Power Automate, previously Microsoft Flow, is a powerful tool for creating business process flows to complete one task after another until the team completes the entire process. In addition, you can combine Power Automation business process flows with automation to eliminate tedious and time-consuming functions when executing them manually.
But what if you could build business process flows and incorporate automation for tasks with little to no coding? With Microsoft Power Automate, you can. Power Automate provides various easy-to-use methods for creating business process flows and automation.
For example, templates, drag-and-drop techniques, and keystroke or mouse recording capabilities make an automated business process flow that will suit your business operation needs. Let’s take an in-depth look at business process flows and how a Power Automate flow can get much-needed business processes up and running in your business.
What is a Business Process Flow?
A business process flow is a sequential, standardized portrayal of a process that will make business operations more efficient and cost-effective.
A business process flow contains components like needed tasks, employees involved, how long it takes to complete tasks, and the resources required to complete a process. Process flows also help with standardization, in which everyone will follow the same steps to complete the process without deviations.
Manually executed business process flows are inefficient and time-consuming and can cut deeply into the bottom line. Too many employees, and much money and time, might be dedicated to some business processes while others remain undone. That’s why it’s essential to use automated, standardized processes.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the factors you should consider in a business process flow.
First, you must identify the primary objective of the process. Next, what do you hope to accomplish with the process flow? After that, you must determine the scope of the flow. For example, determine the tasks to include or exclude and where the boundaries of the process start and stop.
For example, let’s say you want to create an automated process flow for a purchase order generated by an employee. Determine what tasks are essential from start to finish:
- Creating a requisition
- Approving a requisition
- Accounting and finance review
- Paying the invoice
Next, consider putting time constraints for completing each repetitive task. For example, employees need a tool to be more efficient. So they create a requisition and send it on for approval.
However, the manager is too busy to deal with it, so the purchase order languishes, never proceeding to the next step.
To have a more efficient process, you would put time constraints on each task. Then, suppose an employee or team does not perform one of the purchase order tasks inside the time constraints. Automation commands can send overdue reminders and notifications to the appropriate employees, managers, or departments.
To create your business process flow, you will need to determine what resources will be key factors in making your business process flow as efficient as possible. It could be resources like new software for desktops or making sure everyone on the sales team has mobile phones. Using the purchasing order example, you may need Power Automate as a resource to make that process more efficient.
While creating your business process flow, you’ll have to determine how many employees are involved and who is doing what task. So in the purchase order case, once an employee creates a requisition, someone has to approve it, usually the employee’s manager.
If the purchase order exceeds a certain amount, perhaps someone else, like the manager’s boss, must approve it too. If both approvals are a go, then someone in the accounting and finance department needs to review it and pay the invoice.
Creating this kind of process flow and designating these employees with these specific tasks create an environment of accountability.
What is Business Process Flow in Power Automate?
Power Automate creates any business process flow through templates, dragging and dropping actions into a blank slate or recording your activities. Power Automate business process flows consist of defined steps employees must follow before completing the process. And a Power Automate business process flow shows employees exactly where they are in the process.
Another feature of a business process flow in Power Automate is connecting to any data sources used to collect and incorporate the data into the business process flow you create. For example, you can connect to your database, an Excel spreadsheet, SharePoint, or Dataverse and build a business process flow based on the data to streamline data entry tasks into stages.
And still another feature that Power Automate offers to business process flows is security roles. You can assign security roles to designated people you authorize to see or use the business process flows. Assigning security roles is a way to give specific responsibilities to specific employees to ensure accountability.
How Do You Write a Business Process Flow?
You usually create a business process flow as a flow chart. For example, if A happens, then B comes next. However, if B happens, then it moves to C. But, if B doesn’t happen, it goes back to A, and so on.
The flow chart comprises standardized shapes to designate each step in the process of needed tasks. Oval shapes indicate starting and ending points of the process. Rectangles depict a task or activity. Diamonds specify a choice that usually answers a yes or no question.
Finally, arrows represent which way to go when the question is answered.
Take into account all of the tasks involved in the process, employees and departments involved, resources needed, and time in which the process should be completed and incorporate those into the flowchart.
Once you develop a business process workflow diagram, you can sign into Power Automate and begin building your business process flow by selecting a template with a pre-formed process flow. Then, all you need to do is to fill in pertinent information specific to you and your company.
Then automate tasks in your business process workflow in Power Automate by selecting actions and dragging and dropping the steps in a specific order. Recording your keyboard and mouse actions to be automatically repeated later is also an option with Power Automate.
What are the Three Types of Flows You Can Create with Power Automate?
Now, we know that business process workflows are one type of flow that you can create with Power Automate. But what are the other two flows you can build with Power Automate? You can also generate cloud and desktop flows. These flows are means to automate your business process flow tasks.
These flows allow you to trigger your automation automatically, instantly, or on a schedule. Then, you set up the rules depending on the action required.
For example, you can set up automatic automation in response to receiving an email. If an email arrives from a specific person, that email can automatically be marked as important. While you’re at it, you could also add that a notification is automatically sent to your mobile device when this happens. Automatically sending emails and notifications are examples of an automatic cloud workflow.
Instantaneous cloud flows can start the automation process with a click of a button or another type of action required. An example would be if you are creating a requisition and need approval.
When the purchase order is complete, with the click of the “Submit” button, the business process flow will direct the requisition to all who need to approve it.
The last cloud flow type of automation is a scheduled automated task. For example, employees in a department may need the same supplies replenished every month. A scheduled cloud flow automation can automatically send a purchase order every month to those who need to approve and review it.
This flow type helps automate tasks on the internet or locally on the desktop. For example, let’s say you want to create a purchase order. You can drag and drop actions in the Power Automate screen or use the recorder function to record steps.
The recorder keeps track of your mouse and keyboard activity in relation to user interface (UI) automation and browser automation actions. For example, you can record actions by clicking elements, launching web browsers, or populating a text field with specific text. Then you can use them to automate future purchase orders of the exact nature.
How Can Power Automate and the Power Platform Help Your Business?
Power Automate is a perfect tool for automating business process flow. Automating and standardizing business process flows can reduce costs, improve efficiency, simplify document and data management, and improve customer and employee satisfaction.
If you are already using Microsoft products, then Power Automate is an obvious choice, especially if you’re using any of the Microsoft Power Platform components, such as Power Pages, Microsoft Power App, or Microsoft Dataverse – previously Common Data Service. For up-to-date information about process automation or any Microsoft Power Platform components, learn more by contacting us to set up a call to talk with an expert.