Microsoft Flow is part of the Power Platform and comes with a base level subscription to Office 365. It is a workflow engine and Business Process Automation (BPA) toolset that together with PowerApps provides business and technical users with a great toolset for automating tedious processes. The combination of Flow and PowerApps replaces SharePoint workflows and InfoPath. Flow handles all the traditional SharePoint workflows like approvals and publishing. It also handles workflow associated with forms or inputs through PowerApps.
Flow is a flexible framework that allows other business applications to provide connectors that through Triggers and Actions, allow automation across enterprise applications.
Flow is very easy to start with and can support increasing complexity and scale for process automation. Common use cases include:
- HR processes like vacation request, position transfers, separations
- IT processes like on-boarding and equipment request
- Finance Processes like compensation changes, capital project request
- Marketing processes like content approvals and publishing
- Approvals – the Flow approvals app provides an easy way to get and record approvals of all requests in one place.
Automating these and other processes can shorten cycle time and save countless hours of chasing paper or email based workflows and their status.
The following diagram describes the overall architecture of Flow.
- Connectors: connectors allow Flow visibility into available Triggers and Actions in other business applications and make them usable in the Flow interface. Microsoft provides connectors to most of its business apps and over 100 other cloud solutions now offer Flow connectors.
- Triggers: A Trigger is a change in business application data or status that can be used initiates a Flow or action within a Flow. For example, a creation of a new list item in SharePoint can be a trigger for action. A change in status for a record in Dynamics CE can be a trigger for creating a Team.
- Control: internal flow logic and actions that determine what actions should be taken after a trigger. It allows branching, conditional logic and other controls to implement the required business logic.
- Actions: a Flow triggered, is intended to take actions if the logic criteria are met. Actions can include asking for approval, sending emails, putting data in a new system or any other Actions supported by the Connectors.
Stay tuned for the next article in this series where we’ll get into details of the architecture and explain how to use them.