What is our primary use case?
We have been using Power Automate specifically for the COVID situation. The use case is mainly to automatically fire an e-mail every Monday morning requesting the employees of our firm to provide a response regarding their well-being. After the data is captured by using an MS form, the subsequent workflows get triggered through Power Automate. If somebody has mentioned that they have a fever or shortness of breath, we send this person's entry to our health and safety officer and our plan manager. All this is automated.
We also have another use case related to procurement where an automated flow was required for invoice processing for an external vendor.
How has it helped my organization?
We have been able to automate the form filling, form dispatch, and data collection activities, specifically for the COVID situation, across all offices within our firm. It is a global process covering all zones such as Europe, India, and Australia. We have also been able to define workflows for particular use cases, such as when there is a high volume of cases in a specific zone, such as India. We have created workflows so that our emergency team is directly able to connect with the R3 team that directly connects with the employee to provide the required support.
We have also gone a bit far with respect to the access part. The Power Automate flow also connects with the physical gates of our offices. Last year, we were able to control our physical gates with the data generated by the Power Automated workflow. We were prohibiting or allowing the entry of the people based on their responses that they had put in the Monday morning form. It was quite a complex use case, but we were able to roll it out globally, and it has helped a lot with the COVID situation.
What is most valuable?
The best part is the automated workflow, which is quite good and easy. It is just drag-and-drop. We are able to create workflows quite quickly.
We are able to directly integrate the data that it generates with Power BI dashboards. Its integration is quite good with other Microsoft tools, such as Power BI. The visualization of the data has become helpful for us.
What needs improvement?
Microsoft shouldn't charge extra for the database license if you want to store the data in the database during the trial. We wanted to have a historical trend of the data, and we started with the trial version of the tool. The database license is not included with the trial version, and you have to purchase it separately. Because we had a budget constraint, we had to pull all the information manually from the system, massage it, and push it to the dashboard. About two months ago, we have upgraded to the full-fledged version in which the database is integrated. The database license should be there in the trial version, but they have totally decoupled it. They should have provided a bundle, at least for the trial version, so that once a person or a firm gets a sense of it, they can start building. It might be because they wanted to sell additional licenses or premium licenses, and that's why they have added it in the premium version.
It should have more cognitive features. Automation Anywhere and UiPath are different because they have cognitive functionality plus intelligent automation. The cognitive functionality is currently not there in Microsoft Power Automate. It is just for workflow automation and basic bot-level tasks. It should have more cognitive features, which probably will be launched in a couple of years.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using this solution for the past one and a half years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It is quite a stable product.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It is scalable. There is no doubt about Microsoft products in terms of scalability. Because of its scalability, we are able to have use cases that require a higher load.
From the build perspective, only our team builds it. We have around 10 to 12 developers who create and support Power Automate solutions. In terms of its usage, we are currently using it only for two use cases. We also have other tools, but we are using Power Automate for the use cases with less budget. Its license cost is comparatively less as compared to Automation Anywhere.
How are customer service and technical support?
We have annual support, and there is also a community. My team connected with the community forums, and most of the things got resolved there. They connected with the support once for an issue, which got resolved. Their support is good.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We are also using Automation Anywhere, but we needed a tool that is cheaper than Automation Anywhere. Power Automate fits there well.
How was the initial setup?
Its deployment was quite easy. We already have Microsoft suite across our company. Our complete ecosystem is Microsoft-based, so it was not a challenge. It took one or two days to get things in place. For complete documentation and implementation, it hardly took two weeks.
What about the implementation team?
As per our current agreement, Microsoft is supposed to provide support. So, we had an external consultant who helped us out.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Its licensing cost is comparatively less as compared to Automation Anywhere. We have bought a two-year license agreement.
What other advice do I have?
I would recommend this solution to others. It is one of the powerful tools. The best part is that it fits very well with the Microsoft ecosystem. It is not at the same level as Automation Anywhere and UiPath, but being a Microsoft product, I see a bright future for this. In one and a half years, it will be one of the key players in the RPA industry.
I would rate Microsoft Power Automate an eight out of ten.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?