How to easily use new Teams Power Automate application to increase personal and team productivity (aka creating flows without having to know how)

The old Flow application in Teams is updating to become the new Power Automate app experience. If you look into the Flow app today you can see it’s content have been already updated – only the name is different. In this blog I will focus on how to use that app as average Teams user to your advantage. The best: everyone and I mean everyone can use this – you don’t have to be a guru, champion, power user or someone with years experience in Teams. If you know how to use Teams and have been using that actively for a few months this should be easy for you because creating new processes and automations doesn’t get much more easier than this one!

First you need to make sure you have Flow app installed. This is the trickiest part: your Power Automate app can be found with the name Power Automate or Flow. I suggest you try to find Power Automate first and if you don’t see the right logo for the app then search for the Flow.

Click open Power Automate / Flow app and choose to Add it to yourself. I have it already installed so I can just click Open.

After that you should have Flow in your left rail or behind … menu.

Or you can search for the flow under … menu

Open Flow app and you can see it’s landing page. You don’t have much Flows listed there initially – but you can fix that really easily.

It may look a bit crowded but there are good sections in the picture to familiarize yourself with.

First the top menu: this article focuses on Home and Create. There are other parts that are important as well but we get back to those in later posts.

Create is the important menu here: it is via create where you can get started really easily.

Turn off / on Flows allows you to control which Flows are in use without having to delete them .

Owners: you can add more owners to the Flow so you might here see Flows that you didn’t create.

In the bottom of the screen are some popular templates that you could start utilizing. But why settle for such a short list? Open Create.

Create a new Flow via template

Create-section makes creation of new Teams productivity Flows really easy. Find the template what you need and enter the details.. and you are done. Some Flows require more work but I will highlight here a few easy ones.

The common dilemma what we have is the need to get back to a message a bit later but we really don’t want to create a task out of that. There is a great solution for that:

  1. Click Productivity category
  2. Click open Follow up on a message

You can use the default name or rename it to your liking

I use now the name “Remind me later” and click Continue.

And.. It didn’t ask anything more! Yes – I could choose to go into the Flow and edit it but the point of this article to show how easy it is: so I just ignore the advanced part and instead click Create flow -button.

and we are done! Just click Done now. And then click Home from the top menu.

And there it is – our new Flow!

Testing the reminder

Navigate to a team and message you want to be reminded later about.

In this example I have my webinar message from today. I click on the … menu on top right of message and hover the mouse over More actions -part of the menu to open a another menu. You may have to do this twice: there are strange hickups now and then when the second menu doesn’t seem to have all Flows in it the first time – just retry and they will appear.

From that menu I click on Remind me later to get a pop-up dialog that asks you when you want to be reminded:

Choose the time and click Submit. Then wait.

While we wait we can share this Flow with others. Go back to the Flow application and click on “Remind me later” flow name.

This opens you a dialog with lots of options – you can concentrate on a few ones

You can see the flow running (if you asked to remind about a message) in the bottom. From the right part you control the Owners or Run only users parts.

Let’s add another user a permission to USE this flow. Click the Edit on the right with Run only users.

You can add your whole team by typing in your team name, or you can add individual persons.

Connections users have two options:

  • Provided by run-only user means other users use their own connection for the Flow and they need to approve it when they use it the first time. Recommended on these productivity Flows.
  • Use this connection option means they would run this flow with your identity. Not recommended unless you know it is important to use permissions.

Then just hit Save to see see Run only users section updated with other people or teams.

Adding other owners

There are situations when you (or they) want other users to be able to make changes to the Flow as well. Then head towards the Edit in Owners-section and click it open.

Just like in the previous dialog here you can add people or teams to become owners of the Flow so they can edit and manage it as well.

You will get a big warning about connections used. Just click OK to be ok with sharing your connection (permissions/identity) for others in this Flow. They won’t be able to access anything else but use your connection in this flow.

It takes a moment to add other owners.

And when heading back to this main screen we can see another owner added

Editing the flow – if you want to address it your needs better

Ok – I did take a shallow dive here to show you how you can edit this particular flow easily to match your needs. This part is not needed but is provided as extra once you want to do changes.

If you click top left Edit in the Flow’s main dialog you end up in a editor where you can start making changes to the Flow.

Note: there is no version history. I recommend you practice with personal Flows you can recreate again – or learn how to export / import Flows(not in the scope of this blog post).

If you want to change available times when the Flow triggers you need to open the first part “For a selected message” and click Edit adaptive card.

Click on are where there are mentions for 20 minutes, 1 hour etc. Scroll the right section down a bit so you can see Choices part

Edit the times are you see fit: The left part is the displayed text to users and the right part is the wait time in minutes.

After that hit Save card in top left.

You are returned to the edit dialog. Hit Save on the bottom.

And you have just changed the Flow. Now navigate to a team and message to set the reminder to see the option you just updated:

Getting the reminder

When the set time has passed the flow send you a personal message with pop up notifications (if you have set chat messages to create pop-ups: this is the default behaviour)

And in the left rail you can see you have both a notification and a message. Let’s check on the notification first.

Clicking open Activity we can see Flow sent us a notification

And in the chat we can see the message with a button View message that we can click and get back to the message.

And yes – it does work. And it was a really simple to add to your personal use – or even to your team!

Some other great productivity templates

Here are a few other great Productivity templates you want to know and start using them

Schedule a meeting with a message sender

Give your Flow a name and hit Continue

You need to choose your Calendar first. It is usually just “Calendar”.

Then you need to set your timezone.

After choosing the time zone you can hit Create flow.

And again.. just like before: you are done.

Yes – that was very easy again.

When the status of a task in Planner changes to complete, notify a channel

When a Planner / Tasks task is completed your team gets a message about it.

In this one you need to set a few things:

Planner Group id: Choose the team / group where the Planner, you want to monitor, is .

Planner Plan Id: From that team you choose the planner board (plan) you want to get notifications from (when task is completed)

Microsoft Teams team: this is the team where you want the notifications to. Note: this doesn’t have to be the same team as with the planner board.

Microsoft Teams Channel: this is the channel where you want the notification message to appear.

Create a task from a message

On default this create a task to a Planner board from a specific message. However this functionality is roadmapped for December 2020 so if you just need the basic functionality now then it is useful. If you plan to make some changes here on top of that this might be also useful. And it is a great template to learn how Flows work.

I am skipping the first two dialogs here because you should be already familiar with them. The key here is similar to the previous template:

This time you choose the team/group where the Planner board/plan, where you want the task to appear, is. And then you choose the Planner board/plan since there can be multiple Planners in a single team.

When you trigger this Flow you get to give your task a title and due date. You can of course change the Flow details in edit to make it more useful to you – but that is needs a bit more experience.

Other templates

The Productivity category includes a bunch of other great templates:
  • Notifying team when the new Forms response is submitted is very useful if you are collecting data
  • Notify a team when a new item is created in a SharePoint List. This is very useful with new Microsoft Lists especially. Or perhaps the list is just a idea box and team wants to take action on those right away when they are added to the list. This can be easily edited to create also a new task to team planner on the side.
  • Create a work item from a message. DevOps users might want to like to create new Dev Ops tasks from Teams messages.
  • Save a message to OneNote Allows to grab the message content to OneNote for later processing or even as a Journal type of note.

I recommend you install yourself Teams Flow / Power Automate application and start experimenting with these easy to use templates!

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