Should I Automate with Business Central Workflows or Power Automate?

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Optimizing business processes to avoid bottlenecks and promote consistency helps businesses stay agile and competitive. Yet, with Business Central, you don’t need to be a programmer or systems administrator to design and implement a process – you have both Business Central Workflows and Power Automate at your disposal to do amazing things and really boost your team’s productivity.

When do you use native Business Central workflows, and when is Power Automate the better choice? There are distinct differences between each of these tools, and in this article, we’ll give you a bird’s-eye view of both, helping you decide what to use for your next project.

First, a little about each tool.

What are Business Central Workflows, and What Does Power Automate Do Differently?

Native Business Central Workflows are a built-in process solution that comes baked in. They’re very intuitive to work with. You can drag and drop actions and connect them to triggers – events that spark an action in the workflow, such as a new record created, when customer information is updated, and the like. Business Central Workflows take it from there, performing the prescribed actions (sending an email, getting an approval, giving a reminder) in succession until the workflow is finally complete.

Business Central workflows are created and customized from pre-built templates, and they can be further extended using custom code blocks, giving you a reasonable degree of flexibility for your workflow needs.

Microsoft Power Automate takes workflows up a notch by opening up to the world outside Business Central. You can create workflows that leverage the power of Outlook, SharePoint (and other apps in the Microsoft 365 sphere) as well as many third-party apps. With great power comes more complexity, though, as we’ll see in the following comparisons.

Pros and Cons of Business Central Workflows and Power Automate

Now we’ll look at the strengths and weaknesses of each tool, helping you see which one might be the right choice for your next workflow.

Native Business Central Workflows:

  • Pro: Centralized Management. Look no further than Business Central itself for this workflow solution. No external apps, no switching back and forth. This approach keeps it simple and saves you time.
  • Pro: Easy Approvals. Since it’s an integrated feature of Business Central, approval reminders natively appear on user dashboards for fast reminders and quick actions.
  • Pro: Simple Sharing. Native workflows are easy to share with others in the same organization, allowing you to duplicate processes quickly and painlessly for consistency across departments.
  • Pro: Seamless Integration. Workflows are simple to integrate with existing business processes within Business Central. Thus you quickly benefit from eliminating many manual processes, thereby reducing errors and increasing efficiency.
  • Con: Limited Flexibility. Since they’re template-based, Business Central workflows have limits to their customization. If you need to create something out of the ordinary, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
  • Con: Limited Integrations. These workflows were meant to stay in their own neighbourhood. They’re not easily integrated with outside applications. If you need to involve other platforms in your workflow, you’ll need a different tool.

 

Microsoft Power Automate:

  • Pro: Integration with Other Platforms. Stepping outside the sandbox, Power Automate allows you to integrate with many apps, such as Microsoft Teams, streamlining more essential business activities and reducing productivity-killing app switching.
  • Pro: More Notification Options. You have a world of customization options for notification emails, including adding explanations to the body of the message to give recipients more context on the triggered action or to help move approvals along.
  • Pro: More Approval Options. Power Automate opens the door to more complex approval scenarios, such as an item needing approval from only 1 of 3 managers, while native workflows aren’t configurable to that degree.
  • Pro: Greater Flexibility. As it is a more general-purpose automation tool, Power Automate will allow you to create almost any workflow you can dream up. This makes it ideal for the most custom and complex projects, allowing you to achieve the most specific outcomes.
  • Con: Technical Complexity. While it is a low-code solution, Power Automate does require slightly more technical expertise than native Business Central workflows. Initial setup may require some handholding. If you don’t have a techie among your office staff, you’re going to need outside help to perfect your workflows.
  • Con: Integration Challenges. Power Automate works with a very broad spectrum of applications. Since there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all, the initial integration with your third-party solution may take some time and configuration to run smoothly.
  • Con: Security Depends on You. If you’re moving sensitive data from one system to another, you’ll want to pay special attention to security concerns. You’ll need a deeper understanding of security best practices or the assistance of a Power Automate expert to ensure there are no leaks.

So Which Tool Do You Choose?

You probably saw this one come: It depends. Native Business Central workflows are a great starting point, and they’re especially suited for simple or straightforward projects because of their reduced complexity and ease of use. Power Automate picks up where native workflows leave off, making more complex projects possible, but also has a steeper learning curve.

Each project should be evaluated on individual merit. What do you need to accomplish? Will you need to access external systems? Do you have someone available who has the needed technical skills? Do you have money available in the budget to have an expert create a workflow for you?

The Right Microsoft Partner Can Help You Make the Right Choice

The team at Catapult has deep expertise, both in Business Central implementation and Power Automate workflows. We can lend you a helping hand to get you started creating workflows that will greatly increase your daily productivity.

But that’s just the beginning. There are many more ways you can unlock the potential benefits of Business Central. We’re here to help you get the most out of your investment, so you can grow. That’s the goal of our Client Success Framework.

Want to learn more? We encourage you to contact us today.

 

By Catapult | www.catapulterp.com

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