Replace classic Common Data Service workflows with flows

This topic compares Power Automate capabilities with classic workflow.

Power Automate has significant advantages over the classic workflow model; you should consider using Power Automate to automate your processes instead of classic workflow.

Create flows instead of classic Common Data Service workflows to build new automation processes. Additionally, you should review your existing classic workflow processes and consider replacing them with flows.

Feature capability comparison

This table summarizes a comparison between Power Automate and classic workflows capabilities.

We are continuously adding new capabilities to Power Automate so that it's at par and even better than classic workflow capabilities. We'll update information in this table as Power Automate gains capabilities; check back often! For information about upcoming flow capabilities that will help you replace classic workflow with flow, see What's new and planned for Power Automate in the April 2019 Release Notes!

Capability Power Automate Classic Workflow
Modeling Conditional branching Yes Yes
Looping Yes No
Wait conditions on fields No Yes
Parallel branch Yes No
Out-of-box connectors to external systems (trigger and perform actions in external services) Yes No
Composition Dynamic content Yes Yes
Access to pre-image of event data No Yes
Run child workflows Yes Yes
Run Common Data Service actions (including custom) Yes Yes
Run custom workflow activities No Yes
Group steps to run in a transaction Yes (changesets) No
Approval workflows Yes No
Execution Trigger on field changes Yes Yes
Trigger conditionally on field values (For example, on a certain date in a date field) No No
Trigger on multiple Common Data Service entity events Yes Yes
Run on-demand Yes Yes
Run-as scopes
(for example, organization, business unit, user)
Yes Yes
Run on a schedule Yes No
Run synchronously (real-time) No Yes
History Auditing Yes Yes
Run analytics Yes No
Authoring and portability Solution support Yes Yes
Modern designer Yes No
AI-assisted authoring Yes No

Example scenario: Replace workflow with a flow

Imagine a sales scenario where you have put together a quotation for a customer and now need to request approval from your management team prior to sending the quotation to the customer. With classic workflows, this wouldn’t have been easy to do and most solutions to this require a developer to write custom workflow activities to retrieve quote line items.

With flows, this is easier to build as demonstrated in the walkthrough later that covers some of the Power Automate capabilities to support the scenario. This includes:

  • Creating a flow that runs on demand

  • Getting a list of records related to a Common Data Service entity

  • Looping over a list of records

  • Sending approval requests

To allow the sales person to trigger the approval request on demand:

  1. Sign in to Power Automate and create a flow in a solution. More information: Create a flow in a solution.

  2. From the list of triggers, select Common Data Service (Current Environment) – When a record is selected and select Quotes as the entity. This trigger allows a flow to be run on-demand on a record or list of records.

  3. With the trigger configured, add actions to run in our flow. This will provide the approver with the summary detail they need to identify the quoted items and values. Begin by adding the Common Data Service (Current Environment) – List records action. Because we want to get individual line items from a Quote, set the entity to Quote lines. To ensure we only list those quote line items that belong to the Quote for which the flow was triggered, we’ll specify an OData style filter criterion. In the Filter Query field, type _quoteid_value eq and then select Quote from the list of dynamic values that appear.

    Define your flow

  4. As we want to summarize quote line items for the approval, add the Initialize variable action. Set the Name field to Quote line summary and the Type to String (from the dropdown), and leave the Value field empty.

  5. Add the Append to string variable action and then select the Quote line summary variable we created earlier. In the Value field, select Quantity, Name, Price per unit, Extended amount and Manual amount from the list of dynamic values. The Power Automate designer identifies that these values are from a list of quote line items, and adds this action in an Apply to each loop to ensure information from each line item is added to this summary.

    Define your flow

  6. To request approval on the quote summary we’ve created, add the Approval – Start and wait for an approval action. Select an Approval type (for example, Approve/Reject – First to respond), give the Approval request a Title (for example, the Name of the Quote for which approval is being requested, picked from the list of dynamic values), enter the email address for the person who needs to review and approve the quote in the Assigned to field. In the details field, add the Quote line summary variable, along with any other information that might be relevant using the dynamic value picker (for example, Total Amount).

  7. To determine what happens once an approval is accepted or rejected, add the Condition action. Select Outcome from the list of dynamic values from the first field in the condition, Contains from the dropdown in the second field, and enter Accept in the third field of the condition. Finally, add actions based on the outcome of the approval (For example, send a notification email).

    Define your flow

We now have the approval structure created so the approver has all of the information needed to make a decision on next steps. Here's the full example on-demand flow to request approval:

Approval flow structure

When you run this flow against your quote, it summarizes quote line items for that quote and sends an approval request that the approver can respond to from Power Automate, or the actionable email they receive. An example of the display is below:

Flow in action

  • Workflows with complex else-if conditional logic

    Instead of using conditions, we recommend using the switch action instead.

  • Workflows that run from plug-in/code

    We recommend redesigning the flow to start with triggers.

    • Use Common Data Service triggers to run flows based on events in it.

    • To run flows based on events in an external service, leverage more than 260 out-of-box connectors.

    • For scenarios where a connector you need isn’t available out-of-the-box, easily create your own custom connector learn to create custom connectors.

    • Finally, if there are scenarios where you cannot trigger your flow using Common Data Service connector, one of the out-of-box connectors, or create a custom connector, leverage the When a HTTP request is received trigger to invoke the flow

  • Workflows that run recursively

    Use the do-until or apply to each loop in Flows instead

  • Workflows that need a list of records

    Use the list records action. When using this action, define the record filtering criteria using OData syntax to optimize the action by minimizing the number of records you want to retrieve.

  • Workflows that sleep to run on a schedule

    Use the recurrence trigger to run business logic at periodic intervals.

  • Workflows for which runs were managed to ensure activities were executed in a single transaction

    [Use the changeset action to ensure that all actions within it are performed as a single, atomic unit in which either all succeed, or fail as a group. If any one of the actions in a change set fails, changes made by completed operations are rolled back.

  • Monitor workflow runs for failures

    In Power Automate, use the run-after setting on an action to configure it to run when the previous action fails. For example, send a Power Automate mobile notification when the update a record action fails, or times out.

FAQs

  • I have a Dynamics 365 license. Can I use Power Automate?

    Every Dynamics 365 user is entitled to use Power Automate. Review our licensing information: https://flow.microsoft.com/pricing/

  • How often can my flows be triggered?

    • Dynamics 365 (or Common Data Service) flows run near real-time after the trigger because they use webhooks (no polling required)

    • As with direct API access, there are throttles/limits in the system, fully documented here: https://docs.microsoft.com/flow/limits-and-config

    • Specifically, there is a limit of 100k actions per 5 minutes, per flow – and a single loop in a flow cannot process more than 100k items at once

    • Maximum of 6GB of throughput per 5 minutes

  • How long can a single flow run for?

    A single flow run times out after 30 days.

  • How do I move my flows between environments?

    Just like classic workflows, you can create flows in solutions to support the full application lifecycle for processes.

  • Are Power Automate dependencies tracked in Common Data Service?

    Similar to other components in a solution, all dependencies for flows in solutions are tracked in Common Data Service.

  • What about synchronous workflows?

    You should re-evaluate the need for synchronous workflows to identify whether the objective, or parts of the workflow can be built using a flow. In particular, we see from our telemetry that synchronous workflows are a significant contributor to overall end user poor performance experience. For many uses though it would be preferable to split these actions out as asynchronous so that the user can continue with their activity while Power Automate continues to ensure completion of the action.

  • Using Power Automate, will my data stay within region (that is, the same region as my Dynamics 365 or Common Data Service environment)?

    Yes, Power Automate always uses the same region as Common Data Service.

  • Do I need to make proxy/firewall changes?

    Refer to the IP address configuration reference to determine whether you need to make any proxy/firewall changes.