Microsoft Flow (Now Power Automate) & Workflows: Choose the right tool for your workflows?

Dec 29, 2023 AiswaryaMadhu

Business automation is on the rise, with over 31% of businesses having fully automated at least one function, aiming to save costs and boost efficiency. By 2025, the automation systems market is projected to exceed $26 billion, highlighting its crucial role in digital transformation and its ability to alleviate the burden of repetitive tasks for 90% of workers.

Technology plays a pivotal role in achieving this balance, and Microsoft has introduced game-changing workflow automation tools - Microsoft Flow for Office 365, and Microsoft Workflow for Dynamics 365. These cloud-based workflow management tools automate workflows across a variety of web-based services, including Microsoft applications like SharePoint, Office 365, Teams, OneDrive, as well as third-party services such as Dropbox, Gmail, Twitter, and Google Drive.

The question that often arises is, "When should you use workflows, and when should you opt for Microsoft Flow to automate processes?"

Let’s delve into the distinctions between the Microsoft workflow management tool to help you choose the right tool for your business needs.

What is Microsoft Flow (Now Power Automate)?

Microsoft Power Automate, previously known as Microsoft Flow, stands as a cloud-based solution empowering users to construct and streamline workflows and tasks across diverse applications and services, all without the need for developer intervention. These automated workflows, termed flows, are tailored to trigger specific actions in response to predefined events.

Upon crafting a flow, users gain the ability to oversee and regulate it seamlessly, whether from their desktop or via a dedicated mobile application. Power Automate seamlessly integrates with an array of Microsoft services and applications, encompassing the likes of Power BI, PowerApps, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft 365.

Explore the transformative power of Microsoft Fabric - a cutting-edge data analytics platform integrating Power BI, Azure Data Factory, and Azure Synapse. Delve into its core components, benefits, recommended user scenarios, and step-by-step activation guide. Read the blog to know more.

What is a Workflow in Dynamics 365?

A workflow in Dynamics 365 refers to an automated sequence of actions that streamline business processes within the Dynamics 365 environment. It enables users to automate repetitive tasks, define rules, and trigger actions based on specific events or conditions without extensive programming knowledge. Workflows facilitate the efficient execution of tasks such as sending notifications, updating records, assigning tasks, and enforcing business rules, enhancing productivity and ensuring consistency in operations within the Dynamics 365 CRM system.

Key Features of Microsoft Flow (Power Automate) & Workflow in Dynamics 365

Capability Power Automate Classic Workflow
Conditional branching Enables the creation of logic-based conditions (like If-Then-Else statements) within workflows. Allows setting conditions to determine the flow of actions based on certain criteria.
Looping Provides the ability to loop within workflows, allowing for iterative actions based on predefined conditions. Lacks native support for looping mechanisms, limiting the ability to perform iterative actions.
Wait conditions on fields Doesn’t support direct wait conditions on field changes; workflows proceed based on triggers and subsequent actions without explicit field-based waiting. Allows setting wait conditions based on field changes, facilitating workflows to pause until specific field conditions are met.
Parallel branch Allows for simultaneous execution of multiple actions or branches within the workflow, enhancing parallel processing capabilities. Lacks support for parallel execution, limiting workflows to sequential processing.
Out-of-box connectors to external systems Offers extensive connectivity with various external services beyond Dynamics 365, enabling seamless integration with multiple applications and services through pre-built connectors. Restricted to functionalities within Dynamics 365 CRM only, limiting direct integrations with external systems and applications.
Dynamic content Empowers workflows to utilize dynamic content, facilitating the extraction and utilization of varied data from different sources or actions within the workflow. Provides the ability to manipulate data dynamically within workflows, allowing for adaptable and dynamic information usage.
Access to pre-image of event data Doesn’t provide direct access to pre-event image data within workflows, limiting visibility into data state prior to an event trigger. Allows workflows to access pre-image data, offering insight into the data state before a specific event occurrence.
Run child workflows Doesn’t support the direct execution of child workflows within the main workflow structure. Enables the execution of child workflows within the primary workflow structure, allowing for modular and segmented workflow processes.
Run Common Data Service actions (including custom) Lacks native support for executing Common Data Service (CDS) actions or custom operations within workflows. Supports the execution of Common Data Service actions and custom operations, allowing for a broader range of functionalities within workflows.
Run custom workflow activities Does not offer the capability to execute custom workflow activities tailored to specific business requirements. Provides the functionality to execute custom workflow activities designed to cater to unique business needs or specialized operations.
Group steps to run in a transaction Allows bundling multiple steps into a single transaction, ensuring either the success or failure of all steps together. Lacks the ability to group steps into a transaction, potentially leading to partial completion or failure of individual steps.
Approval workflows Facilitates the creation of automated approval workflows, streamlining decision-making processes within the workflow. Lacks direct support for automated approval workflows, limiting functionalities related to decision-making and approvals within workflows.
Trigger on field changes Supports triggering workflows based on changes in specific fields, enabling actions based on field-level modifications. Allows workflows to be triggered in response to changes in designated fields, initiating actions linked to field alterations.
Trigger conditionally on field values Lacks direct support for triggering workflows based on conditional field values, limiting conditional triggering capabilities. Does not natively support conditional triggering based on specific field values within Dynamics 365.
Trigger on multiple Common Data Service entity events Doesn’t support triggering workflows based on multiple events occurring across Common Data Service entities simultaneously. Permits triggering workflows based on multiple events or changes across different Common Data Service entities concurrently.
Run on-demand Allows for the manual initiation or execution of workflows based on user discretion or specific requirements. Enables the manual initiation of workflows, offering flexibility in executing workflows as needed or based on user actions.
Run-as scopes (organization, business unit, user) Provides the ability to specify different scopes for workflow execution, allowing for workflows to operate at various levels such as organization-wide, business unit, or user-specific. Allows workflows to operate under different scopes like organization-wide, business unit, or user-specific, defining the extent of workflow execution.
Run on a schedule Supports scheduling workflows to execute at predefined times or intervals, automating routine tasks or processes. Lacks native support for scheduling workflows to run at specific times or intervals.
Run synchronously (real-time) Does not support real-time synchronous execution, potentially leading to delays in immediate action or response. Executes workflows in real-time synchronously, ensuring immediate action or response to triggering events within Dynamics 365.
Auditing Provides auditing capabilities within workflows, allowing for the tracking and recording of workflow execution details. Offers auditing functionalities that track and document workflow execution details, ensuring traceability and accountability.
Run analytics Offers analytics capabilities to assess and analyze workflow performance and efficiency over time. Lacks built-in support for detailed analytics related to workflow performance or efficiency.
Authoring and portability
Solution support Supports inclusion within solutions for easier management, deployment, and sharing of workflows across Dynamics 365 environments. Allows workflows to be included within solutions, simplifying their management, deployment, and distribution across Dynamics 365 instances.
Modern designer Provides a modern and user-friendly interface for workflow creation, enhancing the overall user experience. Utilizes a different interface compared to Power Automate, potentially offering a different user experience.
AI-assisted authoring Employs AI-driven assistance to aid in the creation and optimization of workflows, streamlining the workflow development process. Lacks native AI-assisted functionalities for workflow creation and optimization.

Get Expert Automation Guidance

How to Enable & Create a Flow in Microsoft Flow:

Steps to Enable Microsoft Flow:

Access the Flows Page: Sign in to Power Automate and select the "My flows" tab. Choose "Flows" from the dropdown menu to navigate to the Flows page.

Select and Enable: From the Flows page, select the specific flow you want to enable. Click on the "Enable" button for that flow and confirm the action. Ensure necessary connections are set up and test the flow before enabling it.

Steps to create a flow in Microsoft Flow

Creating a flow in Power Automate involves a step-by-step process that begins with selecting a trigger to initiate the flow, followed by adding actions and conditions to customize the workflow.

  1. Trigger Selection:


    Trigger: "Office 365 Outlook – When a new email arrives."


    • Choose the specific mailbox to monitor.
    • Filter emails based on keywords, sender, or other criteria.

    How it works: This trigger initiates the flow whenever a new email arrives in the specified mailbox. It captures information about the email, like sender, subject, and content, and makes it available for subsequent actions.

    Benefits: Automates the flow based on incoming emails, eliminating manual monitoring.

  2. Adding Actions:


    Action: "Send an email."


    • Specify the recipient email address.
    • Add a subject line and body content.
    • Include dynamic content from the trigger email, like sender name or subject line.

    How it works: This action sends an automated email based on the trigger email. It allows personalized responses and dynamic content based on the received email's details.

    Benefits: Automates responses to emails, eliminates manual typing, and enables personalized communication.

  3. Incorporating Conditions:


    Condition: "If the email subject contains 'urgent'."


    • Define the condition based on email content, sender, or other factors.
    • Specify different action paths based on the condition's outcome.

    How it works: This condition adds another layer of control to the flow. It allows for branching logic, directing the flow to different actions based on specific criteria.

    Benefits: Allows for flexible and adaptive workflows that respond differently based on specific conditions.

Steps to Create a Workflow in Dynamics 365

Here's a step-by-step breakdown of how workflows work in Dynamics 365:

  1. Define the trigger:

    This is the event that will kick off the workflow. There are multiple types of triggers available, each targeting specific events within the system. Here are some examples:

    • Record creation: This trigger activates the workflow when a new record is created in a specific entity (e.g., lead, opportunity, account).
    • Record update: This trigger activates the workflow when a field value changes in a record. You can also specify which field changes trigger the workflow.
    • Field change: This trigger activates the workflow when a specific field value changes. For example, you could create a workflow that starts when the stage of a lead changes to "Qualified."
    • Process execution: This trigger activates the workflow when another workflow completes. This allows you to chain workflows together to create complex automation sequences.
  2. Add steps:

    Once you've defined the trigger, you need to add the steps you want the workflow to perform. There are many different types of steps available, each offering specific functionality. Here are some common examples:

    • Update record: This step updates the values of specific fields in a record.
    • Assign record: This step assigns a record to a specific user or team.
    • Send email: This step sends an email notification to specific users or teams.
    • Create task: This step creates a task record in the system.
    • Wait condition: This step pauses the workflow execution for a specified amount of time or until a specific condition is met.
    • If/Then/Else: This step allows you to create branching logic in your workflow based on specific conditions.
  3. Set options:

    Before activating your workflow, you can customize its behavior further by setting options. Here are some important options to consider:

    • Scope: This option defines who can run the workflow and which records it applies to.
    • Execution mode: You can choose between real-time execution (immediately after the trigger) or background execution.
    • Available to run: You can choose whether to run the workflow manually, automatically based on the trigger, or as a child process of another workflow.
  4. Activate the workflow:

    Once you're satisfied with your workflow definition, you can activate it. The workflow will then start listening for the trigger event and execute the defined steps when it occurs.

  5. Monitor and manage:

    After activating your workflow, you can monitor its performance and execution history using the Workflow Management interface. You can also deactivate or edit the workflow as needed.

Discover the evolution of Microsoft's low-code, no-code capabilities with Power Pages in this comprehensive guide. Explore its features, integrations, and how Dynamics 365 users can leverage this innovation.

How to Create a Workflow in Dynamics 365:

  1. Go to Settings > Processes.
  2. Click New.
  3. Choose a name for your workflow and select the entity it applies to (e.g., "Online Orders").
  4. Select "Run this workflow in the background" for smoother operation.
  5. Under "Start When," choose "Record is created."
  6. Under "Conditions," add a condition to filter the workflow (e.g., "Order Type = 'Online'").
  7. Under "Actions," click "Add Step" and choose "Send Email."
  8. Configure the email content and subject line.
  9. Click Save and Activate.

How to Choose the Right Workflow Tool for Your Needs

Task Complexity:

Before choosing a workflow tool, analyze the diversity of tasks you handle. Some tasks might be simple and routine, while others are complex and require multiple steps or decision-making. A good workflow tool should accommodate both, allowing flexibility in managing various task complexities.

In a customer support system, a workflow tool can differentiate between simple inquiries and complex technical issues. For instance, a chatbot can handle routine queries automatically, routing technical issues to specialized support teams based on predetermined criteria.

Task Location:

Consider where your tasks happen. Are they primarily in one location or spread across different sites, departments, or even countries? A suitable workflow tool should support this geographical spread, enabling teams to collaborate seamlessly, regardless of their physical location.

A cloud-based project management tool allows remote teams to access, update, and collaborate on project tasks from any location. This enables real-time communication and task tracking across multiple time zones.

Integration Needs:

Evaluate how your workflow tool will connect with other systems or tools used in your organization. For instance, does it need to link with project management software, databases, or communication tools? A capable workflow tool should integrate smoothly with these systems, ensuring data flows cohesively between them.

Integrating a CRM system with a workflow tool enables sales teams to seamlessly transition from lead management within the CRM to initiating follow-up actions and task assignments within the workflow tool without switching between platforms.

Desired Automation Level:

Consider the number of people interacting with these workflows. A good workflow tool should be scalable, accommodating multiple users without compromising performance. It should support collaborative efforts across teams or departments, adapting as your user base grows.

An HR workflow tool automates the employee onboarding process, triggering task assignments for IT setup, orientation sessions, and document submissions based on predefined workflows once a new employee's details are entered into the system.

Task Frequency:

Delve into the frequency of tasks within your workflows. Some tasks might occur frequently and repetitively, while others are sporadic or one-time occurrences. A suitable workflow tool should streamline these tasks by automating routine ones and offering flexibility for handling less frequent ones.

Automating ticket assignment in an IT service desk tool can categorize incoming requests, automatically assigning low-complexity tickets to first-line support, while escalating more complex issues to specialized teams, optimizing resolution times.

Users Involved:

Consider the number of people interacting with these workflows. A good workflow tool should be scalable, accommodating multiple users without compromising performance. It should support collaborative efforts across teams or departments, adapting as your user base grows.

A project management tool allows role-based access control, ensuring that developers’ access coding-related tasks, QA testers focus on quality assurance checks, and project managers oversee the project progress with distinct permissions and views.

Automation Depth:

Think about how much of your processes you want to automate. Certain tasks can be automated to save time and reduce errors, but the level of automation required might vary based on your organizational goals. The right workflow tool should allow customization in automation, aligning with your automation objectives.

In a manufacturing setting, an inventory management tool can automate reorder processes by setting triggers for automatic stock replenishment once inventory levels drop below a certain threshold, minimizing stockouts and overstocking.

Integration Requirements:

Evaluate how your Microsoft workflow software will connect with other systems or tools used in your organization. For instance, does it need to link with project management software, databases, or communication tools? A capable workflow tool should integrate smoothly with these systems, ensuring data flows cohesively between them.

Integrating an e-commerce platform with a workflow tool allows automatic generation of shipping labels and order fulfillment notifications, streamlining the fulfillment process and updating customers about their order status in real-time.

Technical Expertise:

Consider the skill level of your team members who will be using this Microsoft workflow tools. A user-friendly interface and customization options are crucial for team members with varying technical expertise. The workflow tool should empower users to utilize its features effectively without extensive technical training.

A marketing team using a campaign management workflow tool benefits from drag-and-drop interface features, enabling non-technical team members to create and execute marketing campaigns without requiring extensive coding or technical knowledge.

Unlock the full potential of Microsoft Flow and workflows with Nalashaa Digital’s expert guidance. Contact Nalashaa Digital today to schedule a free consultation and embark on your automation journey.

About Author

Never Miss News

Want to implement Dynamics 365?

We have plans which will meet your needs, and if not we can tweak them around a bit too!

Just leave your details below and we will get back to you real soon!
Field will not be visible to web visitor