Dynamics 365 – Getting into the Flow of things

One of the new products that will be available in Dynamics 365 is Flow. Think of Flow as a personal mini-workflow engine. The use cases are endless, but there are some caveats that you should know about. I will dive into both sides and tell you what I know, sprinkled with what I think.

Go with the Flow

With flow, your users can make their own lives easier. Yes, I said users, as it is intended to be a user accessed tool. This is one of those features that is pointed at the end user, as part of an overall effort to increase end user adoption, by giving the end user the ability to tailor their personal experience with Dynamics 365 to their individual needs/desires. This is an awesome approach. One of the challenges with end user adoption is that they are being given a rigid tool and told to use it, whether it works for them or not. With Flow a user can create a basic flow in a few minutes that would, for example, trigger every time a new CRM Lead is created, and maybe create a new Task in their Wunderlist account to follow up. Pretty handy, huh? There are a ton of third party services like Wunderlist that users can connect to. BTW, Flows all run in the background, there is no such thing as an On-Demand flow.

It Flows both ways

Things can not only flow out of Dynamics 365 to external sources, but information from external sources can also “flow” back into Dynamics 365. For example, a user could create a flow that triggers when their company name is mentioned in a tweet, and creates a new Lead in CRM. Or create a new Account record, when a company name is added to a SharePoint list. It is not however, intended to be an integration tool, for example keeping two services in sync.

Questions that return blank stares

Apparently, I have a bad habit of asking all the wrong questions. Some that received either blank stares, ums, or we’re still looking at that, included the following:

  1. What if a user creates the flow described above, where a new Wunderlist task is created every time a new lead is created. The user then creates a flow that whenever a new task is created in Wunderlist, creates a new lead in CRM. “We have some throttling to keep that from going too far”.
  2. What if a user creates a flow, that every time a new Lead is created, creates a new lead in their personal Dropbox customer list that they are building to take to their next employer? “Umm”
  3. What if a user creates a flow that sends PHI information out of the system? “We are looking at that”
  4. What if a user creates a flow that every time the word “shoe” is tweeted a new lead is created in CRM? “uhhh”
  5. Can an admin be the only one who can create flows and share them with users in a non-editable format, “No, it is a user feature”

To be fair, it is Preview, and the right answers may exist, and these guys on the Flow development team just did not have them. But assuming the answers to the above are right, or will be soon, Flow has some awesome potential.

5 Comments

  1. Very interesting, seems like an enterprise IFTTT. Or maybe more like SharePoint Workflow Designer which I found to be very powerful for many different use cases.

    I didn’t realize that it’s a user tool. Seems like enabling security on who can access it is necessary in order to exit preview.

    Do you know if there is a scripting component (in “advanced” mode or something like that) or is it all graphical?

      1. Liking the blog. Thanks.
        My 2: LogicApps and PowerApps are built with the same connector framework in Azure AppService. There is an extensive security model allowing tenant admins to surface connectors to specific users and groups, etc. plus much more: custom APIs, on demand is definitely there with triggers and code view for advanced changes. Not sure how much of this is available in Flow but I’d agree the admin security should be there for GA.
        One thing I’d like to know more about is the feature split between business and enterprise flavors of DYN365. MSFT is famous for botching this split IMHO. For example, it would be a shame, but no surprise, if the aforementioned security model was available for AX but not for Madeira subscriptions.
        This was how the pro vs ent PowerApps subscription model was shaping up in the early preview days. Not sure may have changed by now though.

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