Q1 Update for Microsoft Flow

In the five months since its general availability, Microsoft Flow has seen huge growth. Today we are announcing new Microsoft Flow updates to enhance team productivity, extend support for partner services, and modernize approvals for businesses of all sizes. Microsoft partners are also now able to develop and ship support for their own services directly from Microsoft Flow with a new connector building experience and submission process.

Modernizing approvals

This week we are announcing major advancements to Microsoft Flow’s approval processes management. Microsoft Flow’s modern approval workflows are far easier to create and maintain than the legacy line-of-business systems typically used by large organizations, and they offer smaller companies a major upgrade from informal, ad-hoc processes. With the new modern approval processes, you can:

Create an approval process in seconds. Rich templates and a streamlined design experience make it possible for any user to quickly configure an approval process. These approvals now are securely authenticated using Azure Active Directory, and support full customization with the Microsoft Flow designer.

Keep business running smoothly with approvals everywhere needed. Flow now offers a smooth mobile experience for approving or rejecting requests on the go. Requesters and approvers will have a consolidated web view of everything they need to act on and can see their full approval history. Even better, actions surface directly in other Microsoft products like Outlook, so users can complete key approval tasks without ever leaving their inbox.

You will see a new Approvals tab inside of Microsoft Flow by the end of the week - read more about it here.

Enhanced productivity for the whole team

We believe smarter workflow is not just about empowering individuals, but helping whole teams work more efficiently. In February, we released updates to allow multiple people to use and maintain flows. Today, we’re building on that team-centric model with the following features:

Shareable button triggers to empower end users. Users can now share Microsoft Flow buttons – workflows triggered by a simple tap – with end users. These buttons are accessible from a variety of different products, including the Microsoft Flow mobile app on iOS or Android and the Microsoft Dynamics 365 home portal on the web. Buttons make it easy for business users to perform quick tasks, such as logging a time entry or opening a bug.

More collaborative Flow creation. Team flows allow multiple people to own and manage a flow together. If someone leaves an organization, their flows will continue to run. Team flows are generally available today.

Instant action through faster, richer button flows. Microsoft Flow button shortcuts on the home and lock screens of mobile devices make it faster than ever to trigger a flow. Flow buttons can also now prompt the user for additional data. Flow button shortcuts are available today on Android, and coming soon to iOS. Flow also now supports physical buttons that connect to the real world through partnerships with The Button Corporation and Shortcut Labs.

Several Microsoft teams already use these new Microsoft Flow features. For example, the Microsoft Executive Briefing Center uses team flows and buttons to more effectively meet visiting customers’ needs. Some of their flows include:

  • Logging orders. Baristas inside the Executive Briefing Center previously used a cumbersome paper process to track how many espressos they made in a day. Now, with a simple Flow button on their mobile phone, they can tap the home screen to log each Espresso in SharePoint. Each week, Flow summarizes the total orders and sends out a report for managers.
  • Synchronizing calendars. A number of Executive Briefing Center devices, such as Surface Hubs, are connected to calendars and must be reserved ahead of time, but these devices were not typically included on meeting invitations, leaving them unreserved. To solve this issue, the Executive Briefing Center team created a collectively managed team flow that automatically copies calendar events to the Surface Hubs’ calendars.
  • Requesting support. The Executive Briefing Center’s phone rooms allow guests to make private Skype calls, but when occasional hardware issues arose, it was hard to get timely support. To address this problem, the Executive Briefing Center team implemented a physical support button inside each room. When pressed, a button flow immediately contacts support staff. If a staff member does not respond within a minute, the flow escalates the support incident to ensure the technical issue is quickly resolved.

Building support for partner services

Microsoft Flow also now makes it possible for partners to build and integrate their own services. This means today, Flow has more than 115+ different APIs that connect to services big and small. Our partners have shared positive feedback about this rich authoring experience, including:

  • We strongly recommend all API and Service providers to integrate their software with Microsoft Flow. There is little paperwork involved and the Flow team is extremely professional and responsive.
    - Jeroen Ritmeijer, Managing Director of Muhimbi
  • Microsoft Flow is a fantastic tool that will allow our customers to connect all their favorite cloud apps - specifically Microsoft products - without any technical skills.
    -Jeremy Clarke, President of WebMerge

Now, not only can companies build their own connectors for their own use, it’s also now possible for anyone to submit their own connector for free for the rest of the world to use. Any company with their own API is encouraged to submit their connector, as covered in this blog post.

Summary

These scenarios are just a sampling of how Microsoft Flow can help users be more productive and accomplish tasks that would have been difficult before. The flows mentioned above did not require coding experience—instead, they leveraged Microsoft Flow’s simple drag-and-drop UI editor. With features like button widgets, button sharing, and team flows, and modern approvals Microsoft Flow is now truly ready for enterprise users.