I am wondering if Laserfiche has looked at creating a certified Microsoft Flow connector that could talk with an on-premise Laserfiche installation?
One of the biggest problems with Flow right now is how Microsoft are managing permissions and ownership of Flows.
For instance, if an individual built a Flow that was watching a shared email inbox for flagged items that it then added as a line item to an Excel document... everything would work, until the person who owned that Flow left the organisation.
This is what makes Flow quite popular with individuals (they’re in direct control) – but it is also the reason why it isn’t used more widely within larger organisations as from what I understand you can’t have a Flow running as a service for a department without an individual account (or the IT Manager) ‘owning it’. More specifically there is no central “Flow” server. IT Managers I’ve spoken to have a love/hate relationship with Flow because of this. As far as I’m aware (and I only have limited exposure via user/client requests) Flows can’t yet be centrally managed in any type of intuitive way yet.
But if we’re talking about taking it to the next level with Laserfiche integration, the game changing would happen if it were possible to:
- From Flow -> Laserfiche: Use a Flow to Store a Document with Metadata, Start a Business Process with Variables, or Start a Laserfiche Workflow with Variables in a Laserfiche instance.
- From Laserfiche -> Flow: Use a Laserfiche Workflow or Laserfiche Forms Process, to start a specific Flow.
From Laserfiche -> Flow would open the floodgates on the potential possibilities... as Levi mentioned earlier, it could for example, allow a “Booking Form” submission from Laserfiche to trigger a Flow that sends an SMS using a phone number variable captured during the submission. I feel like this is a big selling point for Laserfiche because Laserfiche Workflow could act as the “central” delegated authority to starting and owning business critical Flows.
From Flow -> Laserfiche things get a little more interesting. If it is limited to an ‘all or nothing’ type of integration, it won’t be very useful at all. However, if it is possible to control which users (thinking a LFWorkflow User account) have Flow -> Laserfiche access, this could again, be hugely useful for taking any Office 365 content as part of a business process and pushing it into Laserfiche’s array of inputs.
Lastly, some other things to consider about Flow:
- (F2L) Organisations have a limited amount of flows before they are charged. Using Flow to check an “Email Inbox” for example can rack up a lot of flows very quickly depending on the way it is set up. Additionally, if someone were to drag and drop 1000 files into a Folder watched by Flow, again, improperly set up this could cost an organisation 1000 flows against their monthly quota. Finding ways to optimise the amount of Flows that are actually used (by instead using LF Workflow to do heavy lifting) could again, be a huge selling point for LF & Flow integration.
- (F2L) I imagine there would need to be some degree of access rights pass through to ensure Flow is only accessing repositories, workflows or business processes that it has permission to see/access.
- (L2F) The Laserfiche to Flow integration would likely require a Laserfiche service account (consuming an O365 license) to be set up in order to get Laserfiche to talk to Flow. I can’t imagine this being a deal breaker given the potential benefits though.
I’ll update this thread if I come across any other potential use cases / or hear any specific feedback that might be relevant. Also, if anyone has a better understanding of the above feel free to correct/append.. I'm by no means the Flow expert in our organisation.
Many thanks to you and the team for considering this integration!
Thought I would see if Laserfiche has put any thought into this request?
Just chiming in to say that an official viewpoint on this would be appreciated from Laserfiche. Historically a tight Microsoft partnership has been a key selling point for Laserfiche in our markets. Externally we're being asked about Planner / Teams / Flow native integration - but internally as a heavy Office 365 organisation we too would like to see Flow integration.
Hi! Could you share more about what sorts of use cases you'd consider most important for such an integration?
I'm interested in this as well. I might open up some interesting possibilities.
I was just checking in on this. I just took an App-In-A-Day training for Microsoft and a few things struck me.
One, I feel the setup in forms is still way easier to digest and understand. There was a lot of light coding that went on and I don't see a person with no coding experience navigating that setup.
Two, The licensing structure for LF is vastly superior. Microsoft has additional fees for everything you want to do. I think that the a-la-cart approach stifles innovation. Because you are having to worry if you need to go get approval to set something up.
Three, I would still really like to see if we can get a LaserFiche Connection for Microsoft. In their Flow program, they have options for monitoring data in tables that seem like a better option than setting a Workflow to be constantly running.
So for example, we have a business office workflow set to monitor for changes every 15 minutes. It kicks off and runs a stored procedure to check for changes and then evaluates.
It would be more ideal to have a connection with Microsoft and set a Flow that does this constantly and kicks off the LF Workflow when something happens. They control the data source, it makes sense that they have better access.
I can see some reluctance because there might be fear that people will just go whole hog on MS automation. But as I mentioned above their licensing cobweb makes that a hard and cost-prohibitive solution. Also, their app design system has serious weak points that are baked into the overall design.
Maybe there is a better way to design our WorkFlow?