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.
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):
Automatically create and send reports, files and lists on a regular schedule using Microsoft Flow’s recurrence trigger. Whether hourly, daily, weekly or monthly you can deliver the most current and relevant data from SharePoint or OneDrive to interested parties via email without lifting a finger. Combine this with calculated columns in SharePoint and conditions for some awesome possibilities:
|Report costs or expenditures above a certain amount
||Current month’s birthdays and/or workiversaries to your secretary
||Send expenses per department or individual to that department or individual
||Budget and salary or payroll figures weekly
|Notify when an open ticket is idle for a week or incomplete
||Upcoming events per location
||Share evaluation status with supervisors for just their employees
||Recently closed deals and contracts
|Survey responses or reviews under 3 stars
||Upcoming deadlines per department
||Client info and updates to proper salespeople based on location or product
||Distribute new hires’ contact/location info to the organization in weekly batches
The first time I created a flow for a list with over 100 items, I noticed an “Apply to Each” block stopping at 100 items. It’s a simple fix:
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)
We’ve been waiting a lifetime (dramatic?) for this feature. And now it’s here! Sort of.
Currently, with a new “Preview” action release in Microsoft Flow, we’re able to convert documents to PDF in OneDrive for Business via workflow. While this isn’t ready for SharePoint yet, we can make it look that way for our end users. Basically:
- When a file is created or modified in SP
- Create document in OneDrive for Business
- Convert document
- Create document in SP
It’s roundabout but we get exactly the result often requested: convert SharePoint docs to PDF automatically. Here’s how to set this up. A video walkthrough is available at the bottom of this post.
It’s not uncommon to want to use yes/no checkboxes when building Microsoft Flow conditions. [Field] is equal to “Yes” or [Field] is equal to true won’t work because it reads the Yes or true as a string rather than a value. So when the flow runs, even if the checkbox is checked (true), the run history says the expression result was false.
Fortunately it’s a simple two-step fix. Follow these steps to be able to use yes/no checkboxes as conditions in your flows:
I’m speaking about using Microsoft Flow and SharePoint Designer Workflows to streamline processes this weekend at SharePoint Saturday Kansas City, Sep 16, 2017
This tutorial works for any Microsoft-Flow connected social media platform, but we’ll specifically go through the steps for setting up a Twitter tweet and Facebook post submission system. We’ll be utilizing Microsoft Flow’s new “Approval” feature. Here’s our (and maybe your) scenario.
- We want to allow broader participation in social media content, while still maintaining a close grip on the quality and management of our platforms. This is more inclusive, increasing engagement and also giving you more eyes and ears throughout the organization while maintaining control
- Individuals will submit their ideas (can be via direct email to a list, a form, PowerApp, etc. – we’ll use a list)
- Social media manager or team will approve or reject submissions which will then be automatically posted to the applicable social media network if approved. See bottom of post for additional challenges to enhance this system.
Let’s get started!
I’m speaking about using Microsoft Flow and SharePoint Designer Workflows to streamline processes next weekend at SharePoint Saturday Baltimore, May 20, 2017