Go with the Flow: 6 simple steps to implement a Microsoft Flow workflow for Dynamics 365
In an ever-changing world of automation and end user enablement, Microsoft seem to just keep churning out more and more automation and productivity tools. They have in the recent past made great strides in taking the grunt work out of some of the more mundane tasks that forms part of our everyday IT lives. Microsoft Flow is one such tool that forms part of the Office 365 suite.
In this post I will touch on what Microsoft Flow is and show how to use Flow to manually trigger the creation of a contact in Dynamics 365 in a few easy steps.
What is Microsoft Flow?
Microsoft Flow is an online workflow service that enables you to work smarter and more efficiently by automating workflow across the most common apps and services. It enables automation of integration between 151 cloud applications and simplifies building practical workflows in rapid time.
There are hundreds of pre-prepared Flows that will have you creating fully functional workflows in minutes.
Create a workflow in 6 easy steps
- Step 1: Browse to flow.microsoft.com
Sign in with your Microsoft account or sign up for free if you do not have one.
- Step 2: Select a service
Choose a service. For the purposes of this example, we will choose Dynamics 365.
- Step 3: Choose a template
Select from hundreds of pre-defined templates or start a new flow from a trigger event. A trigger event specifies when to start the flow. This can be record is created, updated, deleted or manually starting a Flow. In this example we will use a template to create a new contact manually and send a notification to specified address.
- Step 4: Connect an instance
Configure the Dynamics 365 connection to apply the workflow to and the email address to receive the notifications. Change either by clicking on the ellipses.
- Step 5: Set up the flow
Set up the fields to be collected from the trigger event. By default, the following fields will be included:
To add more, click on Add an input. To remove field, click the ellipses for more actions to perform. Select the organisation to use. Any organisations connected to the logged in account will be available for selection.The specified input will be automatically mapped to fields on the contact entity from the selected organisation where applicable. Configure the notification step of the flow To add more steps, click on New Step.Save the flow.After saving the Flow, it can be tested by clicking on the test button.
- Step 6: Use the flow
Now that the Flow has been built, how do we use it and locate it? It’s simple - the newly built Flow will be available in your Flow account under the heading My Flows. Select the flow from the list, then click on "Run now". The field data that were configured to be collected can now be completed. When complete, click "Run flow".
Microsoft Flow vs Dynamics 365 Workflow - Who wins?
The reality is that both can be used to accomplish the same goal. The following can be used as a benchmark for deciding which to use:
- When the whole process happens inside of Dynamics, Workflow is the better option.
- Workflow is faster than Flow.
- When on demand triggering of the process is required, Workflow would be best suited.
- Flow can be triggered on change of Dynamics records, the same as Workflow, however Flow is stored external to Dynamics 365.
- Flow is a freemium service. The service is free but subject to certain limitations, such as:
- Limited maximum numbers of runs per month
- Minimum flow frequency
- SLA availability
- Flow can simplify sending of SMS text messages, push notifications and sending emails from non-Dynamics users
- Where there is a need to run user created workflow, use Flow.
- There is a performance consideration. A large number of workflows can put a strain on the asynchronous capability of Dynamics 365, so the use of Flow can ease the burden on the processing requirement. If processing needs to happen fast, workflow is a better option.
But wait, there's more...
This was a simple example of the out of the box functionality of Microsoft Flow. The capability of this tool is endless and can greatly improve productivity for end users and reduce the need for developers to implement some of the more routine functionality.
Microsoft have come quite a long way in giving more power to the end user. There is certainly a greater demand for it and end users have come to expect the ability to do things themselves on any platform using any technology. Empower your workforce and watch change happen.