Julie Proteau
By Julie Nov 6, 2023

How To Boost Your Productivity Using Power Automate

Power Automate is one of the many components of Power Platform, the Low Code/No Code platform developed by Microsoft. It deals with the backend server layer, where data read/write operations are carried out and information is prepared for the frontend presentation layer. This is where we can automate a range of actions, such as processing all the entries in your employee list and sending them customized emails, each containing a compensation form template filled out with their individual data. At Uzinakod, we have optimized our processes using Power Automate, taking full advantage of this powerful Microsoft solution.

As a company specializing in software development, you might wonder why Uzinakod decided to explore this avenue. A quote from the designer of the Pearl language, Larry Wall, might answer this question: ‘’The three chief virtues of a programmer are: Laziness, Impatience and Hubris.’’

We recognized in this platform a great opportunity to update our internal processes and provide a cost-effective solution for digital transformation needs, as opposed to custom development. Continue reading to discover how Power Automate can transform the way you work.

Capture d’écran du logiciel Power Automate de Microsoft
Screenshot source: Microsoft

Power Automate key features

Types of flows

Power Automate is a workflow management service that enables users to create, automate and manage recurrent tasks and business processes. The latter can be automated through workflows using Power Automate.

  • Cloud: These flows are the most widely used, as they enable online tools to be used in the most up-to-date way. We only have to think of a few Microsoft tools (SharePoint, Forms, OneDrive, and Office 365) to realize their added value for collaboration, version management, access management, and more compared to tools installed locally on our computers.
  • Desktop: These flows are designed to automate the actions executed locally on your computer. The tool enables you to record your actions while executing a business process to automate it. For example, you can automate a task like opening a folder and sending each of its files to the respective employee via email based on the document title.
  • Business Processes: These flows allow you to analyze data from your workflows, Power Apps, Azure deployments, and other sources.

Types of triggers

As we have just seen, the automations created in this tool are displayed as ‘’flows’’ that can be activated through various methods. Here is a list of available triggers:

  • Manual: An employee can activate a flow by manually pressing a button.
  • Power Apps: The execution request can come from another platform tool, such as Power Apps. For example, the trigger could be a user clicking a button in the Power Apps application developed specifically for your needs, like a user-friendly interface for submitting expenses instead of having to interact with a form on their cellphone.
  • Scheduled: The trigger can be automated at a pre-determined frequency (e.g., the flow could run every Tuesday at 8 a.m.).
  • Added Item or Form Response: The trigger can also be the addition or modification of an item in an Excel or SharePoint list, the receipt of a form response, an event added or changed in a calendar, and so on.
  • HTTP Request: It is possible to integrate an automated process flow into an existing application using an HTTP call. For example, when automating the vacation request process, we incorporated an API to retrieve the number of remaining vacation hours for the employee submitting the request.

Programming concepts

You have the option to use programming concepts, such as conditional processing of an action. This means we can perform a step only if the request is approved beforehand, for example, and set up the execution of a different process if it is not approved (using if/else logic).

We can also use the switch case to modify the handling of a task based on specific information. For example, you could adjust your employees’ expense reimbursement rules depending on their roles (the manager’s rules might be different from those of a salesperson or developer).

Lastly, we can perform conditional processing based on the outcome of a previous action. For example, we can create a folder only if the retrieval of folder information has failed.

Integrations

Power Automate integrates with an extensive range of existing connectors. You can even craft custom connectors to interact with various APIs. These connectors include all Microsoft tools, such as Outlook, SharePoint, PowerPoint, Word, Excel, OneDrive, Office 365, Forms, and Dynamics, but there are also a multitude of connectors with software from other companies such as Adobe, Jira, Azure, SQL, Google (Calendar, Drive, Sheets, etc.), GitHub or even MailChimp.

Copilot mode

The platform provides access to an artificial intelligence that assists in creating workflows in the form of a chat. You can communicate your requirements, and it will attempt to generate a sequence of actions to help you achieve them. For example, we asked Power Automate to send an email to the quality expert whenever an item moves through the ‘’Test’’ column. The assistant will allow you to inquire about any questions you have for understanding a workflow or will provide recommendations for modifying or creating one.

Automations we have done at Uzinakod

After discovering the capabilities of Power Automate, we decided to automate various internal processes, with the most recent being the preparation of meetings for our annual performance evaluations.

Last year, this process was nearly entirely done manually. We had a self-assessment form and a form to gather assessments from immediate superiors, but the remaining tasks, like creating a directory structure and organising the collected data, were handled manually, which made it nearly impossible to conduct a comprehensive 360° peer assessment.

This year, we have primarily automated the content preparation for individual meetings by consolidating all the form responses for each employee into a single document. The manager in charge of the assessment now has a unified document to open during the meeting, facilitating access to information and note-taking. With this partial automation in place, we can enhance the process further and expand it to encompass 360° peer reviews.

Person working on automation processes

The benefits of automation at a glance

By automating your processes, you enable your employees to focus on higher-value activities. The risk of errors in repetitive and tedious tasks is significantly reduced and you also increase the security of your data by automating the granting of permissions on documents and/or directories created via a Power Automate workflow. The key benefit is the opportunity to use automation to reassess and enhance your business processes, making them considerably more efficient.

Want to find out more about the various low-cost solutions available for your small to medium-sized business? Join us on November 15, 2023, at 1:05 p.m. in the INTUIT QUICKBOOKS Room (Room #1) at Palais des Congrès de Montréal for our conference as part of the Stratégies PME event. We will be presenting a use case for a Low Code/No Code solution and answering all your questions to help on your digital transformation process. Our goal is to enable your employees to finally focus on activities that bring real added value.

Already have a project in mind? Contact us to discuss it further!

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