Examples how I use Microsoft Power Automate with emails
- I have no affiliation with Microsoft or Microsoft Power Automate
For the past two years I have been using Microsoft Power Automate to automatically deliver standard emails both internally and externally. The reason I started working this way was because I wanted to speed up some admin type work that took a lot of time. This article looks at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using Power Automate as well as the structure of some example automatons.
Power Automate is an automation service that lets you create workflows not only between Microsoft apps (e.g. Outlook, Word, Excel, file storage) but also external apps or APIs. There is other automation / workflow software available but I use Power Automate since it is included in other licenses I already have. So there is no extra cost.
The number one advantage I find with Power Automate is that it gives me full customization. This means I build solutions that match the way I work rather than the other way around.
The second advantage is that actions or steps can be automated based on logic and rules. In some flows I automatically create and tag documents based on the rules I’ve set up. If the answer to a question is this then do that. This enables me to work more efficiently since I can automatically filter my work.
The third advantage is it is possible to create a custom user interfaces in Powerapps which can be used for composing and sending emails (using templates) based on the information which has been stored. This is a little more advanced but is great since I can work remotely using my smart phone and cloud storage.
A potential disadvantage I find is that Power Automate is focused on automation for individuals. However, with the use of a shared inbox and folders it is possible to create drag-and-drop functionality to save emails.
A second disadvantage is more about the need to be careful with email automation. This stuff is seriously powerful and needs to be handled with care. One day I accidentally triggered over 4,000 emails to be sent to three of my colleagues in the space of 5 minutes. It took a while before they started speaking to me again!
Example 1: incoming email
In the scenario above I trigger a chain of actions when I move an email to a certain folder. The start of the flow involves manual input but the I save a lot of time by automatically filing the attachments. When I am in control of the subject line of emails or know of specific information in the email I trigger the actions based on extracting information in the subject line. I have used this structure in the past to automatically archive contracts.
Example 2: extracting text from email and sending new email
Below is another example. When an email arrives I convert the HTML in the email body to text so I can use functions similar to regular expressions to extract the data I am interested in.
A potential use of this is creating automatic sales emails. Once I receive a notification email (e.g. someone responded to an online form) I send an automated email with dynamic content. An email that triggers and email.
Example 3: sending notification at the end of a process
The third example when I use Power Automate with emails is at the end of processes. In this example I have a process running and once it is completed either myself or other people are notified automatically. This saves time again since people don’t need to go searching for information about whether a process is finished.
Using these techniques I send 100s of emails automatically each week. It is a great time saver and can easily be set up by anybody.