In today's professional landscape, individuals commonly find themselves spending substantial amounts of time on repetitive tasks. These tasks often involve data entry, report generation, preparing communications, and other routine activities that can be automated to free up valuable time for more strategic and innovative activities. At Nextant, we have been using Microsoft’s Power Automate for over 5 years to streamline processes for our clients and for our own business. Here are 5 tasks that we commonly find professionals executing manually and that can be automated without heavy coding requirements and by leveraging Power Automate use rights in your Microsoft 365 subscription:
Business Process Automation
Business processes often require cross-functional stakeholders acting at different points in time and in a coordinated fashion. Notifying stakeholders, following up and ensuring that actions get completed in a coordinated fashion can quickly become a full-time job without need. Well-designed automation flows can automate this coordination of steps, data and timing across multiple stakeholders.
Prepare Personalized Communications
When marketing or communication automation tools are not in place, we often find clients spending several days every month preparing personalized emails that are built using templates and data that changes across individuals. Think benefits, payments, invoice reminders and similar types of communications. By making smart use of Excel and Power Automate you can easily automate this type of work that often burdens valuable company employees. This type of automation can also be driven out of existing tools like CRM, HR Management Solutions, or other types of internal applications.
Automatically Saving Email Attachments
Storing files in shared folders that are received via emails typically require several steps and in some cases over 5 minutes spend in this simple task at a time. Power Automate simplifies this process by automatically saving all email attachments into a relevant SharePoint folder. This smart automation not only saves time searching for files but also ensures that crucial documents are stored in the correct document library for easy access and collaboration.
Moving Information Across Tools
Companies often utilize multiple tools that are not fully integrated. These tools go from multiple Excel files in the simplest version to online platforms in the more complex and sophisticated versions. This lack of integration results in employees having to manually perform data re-entry. This manual process increases human error risks and may potentially end up in data quality issues. This is also a huge source of employee dissatisfaction as employees find themselves performing tasks that add no value and from that make little to no sense to them. Power Automate has a large array of connectors that help build integrations without having to build or tap into complicated APIs. Some connectors require special licensing, but the cost of a potential premium subscription far outweighs the time spent by multiple employees doing manual work.
Business approvals are often managed with responses in email or require an approver to go into some sort of online tool. This makes the actual approval, subsequent tracking, and additional communications labor-intensive tasks. With Power Automate, content relevant to an approval can be embedded into emails. This email can also include approve and decline buttons directly on the email so that approvers can register their decision directly from the body of the email they received. Additionally, a process flow can be set up to store the decision in a relevant tracking system or spreadsheet and automatically send any communications required to set things in motion post-approval without wasting time from executives providing approvals and operational staff tracking and driving the processes behind each approval flow.
Our team has built thousands of automation flows and from that experience we have adopted industry standards along with our own methodologies to ensure success in automating processes. Here are 5 simple tips to ensure you too can succeed in automating your own processes:
Build Flows in a Shared Location:
Ensure flexible flow permissions and share ownership with team members who need access to view and edit the flows.
Set Up Connections to a Service Account:
Prevent disconnections when a user leaves the team or company by setting up connections with a dedicated service account.
Test Before Launching:
Thoroughly test flows in controlled scenarios to handle errors or unexpected results before deploying them in real business scenarios.
Follow Action Naming Standards and Documentation:
Maintain clear and understandable flow documentation to aid developers when updating the flows.
Plan your connectors and required licensing:
Power Automate is generally available through Microsoft 365 or Dynamics 365 subscriptions that many companies have already in place, that is a great starting point to generate value without having to spend additional budget in licensing. However, some connectors are categorized as premium and will require additional licensing. It is good practice to fully understand this part before getting too far ahead in creating your automation flow. In more complex automation projects, leveraging UI Flow or even some VBA code is also appropriate, so keep that in mind as well.
Nextant plays a crucial role in assisting customers using Power Automate due to the varying complexities involved in building Power Automate flows. While business users can often create many of their own flows with relative ease, there are instances where more intricate and sophisticated processes require the expertise of skilled technical professionals. Nextant bridges this gap by offering specialized technical knowledge and support to tackle complex scenarios effectively. By leveraging their expertise, customers can confidently navigate intricate workflows, ensuring optimal performance and efficiency. With Nextant's assistance, businesses can fully unlock the potential of Power Automate, empowering them to streamline operations and drive productivity, regardless of the flow's complexity.