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The Power of Automation

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In this course, we will be covering automation within the Power Platform. This includes building automations used by the custom apps you create as well as any of the pre-built Dynamics 365 apps that run on the Power Platform.

By automating actions that would normally be completed by users manually, we can help them be more productive. Automations can take repetitive tasks and do them for the user, leaving more time for the user to focus on their primary goal which might be closing a deal or closing a service case.

Automations can help ensure consistency. For example, while the user could do the repetitive tasks you’ve automated, they might not consistently perform all the steps to accomplish the task. Often when users perform the same tasks over and over again, they take short cuts that they feel accomplish the same thing. Automation doesn’t take shortcuts!

Automations, such as Business Process Flows, can help guide the user through a business process like closing a sale. These flows break up complex processes into stages, each having their own milestones that can track and guide a user to the end goal.

Other automations can be built to help integrate the Power Platform application with other internal systems and even external providers. Using Microsoft Flow and the available connectors you can build automations that span multiple systems.

The Power Platform has multiple capabilities that provide the ability to build automations. In this course, we will be covering the following automation capabilities:

  • Business Rules
  • Workflows using the classic Common Data Service for Apps workflow engine
  • Workflows using Microsoft Flow
  • Business Process Flows

Using Business Rules, you can build automation that runs client-side in model-driven forms. These same rules can also be configured to run server-side enforcing the rules for all uses of the entity.

Business rules package up common tasks like setting a field required when another field has a specific value and allows them to be enforced without having to write code. Rules are defined using a visual editor.

Business rules can also be used to set default values as well as perform basic formulas on an entity data for use in the rule. These rules are all created without code that could need to be maintained or expensive developer resources.

The classic Common Data Service (CDS) for Apps workflows run within the CDS runtime and provides support for running real-time (where users see results immediately) and background (where users see results eventually when it completes) workflows.

Existing Dynamics 365 deployments heavily use these capabilities to deploy automation as part of projects. For real-time workflows, this workflow engine is the only way to implement this style of automation in the platform. For automation that can run in the background, newer deployments also have the option of using Microsoft Flow.

Microsoft Flow is an online workflow service that automates events (known as workflows) across the most common apps and services. Microsoft Flow differs from the CDS classic workflow engine by using connectors to work with the different services that are available.

There are more than 200 connectors that make it easy for application builders to connect to both Microsoft and 3rd party services; from Dynamics 365 to Dropbox. These connectors allow flows to easily use API (application programming interfaces) services without any developer knowledge.

Custom connectors can also be configured to allow the use of API’s that aren’t covered by the public connectors.

Business process flows are used to track a business process that might involve up to five different CDS entities and help guide the user to completion of the process. Most commonly, business process flows are interactive with the user in model-driven apps like Dynamics 365 for Sales, Dynamics 365 for Service or your own custom model-driven app.

You can simply use the out of the box provided flows or create your own to match your unique needs. You can automate the assignment of a particular process to a record or allow the user to manually control which processes are active. You can even have multiple concurrent processes running against the same record supporting concurrent business process needs.

Solutions built on the Power Platform rarely use just one of these automation capabilities but will use multiple of them. When used together, users of the app can be most productive. In some cases, more than one capability can fit for how you would implement a business requirement.

Where possible in this course we will help you understand the benefits of using each automation capability. As a project team with your solution architect, you should coordinate which capability to use to meet your project-specific requirements.

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Dynamics 365: Working with Power Platform Automation

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