SharePoint Flow Basics: Save Time With Automation

SharePoint Flow Basics: Save Time With Automation

Do you find yourself doing the same thing on SharePoint?

If so, there is actually a way you can automate some of the tasks you do on your sites using a feature called flow (or workflow, as it was called).

In this article, I’ll shed some light regarding what a flow means in SharePoint, how it saves time, and how to create one easily.

Let’s get started.

What is a SharePoint flow?

A SharePoint flow — used to be known as workflow — is a type of business process automation that typically involves a sequence of tasks or events.

These events occur in a specified order and the actions performed on the items involved in the workflow may be determined by a set of conditions.

For example, you can set up a flow that detects when a new image file is created and what to do it.

A flow that detects an image file and a set of conditions on what to do with it

A workflow can be used to expedite a process that traditionally will have had to be done manually, or it may even allow you to automate tasks that traditionally can’t be automated.

Think of a workflow as a small pre-configured application you can make to automate some repetitive processes you do on SharePoint.

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    What are the most used flow templates used with SharePoint?

    The beauty with workflows or flows is that you don’t need to create them from scratch.

    There is a massive library filled with flow templates you can use with SharePoint that ranges anything from remote work, approval, button, to productivity.

    In fact, there is a chance there is already a flow template created for whatever you need you can think of and all you need to do is use it.

    Here are some of the most installed flow templates being used with SharePoint, along with their description, straight from the flow templates library:

    1. Record form responses in SharePoint – Record form responses in SharePoint from Microsoft Forms.
    2. Send a customized email when a new SharePoint list item is added – Send yourself or someone else a customized email whenever a new item is added to a selected SharePoint list.
    3. Send a customized email when a new file is added – Send yourself or someone else a customized email whenever a new file is added to a selected SharePoint document library.
    4. Form processing to email and SharePoint – For each new response, send an email notification and create an item in SharePoint.
    5. Save my email attachments to a SharePoint document library – When an email with an attachment arrives in the Inbox folder, save the attachment file in a SharePoint document library. You can also use filter to run flow only for emails from a specific person by using the variable “IsFromFilterApplied” set to “true” and input expected “From” Email Id in the condition to validate.
    6. Start approval when a new item is added – Use this template for processing approvals on SharePoint list items. The approver can view their approval requests in the Approvals Center and over email. Once an item is approved or rejected, the item creator is sent a confirmation email.
    7. When an item in a SharePoint list is modified send an email – Select or paste in the SharePoint site URL and select the list you want to monitor for changes. When someone changes an item on the selected list, send an email notification to one or more people.
    8. Request manager approval for a selected file – This flow will send an approval request to your manager for the selected file. Your manager can view and approve the request in the Approvals Center. To run this flow, select a file and choose this flow from the Flow menu.
    9. Send form responses for approval – When a new response is submitted, start an approval process. If approved, record the response as a new item in a SharePoint list.
    10. Copy files from one SharePoint Online account or folder to another – If you use multiple SharePoint Online accounts and want to get content between them you can easily do that: it’ll watch one folder and copy files to the other. You can also copy within one account between two different folders.

    How to create and edit a flow in a SharePoint library?

    It’s quite easy and simple to create a flow in a SharePoint library.

    Simply navigate to the library first where you want to set up a flow.

    Once there, follow these series of steps:

    1. Click the “Automate” button on the command bar
    2. Hover your mouse over “Power Automate”
    3. Click “Create a flow”
    When you click the automate button on the command bar, you will the options to create a flow under the power automate section

    After that, a right-hand pane will slide in where you can select from a set of templates.

    Click on a template to use it.

    If you want to see more templates, you will find a button at the bottom of the pane to see more templates in the library.

    Click the button below the pane to see more templates

    After clicking on a template, it will bring you to its landing page where you can review all the templates of that flow.

    You can also choose the specific accounts of apps the flow will connect to.

    If you’re ready to proceed, click on the “Create Flow” button.

    Click the create flow button once you're ready

    You will then be redirected to a page where you can manage the flow and see its run history.

    If you want to edit the flow, simply click the edit button on the command bar.

    Similarly, you can also disable the flow by clicking the “Turn off” button on the command bar.

    You will be taken to a page where you can manage that specific flow

    If you decide to edit a flow, you will see the processes behind it and what application it uses.

    You can click the three dots on a specific flow and select what you want to do from the options.

    You can also change the account associated with the app here.

    Find the three dots on a specific process to manage it

    If you click the settings option for that specific process, you can see here all the options for that process.

    But only do this if you know what you’re doing.

    Click the “Done” button to save the changes you made.

    Click settings on a specific process to see what you can change for that specific process

    Create a workflow to save time

    Investing time and effort in creating or editing a flow for your SharePoint library can save you loads of time.

    These workflows will automate many tedious tasks, like sending out email notifications and processing approvals on list items.

    If SharePoint list is a new concept to you, try experimenting with it on a list.

    Do you have any questions related to SharePoint flows?

    If so, feel free to drop down your questions below in the comment section. You can also reach out to me directly through my contact page.

    About Ryan Clark

    As the Principal Solutions Architect at Mr. SharePoint, I help companies of all sizes better leverage Modern Workplace and Digital Process Automation investments. I am also a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) for Office Apps & Services.

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