Many of our clients are assessing the Power Platform and have a keen interest as to how workflow automation and RPA will help their organisations to; increase productivity, reduce costs and significantly decrease tiresome manual processes and data entry. This post will look at the best way to adopt this transformational technology and look at what the most common uses cases are.

 

What is Power Automate?

Power Automate used to be called “Flow” and is a process automation application which allows users to create automated workflows between Microsoft applications and other services. It is designed to be used by non-technical users and to automate business processes as well as workflows. Organisations can use Automate to create their own automations or use templates for any common automations. Users can also set triggers, alerts, emails and push notifications with Flow as well. The workflow automation is made with insights that can be gained by Power BI. The workflows can be run from the cloud and managed by Microsoft.

 

API automation vs User Interface Automation (RPA)

Power Automate has always supported applications that have REST API’s, but until recently did not support legacy applications that do not have a REST API, for example some Windows, Web and main frame applications.

These applications need a class of tools called Robotic Process Automation or RPA where automation is done at the User Interface layer. Microsoft recently added UI Automation/RPA into the Power Automate product. This means that Microsoft can now address a much larger suite of apps and requirements.

 

The Most Common Use Cases for Power Automate

Excel spreadsheet consolidation for end of month closing of the accounts This is a very common scenario where an accounts person has to manually consolidate data from a bunch of Excel documents. This is painful, prone to error and takes a lot of time. This can all be automated using Power Automate then exported into a Power BI report saving a lot of time, money and effort.  This can be done quickly with RPA.

Copying and pasting from websites and tables

This use case is for someone that has to regularly source and collate data across different Web sites and tables. Typically, this user would be manually copying and pasting data from these websites and tables. We can instead use web scraping and UI flows to automate this process. This type of activity is called Attended RPA. 

A call center where attendants have to do the same task frequently.

Such as copying data from one application to another. This can all be automated using RPA saving time and money and increasing accuracy.

Invoice processing

Invoice processing is a bugbear for most organisations. It is typically very manual and time consuming. Typically, an email goes to an accounts receivable inbox, this inbox is checked, and an email goes to the approver. Someone has to follow up the approver and then manually enter the data into a finance application and then respond to the supplier. This process can be automated with Power Automate to notify the approver in a “Teams” Approval Channel. We can use AI Builder to automate the extraction of the relevant data from the invoice and automatically enter that data into a finance system or ERP, then automate a notification email to supplier when approved. This can really be a game changer for Finance.

Replace static Infopath templates with PowerApps and Automate

PowerApps and Forms is Microsoft’s replacement for Infopath. The advantage of utilising PowerApps with Automate is that you can integrate these forms with your applications, Automate the approval processes and also enable the forms to be accessed over mobile devices and web clients. Infopath was more of a traditional thick client application. 

The most frequently used apps with Power Automate

The most frequently used applications with Power Automate are; Outlook, Excel and SAP. Start with some quick wins as per the above use cases. Or just begin with the things that frustrate you and your users, that you do repeatedly, are predictable with low value. A great example is converting a folder of Excel xls files convert to xlsx, which is mundane and manual tasks and can be automated using rpa.

CSG Power Platform Proof of Concept:

Cloud Solutions Group is offering a Proof of Concept engagement to our clients to help you get started with the platform.

The purpose of this engagement is to obtain rapid value from Power Apps, Power Automate and the Power BI platform to demonstrate how it can digitally transform your business.

We will create a Power Apps, Power Automate solution using your business requirements and show how these technologies work together to give you a modern business application solution that runs on any platform. This Proof of Concept implementation can be expanded to your production environment.

If you are interested in exploring this or learning more about the Power Platform, please contact us today.