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Microsoft Flow vs SharePoint Designer (SPD) Approvals

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Perhaps one of the most useful automated processes out there is the ability to do approval processes. We fortunately have two tools on-prem or online that allows us to perform this action. Microsoft Flow offers some incredible connectivity between services (like approve a Tweet and post it, approve something from Google Docs and have it moved to SharePoint, etc.), but the approval process itself is very simple at this point and doesn’t offer some of the more robust features and customization options we get in SharePoint Designer 2013 approval processes.

I also will use both tools in the same business process occasionally, because they both have unique strengths.

But which do you use for approvals?

The quick answer to the question is: Use Flow for simple approvals, or approvals that involve multiple sites or external services. Use SPD for more complicated processes and customization options for approvals that involve a single site.

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How to create a dynamic “this week’s menu” button for your intranet

People jokingly (or not) sometimes tell me the only reason for which they use the intranet is the cafeteria menu. So on a recent draft of a redesigned homepage, I introduced a prominent “Menu” button that would always be linked to the most recent menu uploaded by dining services.

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Previously people would click a link which took them to a document library where the current menu lived, and would open it there. 2 clicks.

I had two goals for this project.

  1. Get it down to 1 click.
  2. Never have to manually update the link for the button. Set it, forget it.

Note: this could easily be applied to newsletters, updates, meeting minutes, etc. Anything that is published on a regular basis that could benefit from an always-current hyperlinked button.

Use Power BI to create a dynamic/live meeting room schedule

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I recently set out to create a “live” conference room schedule that could be presented constantly on an auto-refreshed screen outside conference rooms. This would replace printed schedules placed in holders outside the rooms. The following example uses a SharePoint calendar as the conference room calendar and can be refreshed constantly using Power BI’s scheduled refresh in O365 or Report Server.

Intro to conditional formatting & rules/validation when customizing SharePoint new item forms with PowerApps in Office 365

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This post will introduce you to some basic conditional formatting, rules & validation ideas you can implement today in your customized SharePoint forms using PowerApps. And don’t worry – if you start making changes to your form and don’t want to keep them, you can easily switch back to the original SharePoint form.

Use Microsoft Flow to create a “today” column for use in SharePoint list calculations

Note: I previously shared how to do this in SharePoint Designer. The following method utilizing Flow is better, and does not use loops/pauses.

It’s well-known that SharePoint calculated columns don’t permit [Today] to be used as a formula for a calculated date column. And the “default to today’s date” setting only works upon creation, and doesn’t update daily. But we can create a standard date column and have Microsoft Flow automatically update it daily for us, therefore allowing us to effortlessly perform calculations against today’s date such as:

  • Age =(TodayDate-Birthday)/365
  • Years of Service =(TodayDate-StartDate)/365
  • Days Past Due =(TodayDate-DueDate)
  • Weeks until summer break =(SummerStart-TodayDate)/7

Here’s how to create your own, always accurate/updated, today column (see bottom of post for video):

How to make a Microsoft Flow mobile button to be emailed Microsoft Forms or SharePoint data as Excel link or attachment

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Microsoft Flow mobile buttons are magical. One touch on your mobile device, and gears start turning to retrieve and deliver the data you need when and how you need it. Recently, I set out to deliver all Microsoft Forms responses to a recipient on-demand as an excel file using a Microsoft Flow mobile button they could press whenever they wanted the results. I also created a button someone could use to be sent all the birthdays coming up in the next week for our organization whenever they need it. You can adjust the following steps to fit your situation and tools, but the following outlines two ideas:

  • Sending someone all responses to a Microsoft Forms survey whenever they press the button (Take a snapshot in time of responses, or pull up-to-the-minute feedback into your meeting)
  • Sending someone SharePoint list items in an excel sheet that match a certain criteria (Projects ending in the next two weeks)