23 April 2018
Unlocking Office 365 Secrets: The Outstanding Tool That is Overlooked
Technology vendors are competing more intensely than ever for the business dollar, which should be good news for buyers. The battlefield is marked by new features, designed to make business easier and more efficient. With 5-10 features added to the Office 365 suite each week, who has time to keep up?
We often find that filtering through Office 365 functionality and relating business needs to the right solution is an eye-opener for those only using the basics. One of the most exciting free features we’ve shared is Microsoft Flow, an efficiency tool that packs quite a punch.
Link platforms and automate processes
Typically, a business may have a separate email database and customer details database. Microsoft Flow links these platforms and automates processes between the two. We’re using Flow ourselves to connect our annual leave calendar with our approval process, so that requests automatically email to the right person, saving us time and making us more efficient. It costs nothing more than a little time, which is soon repaid.
Microsoft Flow creates automated workflows between your favourite apps and services – and there are many templates already available to get you started. Just browsing ideas can prompt you to examine your existing processes. The ideal, before you are overwhelmed by the possibilities, is to take a look at the way you use any Office 365 products, and think about what is most frustrating or takes unnecessary time. Then work out if there is a template already designed that will fix it.
While we use Microsoft Flow to streamline HR processes, there are also ways you can improve software development practices, improve productivity and enhance communication of important information. For the more complex, multi-step workflows, it may be worth seeking expert help, especially when sensitive data is involved.
Integration for greater insights
Beyond the simpler automation tools, Flow can be integrated with Microsoft PowerBI, an analytics tool, and PowerApps, an app building tool, to develop sophisticated apps on one seamless platform. It helps you to connect your apps with your data, gain insight, and make data-driven decisions. While this is rather less simple than merely integrating email addresses, it does give some remarkable outcomes for a modest consulting spend. Until now, these are capabilities only available on a large corporate budget.
All sorts of organisations use Flow, and its range is impressive. Automation is one of the most important efficiency drivers, and if somebody at Microsoft has done most of the work for you already, even better. To design custom automation for these tasks would take time and money that can be spent elsewhere. Why not start with the simple, and see where the Flow takes you.