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Mark Rockwell, Rockton Software

What You Need to Know about the Hustle and [Microsoft] Flow

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After attending a recent webinar hosted by Jerry Weinstock of CRM Innovation, it was clear that the power of the new Microsoft Flow is an exciting prospect for us non-coders to get in the game when it comes to interacting with Microsoft Dynamics 365. Can’t you hear it now: “I’m just going with the flow…the Microsoft Flow.” It has a nice nerdy James Bond-esque ring to it eh?

 

Released in late October 2016, Microsoft Flow is a cloud-based service that empowers not just developers, but power users and functional users alike to automate business processes across various applications. By Microsoft definition, “a flow is a workflow app that uses any combination of the available services.”

 

In a nutshell, flow is a means of connecting data from one service application to another, such as Dynamics 365, Facebook, Microsoft Outlook, Twitter, WordPress, YouTube, etc. (Click here for the full list of supported services). For example, you could run a flow that will create a new lead in Dynamics 365 each time you get a new follower on Twitter. Another example is a flow that would send you a push notification when a new item is uploaded to SharePoint. Getting started can be a breeze as there are a number of preexisting template connections already available, simply configure them to your systems and you’ll be going with the flow in no time at all.

 

Building your Flow

When it comes to producing a flow from scratch (you can also utilize templates), you’re provided with five main building blocks:

  • Actions
  • Conditions
  • Loops
  • Services
  • Triggers

 

Services, actions, and triggers are the makings of the flow foundation, which you then manipulate with conditions or loops. Click here for an in depth description of these building blocks.

 

Where can you flow?

On the beach, in your car, at a sporting event, the flow will go with you! Flow runs on desktop Windows OS and on mobile devices (iOS, Android, Windows) that are connected to the internet. Flow is included with all existing Dynamics CRM Online environments, many of the new Microsoft Dynamics 365 plans (both Business and Enterprise), as well as many of the Office 365 plans. Unfortunately, with every flow comes an ebb, which is this case is the fact that it’s not compatible with on premise environments.

 

Flow for Free

All of this can be yours… for free! Now much like any online service, there are levels with limitations. The three flow plans are as follows:

 

Flow for Free: 750 runs per month | Unlimited flow creation |15-minute checks

 

Flow Plan 1: $5.00 per user/month | 4,500 runs per month | Unlimited flow creation |3-minute checks | Premium Services

 

Flow Plan 2: $15.00 per user/month | 15,000 runs per month | Unlimited flow creation | 1-minute checks | Premium Services | Org policy settings

 

*Pay close attention to the “runs per month” limit. If you are using the free version be sure to adjust your flow frequency in settings and turn it off when you don’t want it running. If you don’t, those 750 flow runs will be used up in the first week. For complete pricing information from Microsoft, click here.

 

Protecting the flow

One concern when Microsoft Flow was launched was security. As flows combine data from a myriad of different services and applications, often times prompting users to enter credentials, how do you know that the information being dispersed is safe?

 

This is where a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policy comes into play. According to Microsoft, “you can easily create DLP policies to tightly control which consumer services your business data can be shared with when your users create flows”. It is highly recommended that these DLPs are in place before users begin running flows. Hand this task over to your environment administrator who can create a DLP from the flow admin center. Read all about it here.

 

Time to get your creative juices flowing

So there you have it, a very high level over view from a non-coder, trying to stick my toe in the waters of building my very own app. I hope you’ll take a look at the Microsoft resources provided above, feel as empowered, inspired, and curious as I did, and then start building your own flow!

 

Written by Elise Rooney, Marketing Specialist with Rockton Software, an application add-on provider to Microsoft Dynamics 365. 

 

 

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