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Microsoft Flow and Dynamics 365

Last week I had the opportunity to conduct a webinar on Extending Dynamics 365 more than you ever imagined using Microsoft Flow. This webinar was sponsored by MSDynamicsWorld.com. The turnout was great.

Some people have asked for the powerpoint slide deck from the video.

You can also watch the video on our youtube channel.

Microsoft Flow

Microsoft Flow

Not familiar with Microsoft Flow and how it can extend Microsoft Dynamics 365 more than you ever imagined?

Microsoft Flow is a service that allows you to create automated workflows between your favorite applications and services to synchronize files, get notifications, collect data, and more. It is one of the most exciting extensions to the Office 365 Platform (O365).

It’s capability to allow Microsoft Dynamics 365 to connect to other cloud-based applications is extensive and growing. It was released for General Availability on October 31, 2016.  As of early January 2017, there are already 83 services that you can use to connect Dynamics 365. If you aren’t a CRM coder you now have been given unprecedented power to connect the CRM platform with other solutions. In the past, it would have been expensive, time-consuming and required purchasing a third-party application in all likelihood. Is this the end of ISV solutions that integrate with cloud-based email marketing, event management, and other business applications? Not at this time.

Flow is an O365 service that is template based which allows the citizen developer to grab data from one system and send it to another, send out notifications based on a triggering event, sync data between two systems, link social media with other applications and deliver a wide range of automated and semi-automated productivity tools.

Some illustrations of several of the ready to go templates that work with CRM and another system are:

  • Create Dynamics CRM Leads from an Excel Table
  • Create Dynamics CRM Leads based on Tweets
  • When a new opportunity is created post to Yammer
  • Create a Wunderlist Task for a new CRM Lead
  • Create a SharePoint item based on a Dynamics CRM Record

So, if Flow can do all of these wonderful tasks, where does it leave the built-in CRM Process Workflow engine?

Let’s break it down like this:

CRM Workflow

  • Exists in CRM today for both Online and On-Premise and is relatively mature.
  • It allows execution of jobs in a variety of personas.
  • It has expansive slug and trigger support.
  • It can run in the foreground and in the background (Synchronously or Asynchronously).
  • It can be included in Solutions – both managed and unmanaged ie it’s Solution Aware.
  • But it only can perform CRM actions – update records, create records, send emails and create activities, etc.
  • Has extensive built-in security that respects Users roles.

Microsoft Flow

  • Exists in Office 365 and is a product still in it’s infancy.
  • It allows executing actions across cloud based services from a wide range of vendors and other Microsoft products.
  • Just like CRM Workflow, Flow processes can be created and managed by CRM power users without writing any code.
  • Has built in support for recurring jobs and looping support
  • While it can do many things inside of CRM like the CRM Workflow can do, it’s not the best use of the platform.
  • Best suited for use with cloud based solutions and Dynamics 365 but can connect to SQL server on premise. No CRM On-Premise API support as of yet.

How can we simplify the understanding of when to use either tool? Use Microsoft Workflow when you want to either work entirely inside of CRM or need to send out a one way notification to a CRM ‘person’. Use Microsoft Flow whenever you want to connect CRM to any third-party application in a one-way or a two-way operation.

You are probably thinking that is Flow is so powerful it must be expensive? There are actually 3 plans available. There is even a free plan for up to 750 runs per month for 90 days. Flow is also included with various Dynamics 365 and Office 365 plans. Some connections require using a higher-level subscription plan for connection to apps like Salesforce and the Common Data Service.

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