Get Up To Speed on Power Automate Quickly: For Experienced Dynamics 365 System Admins (Day 1 of 5 Blogs)

If you are an experienced Dynamics 365 CRM System Admin who has built old-style workflows, and needs to get up to speed on Power Automate, this blog is specifically geared toward you.

First, if you’d like a step-by-step example of how to create your first flow that looks at the CRM, I mean CDS, I mean DataFlex, I mean DataVerse, please see my previous blog series.  This 5-part blog shows how to create a simple Power Automate flow that uses the FetchXML from an advanced find query to loop through a result set and create a task for each record returned by the advanced find query.  

For CRM Admins, the ability for Power Automate to loop through a result set is a game-changer, as anybody who was written a workflow will attest.

There are many things a System Admin will likely look for when creating a Power Automate flow against the database.  This blog organizes them into the following sections:

Big Picture Concepts

Power Automate replaces CRM workflow, and it is much more powerful. 

Power Automate has 3 main components:

  1. Trigger mechanism: How does the flow start?
  2. Connectors: What data sources are you connecting to? (Dataverse, spreadsheets, Outlook, etc.)
  3. Flow: The sequence of actions that accomplish the desired task(s).

The thousands of connectors and actions put the power in Power Automate.  This blog series will help you translate “I’d like to do this in CRM” to the corresponding Power Automate object.

Comparison to CRM Workflow

For users of Dynamics 365 CRM workflows, this chart can help you transfer the old concepts to the new.

Workflow CapabilityPower Automate Equivalent
Process NameFlow Name
CategoryOnly “Workflow” Category supported
EntityEntity on a Trigger or List Rows (now List Rows) action
Type (Templates)Templates don’t exist, but you can “Save As”
Run   in the backgroundAlways asynchronous
  As on-demand processCreate an instant flow kicked off by a button press
  As a child processCumbersome, but can use HTTP calls to nest flows.
Auto Delete Logs (Unchecked)Detailed logs retained for every flow.
Start when:   Record is created  Create Trigger
  Record Status changesUpdate Trigger with filter on statuscode field.
  Record is assignedUpdate Trigger with filter on ownerid field
  Record fields changeUpdate Trigger with filter on selected fields
  Record is DeletedDelete Trigger
Add step: 
  Check ConditionAdd a “Condition” action to the flow
..Wait Condition“Delay” action or “Delay until” action
Create Record“Create Record” Action
Assign Record“Update Record” Action
Send Email“Send mail” action
Start Child WorkflowUse HTTP action to trigger child flow
Perform Action(N/A, only available with Action type workflows, which are not supported in Power Automate)
Change Status“Update Record” action
Stop Workflow“Terminate” action

Power Automate Connector to Dynamics 365 CRM

Power Automate has hundreds of connectors.  Fortunately, if you want to access CR< (Dataverse) data, you have only one good choice:

Use the “Common Data Service (Current Environment)” connector if you want to access Dynamics 365 CRM Dataverse data.

This connector is the latest and greatest (do not use the other, deprecated Dynamics connectors), and the one getting the development effort.  If you use this connector you only have to “reconnect“ to the new organization when you move a Power Automate flow across environments, no other changes required. (Recently, “Connection References” can be added to the solution to ease the promotion of flows.  It is a ‘preview’ feature, and we’ve seen some issues.)

Power Automate Triggers using Dynamics 365 CRM

You can start a Power Automate flow in different ways.

For a CRM System Admin who wants to work with the CRM/CDS/Dataverse database, your choices primarily come down to:

  • Run it on a schedule (Scheduled Cloud Flow)
  • Trigger it from a CRM Create/Update/Delete action (Automated cloud flow, or instant cloud flow)
  • Create a button in the D365 UI that, when clicked, launches this Power Automate flow.

To learn more about the Triggers to use to connect to Dynamic 365 Dataverse (CRM) data, please read BLOG POST 2