can either upload data from various sources or record yourself performing any activity.

Solutions

All your databases are added here which contain all variables you want to work with. You can create a new process by selecting the database you’re comfortable with.

Learn

Self-explanatory. It is your help section.

When should I use Power Automate?

Microsoft Power Automate can be powerful if used properly. Here are some scenarios when you can use Power Automate:

When all your process elements are mapped out.

Before you even start creating your Power Automate flow, you need to map out all variables and all the stages in the entire flow. Why?

You’ll have to create all the variables in Microsoft Power Apps. Therefore, it is a great exercise to map out all elements: variables, AI models, stages, conditions, connectors, and templates, well before you start creating on the Power Automate platform.

When your process is sequential.

Most of the flows follow the trigger and action approach. Creating loops is difficult. It is advisable to convert your processes into sequential steps. If you need loops, make sure you work with a developer.

When you have access to all the admin accounts.

If you’re connecting two applications, you need to have admin rights to both accounts. Make sure you have the right permissions before you start working.


Nanonets for document process automation

Power Automate is a great platform to automate document processes, but the Power Automate OCR tool can still fall short and be a little complicated for first-time non-coder users.

Nanonets is a no-code document automation platform that automates manual processes with automated workflows. You can use Nanonets to extract text from any kind of document (invoice, bill, receipt) and enhance it before sending it to any application.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xlaRA7HYNQ

You can use Nanonets to automate any kind of document process like

  • Invoice Processing
  • 3-way matching
  • Receipt Processing
  • PDF data extraction

And more.


Furthermore, here are some features that make Nanonets an excellent choice for document automation.

  • Modern UI platform
  • Drag and drop platform to create document workflows
  • Templates - Choose from templates or create your own workflows
  • No code environment - Create automated workflows without writing a single line of code
  • Role-based restrictions
  • No hidden charges - Check our pricing plans
  • On-premise and cloud hosting options
  • 5000+ integrations
  • GDPR and SOC2 platform
  • 24x7 online chat support and personal client managers

Start your free trial or request a free product tour.

Conclusion

Microsoft Power Automate is a great tool to automate manual tasks. We’ve tried to cover the basics of Power Automate in this blog. In our previous blog, we’ve covered Microsoft Power Automate tutorials and Power Automate examples in an in-depth guide.