Just Go with the Flow.
Is your business’ productivity suffering? It may be due to a poor workflow. Using Microsoft Flow can help.
Is the productivity of your business slipping? Do projects take longer to complete than they should? Perhaps this has nothing to do with inadequate staff training or lack of motivation, but your workflow.
The workflow consists of the steps you take from the start of the project to its completion. A poor workflow impedes productivity and decreases the quality of work. A good workflow offers many advantages and is worth the time to set up. How do you achieve this? I tell my clients to use Microsoft Flow.
What is Microsoft Flow?
Microsoft Flow makes simple, repetitive tasks easy to accomplish by handling them automatically—Different applications can “talk” with each other to collect and share data while keeping you aware of major changes. Flow works with many popular applications such as Outlook, Office 365, Dropbox, Facebook, Slack and more.
How Flows Work
With Flow, you can automate tasks (flows) without being a technology wizard. Flows can range in complexity, from simple tasks like saving an email to Dropbox, too much more complex ones like searching Twitter feeds for people who post about your company, following their account, and adding their names to an Excel file.
We advise our clients to automate tasks quickly using templates in Flow. There are hundreds of ready-to-go templates, plus thousands of user-created ones that are available online to download. There’s is a good chance that you’ll find the template that works for your needs right out-of-the-box or at least one that only requires a few tweaks.
Of course, every business is different, and all of them have unique needs. That’s why Microsoft made it so simple for you to create your own flows. Instead of bogging down employees by requiring the use of a scripting language to create flows, everything is created visually using triggers and actions from a series of menus.
How to Create a Flow
To give you an idea of how easy it is to use Flow, the following are the steps to create an automated process that sends a notification to your phone every time you receive an email from a particular address. This is a very useful flow, and it’s adaptable for a number of situations.
In order for this flow to work properly, you will need a Flow account, a subscription to Office 365, the push notification service, and the Flow mobile app for your phone.
- Sign into your Flow account and select Create from blank from the My flows menu tab.
- Click on the Office 365 Outlook icon and select When a new email arrives from the list of triggers.
- Choose the folder you want to check for the email, and then click on Show advanced options. Fill in the email address you want to monitor in the From Select Hide advanced options.
- Choose New step under the Add an option Find the Notifications – Send me a mobile notification under the action tab and select it.
- Inside of the Textfield, write the message you want to receive on your phone. Close the Add an option
- Select Create flow at the top of the page, and give the flow a name and save it.
Don’t worry if all this seems a little confusing. There are many tutorials to walk you through the process in greater detail.
How to Get Flow.
You can sign up for free online. There are three different versions of Flow: Flow Free, Flow Plan 1, and Flow Plan 2.
- Flow Free is free to use, but it has significant limits on the number of applications it can use to create flows. In addition, the Flow Free plan only checks for the conditions to activate a flow every 15 minutes. That means if you have time-sensitive flows, the free option isn’t a good choice for you.
- Flow Plan 1 is $5 per user per month. It checks the required conditions to activate flows every three minutes, which is much better than the free plan and is adequate for most business needs. Flow Plan 1 also provides access to premium services which can greatly expand the usefulness of Flow.
- Flow Plan 2 is $15 a month per user and is the most robust option available. It checks for conditions to run a flow every minute. This makes this plan option a must-have for time-sensitive applications. Like Flow 1, Flow Plan 2 grants subscribers access to premium services, but also adds the ability for an administrator to create organization-wide policies and restrictions for using Flow.
There are so many ways to use Microsoft Flow in your business. In my opinion, it’s well worth the cost of Plan 1 or 2. While there are other similar products out there, I think, since Microsoft Flow is probably the best choice for most businesses.
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