Learn Power Automate without the pain


What is Power Automate? (previously known as Flow)


Power Automate is a service that helps you create automated workflows. Between apps and services.  

Using Power Automate you can utilise numerous templates. To quickly create, collect data and automate workflow approvals. 

Automate will check your Flow every fifteen minutes and run automatically if required. If you cannot find a template, you can easily build your own Flows.

As you might expect Power Automate has several competitors. And competition in this sector is really heating up. One of the most serious competitors is Zapier.

create complex workflows

Currently, I am testing Zapier, for example, my website has a contact form. The one at the bottom of the page. Other contact forms use a different service. 

But let us get back to Zapier.

Visitors fill in the form. When they click the button, the data goes to Zapier. Zapier sends me an email. The data is posted to Slack. My team are currently testing Slack.

Besides someone who takes the time to reach out. Deserves a quick response and emails can all to easily be missed. Or moved to 'later attend folder' and forgotten as more urgent matters arise.

My Zap then goes onto post the data to Mailchimp. To add to the complication. I use Power Automate to extract the data from Mailchimp and post to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Unlimited flow creation. Power Automate allows you to create as many automated workflows as you need. However, Zapier will only allow users on the free plan to create five Zaps.

The number of tasks you can run. Power Automate allows up to 750 workflow tasks to be run a month, whereas Zapier only gives free users 100 runs.

Zapier currently does allow you to connect to more apps and services than Power Automate. 

However, the internet of things is fast becoming a reality. Microsoft will increase its connectivity to apps and services. Nonetheless, Microsoft will focus on what organisations requirements are rather than consume needs. 

Key points to consider. 

What apps and services are you using, or likely to be using?

For most organisations, its clerical (data processing workflows, approvals) and Power Automate delivers. Besides, you can develop your own Flows if required. If you are using in-house custom apps and services, then Power Automate must be at the top of your choice list. 

IFTTT is a totally free tool

IFFTT is a totally free tool. IFFTT enables you to connect to over 600 services. Applets (workflows) purpose-built enable you to connect your apps. And devices, organise your social media posts. Make your voice assistant more personable. Or design a smart home that reacts to real-life cues.

You can connect to as many services as you want. Run an unlimited number of workflows whereas Zapier allows five Zaps (workflows). But you cannot create your own applet. 

IFTTT is ready for the internet of things. You can connect physical home appliances. Including fridges, dishwashers, washer dryers, and many more. Zapier is yet to offer this kind of integration.

Not for business.

Put business on autopilot

Automate integrates cloud-based apps. You can create complex workflows (known as Bots). Bots can automate marketing sales, eCommerce, and business processes. Automate interface is drag-and-drop enabling you to create one-to-one integration or multi-app workflows. For example, sales processes, functional internal workflows, automated email and social campaigns. Sync your eCommerce store. Automatically create and send invoices, track orders and payments.

Using Automate free plan you can run up to two hundred and fifty tasks a month. Multi-step workflows can be run on all plans. Whereas Zapier multi-step workflow is reserved for premium users.

Advanced online automation platform

Integromat editor allows users to visually create automated workflows. Integromat provides HTTP/SOAP and JSON modules. Allowing you to connect to almost any web service, without having to code. Templates like Power Automate simplify the process.

Integromat free plan allows an unlimited number of workflows. Up to 1,000 workflows a month. Zapier allow 100 tasks a month.

Integromat connections to all apps and services are included in the free plan. Zapier free plan, there are some premium apps that require a paid plan.

Both Integromat and Zapier provide knowledge base forums. Email support for their users. Integromat support prioritises paying customers. 

Workato takes security seriously

Workato market is professionals, teams, and businesses (large or small). Their free plan is for individuals who want to automate personal tasks.

Intuitive no-code solution. Workflows are called recipes. Workato community has shared a quarter of million recipes. These can be used as-is or easily adapted to fit your requirements. Encryption and data masking is baked in.

Conditional triggers, (Workato call smart triggers) enable in-sequence processing. And record duplication detection, to name just a few. However, if you want to incorporate smart triggers into your Zapier workflows. You will need to upgrade to a premium plan.

Workato provides a knowledge base, tutorials and articles, eBooks, webinars. However, immediate help on the free plan is restricted to the community forum. Whereas Zapier provides free users with email support.

Key takeaways

  • If you see the word free. Do not take that literally. Be curious. Often once you have invested your time in learning new software. Or you discover you want to implement more complicated automation. Either you cannot do so, or you must pay.
  • Other considerations. You are widening access to your data. Doing so increases your probability your data will be comprised. Sometimes you are better off paying for software. And using applications that you can be reasonably sure will be secure. And will not use your data without your consent.
  • Consider using a VPN for example Mozilla VPN (Firefox). 
  • Later this year I intend to publish a pro’s and con’s review article of alternatives to Power Automate. 

About the author 

Christopher Bird

Building your own Power App, BI solution, or automated workflow can be a mind-blowing experience. It can also be a nightmare. Particularly when you begin with a blank screen. My advice, get professional help as and when you need it. That's what successful people do.

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