Microsoft Power Automate Review

Very user-friendly and easy to use but requires better user training at first

What is our primary use case?

It's a pretty big learning curve with Microsoft Power Automate and I'm trying to do a couple of other things. But I really have made some progress. I've actually started creating some bots. I've run into some snags. I haven't found my way out of the snags as yet. That's kind of why I'm not quite ready to publish because I'm not an expert yet, but I am actively working on it.

Microsoft Power Automate is on-premises because I'm using the Power Automate Desktop. So it's a desktop piece that I'm actually using and that's definitely on-premise. What I'm actually doing is interacting with actual systems. I run a clubby cloud system for moving data back and forth.

There are some very long processes that are happening now, where we need to move data from one system to another and do some analysis, and all of that. We're trying to automate some of that process to link the systems together. So some of it is actually reading the webpage, taking information off of the webpage, and doing things with it.

What is most valuable?

Power Automate is very user-friendly, it is easy to use. I find it very easy to use, easy to follow what's going on, to navigate around and get things done. I really like it. 

One of the features I like is the elements. Let me describe it. With Power Automate Desktop you're interacting with other pieces of software. That's kind of the whole point. You're grabbing information from other software so that you can then pull it together and move it back and forth between systems and do other things with it. Power Automate Desktop allowed me to quickly visually identify parts of a screen and record it. So I can see that I know I'm going to have to click this button here, this field there, and this tab here, and I can literally go and quickly just record all of them and identify them and have them in a list that I can see and say - there's my list of things.

Now when I'm actually pulling the logic together, it's really, really simple to just grab it from my list of elements and just fix things together. So I'm able to move faster than I can with Help and with the other solution. I really, really like that about it. I like its integration with other apps

Well, not integration. Because the whole point of Power Automate desktop is to grab information from other apps. So it's not a side feature, that's what it's designed to do specifically. So, that makes it easier to visually capture information from other applications, and then reuse those fields from other applications. I think it's the reuse that's really useful. Because I can see that I've done it. Whereas with the other one, did they do it or not?  But I really like that it is easy to capture visual elements of other applications and reuse them. 

The other good thing was the trial period. There's a much more realistic trial period of 90 days. So it encourages you to dig in on your own, and try and figure it out, because if something doesn't go right, you don't have to figure it out in 30 days, like all the others. So it's a 90 day trial, which makes sense to me because if it works, trust me, you'll never give it up. You going to use it, going to be hooked anyway, so 90 days make sense.

What needs improvement?

The problem with Power Automate is what happened when I had it set up to read web pages and Excel workbooks. But that was my first test, and I was working on it for around three days and then took a break of about two days. When I went back to it, all of the Excel, and all the Excel functions, just disappeared. Completely vanished.

I had installed it on my laptop. I had the spreadsheet there and all the features, because you have to do things like tell it to open the spreadsheet, tell it to read the cells, that kind of thing. And then you tell it to go to this webpage, and when you get to the webpage, log in, put in a username and password and then click on a button. So you have to put all of these steps and sort of link them together. And then when I came back, the flow was there, but it said all the steps that had to do with Excel were invalid. Anything that has to do with the web, it just said invalid. The whole tree, all instructions are still there, but the components that talk to Excel and the web were just gone. Just totally vanished.

When I looked up the help, it said that sometimes that happens when you're not connected to the internet. So it was kind of straight forward but complex as well.

It was straight forward, and then it just crashed, essentially. It just went. And I couldn't figure out a way to get the modules back. What on earth? So I switched to HelpSystems Automate, which I had also installed on my machine about a year ago. But now that I'd started working with Power Automate, that gave me the confidence to launch into the other one. So I launched into that one and that's where my HelpSystems Automate review would start. But if I would just stop by Microsoft Power Automate Desktop, that's where I'm stuck. I literally have not gone back to it. I actually find its easier to use. I prefer to use it, but it's just not working. It just stopped working. I don't know how to get this part back.

That's why I told you  I don't want to give a full review as yet because I don't know if it's something I did. I don't think so. But it just stopped. I'm still trying to give it a little grace, trying to figure out, trying to make it work.

What was difficult though, the weirdest thing, was just simple things like manipulating strings.

In terms of what features should be included, what would really help would be more help navigating webpages. What would help would be the help itself - if there would be lots of official walk-throughs. If it would say, for these scenarios, this is how you should do it, with the screen screenshots and the step-by-step thing. With other products I've used, even as a programmer back in the day, nothing ramps up learning faster than walk-throughs. It's not really the product itself, but more walk-throughs to help people ramp up their learning much faster.

That would be really great. Especially around web automation and services automation. Hooking into the EPI's of other solutions would be great. Right now we're just relying on the community of YouTube videos. People just set them up and do YouTube videos, and that's how they're hoping it will get solved.

It's not the type of setup, but it's the training on using the product that I would like to see more of. Better training on using the product itself, walk-throughs in particular, as a training method.

So I tell people that with Power Automate, you you can record the interview, that we're doing here, and fill out the forms automatically. All you have to do is sit down and engage the client with the right questions, and the system would listen to the interview and fill out the screen for you. So you thought, that would be really cool. Now you've downloaded it, and you're trying to figure out how on earth you do it. A walk-through is where you would go and this thing would literally say, "Capture audio and video." They give you a scenario and then they would have a little video that you can watch that shows you how to actually set it up. And then, in addition to that, you'd have a detailed scenario. This is what you want to do. Then it would have all the steps that you would need to actually do it end-to-end. If you follow the steps at the end of the walkthrough, you would actually have a working solution by just following the steps. By doing that, you're learning the product. You're learning how to use it. You learn so many things by using walkthroughs. And it's just training. It's not the actual product itself, it's training that goes along with the product.

How are customer service and technical support?

This is Microsoft technical support. I'll try them. I haven't called Microsoft technical support in years. It's usually not a very good experience, but I will try. I will reach out to them and see what happens. When you go to support they tend to lead you to communities where other users are having issues. It's sort of, "see what you can find in the community." I will get back to it because I have to desperately get this thing to work. No matter which tool I use, I have to get it to work.

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

The price is why I even considered it, because HelpSystems Automate was winning all of these awards and was supposedly the easier tool to use. That's what it says. But Power Automate's pricing model had a more gentle incline. That's why I went to the Microsoft Power Automate Desktop in the first place, because the pricing seemed to be more favorable. It the end, once you're using it for the whole organization, you end up paying the same thing for both products anyways. But to get started, Power Automate Desktop seemed better priced. But then it stopped working and I don't know how to get it back working yet.

I'm using the HelpSystems Automate now, and I'm stuck on another step. I mean, it's hard and that's good. If it's hard, it means you'll get paid. So the bit being hard is not the issue. I just have no idea how to get Power Automate to work again. So when I do, I guess I'll let you know.

The licensing was on a monthly basis. I liked it because it gave me a more reasonable per user cost. So I can set up one user like me, and then quickly set up all the workflows that I need, and it allows me to evaluate better and longer. I can onboard two or three other logins at a very reasonable price. Ultimately everybody wants to just dominate the entire organization anyway, and so the price is going to get ridiculous at some point. But by the time it gets there, the organization would be benefiting so much from it they don't mind. Whereas with the other solution, you have to bite the bullet a little sooner.

I think you have to have an office license. I'm not sure actually. Maybe you can just use it by itself, but I'm not sure.

What other advice do I have?

Right now, on a scale of one to 10, I would give Microsoft Power Automate a six since I can't actually use it. I really can't go past six. Maybe once I actually start using it, I'll rank it much higher. I think it has great potential if I could just get it back working.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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