Microsoft Flow (https://flow.microsoft.com) is an online service for creating automated workflows between apps and services.
Flow is available to all Office 365 users, and may be purchased with one of three different plans. The basic plan is free and allows users to create an unlimited number of Flows, running a maximum of 750 times per month with intervals of 15 minutes between executions. The two other plans are paid, and each allows Flow to run a greater number of times and with shorter intervals.
How does it work?
New Flows may be created from scratch, or from a large gallery of templates.
Creating a Flow instance from scratch allows the user to choose from hundreds of triggers (for example, receiving an email) and connectors/actions (for example, uploading the attachments of the email to OneDrive or SharePoint).
Templates instead offer a more guided approach; the user chooses the context (for example, Outlook) and the actions involved (for example, interacting with SharePoint) and then can customise the template to adapt it to specific requirements.
Via either route, the result will be a service that is able to send email notifications, approve workflows, manage and upload files, send Slack/Skype/Team messages, run activities on SharePoint, and so on.
Automate repetitive processes: if you want to automate any repetitive business processes – be it for yourself, a team, or the company – the chances are you may be able to use Microsoft Flow to help achieve your goal.
Get notifications: it is possible to get alerted via email when, for example, a new item is posted to a SharePoint team site list, or when a new Microsoft Forms response has been added to a survey.
Save email attachments: you can have Flow collect all incoming email attachments in your Office365 mailbox and save them to your OneDrive for Business.
Marketing communications: you can set up alerts via email, or trigger recording to an Excel file, each time someone Tweets with a specific hashtag during a marketing campaign.
You don’t need to install an application to use Flow, just navigate to https://flow.microsoft.com or use the Office365 app launcher to find the Flow app in your browser. The only requirement is that you have an Office365 account (personal or work).
On the home page, you will see menus for:
- My Flows, where your own custom Flows live
- Templates, where you can find hundreds of ideas and easy places to start
- Approvals, where you will find tasks and information relating to any approval process
- Connectors, where you can search for – and connect – various services
- Learn, where you can find information that will help you get up to speed and develop a greater understanding of what is possible with Microsoft Flow
In this brief tutorial, we will try to create a new Flow using one of the many templates available.
From the top bar we can create a new Flow from blank or create it from a template:
1. After selecting “Create from template” you will be presented with a long list of templates. In this case we will select “Email” and then “Save Office365 email attachments to OneDrive for Business”:
2. Click on the Create Flow button.
You will be taken to the Flow summary page, where you can view the Flow logs and edit the Flow itself.
3. Once you start to receive emails with attachments, the Flow will run and the summary page will begin to show a history of Flow runs.
4. You should also see a folder within your OneDrive for Business named ‘Email attachments from Flow’, which will contain any attachments that have been transferred.
5. To view a Flow run, click on the ‘Succeeded’ text row in the run history box. This shows you all details for the Flow in question including the trigger, any actions taken, and whether those actions ran successfully or not.
Green checkmarks indicate that those parts of the Flow ran successfully.
Try creating more flows from other templates, or create your own custom flows from scratch.
The Marketing team wants to track all of the emails and attachments received from a particular client.
Using Microsoft Flow, the Marketing team set up a flow that, whenever an employee receives an email from that specific client, uploads the email attachments and the email content to a SharePoint Team site.
All of the emails and associated attachments are searchable and filterable on a dedicated page.