In April last year, Microsoft announced a new tool called Flow aimed at automating business workflows in a similar fashion compared to that provided by IFTTT ('If This Then That'). Ultimately, it launched in November as part of Office 365 and has since received a number of updates the most recent of which was 'search by service'.
However, since its release, Flows have been limited to being viewed, created, updated, and removed only by the people that have created them. While this may not be a major issue for individuals or small businesses with a handful of employees, it can present a problem for corporations with large teams particularly when staff move on or inadvertently duplicate existing Flows.
Now, Microsoft has filled that gap by introducing the concept of 'Team flows' which, as the name suggests, allows users to collectively and collaboratively build and maintain flows. Users can turn their existing private flows into Team flows by clicking the inline invite button and then adding additional owners by name, email address, or user group. There is also provision to remove owners from a flow but, at present, the original owner cannot be removed.
Once updated, any authorized owner can view and update the flow while being able to leverage any connections embedded within the context of that flow. What this means is that connections, perhaps to personal OneDrive folders or email accounts, belonging to one user cannot be used in private flows belonging to or created by another user.
In addition to Team flows, Microsoft has also introduced:
- Custom API sharing: users can now build their own custom APIs and, similar to Team flows, share them with other users inside their organization
- Gmail account connectivity: a popular request from users which can also be conditionally triggered by attributes such as labels or if an email is marked as important
- Intelligent language parsing: leveraging Azure Cognitive Services, users can now incorporate Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS) to enable contextual understanding between apps and people
Team flows will only be available to those on paid Microsoft Flow plans which start at $5 per user per month. However, paid plans bring added benefits such as increased flow frequency, number of runs per month, and service level agreements.
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