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What is Power Automate: Go with the Flow!

3 min read
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What is Power Automate? Power Automate taps into both the low/no code and automation movements, facilitating the custom automation of business processes for greater efficiency. With bespoke automation, typically repetitive or manual tasks can be iterated faster, giving employees more time for work of higher value. The margin for human error, significantly reduced by automation, saves organizations some 40-75% in cost. Power Automate, together with the other Power Platform services, is typically integrated with Microsoft 365 to create better collaboration across the platform.

Broader scope

As the name suggests, the broader focus on automation means the platform becomes broader in scope. Microsoft communicates Power Automate as “a unified platform with API- and UI-based automation for enterprise customers”, which is designed to cater for the full spectrum of users from technical to business.

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Users can still use Power Automate to create Flows (workflows) in the manner in which they are accustomed to. However, it now comes with a new feature set, including robotic process automation capabilities and UI flows. The purpose of UI flows is for users to automate repetitive tasks, simplifying workflows across organizations. It will provide scalability and even more security.

Power Automate misgovernance

Slow-running flows are a common challenge for organizations with automated processes. Possible causes might be that a flow is in excess of daily action limits for a company’s plan (and an upgrade is required), a flow is exceeding data consumption allowance, or the connector a company is using has protective mechanisms to slow a flow down. In any case, a slow-running flow undermines the advantages of process automation which, in theory, ought to fast-track manual processes, improve productivity, and reduce the risk of error. A governance policy is required for monitoring and catching slow-running flows early, ensuring that processes remain streamlined and operational.

Flow errors

Flows with errors will also compromise the efficiency of automated processes. Users, while executing flows, may encounter run time errors, which cause a flow to stop running unless error handling has been configured. For organizations that run processes via flows, a failed flow can negatively impact operations, causing a decline in productivity. Advances in computing power and process automation generate higher levels of performance for a business, but if the technology does not work, then the positive implications for productivity are less than those caused by human error.

The development and usage of Power Automate is growing at a rapid rate and Flows are now often the interconnection between the service layers throughout Microsoft 365. A governance strategy will mitigate the risk for automated flows that have execution errors and might not function as intended. Without product governance, flows may become problematic and, in the long term, slow down operations for a business. I recommend checking out the automation tool Rencore Governance for further help in this situation.

Power Automate Cost

If Microsoft 365 is the engine to your organization, Power Automate is a turbocharger. But with so many moving parts, it can be easy to rack up accidental and unnecessary costs. Although Power Automate is a pay as-you-go monthly subscription, Flows can use standard and premium components such as connectors, custom connectors, triggers, and the common data service, which can incur extra costs.

Licensing changes

License changes were put in place from October 2019, and at the time of writing, those still apply. I strongly advise reading the following blog: Office 365, Flows and beyond on how those licensing changes might affect you.

If there’s one piece of advice that I can give you,  it’s an ongoing commitment to keep Power Automate costs under control. There’s no fix-and-forget solution, it requires commitment.   

I can recommend the following whitepaper: The ultimate guide to optimizing your Microsoft 365 costs, which is free to download and offers you a framework for keeping Microsoft services, including Power Automate, expenditure low.

Free Download

Lee Sellen

Lee is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Rencore. He writes about a broad array of topics ranging from corporate, solution and product news to high-level SharePoint and Office 365 governance, modernization and risk topics. Lee is in charge of Rencore's research and reports unit aiming to gain new insights into how users work with SharePoint and Office 365. A passionate writer in all areas, he also covers Rencore events, webinars and other online activities.