3 Tips to Power Automate your Project Management Work Transcription

Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Erik van Hurck’s webinar, 3 Tips to Power Automate your Project Management Work, being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the recording of this webinar at your convenience.

Melanie: Hello, and welcome Melanie here with team MPUG. Welcome to three tips to Power Automate your project management work. We invite you to join in with questions today using the questions chat feature in the go to webinar control panel. You’ll can see it displayed here on the screen. I will be sending some thank yous to our audience members today, getting involved. So please be sure I have your current address in your MPUG account. Now I would like to introduce our expert presenter and excellent speaker, Erik van Hurck. Eric is a senior PPM consultant for Projectum, a Western European Microsoft partner with offices in Denmark and the Netherlands.

Melanie: On top of that, Erik is a Microsoft MVP, as such, Erik assists customers to adopt the new Power Platform cloud solutions for project and portfolio management. We greatly enjoy his personal blog which I have chatted out but we especially appreciate the tips and sessions he authors specifically for the MPUG community and his co-authorship of the latest edition of Microsoft Project Essentials books and course. I’ve chatted out some links to Erik’s course on MPOG as well. Erik, now I am going to hand the presentation over to your capable hands.

Erik van Hurck: All right.

Melanie: Thanks for joining us.

Erik van Hurck: Let’s see. Show the screen, is everything on screen?

Melanie: Your slide deck is up, sir.

Erik van Hurck: Good. Welcome everyone. After this wonderful introduction, I think we can briefly skip over my introduction slide. Just so you know, I have a YouTube channel. The Vlog that Melanie mentioned, as well as a personal blog and I’m a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional which is an honorary title we get when we share our information with the community at large which is of course, all of you listening today. So today we’re going to look at three tips of Power Automate and how to Power Automate the life as a project manager. And during this webinar, I’m going to talk about flows and these are kind of the files that are created using the application called Power Automate. Now in the past, Power Automate used to be called Flow itself but Microsoft adopted Power Automate as part of the Power Platform and therefore Microsoft rebranded or needed to rebrand flow into something different and they chose Power Automate which makes excellent sense if you think about the things that Power Automate will do for you.

Erik van Hurck: I bracketed the files because Power Automate is a browser solution. So there is not a specific file or a file extension that says this is a flow, that doesn’t happen. This is a fully browser based application that we’re going to talk about today. And if we look at the Power Platform at large, currently there are four tools that are engaged with Power Platform. They’re all starting with power so there’s a lot of power going around here and probably the most familiar one is Power BI which is the tool to analyze your data. It’s user friendly, click, drag and drop, just the way to grab all the sources that you need from your organization, analyze that using Power BI.

Erik van Hurck: Then there is something called Power Apps. And Power Apps has two components, it has the Canvas Apps which are user friendly, one stop shop, applications that you could use on your mobile phone for instance. Or full blown model driven Power Apps and model driven Power Apps can be full blown applications such as Power Project Operations which is a Microsoft created and owned Power App that helps you along with working for, for instance, Project for the web. Then Power Automate, the thing that we’re going to talk about today and what that does, it delegates work so that you, as a person, doesn’t need to do that work. It automates processes.

Erik van Hurck: And think of this as, I am doing X every day or every week or every month and I know the exact flow of how the actions I’m doing are actually going to happen, I can structure that. Then this is something that maybe Power Automate can do for you. And we’re going to talk about how flows work and how they look in our tips today. Then there’s a fourth item and that’s called Power Virtual Agents and I would describe them as bots. They are a first line of interaction with your customer if you have a website, you can create a virtual agent that takes care of the first part of the conversation before either the bot sends a file or an answer that the user has or interaction with an actual human on the second line. So these are the four things that are in the Power Platform and today we’re going to talk about Power Automate and the flows that we can create with it.

Erik van Hurck: Now, as I always love to do, there are three tips that we’re going to focus on but there needs to be a bonus tip there as well, right? So the first tip that I’m going to cover is how would you deliver clean flows? And with clean flows, I mean, a flow that everyone that sees the flow knows how to interact with and sees what it actually does or is intended to do so that we can adopt it. Then the second tip is how to share that flow because if you create a flow, maybe someone else needs to work with it as well. And then there is a third tip about reusing existing flows. How is that done? And how can we make the best use of the different options that we have? This is an open discussion and during the call, if you have questions, just let us know through the chat.

Erik van Hurck: And after each tip, I’ll have a brief pause and ask Melanie if there is any questions that need to be covered. If not, we’ll move forward to the next tip itself. So for clean flows, Power Automate is just an application, right? It doesn’t know what you want to create. And that goes double for the people that see your flow if you haven’t taken into account a couple of best practices. The first section is very important, rename all actions and do that fast because if an action in flow doesn’t have a nice name or a nice ring to it, it might hinder the rest of the flow and write down what the flow does or is supposed to do. Now, the third item here, solutions, components and scopes is something that I’ll cover during the live demo.

Erik van Hurck: If the flow has sent out a notification, you might want to steer away from using your personal email address but maybe you want to use a flow bot from Microsoft Teams or use a specific mailing account, a shared mailing account and I’ll have examples of those here today. So let’s have a look at what a not so clean flow actually looks like and how we can improve it. I’ll switch my screen and here we have a browser session of flow at microsoft.com and you can use [imea 00:08:52] in front of it. This is just telling us that I’m in Europe and I use the English language but just writing down this part of the URL will bring you to your interaction with Microsoft Flow or Power Automate.

Erik van Hurck: Here we go, right? There’s different names, it’s the same beast or the same flower, right? Rose by any known name. So in here we have the option to create new template flows by just going in here and selecting any of that and starting a new flow from there. There’s an all template section and that brings a whole lot of interactions or options with it. And if you have any questions like, I want to do something with Power BI, just write it down and as you can see, there’s multiple people delivering and making flows available for everyone else such as this one where we have a sentiment analysis of tweets and the results are pushed to Power BI so that we can analyze how it’s being talked about X on Twitter? Is it positive, negative, or neutral? Just a short example of what Power Automate can do.

Erik van Hurck: Now for my personal flows, I will go to, My flows. And in here we have a couple of options, we have our cloud flows, which is our basic point of entry for most of the flows that we’re going to do in our life. Then there’s desktop flows and desktop flows interact with anything that is not on a browser. So, if we want to open up a word document, give it a certain name and a certain sward of text, that can be done using the desktop flows. Desktop flows was originally designed for a line of business applications that live on a certain server somewhere in a broom closet and is old but still needs to work, right? And you would have a desktop flow running on that server to get keep that up and running actually. Business process flows is ties in nicely with the Power Apps.

Erik van Hurck: And then there is, shared with me and shared with me is a topic that we’re going to cover in tips two and three today. So in here, in the cloud flows, I have a large number of flows already modified a certain type. It’s an instant flow, that means that it works whenever I press a button or something happens or if it’s an automated flow or a scheduled flow. Creating new flows happens on top, you can either search for a template as we’ve mentioned briefly before, use Visio because Visio is also very flow minded. You can even use a Visio template to start your flow. Then there’s automated cloud flows, instant cloud flows, scheduled cloud flows, there’s just about any flow for anyone, every flavor is available.

Erik van Hurck: So let’s look at our tip one, Bad practice version. If I click on it, I get presented with the flow interaction screen. There are some details, not a lot to see here. It tells you who the owner is and what kind of connections it has as well as the running history. It failed a couple of times when I was still building the flow and after that, each test was successful. You can also look at all runs, be it runs that were done within the last 28 days. After those 28 days, Microsoft cleans the flow so there’s no running history for older flows. Now, why is this an example of a bad practice? Well, first thing that you might notice is that it doesn’t have a very nice description of the flow, there’s no description even.

Erik van Hurck: So from this page, I have no idea what this thing does. Well, it does something with notifications. It has a connection with my Outlook and it does something with SharePoint, but what exactly? I have no idea. So let’s dive into the flow itself by clicking on edit and see if we can distill something more. So from this page, each step is added without adding any description, without changing the titles of each action in it. That means that the first thing that happens is a trigger, something happens and the flow kicks off. First thing is a manual trigger of a flow so I would need to press a button or click on run to get this flow running. Then it gets some items, there’s a variable initiated and apply to each, grabbing data from the get items and there’s a condition.

Erik van Hurck: And that condition tells me that if there is something critical, it will set a variable and it will send an email. Looking at this flow, it doesn’t really tell you a lot. You really need to dive into the details of the flow to get an answer on what this flow actually does. Let’s have a look at the items. So from here, we get more information but that is three levels deep, right? We don’t want to have to dive into every action to get a clear sense of what we’re seeing. First thing that we see here is that the MPUG planner sample which is from a previous webinar that we did and that is the website that it’s actually getting its information from. Specifically, it is a list called the issue tracker and it’s getting information from that list.

Erik van Hurck: I have that list open here. And if I look at it, it tells me that there is issues and there is even a critical issue, there’s even two, and there’s a priority high issue as well. I’m assigned to all three of these and there’s date reported, there’s days old. This is just a basic template that you can grab from SharePoint when you start up a new list. There’s templates there and this is the template for the issue tracker. I can add a new item here and it’s called a webinar demo. So, there’s some description and let’s set this to a critical level, just so that we kick off that flow. The status is new, it is assigned to me and we can set the date reported as being today.

Erik van Hurck: Everything looks good so I’ll click on save. So now there are three critical issues in my SharePoint list. Taking another look at the flow, what does this flow do with that issue tracker? For one thing, it gathers the assigned to and then after that, it has a priority. And if that priority is set equal to critical, it will gather the assigned to, grab the email of that person and it will send an email to that assigned to person and tell me that this is a critical activity or this is a critical issue. So I could fire this off and see if it actually works. Let’s click on save and let’s click on back. And from the back button, if the internet works, we’ll click on run.

Erik van Hurck: After I click on run, I’ll get a status and two pings or three pings actually telling me that there is a webinar demo that is critical. Hi Erik, there’s a reported issue that is critical. It’s assigned to you. More information can be found here. So the name of the webinar demo issue is here, some description is also added and there is there direct link to the issue tracker that you can follow along. So the flow works, that is not the issue here. The issue really is that we have no idea what it did from the start of our journey through this flow. Looking at better practice, let’s have a look at how it actually could be more useful. So in here is exactly the same email address, exactly same flow, only it has a description now.

Erik van Hurck: This flow will send an email regarding every critical issue to the person that it is assigned to. It is triggered manually which can be done by management or by the PMO. And if you don’t want to have this flow running on a button press, you can also have that run as a schedule. So every week it will churn through the list of critical issues and send out emails to the people that they’re assigned to, that’s also an option. This flow, however, runs whenever I press this button. So this is already an improvement. It tells me who it’s running for, what the description is, it even has a nice descriptive title. So let’s see what it looks like in the edit mode.

Erik van Hurck: All right. So the manual trigger of flow is still something that cannot be renamed. There’s no renaming option for this trigger. So we need to be aware that manually triggering a flow is actually manually triggering this flow. What it does, it gathers all issues, it sets a variable called assigned to and it applies something to each issue. Looking at this, you already know what it does and you don’t need to dive into deeper analysis. What we can do of course, is we can have another look if this issue is critical. And what we see if it’s critical, we also have an option to look at a note. Only the yes value has a follow up. That is a note that I added by adding the note and renaming flow items or actions is done through the rename button.

Erik van Hurck: So this condition tells me that if the issue is critical then it will set the variable for the assigned to because this can be different for each person or each issue that we actually have and then it will send an email to the assigned user. Clicking on this will just open up exactly the same email. So it isn’t different from the previous flow. However, it is more user friendly for just a case where you need to share this flow with someone else and someone else needs to pick up where you left off. Maybe you’ll leave the company and someone else needs to take over from you. One of the other issues here is that, why did I say that you need to rename actions right when you create them?

Erik van Hurck: Well, if we dive deeper into this value, for instance, the priority value. I need to copy this correctly. What we can see is that the action that is actually in green here is actually a code where it takes items from the apply to each issue which is the title of this action, it will take the priority value and a priority value needs to be equal to critical for it to run this way. If you didn’t change that name right at the beginning, this action might still look at apply to each instead of the apply to each issue. So it really is best practice to look at your flow and create a good name right from the start. Because if you didn’t, you might run into the issue that your flow doesn’t know what item to put where in the action list.

Erik van Hurck: So that is for the first two sections. Then if you’re working with larger flows, you might want to add some comments, we have mentioned the comments briefly already. Scopes is something that you can use to gather large amounts of data. For instance, if we, you would like to structure or gather the first two sections into one item, what I can do is I can click on the add action, I start typing, go and here you have a control. This actually does nothing but create a container so I can add these two things here. Nope, variables can’t be added there, that’s true. So I can add that to the top and I can recreate the name of this by saying scope of the work.

Erik van Hurck: So now this is a container where we see that we trigger the flow, we set some variables and after that, we have a scope of the actual work. For this flow, it might be overdoing it because there’s just four actions or three actions and a trigger but you can imagine that this grows and grows and grows into a larger set of activities. We have seen flows running maybe 20, maybe 30, actions and you might want to cluster them for easy reading. Now, we mentioned solutions also and solutions can be a container to gather multiple flows. With a solution, you can also create a parent flow and have child flows running underneath. There’s additional options that you have with a flow running in a solution but there’s also some known issues.

Erik van Hurck: And after this session, I’ll share an email with the known limitations and best practices for using solutions with your flow but just know that if you have a bigger flow and multiple flows interacting with each other, it will be wise to have a separate solution in which you can gather all those flows and not have it live in the location where you have all your cloud flows because it might be looking at where is my flow? Where did it go, right? So that mentioned, I wanted to show you again that email that was sent. And as you can see, it is sent from a flow mail account that is not my personal email address, of course. And how that was created, if we navigate to the sent critical issues in the edit button, in the apply to each, for each critical issue, we’ll send an email and all the way down, show advanced options.

Erik van Hurck: We have to send from and we can send this from a flow email account. Now mind you, you need to have personal access to be able to send flow email account mails. So if you know that that email exists and you put that here into the send from, you’ll get an error stating that you don’t have the permissions to actually send that email so don’t even bother. However, I do have access to that flow email address so if I use this one to send email from and I click on okay or click on save… And that is just a warning, nothing to be bothered with. If I click on run this flow, I’ll see that status, it’s running. And after just a few seconds, it tells me that it ran successfully giving me the option to look at other emails. And there we go, the issues.

Erik van Hurck: So as you can see, there’s just three issues that were sent. Issue two critical, another critical issue and the webinar live demo was also critical. As we can see, there’s no message coming in from issue one. All right. Are there any questions regarding clean flows, Melanie?

Melanie: We don’t have any questions yet, Erik. Do you want to take a minute and do a quick poll on how many audience members are using Power Automate?

Erik van Hurck: I would be interested to know. There’s two polls coming in today during the webinar. One is regarding, are you familiar with flow and are you already using Power Automate? And the second one is going to be about the Power Platform at large, that beast with four items in there, right? Feel free to look at the poll, give your response and we’ll come back to that after tip two.

Melanie: And you can see these poll results right now. Thank you everyone.

Erik van Hurck: All right. Great. So tip two, sharing flows. Very important, you create it the most useful personal flow and it’s great. And what happens if you want to share the solution with others? There’s two things that come to mind directly, what happens if you leave the company and this flow still needs to run? If you are the only owner of that flow then there’s no way of getting that ownership across to others. So in regards to co-owners, consider using either a group of users or a service account and service accounts are created by your IT organization that don’t have a direct personal flesh and blood person sitting next to it or using it. Service accounts are primarily focused on running or adopting or maintaining certain activities in the organization such as keeping flows running after a person, an owner or a creator leaves the company.

Erik van Hurck: And the second thing that comes to mind is run only users. You need to make sure that everyone that needs to run that flow actually can. So one great example is document libraries on SharePoint. You might want to have people interact with documents using a Power Automate flow and it needs to be that you add that location to the flow for everyone to actually use it. So let’s have a look at the two options, co-owners and run only users into our second example. Navigating to the my flows again and there’s multiple ways on navigating back and forth. I’m using this side pane here but if for instance, we’re looking at the approval for our documents in SharePoint, a good title, there’s even a description in here so I’m liking this flow already. There’s also an option to just click here and it will bring you back to the cloud flows.

Erik van Hurck: So from this page, we can assign both co-owners and we can assign run only users. That is done through the right section here. First, let’s have a look at the co-owners. I click on edit here, there is an option to add owners and these can be users or groups of people. And the connections that are enabled within this flow are these three. So there’s an approval, there’s a notification and there is a SharePoint component and this SharePoint component uses the old logo so very interesting. I have a group of people that I call the Power Automate administrators and I have an email flow admins at the project corner. As soon as I click on that user group, I get a screen that tells me, do you actually want them to use these connections?

Erik van Hurck: And if I’m part of that flow and if I’m part of that group, there’s no real reason not to. But be aware of what this item here says or this window here says because you might want to consider maybe toning down the permissions if you want to share it. Clicking on the share, it is now being added. And because this is a group of users, I’m more at ease knowing that there’s a group of people that can actually edit my flow when I, for what reason ever, leave the company. There’s no save button here and it’s already processed so if we move back, we can now see that there’s my icon as well as the group icon here. Because this is now a co-owned flow, we’ll not see this flow anymore in our personal cloud flows.

Erik van Hurck: If I click on my flows, tip number two is actually gone. So where is that now? It actually lives in the fourth section here. It is now not owned by me, it’s not my personal cloud flow even though I am the creator of it but it is shared with me. So here it is, shared with me. Tip number two, approval for documents.

Melanie: Erik?

Erik van Hurck: Yes. Go ahead.

Melanie: I have a message about not seeing the screen from an audience member. Are you still sharing your screen?

Erik van Hurck: I am. Click to stop sharing screen. Let me-

Melanie: Okay, some people are seeing it so it looks like an individual problem. Okay, thank you. Sorry for that.

Erik van Hurck: Let me quickly switch screen, screen monitor, main monitor two.

Melanie: Yes.

Erik van Hurck: It’s briefly [off 00:36:13] from my side.

Melanie: Yes. Sorry about that.

Erik van Hurck: No worries.

Melanie: Thanks.

Erik van Hurck: So talking about the co-owners, we now have a group and the creator of that flow. These are the owners but you might not want to have everyone that has access to this flow interfere with the flow itself. You just want people to actually request an approval for a document in SharePoint, the thing that it was created for. In order to do that, we need to click on the run only users. Your flow isn’t shared with anyone yet but if we click on edit, there’s a side pane here. And there’s a specific side pane that’s interesting here, it is a SharePoint side pane. Now because I don’t know who’s going to have access to that SharePoint list, I don’t want to limit that to a certain group of people, I want to limit that to everyone that has access to a document library.

Erik van Hurck: And to do that, I click on SharePoint and this section is available because it is part of the flow itself. Let’s navigate to the site. There’s just one site that this flow is interacting and it’s the MPUG planner example. And the library that is interacting with is actually the documents library. Now I can click on add but we already see that it has an example documents library. Now this, your flow isn’t shared with anyone, isn’t quite true. And I haven’t found a way or a reason why it doesn’t show the actual information. Just know that if we make any changes here, you will need to click on save and that might be counterintuitive because we can remove it here and we can click on add here. Yeah, it’s already selected. If we click on plus, there will be a save button here.

Erik van Hurck: And because it’s already there, there won’t be a save but this will show up the second that you click on add for the first time. And you might think that you’ve run it through all the actions that you need to take to actually share it but that only happens the moment you click on save here. So be aware, there is a save button all the way down in this manage run only permissions. So let’s click on cancel and let’s see what this flow does. We navigate and I took this one from a template for a selected file. Get the file properties, start an approval and there’s a condition that might need to have a better description. But what it does, it will send me a notification for approval or rejection based on the information that I got.

Erik van Hurck: So approved the name of the item, the approval name and actual comments if there are any and then what it will do at the end, it will update the file properties. And specifically, it will tell me the approval outcome with responses and comments. What it needs to have for that is the ID of the actual item that was selected. So, let’s see that in action. We navigate back, this is a flow that doesn’t have a run section, right? And that is because the trigger is very different. This trigger is an automatic trigger or when a file is selected and the flow is activated through the library itself. So let’s do that right now. I have the library open here in this tab and we can already see a flow that ran successfully because it was approved and the approval comment was, this looks good, this looks fine.

Erik van Hurck: So for this second document that I have in the list, can I use Power Automate with Project for web which is one of the articles on MPUG? If I want to have an approval for this item, what I can do is I can either select it and choose to go to automate and then click on tip two, approve for documents in SharePoint or as it is Microsoft, there’s multiple ways to activate it. There’s also the ellipsis at the item itself, an automate section and a tip to approval for documents. I’ll click on it and I’ll click on run this flow. Starting run for approvals and the activity is now being processed. We refresh this page, we’ll see that there’s a running flow and we can dive into a little bit deeper and I already heard a ping and that ping is that there’s a new email coming in and that email is probably my approval email.

Erik van Hurck: So here we go. There’s a Microsoft flow review request and it tells me, can I use Power Automate for project for the web which is the name of that item. It is requested by me and the date is then and then and I can even look at the document if I want to navigate and do an actual review. If I click on approve, there’s a comment section. This is a nice article, everyone should read it which is obviously my personal opinion. If I click on submit now, that information is going back to the approval section of Power Automate. If we go back to this, we see that the flow ran successfully throughout the rest of the activities and we can see that. We can see that the start and approval has run, there’s a review, there’s a link item, there’s an approval ID. And in the condition I see that it did run where the expression that it was approved is actually true.

Erik van Hurck: And it sent me that notification, where is that notification? Here is that notification. Erik approved your request with the comments, this is a nice article. Going back to flow, we see that run and there is an update for that file. And also this one, it runs successfully so let’s have a look at the MPUG planner example and without refreshing or doing anything, I can see that it was modified just a few seconds ago and it was approved with, this is a nice article, everyone should read it. So these are the ways of sharing your flow the correct way. If you have people that need to access this flow but don’t need access to edit it, make sure to have them in there as read only or run only users.

Erik van Hurck: And if you want to ensure the safety of your flow and for whatever reason you leave the company or you have a different role in the company or your permissions are stripped, you want to have someone, preferably a group or a service account, as a co-owner. And if you have a co-owner, be sure to find your flow in a share it with me folder instead of your personal cloud. So let’s have another look at the poll. Is there anything that I can see for the polls? No, it’s going to be something that I will look at afterwards. How about you Melanie? Do you see?

Melanie: We have some questions.

Erik van Hurck: We have questions. Great.

Melanie: Yes. Some great questions. Sharon would like to know what are some of the most valuable, powerful flows you use for project management?

Erik van Hurck: The most powerful flows interact with getting approval for certain actions, certain phases, in your project and may be closely related to that issue tracker as well. We use this at multiple clients and I think it’s very powerful. That if there is something critical in, for instance, issues that you have or a milestone or a deadline that’s closing in, you want to have interaction with your users. And in Project Online, for instance, you have that assigned to risks. You can edit a flow or create a flow that picks up that assigned to just like we did with the issue tracker here and sent out emails to them. So, the most often used flows that I see around in my consultancy life is in getting approvals or sending out notifications.

Erik van Hurck: That isn’t, at all, everything that a flow can do obviously because it can interact with rows of data. Just recently, we created a flow that took a large Excel sheet, a table of actions and that was the preferred way a manager worked with activities that he needed to do as part of a project and every time he needed to do something new, he added a row within that table. What we made the flow do was trigger on every new row in that table and what it did is it’s sent out a call or an action to Planner and it created a new Planner tile within the plan that the team was using. So the manager could still use the Excel files and the team could use Microsoft Planner which they were familiar with. So these kinds of interactions is really powerful for my opinion on flow.

Melanie: Thank you for that. So next question, we have a few here. This from John, do you have an example of user security options applied in a flow?

Erik van Hurck: User security options? A follow up question, maybe he can clarify what he means with the user security?

Melanie: Okay.

Erik van Hurck: And we’ll come back to that after tip three maybe?

Melanie: Yeah, We have-

Erik van Hurck: Go ahead.

Melanie: Do you want another question or am I?

Erik van Hurck: Let’s do another question, sure. And then we’ll run through tip three.

Melanie: So you might need an Oracle for this one. Do you know when Microsoft would add sort on the my flows and share it with me pages? Hard to find a flow without that.

Erik van Hurck: That is an interesting one. So in this share it with me, that would need to be an additional one here. Owned or my flows? I don’t have my crystal ball with me but that sounds like an excellent question for Microsoft to answer. Is there a way to address this to Microsoft? Yes, there is. So from the top right, where the gear is and where the environment is, there’s also a question mark. And this might be a little nasty remark here but there’s a large team of Microsoft employees that look at feedback that users send. And one of the excellent ways is giving feedback through this loop. Let’s see where it brings us. This brings us to the Power users Microsoft section where there are number of ideas that get voted on by users. So, one of these might actually have the direct question that was asked today and if it does, you might be able to vote on it. And if it doesn’t, please write it down here as a suggested idea and you’ll have my vote because I think it’s an excellent question.

Melanie: That’s great.

Erik van Hurck: All right. Good.

Melanie: Would you like one more?

Erik van Hurck: Let’s do one more. Yeah.

Melanie: Okay. This is from Wayne. Can a Power Automate process be backed up and migrated to another 365 instance?

Erik van Hurck: Wow, that is a good question. And it ties in nicely into what I briefly refer to in tip one and that is the solutions. If I look at solutions, I can showcase maybe a bit of what I actually mean. So in here there are solutions and solutions are backed up in something that Microsoft calls the Dataverse which is a tabular environment, where data is stored locally on this instance. If you create a new flow solution and let me do that, TPC flows, and I can even select a publisher which will be the project corner solution and it’s a number one. This solution can be zipped and migrated and moved across to different environments. By clicking on the export, you can publish and run checks. If you click on next, you can have it as a managed solution or an unmanaged solution.

Erik van Hurck: That is one way of moving a flow to a different environment and different solution. On the other hand, we also have tip three that is a nice bridge to bring up. Reusing flows and sharing them. So, let’s bring up tip number three, I think and Melanie, if there’s follow up questions, let’s take them after. Let’s see if John, I believe it was, has information on the security. And this ties into how to get the flow out of your environment, right? There’s three ways of reusing flows. There’s a save as option which creates a personal copy of the flow. And by personal, I mean, the person that clicks on the save as gets a copy of that flow in his list of cloud flows. Then send a copy is something that you can send to a colleague and this needs to be a colleague, someone that works in the same organization as you. And it will send a template that that user can pick up, edit their permissions for that person himself or herself, because a mail account, my mail account won’t be accessible for her or him.

Erik van Hurck: And then the third way is creating a zip file. And that zip is the ultimate way of sending a flow outside the organization to a different tenant maybe in your organization, if you have a test production development environment for instance, not that way around, development test production, obviously. So let’s have a look at all three of these options. And I do agree, I might have run too fast through the solutions, there’ll be a follow up for that. Maybe a nice article, Melanie. So let’s reuse this flow. And this flow is also tying into approvals for documents in SharePoint. It hasn’t run yet, it doesn’t have any owners except for myself but it does have options to click on save as, for instance and share and send a copy and there’s even an export option.

Erik van Hurck: First thing, save as, what it does is it creates a copy of this flow and let’s keep it as copy of tip three, re-use this flow. If I click on save, one thing will change for that flow, that copy of a flow. Currently, this flow is turn on. If there is an interaction that happens that triggers this flow, it will run because this flow is turned on. However, that copy of a flow is by default turned off. So if you want to change and interact with this flow, maybe you want to change the file library that you access or a selected file. Let me click on it again, it’s loading. You might want to have a different address interacting with it so maybe Project for the web second schedule. You might want and to have a different library where it interacts with. If you make those changes and you click on save and you want to test it, you might come up cold because that flow will not be able to run.

Erik van Hurck: Let’s click on save. What you will get is an error message. Your flow is disabled right now. You’ll need to enable it before you can do testing and one of the bad things about this flow Interaction screen is you can’t turn your flow on from this screen. What you need to do. You need to navigate back and you need to turn it on through this option here. Now you can run this flow and interact with it as you would do normally. So this is the easiest way for you to create large sets of flows, something that we do for a customer where we have an approval for a project site documentation library. Now you can imagine that each project has its own document library and you want to have that flow running on approvals for that specific project document library.

Erik van Hurck: What we do is we have a root, you can call it a template, it’s not really a template. It’s a flow that runs on the first project that we had and we had a copy of each of those flows interacting with a new name where it doesn’t say copy off but it says project X, Y, Z approval. So that is the easiest way and we run that flow through a service account just to make sure that it’s not tied into a personal flesh and blood. This is the fastest way for a user to interact and create more flows that are roughly the same as a current flow that they already have. Then send a copy, gives you a side pane and in this side pain, it gives me a warning that actually blocks me from sending it.

Erik van Hurck: And that is good because it tells you that it modified before it ran successfully. So you don’t know if this flow will actually do a good run so why are you sending copies of a broken flow, maybe? So you need to one successful flow run before you can send the copy. Another thing is it contains one or more email addresses, removing any personal content from the flow before sending a copy. Makes perfect sense again. So if we want to have a flow copy sent to a colleague, make sure that doesn’t adhere to any personal data making it just that more GDPR compliant. Send to are email addresses that are from local organizations. People in your organization will be able to create copies of this flow and there is no way to recall the flow once copied. Be aware. If you send it out, it lives a life on its own with your colleague.

Erik van Hurck: And then the third way of sharing this flow and this method actually gets you the option to share it across the organization, across permissions, to anyone. It can even do that with a broken flow such as the one that we see here. An export option, we can see it as a packaged zip file or a Logic app template which is adjacent code version of this app. And Logic App is something that might be described as Power Automate on steroids because where the Power Platform is a low code, no code, solution, Logic Apps is the actual code that you don’t see as a general user for this. And get flow identifier is something newish which I haven’t seen before. So packaging, what it does, it gives you a new screen where it identifies what you’re going to package.

Erik van Hurck: You need to have a name. You might want to describe an environment where it comes from and you want to give it a description. Coming back to flow tip number one, we do want to have a description. And then each time that you create this copy and you import it into a newer environment, you’ll need to do an update or a create new. Now, because it’s currently in this environment, it will create an update but it can also do a create new if it’s imported into a new environment. And then the connections that it had will need to be created select during import. So each new package version in another environment will need own connections in that environment. Let’s click on, cancel.

Erik van Hurck: What it will do, it creates a zip file and that zip file can be shared throughout the world. Let’s see, we’re running out of time so let’s briefly have tip number four or bonus tip. Tip number four is get educated into the power. There’s a large community, active in creating Power Automate flows and solutions and there’s communication around it. And here are some of the great sources. Obviously you are here already so why not to stick around in the Microsoft project user group. Because Microsoft Project isn’t the only tool that we use in this community, it might be interesting to look at the Power Automate articles or maybe courses, webinars like this one concerning Power Automate.

Erik van Hurck: Then there is a very specific Power Automate user group as well which has a free signup and you have a ton of webinars related to Power Automate. And the nice thing here is that if you have a sign in for Power Automate, you’ll also have one for Power BI and the other Power Platform applications, all in one bundle. And if you like this video, this webinar with me, you might also like the Power Automate beginner to pro video. It’s a full course, it takes roughly two hours so it takes you longer to listen to but the guy from Pragmatic do an excellent work in guiding you from a first engagement to getting somewhat pro. Then last, there’s Microsoft Learn an official course library with a lot of information regarding Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI. There’s even 147 courses regarding Power Automate so there’s a lot to learn. And because this slide deck is going to be shared with you, these links will all be interactive so please feel free to use it. And yeah, let’s see, Melanie?

Melanie: Erik.

Erik van Hurck: Are we on time?

Melanie: We are five minutes over.

Erik van Hurck: I hope I didn’t push my luck there. Are there any questions? Did we get a follow up on the engagement for permissions, I believe it was?

Melanie: No, that’s it with the questions. Do you want to run this quick last poll about familiarity with Power Platform?

Erik van Hurck: Yeah.

Melanie: [inaudible 01:04:42] minute. We’ll launch that.

Erik van Hurck: And I think it will be good to say that there will be a follow up for solutions and Power Automate and sharing Power Automate as an article. So the majority of the people present wasn’t familiar with the Power Platform, that is interesting. Good information.

Melanie: Perfect. Well, that’s what we’re here for, correct?

Erik van Hurck: Yes, exactly. And just to bring up this first slide again, Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, Virtual agents. I haven’t seen much interaction with Virtual Agents myself but there’s community driven content there also. All right.

Melanie: Excellent.

Erik van Hurck: Yeah. Do you want to wrap it up, Melanie?

Melanie: Yeah. Again, a big thank you, Erik. It was an excellent session. A big thank you for the MPUG community showing up today. Thank you for choosing MPUG to grow your skills with. I’ll quickly point you to some upcoming events. We have a lot of people using a little bit of Jira in the community so we have our first of several Jira discussions. This first panel discussions on February, 23rd, there’s a Jira poll in the newsletter. You can put your questions there or you can just bring them for Jira experts. And then we’re going on with some more Power Automate. We’re looking at in automating information between Microsoft Project and SharePoint on March, 2nd.

Melanie: There’s also a new core set there, critical path modeling in our courses section if you go to the homepage on mpug.com. The PDU activity code for today is on the screen. I will also send, if you’re submitting your PDU by activity code, we have a little couple steps on MPUG on how to do that so I’ll send a link to that with the survey for this session and the follow up from the session. So please fill out the survey, take a look at Erik’s webinar. His deck will be attached to that as well and share your thoughts with us. Thank you again.

Erik van Hurck: Yeah. Thank you very much.

Melanie: Thank you.

Erik van Hurck: All right. Take care.

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Written by Erik van Hurck
Erik van Hurck is a Senior PPM consultant for Projectum, a western European Microsoft Partner with offices in Denmark and The Netherlands. On top of that Erik is a Microsoft MVP. As such, Erik assists enterprise customers to adopt the new Power Platform cloud solutions for Project and Portfolio Management. Erik has a personal blog (www.theprojectcornerblog.com) and is also a writer for the Microsoft Project User Group (MPUG.com).
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