Wednesday, February 7, 2018

[Project Online & Flow] How to send an email when a project is created?

Obviously, I get excited when I see that I can answer a business need which I couldn't answer before, due to my tragic lack of development skills... So this post is another one in the series of "nice features you can easily and quickly implement without a single line of code"

I am currently working with a customer who manages opportunities in Project Online. Sales persons create opportunities as projects in Project Online in order to prioritize them and see how they fit in the portfolio, in terms of cost and capacity. So far so good... The thing is opportunities must be qualified by the engineering department once created by the sales. Engineering department would like to know when an opportunity is created. So our objectives is quite clear: how to send an email as soon as a project is created? More than that: how to automate this process. We are here in the RPA field (Robot Process Automation). 2 years ago, it would have required custom developments, probably using Sharepoint Designer, Nintex, Visual Studio. So spending time and money to write specifications, code, test, integrate, deploy, manage evolutions... Now, I tell you, Office 365 can give you the ability to set up this business process in 5 minutes using MICROSOFT FLOW. Let's see how!

Basically Flow allows you creating connectors between applications, Microsoft apps but also an entire set of third-party apps. You need to fill in a Sharepoint list when you receive a Tweet? Use Flow! You need to store attachments in OneDrive when you receive an email from a specific person? Use Flow! I think you get it... 

First ensure that Flow has been activated as a service in your O365 domain. Then access Flow home page. You'll a huge number to predefined connectors. The community is incredibly active of Flow and you'll get more and more connectors over the years.
Available Flow connectors

I apologize in advance, my tenant is in French so all captures are in French. But I guess everyone will get the big picture. Once logged, you can pick up an existing connector, which works more or less like a template. I decided for my example to start from scratch, creating a brand-new connector.
New connector creation
Select the first action (trigger). If you just type PROJECT in the search bar, Flow will propose you a set of possible triggers using Project Online. I'll pick up the trigger "when a project is created".
Connector trigger

Then you'll be asked to enter you PWA tenant URL.

Enter your tenant URL

You have now to search for the appropriate application for the action. I'll pick up "O365 Outlook - Send an email".
Choose the application for the action

You can see that it is quite straight forward once you have selected the app. You just select who should receive the email, the object, the body, using Project Online dynamic content. In my case, I send the email to a specific person, but it could be to the creator for example.

Action settings
Save it and that's it! Create a new project and you'll receive the email.
Email recieved after project creation

Then you can navigate in the Flow interface to see what options you get, such as saving the connector as a template, exporting it, etc...
Connector options
Note that you can also do some analytics on your connector: when has it been triggered, how many times, success, failure, etc...
Connector analytics

I also tried to add a condition, because you might want to filter on a specific project type, owner, ID, dates, etc...
Connector with a condition

I just presented this morning a webinar on Project Online and how it interacts with the O365 bricks, and this is the perfect illustration. The paradigm has changed. For business processes such as my simple example, the O365 suite offers to the organizations an incredible time-to-market and sustainability.

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