Azure Logic Apps is designed for Pro Developers. Microsoft decided that a tool with the functionality of Azure Logic Apps was needed for laypeople, subject matter experts, business analysts, functional consultants. People that do not have training as developers or would never consider themselves technologists.
In other words, people who are trying to work smarter in their day to day jobs and who are looking for ways to automate activities. Such as approval processes or moving of information from one system to another. People who use Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Outlook. So it was decided to build a software tool called Microsoft Flow.
This allows Flow to be used for simple things, such as sorting email or getting an approval for a new laptop from your IT department, but at the same time it can be used for much more complicated processes that involve branching, conditions, calculations and so much more.
Microsoft Flow can automate various parts of business processes so that no key activity gets skipped, missed or forgotten. The reason this is important is so that as a business you can make sure the operating procedures that are unique to your company can be implemented consistently, creating consistent results.
When the results are not what you want you can update your Flows to keep them in sync with the evolution of your business processes and company growth.
My Starting Point
I want to be straight with you that although in the past I have followed some step by step instructions to build a Flow and validated other peoples Flows, that is the entire limit of my hands-on experience.
A beginner’s mind
The longer you work in the industry, the harder it is to remember what it is to have a beginner’s mind. We talk like people know what we are talking about. We forget that people come from different backgrounds, experiences and understanding. We use our own jargon and short letter acronyms that people do not understand.
I want to tell you a story about a mate of mine Jerry Weinstock; he comes from the same place as the setting for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – you know that childhood story with a lion, a scarecrow, a tin man, and a girl named Dorothy, that’s right Kansas!
Anyway, Jerry had been an evangelist for another Microsoft product, Dynamics CRM, which had a workflow tool built in it that had a lot of the functionality of Flow. When Microsoft announced this new workflow tool called Flow, many consultants around the world were not interested in it. They were happy to stick with what they knew and not learn the new tools.
What they did not realize was that Microsoft had strategically changed direction. The workflow tool in Dynamics CRM/365, sometimes referred to as Processes, was coming to the end of its life. It was built on an old technology called Windows Workflow Foundation (WF).
The key shortcoming of Workflow/Processes in Dynamics was that it only worked within the Dynamics application. More and more businesses needed a tool that worked within the Dynamics application but also extended well beyond that into other software applications.
Flow address this in that it has connectors to over 200 hundred applications and the ability for developers to create their own connectors that allow people who build Flows to use these connectors. This means a developer in your company could build a connector to software that is unique to your company and make that software ‘Flow aware’ so that you could interact with that software using your Flows.
So back to Jerry, he was not one of those people that sits back and lets the world go by without taking action. He has a learn-it-all mindset and started to get busy learning Microsoft Flow. Now he is international speaker and influencer on the topic of Flow, a technology that didn’t exist 18-months ago. He is my hero and the reason I am beginning my journey into Flow. Thanks, Jerry.
My History with Automation Software
My background with automation software started with Microsoft Dynamics CRM; I was working for a bank when I first came across building Workflows and Processes for myself. Using Dynamics CRM 3.0 I got busy building out my own system for processing loan applications. This system was not owned by the bank this was me building a solution to make my job quicker and create constant outcomes. It worked as it allowed me to perform at a higher level than my peers and I soon became one of the top performers in the company. It changed my productivity and my take-home income massively.
It’s from this position that I now look to learn Microsoft Flow. I plan to blog my journey over the coming months and hope that by sharing what I learn I might help you learn too.
If you have any recommendations or resources that you think I should delve into to learn Flow, please let me know in the comments below.