Task Automation – Microsoft Flow and Smartsheet
Task Automation is today’s need, to save an Organization’s precious time and resources. Task Automation allows the use of various systems and technologies to reduce the amount of human intervention to complete a task or a process.
Microsoft Flow is a cloud-based tool that allows users to create and automate tasks and workflows across applications and services. Automation happens behind the scenes and thus requires minimum or none interaction from users. These automated tasks and workflows are called “Flows”. Microsoft Flow, like other Automation Services, do one most of the simplest thing: they create cause and effect links between various services and applications we use. IFTTT (If This Then That) is one example of such Task Automation service available today. Flow’s strength is its integration capabilities with Microsoft Apps and Services, like Office 365, SharePoint Server and Dynamics 365. Currently, Microsoft Flow offers 131 Services and Apps, which we can work with and create these Automation Services.
Microsoft Flow allows:
- Multistep Flows – Allows converting multi-step workflows, into repetitive tasks.
- To Add Conditions – Helps to make decisions in flows.
- To Use On-Premises Data – Allows connecting to On-Premises data store.
- To Work Securely – prevents sensitive data leaving the company.
Microsoft Flow offers many built-in, ready to go “templates” to implement task automation between our favorite services and apps. Once logged in to Microsoft Flow website, you can choose the desired “template” from the list, like the one here:
There are a lot of choose from, depending on your chosen application or service or the type of task you need to automate. One such application is Smartsheet. Microsoft Flow has number of built-in “templates” for Smartsheet to work with. You can use “Search Templates” option to find templates for your favorite app, Smartsheet in this case:
It will bring the list of all available built-in, ready for use templates for Smartsheet app.
There are a few useful “templates” ready to go, but if you do not see what you want, you can always start with a “blank” flow. For example, you can easily achieve the ability to create a custom entity record in Dynamics 365 organization whenever a new row is added to a Smartsheet file. To start the process click on “Create a Flow from blank” tile and it will lead you to a new page, where you can choose the Flow’s name, Service and Trigger/Action for the automation process.
Next, click on “Smartsheet – When a new row is created” trigger and it will ask to connect to Smartsheet instance. Click on “Sign in” button and provide the credentials, required to connect a Smartsheet instance.
Once connected, provide a Sheet Id and list of columns to work with:
Click on “+ New Step” button to add Actions. Here we can add an Action, a Condition or click on “More” button to select from few other options available. For our demo purposes, we click on “Add an Action” button.
Again, it will ask for a Service or Application to choose from and we choose Dynamics 365 from the list available. If not visible, search it by name. In addition, from the available Actions list, choose “Dynamics 365 – Create a new Record."
This will show a dialog to connect Dynamics 365 Organization. Choose “Organization Name” and Entity to work with, like the following:
To set values to different CRM fields for the new record, click on “Show Advanced Options” link. In addition, this will show the list of the available fields. When clicked on the textbox for field’s value, an option list is available to set the field’s value dynamically, using the columns from the Smartsheet file we selected earlier to work. Here you can select the value from different sources available, for example, Cell Display Value, Cell Value, Id of Row, Row Number etc. We can also select multiple values, to make combinations like Row Number and Cell Value, for example.
After providing the values for every field necessary, click on “Create Flow” button. The flow will be created and a message will be shown confirming this action. To test the Flow, create a few new Rows in Smartsheet. Moreover, you can see the results under My Flows -> Select Flow Name -> Click on “i” button to see details of the selected Flow. You can see the progress of each triggered flow and if succeeded or not. In case of failure, you can also see the reason for the failure, making it easy to Debug and update the Flow with necessary steps. For example, a failed Flow seems like the one here:
Also, gives the full response coming back from Smartsheet API.
This way, you can easily create and consume Flows without any custom coding and developer involvement.
If you’d like to learn more about how Microsoft Flow can automate your tasks and workflows, please feel free to let us know by submitting the Contact Us form below.