How can Power Automate help me work more efficiently?

Apr 20, 2023 | Microsoft 365 Hints and Tips

Power Automate is one of the apps in Microsoft 365.  It is designed to speed up things that you are doing regularly by creating a flow.  This can be run automatically when something else happens, it can be run on a recurring basis such as once a week or manually when required.

This automation will not only save time but also ensures exactly the same set of steps is performed on each occasion. If it is set to run automatically it prevents the risk of forgetting to do follow on tasks when something else happens.

Where do you access Power Automate?

Power Automate is available in Microsoft 365 directly but is also available in a range of other apps where a Power Automate flow can be set up at the point where it would be used.  We will be looking at the Microsoft 365 option here.

  1. Login to your Microsoft 365 account at Micrsooft365.com
  2. Input your username and password if requested to do so
  3. Click on the App launcher and select Power Automate.  If it is not available in this list then click on All apps or contact your IT support team
App launcher image

4. Power Automate will open in a new tab

Power Automate main screen image

Using Power Automate templates

Using preset templates is the easiest way to start working with Power Automate.

3 of the key areas where automation can occur are around Emails, Files and Documents and Notifications and Reminders.  There are several templates associated with each of these scenarios from the Home menu on the left which are a great starting point.  Many more templates can be found by clicking on the templates menu where the templates are divided into different types or a template can be searched for using the Search templates box.

Using a template to create an automated flow

Automated templates will run automatically when a trigger is activated.  The example here is based on the first template from the Home tab which is called Save Outlook.com email attachments to your OneDrive.    In this case the trigger is when an email with an attachment is received in the Inbox.

  1. Click on the required template (Save Outlook.com email attachments to your OneDrive)
Save outlook email attachments to one drive image

2. You will need to sign in to any relevant applications the flow will need to connect to.  In this case Outlook and OneDrive.  You may be required to enter a verification code to perform this task.  When verified the applications will have a green tick box beside them

Connections image

3. Click Create Flow

4. There will be a message saying that the flow is ready to go.  Click Got it

5. Details of the flow will be shown

Flow Details image

6. This flow runs automatically without any manual intervention so you are informed that the flow is turned on and ready to go

7. Flows from other templates may require other inputs before they are complete

Using a template to create an Instant flow

An Instant flow needs to be activated manually.  This example enables a conversation in Teams to be sent to OneNote.  

  1. Search for the template from the template tab.  In this case search for Save a message to OneNote
Save a message to OneNote search image

2. There are 2 options.  Generally the one with the highest number of uses will be the better option

3. You will need to sign in to any relevant applications the flow will need to connect to.  In this case Office 365, OneNote and Teams.  You may be required to enter a verification code to perform this task.  When verified the applications will have a green tick box beside them

4. In this case there are additional steps to be confirmed.  The notebook and section of this notebook need to be entered

Notebook flow image

5. Click Create

6. There will be a message saying that the flow is ready to go.  Click Got it

7. When the ellipses on a conversation in Microsoft Teams is selected and More Actions chosen there is now an additional option of Save a message to OneNote.  This is how the flow will be run.  Additional text can be added to the note section if required.

Run flow from teams conversation image

Viewing and modifying Flows

The flows created can be accessed from the My Flows tab on the left when you are in the Power Automate App.  The list will state when it was last modified and what type of flow it is.  Click on the flow to access and edit it.

  1. Click on the My Flows tab on the left
My Flows image

2. Click on the specific flow to view the details or edit

3. You will see details of what the flow does, connections it has used and when it has been run

4. If the flow is not doing what you want then Edit will allow the flow to be manipulated

5. The steps that have been produced to run the flow will be shown.  Each step can be clicked to see more detail and can be modified if required and New Step can be added if the flow needs to perform additional actions.

steps of the flow image

There is much more to Power Automate than this short introduction but this is a great place to get started. 

Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed reading about Power Automate in Microsoft 365, there are some other blogs below that you might find useful:

Want to learn more about Microsoft 365? Then email lara@laramellortraining.co.uk to discuss how I can help or have a look at the Microsoft 365 Courses I run.