You’ve heard of Microsoft Power Automate’s automation abilities. Perhaps you even know some business owners who’ve successfully integrated it—saving hours a week in tedious work and boosting staff productivity. Could you do the same? You’re intrigued, especially since you’re already in a Microsoft environment.
What you’ve heard about Power Automate is likely true. It does reduce manual tasks and has far reaching capabilities, including automation of the employee onboarding process and qualifying sales leads. In fact, according to a Forrester study, organizations that used Microsoft Power Platform (which includes Power Automate) realized an estimated 140% ROI and decreased app development costs by 45%.
Of course, making a business decision isn’t always as simple as looking at the ROI. You want to understand the technology you’re investing in. That’s why we’ve provided a list of 27 key considerations to help you decide if Microsoft Power Automate is right for your business. We’ll cover key features, use cases, end users, and benefits. But before we dive in, it’s important to understand what exactly Power Automate is.
What is Microsoft Power Automate?
Imagine if you and each of your staff members had a personal assistant. These assistants could complete all the menial, repetitive tasks that consume your day. The countless hours of your week spent scheduling meetings, managing email, and filling in spreadsheets could suddenly be freed up. What would you and your staff do with all that extra time?
While the above scenario may sound too good to be true, this is exactly what Microsoft Power Automate can do for your company. Previously known as Microsoft Flow, Power Automate is a cloud-based service that automates countless business processes via workflows. The service is part of the Microsoft Power Platform and can automate tasks between SharePoint, Office 365, Dynamics 365, and other Microsoft services.
However, Power Automates capabilities aren’t limited to the Microsoft ecosystem. Power Automate also connects to non-Microsoft applications and services, enabling you to automate workflows across tools and platforms, like Slack, AWS, Twitter, Gmail, and even custom applications.
Key features: What does Power Automate do?
Now that you understand the basics of Microsoft Power Automate, you’re probably excited to explore its capabilities. Let’s look at some of the key features to consider when evaluating this incredible cloud-based service.
- Workflow automation: Workflows are at the heart of Power Automate. Essentially a workflow is an automated sequence that completes a business process. These processes can range from simple to complex and be anything from basic email notifications to full blown event management, where processes like registration, reminders, thank you emails, and surveys are all automated.
- Pre-built templates: To simplify the workflow creation process, Power Automate provides pre-built templates for commonly automated tasks, such as scheduling social media posts or approving leave requests. These templates can be customized to meet your unique business needs.
- Integration with Microsoft and non-Microsoft services: As mentioned, Power Automate seamlessly integrates with apps and services in and outside the Microsoft ecosystem. It works just as well with Microsoft 365 as it does with Google Drive, AWS, Zendesk, and other platforms.
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA): For those unfamiliar with RPA, here’s how it works. Bots observe how humans perform a task on a computer and then copy that behavior to complete the same task automatically. This is an especially useful feature for companies that use legacy systems and lack API integration options. RPA acts as a workaround to bridge the integration gap.
- AI Builder: AI has a lot of buzz right now. Microsoft Power Automate leverages this revolutionary technology to help you build, train, and publish your own AI models. What can you do with it? The AI builder can read business card information, analyze sentiment from customer emails, extract key phrases from a document, and much more. Templates are available to get you started.
- Security and compliance: Power Automate’s built-in security features can assist with data privacy and compliance. It supports multi-factor authentication and retention policies, and encrypts data. It also provides visibility and control over organizational data. For example, it can alert your management team of sensitive data transfers, enforce data loss prevention policies, and prevent leakage of sensitive data.
- Trigger-based automation: Triggers are a common way to start automations in Microsoft Power Automate. How do they work? Workflows can be configured to start when certain events happen, like when you receive an email or are assigned a task. Besides event-based triggers, automations can also be started manually or scheduled.
- Approval flows: The approval process for timesheets, expense reports, and other documents can all be automated with Power Automate. This can be done by creating a set of rules or criteria that determine whether a document can be authorized. For example, you can set up a workflow that automatically approves all expense reports under a certain dollar amount.
Use Cases: What is Power Automate used for?
Now that you have an answer to the question “What does Power Automate do?”, you may be curious about the specific tasks the tool can accomplish. Consider the following.
- Automation of repetitive tasks: These can include:
- Data entry
- Send emails
- Create weekly reports
- IT operations automation: Free up your IT team’s time with automation of:
- System monitoring
- Issue tracking
- Incident management
- Integration of different applications: With Microsoft Power Automate’s integration capabilities, you can:
- Save email attachments from Outlook to OneDrive
- Post messages on Microsoft Teams whenever a new task is added to Microsoft Planner
- Human Resources automation: Simultaneously streamline tedious HR processes and improve the employee experience through automation of:
- Employee onboarding process—with prompts to complete forms, upload resumes, and more
- PTO requests
- Performance reviews
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) automation: Improve customer relations when you use CRM automation to:
- Update customer information
- Track customer interactions
- Send follow-up emails
- Sales and marketing automation: Along with CRM tasks, Power Automate can streamline sales and marketing processes, including:
- Lead generation
- Customer segmentation
- Email marketing
- Tracking sales performance
End users: Who uses Power Automate?
One of Microsoft Power Automate’s main draws is that it was created with non-technical users in mind. The application is simple to use and requires no coding. In other words, your receptionist can leverage it just as much as your IT staff. Below are some of the employees and departments who use Power Automate.
- Business owners: Responsible for the vision, direction, and ultimately life of the company, business owners need to stay focused on critical tasks, like strategic planning. Power Automate can help them make smarter decisions by monitoring business performance metrics and creating data reports.
- IT departments: Microsoft Power Automate can automate routine tasks that are tedious and time consuming, such as system maintenance and updates. This frees up your IT staff to focus on more complex issues, like developing custom applications or optimizing your network for performance, reliability, and speed.
- Marketing teams: Many redundant tasks fill your marketing team’s time on a daily basis. With Power Automate, things like posting on social media and scheduling emails can be automated, freeing up their time to work on high-value activities, like strategy.
- Human Resources: In addition to the tasks mentioned earlier, Power Automate can also help your HR team schedule job applicant interviews, gather employee feedback, and enroll in and track staff training. With more time, your HR staff can put their energy into initiatives critical for growth. These may include culture building, talent acquisition, and leadership development programs.
- Sales teams: Want to improve your sales team’s efficiency and close deals faster? That’s exactly what Microsoft Power Automate can do. Your sales team can automate routine sales processes, such as lead generation, customer follow-ups, and generating sales reports.
- Financial departments: Tasks like invoice processing, financial reporting, and approving expense reports can all be automated with Power Automate. What’s more, these tasks can be completed with less errors and improved accuracy, which helps you better budget for the future and avoid regulatory violations.
- Project managers: Power Automate can help your project managers track and report on their projects, monitor spending, and distribute surveys to clients and stakeholders. The result? They’re more likely to complete your projects on time and budget.
Benefits: How does Power Automate improve business operations?
As you’ve now read about Microsoft Power Automate’s key features, use cases, and end users, you probably have some idea of how you’ll benefit from it. However, if you want to determine whether the service is right for you, it’s important to get exceedingly clear on those benefits. Here are six to consider.
- Enhance communication and collaboration: Ensure your entire team stays informed on important updates. With the ability to automate notifications, reminder emails, and updates, Power Automate can improve your internal communications and get your staff in sync. The result is better collaboration and teamwork, which often leads to higher morale and productivity.
- Reduce costs and improve ROI: Automating routine tasks saves your staff time, helping your company operate more efficiently. This time savings helps reduce operational costs and improve employee productivity, all leading to higher return on investment.
- Respond rapidly to business needs: Whether your business is facing internal changes or market changes, sometimes your company needs to pivot quickly. By automating the many routine tasks that bog down you and your leadership team, you’ll be more flexible and able to better adapt to any market or strategic changes.
- Maintain compliance: Complying with industry regulations can be a hassle. Microsoft Power Automate can streamline the process, helping your business automate record keeping, reporting, adherence to data privacy policies, and more.
- Improve customer service: Most businesses will benefit from improved customer service. Power Automate helps with just that. It can automatically respond to customer inquiries and create support tickets from customer emails, ensuring timely and accurate responses. The result? Increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and business.
- Save time and resources: Power Automate’s time saving benefit should be obvious by now. Its automation abilities will save countless hours a week, freeing up resources to focus on business growth.
Make the best decision about Microsoft Power Automate
You began this article curious about what Microsoft Power Automate could do for your business. You had questions like “What does Power Automate do?” and “What is Power Automate used for?” While before you were uncertain about whether it was right for you, now you should have a clear answer.
Of course, it’s impossible to cover all of the countless features and capabilities of Power Automate. As the service can automate thousands of tasks, we’ve only scratched the surface of its abilities in this article. If you’d like to learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out.
However, if you’re ready to implement Microsoft Power Automate now and would like help getting started, Leverage IT is here for you. Our Navigate – Digital Transformation service guides you through the process of adopting new technologies for your organization. We take you through the selection, implementation, and vendor negotiation process step by step, answering all your questions along the way. Reach out if you’d like help.
Is Microsoft Power Automate included for free with Office 365?
It depends on your specific Office 365 plan and licensing agreement. Some O365 subscriptions include limited access to Power Automate for free. For example, you may be able to create simple workflows to automate tasks within Microsoft’s ecosystem of apps, like SharePoint, Outlook, and OneDrive. To access all of Power Automate’s features, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan.
Where is Power Automate located within Microsoft 365?
You can find Power Automate within Office 365’s list of applications in your account. If for some reason you can’t find it there, search “Explore all your apps” and look for the Power Automate icon.
What is the difference between Power Apps and Power Automate?
While Power Automate and the Power Apps are both part of Microsoft’s Power Platform, they are primarily used for different purposes. Power Apps are focused mainly on creating custom applications and user interfaces, while Power Automate is all about automating repetitive, manual tasks that slow down you and your staff.
How does Microsoft Power Automate work?
Power Automate operates through workflows, which are sequences of automated actions connecting different applications and services—both Microsoft and non-Microsoft. Users can create custom workflows by defining triggers, conditions, and actions. When a trigger event occurs, such as a form submission or receipt of email, Power Automate executes the predetermined actions automatically. Both simple and complex tasks can be automated, which help businesses save time, reduce manual work, and increase productivity.