Getting ready to deliver toys to all the good children in the world in one night takes a lot of work, with many different systems and processes involved. Up until now, this used to take a lot of work and manual effort, but this year the North Pole is using Microsoft Power Automate (formerly Microsoft Flow) to make the busy holiday season much easier and less hectic.
Coordination for the big day involves many systems: you have the CRM system with the addresses of all the good children from every country around the world, ERP and production planning software for the toy manufacturing process, project management applications to keep track of the progress in Christmas tasks, field service for scheduling and route management, and even some old legacy mainframe systems to manage the naughty and nice list.
So, how can Power Automate make things easier for Santa and the Elves?
System Integration: before Power Automate, the Elves in charge of the toy manufacturing process would also have to log into the CRM system to associate the appropriate toy deliveries to the correct children, based on data gathered from the letters to Father Christmas. Since Power Automate, this has become a seamless process. When a letter is entered into the CRM system, a Power Automate flow creates a toy requisition in the ERP system. When this requisition is filled, Power Automate automatically updates the status of the letter in the CRM system, indicating that the request has been answered, along with the appropriate order information.
Notifications: before Power Automate, notifications were all manual. The manufacturing Elf would have to email the letter manager, letting them know that their order was fulfilled. Now that the process but has been automated, the flow can also send a notification to the letter manager, letting them know that the order has been fulfilled, and providing a link to the order information. With Power Automate, this type of notification can take many different forms, based on what your users prefer—e-mail, SMS text notifications, mobile push notifications, and more.
Improved accuracy: as a result of using Power Automate, the North Pole has seen a dramatic decrease in accidental toy deliveries (ATD’s). You think your job is stressful? Imagine if when you messed up, some poor child got an off-brand laser sword instead of a genuine Lightsabre!
Business Process Management: not all processes can be automated. Some require Elves to do certain actions. That’s where business process flows help the Head Elf ensure that proper procedures are being followed. Power Automate lets Santa create immersive visual business process flows for manual processes that help guide Elves through the stages of a process. In the past, these were only available in Microsoft Dynamics 365, but with Power Automate they can create business process flows for a process, and Power Automate will automatically build the app for the business process flow. This ensures that the Elves know what they need to do, and Elf supervisors can easily gauge where an Elf is in the process.
Legacy system automation: While Power Automate has over 300 connectors to many common systems, not all systems have an API or support integration. But since Power Automate added UI Flows, this is not a problem. UI Flows provide Robotic Process Automation (RPA) capabilities, allowing Santa to record an operation in a legacy system (either a web system or a Windows desktop application), and then automate the process with Power Automate, passing in variables and other values. So even though the naughty and nice database doesn’t have a standard API, Santa can still automate printing the list using Power Automate. UI flows can be run attended or unattended, depending on if there is additional input required by users. This means that a process that in the past took five Elves can now be totally automated.
Want to learn more about how you can achieve results like Santa with Power Automate in your organization?
*Original content by Joel Lindstrom, Hitachi Solutions North America*