The Benefits of Microsoft Power Automate

Microsoft Power Automate Laptop

Agility and streamlined workflows are paramount when it comes to keeping up to speed as a modern business. Microsoft Power Automate, a robust integration within the ubiquitous Microsoft 365 suite, empowers organisations to achieve precisely that. It goes way beyond the boundaries of traditional automation software by incorporating cutting-edge robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities – both attended and unattended. These intelligent bots seamlessly mimic user actions, automating repetitive tasks with unparalleled precision. This frees up valuable human capital, allowing employees to focus on strategic initiatives and higher-value activities.

Power Automate’s true strength lies in its intuitive, low-code interface. This democratises automation, enabling users across various departments to build and deploy workflows with minimal coding expertise. By eliminating tedious and error-prone manual tasks, Power Automate streamlines processes and boosts employee productivity, leading to a more efficient and productive work environment.

Legacy software concerns can sometimes impede the adoption of cloud-based solutions, despite their inherent benefits of cost savings, enhanced collaboration, and improved operational efficiency. Power Automate addresses this challenge head-on by seamlessly integrating with existing systems, regardless of their deployment (on-premise or cloud-based). This eliminates the need for disruptive and resource-intensive migrations. Organisations can leverage the transformative power of automation without compromising their established infrastructure.

Power Automate empowers individuals, teams, and departments to streamline their workflows by automating repetitive tasks – a benefit for organisations operating in any technological space. It acts as a bridge, creating seamless integration between existing tools and cutting-edge automation capabilities, propelling businesses towards a more efficient and productive future.

What is Power Automate?

At the heart of the Microsoft Power Platform lies Power Automate, a cloud-based application seamlessly integrated with familiar Microsoft 365 tools like Power BI, Power Apps, and Power App Portals. Power Automate simplifies the automation process by offering a user-friendly, low-code interface. This means anyone, regardless of coding experience, can build custom “flows” to streamline repetitive tasks and workflows. With drag-and-drop functionality and pre-built connectors, users can automate interactions between Microsoft 365 applications and even legacy software, creating a more connected and efficient work environment.

Advantages of Automation in Business

Maximising productivity and employee satisfaction is crucial. Business software and hardware play a vital role, facilitating communication, collaboration, and streamlined workflows.

One key strategy for achieving this is by implementing automation tools. These tools handle repetitive tasks that typically require manual input, freeing up valuable employee time and resources.

The benefits of automating computer operations are numerous:

  • Reduced workload: Employees are relieved of tedious tasks, allowing them to focus on higher-level activities.
  • Enhanced efficiency: Workflows become smoother and faster, leading to increased productivity.
  • Cost savings: By automating tasks, businesses can streamline operations and potentially reduce operational costs.
  • Improved accuracy: Automation minimises human error, leading to reliable and consistent results.
  • Optimised performance: Processes run more efficiently, maximising performance across the organisation.
  • Enhanced compliance: Automated workflows can ensure adherence to regulations and standards.
  • Greater transparency: Real-time tracking of projects allows for better monitoring and decision-making.

Microsoft Power Automate is a powerful tool that helps businesses harness these benefits. It unlocks the potential to optimise resource allocation, streamline processes, and ultimately, achieve significant cost reductions.

Microsoft Power Platform

What is Power Automate UI Flow?

Microsoft Power Automate offers a robust solution for automating tasks and workflows within your business. It comprises two key components: Flow and UI Flow.

Flow

This core functionality serves as the foundation for automating simpler workflows.  It allows users to connect various applications and services within the Microsoft ecosystem, like Microsoft 365 tools, for streamlined information exchange and automated actions.

UI Flow

This powerful tool tackles more complex scenarios, particularly when dealing with legacy software that lacks a readily available API (application programming interface) for direct communication with modern platforms.  In these situations, UI Flow bridges the gap by utilising RPA (Robotic Process Automation).

RPA with UI Flow

Imagine a virtual assistant that can mimic human actions on your computer screen. That’s the essence of UI Flow with RPA. It learns and replicates user interactions with legacy software, enabling data exchange and task automation even for applications outside the realm of APIs. This eliminates the need for complex coding or costly development efforts.

Building a UI Flow

While UI Flow offers a user-friendly, point-and-click interface for most tasks, some situations may require basic coding knowledge. For those instances, Microsoft provides resources like Power Virtual Agents, a tool for building conversational AI experiences, or you can leverage the expertise of IT solution providers.

Power Automate enables businesses to streamline workflows across various applications, including legacy software. With Flow handling basic automation and UI Flow tackling more complex scenarios, businesses can unlock significant efficiency gains and free up valuable resources for higher-level work.

How to Install UI Flow

To harness the power of UI Flow and automate tasks interacting with legacy software, you’ll need to install and configure Power Automate. Here’s a breakdown of the prerequisites and installation process:

System Requirements:

  • Power Automate RPA License: A paid or trial license for Power Automate RPA is necessary.
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, or Windows Server 2019 are required for UI Flow functionality.
  • Microsoft Dataverse Database: This database, part of the Microsoft Power Apps suite, allows custom app creation and is essential for UI Flow. To set up a database, you’ll need to create an environment within Power Automate.
  • Web Browser: Microsoft Edge version 80 or later, or Google Chrome, are required for UI Flow interaction. Download one if neither is currently installed.
  • Internet Connection: A stable internet connection is crucial for Power Automate to function.

Installation Process:

  1. Download and Install Power Automate: Download the application on all devices where users will require access to Power Automate.
  2. Activate UI Flow Browser Extension: This extension bridges the gap between your web browser and UI Flow functionalities. Activate it within your chosen browser (Edge or Chrome).
  3. Install On-Premises Data Gateway: This software creates a secure connection between your device and Power Automate, allowing it to receive and execute commands. Install it on the computer you’ll use to record actions for UI Flow.
  4. Create a UI Flow Connection: Establish a connection between UI Flow and the data gateway by providing your device’s credentials. This ensures secure communication.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be ready to leverage UI Flow and automate tasks interacting with even your most legacy software.

What are the Advantages of Microsoft Power Automate?

Power Automate works as an optimisation tool for businesses. Its user-friendly design makes it possible for businesses to improve data storage, build reports by pulling data from multiple files and send automated notifications, amongst many other things.

Therefore, MS Power Automate offers these key advantages:

  • Streamlined Workflows and Business Transformation: Power Automate automates repetitive tasks and data transfers across applications, freeing up valuable employee time and fostering seamless information exchange. This paves the way for a more streamlined workflow, enabling agility and business transformation.
  • Enhanced Operational Efficiency and Cost Savings: By automating manual data entry and repetitive processes, Power Automate minimises human error and streamlines operations. This translates to improved efficiency and reduced operational costs, ultimately boosting your bottom line.
  • Maximising the Power of Microsoft 365 Ecosystem: Power Automate seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft 365 solutions. This allows businesses to leverage the full potential of their existing Microsoft ecosystem, fostering data coherence and streamlined collaboration across departments.
  • Elevated Cybersecurity Through Integration: Power Automate integrates with Azure Active Directory and other Microsoft security solutions. This strengthens your organisation’s security posture by aligning workflow automation with established access controls and security protocols.

Smooth Data Integration

One of Power Automate’s key strengths lies in its seamless data integration. It effortlessly bridges the gap between legacy applications and modern Microsoft 365 tools. This eliminates the need for manual data entry, a tedious and error-prone task.

Power Automate facilitates the creation of automated workflows that seamlessly exchange data across various applications within your organisation. This empowers you to automate repetitive tasks, streamline information flow, and eliminate manual data manipulation.

The benefits are clear: improved efficiency, enhanced productivity, and reduced human error.  Imagine automatically sending survey data to the marketing team for analysis or distributing new leads from Microsoft Dynamics 365 directly to sales representatives for immediate follow-up. Power Automate makes these scenarios a reality.

Microsoft Building

Increase Email Efficiency

The ever-growing volume of emails can be a major productivity hurdle. Power Automate RPA steps in to streamline email management and alleviate information overload.

Imagine this: Power Automate intelligently analyses incoming emails, automatically filing them into designated folders based on predefined rules established by the user.  This eliminates the time-consuming task of manually sorting through emails.

For instance, an accounts team could utilise Power Automate to automatically route incoming and outgoing invoices to a dedicated folder, freeing them from mundane filing tasks. Similarly, team members collaborating on special projects can set up project-specific folders and separate them from general team emails.

By automating email management, Power Automate empowers employees to focus on higher-value activities, enhancing overall productivity and reducing the stress of managing a cluttered inbox.

Ready to Use Templates

One of Power Automate’s most user-friendly features is its extensive library of pre-built templates.  These templates eliminate the need to start from scratch, allowing you to set up common workflows in minutes.

With over 100 templates at your disposal, you can automate tasks like:

  • Sending automated email confirmations upon form submissions in Microsoft Forms.
  • Receiving instant notifications and emails whenever new files are uploaded to OneDrive.
  • Analysing the sentiment of tweets and automatically pushing the results to a Power BI dataset for deeper insights.
  • Creating tasks in Planner based on Microsoft Forms submissions and simultaneously posting a message in Teams to keep everyone informed.
  • Generating automated email alerts whenever a new item is added to SharePoint.

These ready-made workflows enable businesses to automate repetitive tasks quickly and efficiently, saving valuable time and resources that can be better spent on strategic initiatives.

Project Alerts

Project managers and team members can use Power Automate to stay on top of project progress in real-time, eliminating the need for constant email updates and folder navigation. This translates to faster decision-making and improved project execution.

For example, imagine receiving an instant notification (not just an email) on your screen whenever a new entry appears in SharePoint. This eliminates the need to manually check for updates, allowing for immediate action.

Power Automate can further streamline critical workflows.  Let’s say a critical document requires urgent approval. Power Automate can automate the entire process, instantly notifying the designated approver – even if they’re working within another application – ensuring prompt action and keeping projects moving forward.

By facilitating real-time visibility and automating crucial notifications, Power Automate empowers project teams to collaborate effectively and make informed decisions that keep projects on track.

Microsoft Power Automate Licenses

Through the use of licenses, businesses have the right to use Power Automate. These licenses are available as either standalone plans or seeded plans.

Standalone Plans

For customers seeking to create highly customised workflows with extensive business process automation (BPA) or robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities, standalone Power Automate licenses offer the ultimate flexibility. These licenses empower users to tailor workflows to their specific needs, ensuring maximum automation efficiency and cost-effectiveness for complex processes.

Power Automate Premium plan

This plan allows building unlimited workflows, perfect for automating modern applications through APIs or tackling legacy systems with desktop flows powered by Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and AI.  It even enables running attended RPA bots directly on your workstation. For those seeking an extra boost, AI Builder capabilities like form processing and text classification are included. Additionally, the plan offers full process mining functionality on your desktop along with dedicated storage for analysing existing workflows. All these features come at a predictable monthly cost per user, making it an attractive option for businesses looking to unlock the full potential of automation.

Power Automate Process plan

Power Automate Process licenses cater to businesses requiring unattended robotic process automation (unattended RPA). These licenses are priced per bot, allowing you to automate critical business processes that run continuously without human intervention. Additionally, the bots can be accessed by unlimited users within your organisation, ensuring widespread adoption and streamlined workflows. This licensing model empowers businesses to scale their unattended automation needs efficiently.

Power Automate Hosted Process plan

Building on the Power Automate Process license, the Hosted Process option offers a complete solution for unattended robotic process automation (unattended RPA) with zero infrastructure setup required.  Licensed per bot, it delivers all the functionality of the Process license, but with the added benefit of Microsoft-hosted machine capacity. This eliminates the need for your own IT infrastructure, simplifying deployment and allowing you to focus on building and deploying your automated workflows.

Power Automate pay-as-you-go plan

This plan is ideal for businesses looking to explore Power Automate’s capabilities without upfront costs or license commitments. Leverage your existing Azure subscription to pay only for the flows you actually run. This flexible option allows you to experiment, build basic workflows, and see the value of automation before committing to a paid plan.

Power Automate per user plan

The Power Automate Free plan is no longer available for purchase directly, but existing users can continue using it.  To access the full potential of Power Automate’s automation features, we recommend migrating to the Power Automate Premium plan.  This paid plan allows you to create an unlimited number of workflows (within service limits) and provides access to all functionalities, including standard and premium connectors, business process flows, custom connectors, and on-premises gateways. With a fixed monthly cost per user, the Premium plan offers a predictable and scalable solution for businesses looking to automate tasks and streamline operations.

Power Automate per flow plan

The Power Automate Per Flow plan caters to organisations that need to automate processes for teams, departments, or even the entire company. This cost-effective option allows you to implement flows with reserved capacity instead of licensing each user individually. The plan starts with a fixed monthly cost that includes five active flows. Any additional active flows beyond those initial five incur a separate monthly fee. This structure allows you to scale your automation needs efficiently and manage costs effectively.

Workflow

Seeded Plans

Several Microsoft plans include “seeded” access to Power Automate, meaning you don’t need a separate Power Automate license. These plans include:

  • Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365)
  • Dynamics 365 (Enterprise, Professional, and Team Member)
  • Power Apps (Canvas and Model-driven Apps) – Per App plans and Per User plans
  • Power Apps Plan 1 (grandfathered) and Plan 2 (grandfathered)
  • Some Windows licenses

Important Considerations for Seeded Plans:

Limited Functionality: Flows created with seeded access can only operate within the context of the application they’re connected to. For example, a flow built within a Dynamics 365 app can only connect to data sources and services allowed by Dynamics 365.

User Permissions: Even with a seeded plan, users might still need a standalone Power Automate license to run specific flows if they use premium connectors or operate outside the context of the related application.

Standalone Licenses

If you require unlimited functionality or need to automate processes beyond the limitations of your existing plan, a standalone Power Automate license is recommended.

Power Automate Prices

Power Automate Premium – £12.30 per user, per month.

This plan allows licensed users to automate tasks across a wide range of applications:

  • Modern Apps: Leverage API-based automation (cloud flows) to streamline processes within modern applications.
  • Legacy Systems: Utilise UI-based robotic process automation (desktop flows) to automate tasks in older software. Both cloud and desktop flows can be run by users while they’re actively working (attended mode).

Ample Resources for Building Powerful Workflows:

  • Unlimited Workflows: Create as many cloud and desktop flows as you need to automate any repetitive task.
  • Process Mining Insights: Gain valuable insights into your workflows with 50 MB of Power Automate Process Mining data storage.
  • AI Builder Power: Utilise 5,000 AI Builder credits to enhance your workflows with capabilities like forms processing and text classification.
  • Data Storage: This plan includes Dataverse entitlements, offering 250 MB of database storage and 2 GB of file storage for your workflow data.

Power Automate Process – £123.30 per bot per month

This license empowers you to automate critical tasks without human intervention:

  • Unattended Desktop Automation (RPA): Build and run automated bots (one included) that can handle repetitive tasks in legacy applications 24/7.
  • Digital Process Automation (DPA) Flows: Create cloud-based workflows (unlimited) that automate processes across various applications. These workflows can be accessed by unlimited users within your organisation.

Data Storage for Workflow Management:

  • Dataverse Entitlements: This plan includes 50 MB of database storage and 200 MB of file storage within Dataverse. This allows you to manage and store data used by your automated workflows.

This license caters to organisations seeking to streamline business-critical processes with unattended automation and ensure widespread access to automated workflows for their teams.

MS Power Automate IT Support Solutions

Because business automation saves money, scale tasks, and support desired goals, it is gaining significant recognition. As a result, Power Automate is a crucial add-on for Microsoft 365 users that still rely on legacy applications.

Plans that enable businesses to streamline simple or complex processes across the entire organisation can accelerate your business with intelligent, low-code apps with a small learning curve.

With valuable solutions that can be set up in a matter of minutes, Power Automate has the capacity to transform businesses of all sizes. Although the software is aimed at users with basic technical know-how, the pricing, installation process and configuration can feel overwhelming. If you need assistance, speak with an IT Support specialist.

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