Microsoft Power Automate Review

Integrates well with other Microsoft products but there are many features lacking and it is not scalable


What is our primary use case?

Internally, we're doing a lot of workflow automation. This includes creating documents inside of SharePoint, updating SharePoint lists, taking templates in Microsoft Word, and then pulling data from SharePoint to populate different fields in the Word doc using the approval workflows.

When somebody is done reviewing a document, they click a button, and then it goes to the next person in the workflow. It sends me emails, sends notifications, posting from an email, stripping out all of the extra content in the text message, manipulating it, and then posting it to Microsoft teams, channels.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution is the native integrations with other Microsoft products. These include SharePoint, Office 365, and Microsoft Teams. 

The integrations that are built into Power Automate for those different Microsoft functions are good.

What needs improvement?

This solution has many areas that have room for improvement.

There are many features that are lacking compared to other Automation tools.

There is an inability to group different variables. When you have to establish all of your variables, you can't group them all.

The notifications when there are failures need improvement, as well as being able to start a process midstream.

The licensing is convoluted in understanding what license is needed.

There's just not enough error handling natively, so you have to build in a lot of workarounds for error handling. 

When compared to other workflow automation tools out there, it's just not as mature.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Power Automate for one year.

We are using the latest version, it's a cloud solution.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

For the most part, it is pretty stable. We made one change that created a licensing error just out of the blue that stopped all of the processes that were in progress.

It created a problem, where we had to restart all of them and do a lot of manual cleanups, and backtrack to the ones that were canceled.

If there's a licensing issue, there should be some notification versus saying, "your licenses are out of compliance," and shutting down that process. When we checked the licenses, there was no issue.

I don't know if it was a bug or what that was, but that happened one time. Luckily it was when we started the rollout, and we didn't have as many processes in flight.

If we had hundreds of different processes in flight and that canceled my flow, that would not be acceptable for a production-type solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's not scalable.

For some of the processes that we're building right now, we are asked to add a button for this additional piece, and it adds so much more complexity with the way that I have to build it out. It doesn't allow me to break up a process into multiple processes, and then call sub-processes, which would make it a lot easier to scale. When I break up these different processes, I have to redefine every variable. 

I can't take information from one process and then pass those variables to the next process.

Your workflow then becomes this very long, single process, that can't be started from the middle. It has to be long and convoluted, and it doesn't make it simple to scale and have sub-processes to make it more complex.

Currently, we are limiting the number of additional features and functionality. 

We don't want to add to it because it adds complexity and doesn't give us the ability to call a sub-process.

How are customer service and technical support?

The couple of times that we have called, they haven't been able to solve anything.

In many cases, we try to figure it out ourselves or rebuild the workflow, if we can't reproduce the issue. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is pretty straightforward.

We built out the workflow, completed the testing, the user testing, and completed a production rollout. 

I would say part of the challenges was with the production rollout. The tool is not as easy to work with because it's a hundred percent cloud-based.

A lot of the error handling and some of the things you would normally have aren't built-in, and so we ended up finding a lot of bugs and issues and things after the fact.

For example, it was set up where we needed to send an email, and if you put the two email addresses, but you don't put a semicolon between it, then it was just killing the process, saying, "that it couldn't send the email," so it just failed. The entire process failed.

It didn't send a notification and we had to find out two days later.

Those are the types of things where it just needs to have better handling for those types of situations to be able to say, "this is an error that happened," or let me kick off that same process from that point, and then restart the process from there; whereas, right now I have to restart the entire process.

All the steps that happened before, need to be able to go manually and clean up. It eliminates the point of automation.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The price depends on the features that we are using.

The licensing cost for us at this time is between $8 and $20 per user, per month.

It's a monthly cost for every user that touches one of the flows or is kicking off a workflow.

Licensing can get expensive.

There are premium connectors, where if you want to connect to external data sources, there is an additional cost for that.

I think one of the big issues was for an Azure SQL database or for SQL databases that used to be part of the standard connectors, and then they converted those to premium connectors, which increases the cost and limits the functionality for what you would be paying for it.

What other advice do I have?

Use it for basic workflows, but I wouldn't recommend it for anything that is mission-critical. I don't think that it is ready for mission-critical type processing. 

It's a good product. They just have a lot of functionality they need to add.

People have posted on their feature request board, and on their community board.

The vast population that is using it asks for the same features. They are either very slow to implement those features or they are not interested.

I would rate this solution a six out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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