Connectors, triggers and actions are the key components that make up Power Automate flows. This post will explain what each of these are.

Firstly, at a high level:

  • Connectors: Systems, services and apps that you use and can automate across
  • Triggers: Action that will initiate the flow to run
  • Actions: Each step that should occur after the flow is triggered

Connectors

The purpose of your flow is to automate a process. What are the apps, services and systems that you use within that process? These are referred to as connectors, which can be Microsoft as well as non-Microsoft/third-party apps. Some connectors include:

  • Outlook
  • SharePoint
  • Dataverse
  • Microsoft Teams
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Dropbox
  • Salesforce
  • Stripe
  • MailChimp
  • Jira

See here for the full list of available connectors

There are over 700 available connectors to cloud systems, and every month new connectors are released. It is also possible to connect to on-premise systems via gateway.

Screenshot of some connectors available in Power Automate

Triggers

How will your flow initiate? Will it run based on a button click, a schedule, or an event occurring in a connector? This starting action is referred to as the trigger. It is always the first step you see in your flow. In cloud flows, there are three different types of triggers:

  • Automated or event-driven
  • Instant or manual
  • Scheduled
Screenshot of a flow trigger

AUTOMATED or event-driven

These run automatically based on an event happening in a connector. E.g.

  • A blog is posted
  • A tweet is posted
  • You get a new email
  • Someone submits a response to a form
Screenshot of some automated triggers

INSTANT or manual

Use this as your trigger if you want the flow to run on-demand. So rather than waiting for an event to occur in a cloud service (e.g. a new email arriving in Outlook), it is initiated by the user. This includes:

  • Pressing a button in a Power App
  • Talking to your Power Virtual Agent and it calls a flow
  • Pressing a button in the Power Automate app or website
  • Pressing a button in a Power BI report
Screenshot of some instant/manual triggers

SCHEDULED

You would use this if you would like to set a time and frequency for your flow to run on it’s own. The triggering action is based on the schedule you specify. You might use this for situations such as:

  • Sending a monthly report to someone
  • Turning on your smart home devices at the same time everyday
  • Scheduling a message to be posted in Teams
  • Scheduling a tweet to be posted
Options for triggering a scheduled cloud flow

Actions

Actions refer to every step in your flow after the trigger. Actions use the connectors. You add actions in the order you want them to run. Some examples of actions include:

  • Outlook: Send an email
  • Excel Online: Update a row
  • MSN Weather: Get current weather
  • Microsoft Teams: Post message in a chat or channel
  • Adobe PDF Services: Convert Image to PDF
  • Twitter: Post a tweet
Screenshot of flow actions

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