Unlock efficiencies, free up time with Microsoft Teams & Microsoft Power Automate

 In Digital transformation, Software, Tools We Use

Introducing Microsoft Power Automate

With many of us continuing to work from home, tools such as Microsoft Teams are vital for keeping businesses connected.

According to Microsoft, there were more than 200 million Microsoft Teams meeting participants in a single day, generating more than 4.1 billion meeting minutes. Also, Teams now has more than 75 million daily active users.

If you’re one of the many businesses who are currently relying on Microsoft Teams, then you’ll want to get the most out of this vital tool. Microsoft Teams enables people to work together efficiently and these are just a few of the main offerings:

IMAGE microsoft-teams-benefits-functions

Microsoft Teams is a great tool and in this article, we’ll show you how to take it to the next level and supercharge Microsoft Teams by combining it with Power Automate – Microsoft’s cloud-based workflow and automation engine. Power Automate provides workflows and app integrations to send notifications, ask for and offer approvals, and handle rote tasks automatically. This functionality can be implemented with no coding required.

Here is a useful 2-minute overview of Microsoft Power Automate.

Microsoft Power Automate enables you to automate repetitive tasks and connect data to improve productivity and efficiency. It can do things like sending a text message when you receive an email from that VIP contact so you never miss those critical emails or you can get and manage approvals for things like budgets or expenses directly from your phone or in email.

Here are just some of the useful templates available:

  • Get daily reminders in Email
  • Start approval when a new item is added
  • Post messages to Microsoft Teams when a new task is created in Planner
  • Request manager approval for a selected file
  • Track Microsoft Forms responses in an Excel Online spreadsheet
  • Notify the team when a new response is submitted
  • Send an email to any audience when a Power BI data alert is triggered
  • Block out your Microsoft 365 calendar for an hour

Interested in a specific workflow? Here is a library of templates for you to explore.

There are many useful applications for Power Automate, and today we will share 3 Power Automate templates for Microsoft Teams.

  1. Planner notifications: Make sure employees never miss a deadline
  2. Never miss another meeting, with recurring reminders
  3. Share Microsoft 365 Outlook events, with Microsoft Teams

By implementing these automation templates, you can transform your Teams account into a hub where your employees can receive notifications about upcoming meetings, calendar events, and deadlines.

Planner notifications: Make sure employees never miss a deadline

Microsoft’s Planner can help your teams manage their tasks, similar to other planning applications and services such as Asana and Trello. Teams can use the Planner to create plans and tasks.

IMAGE microsoft-planner

For each task, you can set a due date and assign one or more team members, who will be responsible for that task.

IMAGE microsoft-planner-assign-task

By default, the Planner can remind your employees about upcoming deadlines either via email or using mobile notifications. However, during busy periods it’s easy to overlook an email, or your employees may not check their smartphone or tablet throughout the working day.

Using Power Automate, you can create a workflow that monitors the employee’s Planner. Power Automate will then notify that employee about any tasks that are due tomorrow, by posting a message to Microsoft Teams.

You can post these reminders to any Microsoft Teams channel, so this workflow can also be useful for creating transparency amongst co-workers. With many people continuing to work from home, it’s easy to lose track of your co-workers’ schedules. By posting notifications to group channels, you can deliver the kind of transparency that many businesses are currently lacking.

To post Planner notifications to any Microsoft Teams channel:

  • Log into your Microsoft 365 account.
  • Select the “Power Automate” app.
  • In the left-hand menu, select “Templates.”

IMAGE microsoft-planner

  • Search for the following template: “Post a daily message to Microsoft Teams with Planner tasks due tomorrow.” Select this template when it appears.
  • Read the description, and if you’re happy to proceed then click “Continue.” Power Automate will now open this template for editing.
  • Click to expand the “Recurrence” section and specify how frequently Power Automate should post these messages. The available frequencies range from every second, or once per month.

IMAGE planner-recurrence

  • Next, find the “List tasks” section and click to expand.

  • You’ll now need to enter the Planner ID. You can retrieve this information by launching the Planner application and examining the final section of the Planner URL. It should look something like this: planId=YOUR-PLAN-ID. You can then enter this value into your Power Automate template.
  • Next, find the “If yes / Post Message” section and click to expand.

IMAGE if-yes-post-message

  • In this section, you’ll need to enter your Team ID. To retrieve this information, log into your Microsoft Teams account.
  • In Teams’ left-hand menu, select the “Teams” tab.

IMAGE microsoft-teams-tab

  • Find the Team where you want to post these Planner messages, and click its accompanying three-dotted icon. Select “Get link to team.”

IMAGE microsoft-teams-get-link-to-team

  • In the subsequent popup, copy the link that appears. This link should contain the following section, which is your Team ID:
    groupId=THIS-IS-YOUR-GROUP-ID
  • Copy this value.
  • Switch back to your Power Automate workflow.
  • Add your Teams ID value to the “Post Message: Team” field.

IMAGE post-message-team

  • In “Channel,” type the name of the channel where you want to post these notifications, for example, I’m posting my notifications to Microsoft Teams’ “Advertising” channel.
  • When you’re happy with the information you’ve entered, click “Save.”

Now, Power Automate will post notifications to Microsoft Teams, at the intervals specified by you.

IMAGE microsoft-teams-roundup

Never miss another meeting, with recurring reminders

 With your typical employee attending 62 meetings every single month, it’s easy to forget about an important meeting.

Using Power Automate, you can post reminders about recurring meetings, such as your Monday morning stand up, end-of-week report, or the bi-monthly meeting with shareholders. Since these reminders are delivered to your Microsoft Teams account, they’re harder to miss.

To receive these reminders:

  • Log into your Microsoft 365 account.
  • Select the “Power Automate” app.
  • In the left-hand menu, select “Templates.”
  • Search for the following template: “Send a meeting reminder to Microsoft Teams during weekdays.” Select this template when it appears.
  • Read the description, and if you’re happy to proceed then click “Continue.”

Power Automate will now open this template for editing.

IMAGE meeting-reminder-microsoft-teams

To get this workflow up and running, you’ll need to enter the following information:

When this message should be posted

This is a flexible template that triggers a notification based on a schedule set by you, for example, you can create a monthly, weekly, daily, or hourly reminder.

IMAGE recurrence-frequency

Depending on your chosen frequency, you’ll have access to some additional settings. For example, if you create a weekly reminder then you can specify the days and time when you want to send this reminder.

IMAGE microsIMAGE weekly-reminder

Where this message should be posted

 Next, you’ll need to specify the team where you want to post your reminder:

  • Log into your Microsoft Teams account.
  • In the Teams left-hand menu, select the “Teams” tab.
  • Find the Team in question, and click its accompanying three-dotted icon. Select “Get link to team.”

IMAGE microsoft-teams-get-link-to-team

  • In the subsequent popup, copy the link that appears. This link should contain the following section, which is your Team ID value:

groupId=THIS-IS-YOUR-GROUP-ID

Now, switch back to your Power Automate template and add the Team ID value to the “Post Message: Add Team ID” field.

IMAGE post-message-add-team-id

 

For “Channel ID,” click to place your cursor inside the “Channel” field. The channels that are available in the selected Team should now appear in the dropdown menu.

IMAGE channel-id-dropdown-menu

You can now choose a channel from the list.

Create your message

You can now create the reminder that’ll be posted to Microsoft Teams.

IMAGE message-friday-roundup

This step will vary depending on how you’re planning to use this Power Automate template. For example, if you want to send a last-minute reminder, then you might use a message such as:

Reminder: The developer stand-up meeting will take place in 10 minutes!

For virtual meetings, you could include the dial-in information. Alternatively, for in-person meetings, you might include the location where this meeting will take place: Reminder: Today’s scrum meeting starts at 1 PM in Meeting Room A.

You can also combine multiple reminders into a single message, for example: Happy Monday! Today the team has two recurring meetings: Daily scrum at 10am in Meeting Room A, and Marketing catch-up at 1 PM in Breakout Room C.

Create your message, and then click “Save.” These reminders will now be shared with your chosen team and channel.

IMAGE microsoft-teams-reminders-schedule

Share Microsoft 365 Outlook events, with Microsoft Teams

What if you want to post reminders about non-recurring meetings?

Microsoft has a template that can pull events from your Outlook 365 account and post this information to the Teams channel of your choice. This is useful for creating a daily briefing that reminds you, your co-workers or your employees, about all the Outlook 365 events that are scheduled for that day.

To create this daily briefing:

  • Log into your Microsoft 365 account.
  • Select the “Power Automate” app.
  • In the left-hand menu, select “Templates.”
  • Search for the following template: “Update Microsoft Teams daily with 365 Outlook events.” Select this template when it appears.
  • Read the description, and if you’re happy to proceed then click “Continue.” Power Automate will now open this template, ready for editing.

IMAGE microsoft-teams-office-365-structure

You’ll now need to complete the following sections:

Recurrence

You can use this template to post upcoming Outlook calendar events, at the intervals specified by you. You can create monthly, weekly, daily, or even hourly reminders, by opening the “Frequency” dropdown and choosing a value from the list.

Depending on your chosen frequency, you’ll now have access to some additional settings. For example, if you’re creating a weekly reminder then you’ll need to specify the days when this reminder will be posted.

Get calendar view of events

Next, click to expand the “Get calendar view of events” section.IMAGE get-calendar-view-of-events

Click to select the “Calendar ID” field.” All your calendars should now appear in a dropdown menu.

If you want to use a calendar that doesn’t appear in the list, then you can retrieve this calendar’s ID, using the Microsoft Graph:

  • In a new tab, launch the Microsoft Graph.
  • In the left-hand menu, select “Sign in to Graph Explorer.”
  • Open the blue dropdown menu and select “Get.”

  • In the accompanying text field, copy/paste the following command:

https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/me/calendars

  • Click “Run query.”

IMAGE microsoft-graph-run-query

 

  • At this point, Microsoft Graph may request permission to access your Microsoft 365 calendar. After granting this permission, click “Run query” again. This query should now run without any issues.
  • Once the query has completed, scroll to the “Response preview” section. You should now see the information for all your Microsoft 365 calendars.

IMAGE response-preview

Find the “id” value – this is the information you’ll need to add to your Power Automate template.

After adding this information, Power Automate should recognise your calendar, and allow you to select it in the dropdown menu.

Start and end time

In the “Get calendar…” section, you’ll also need to specify a start and end time for this workflow.

The time fields require values in UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) format, with a special UTC designator (“Z”). Your start and end values must be in the following format: yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ssZ.

Post message

Next, click to expand the “Post message” section.

You’ll now need to enter the Team ID and Channel ID where you want to post your calendar view messages. When you’re happy with how your template is set up, click “Save.”

Your Microsoft 365 Outlook events will now be posted to your nominated Microsoft Teams channel, at the interval specified by you.

IMAGE microsoft-teams-brief-update-calendar-events

Summary

Microsoft Teams is a great foundational toolset for any business. Power Automate unlocks efficiencies and frees up time so you can focus on you core job and real outcomes rather than doing repetitive tasks that can be automated.

In this post, we shared just three templates that can help you get more out of Microsoft Teams and with this overview and more technical step by step guide. Interested in how to set up Teams or need help in automating tasks and automating workflows? Our team of Microsoft experts can guide you on how to achieve your business outcomes and drive ROI with technology.

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