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Established May 1992
30 years in business
Wise Owl Training
30 years in business
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5 best and 5 worst things about Power Automate Desktop
Part four of a four-part series of blogs

To help understand what software can do, it can be useful to look at its strengths and weaknesses - which is what this blog aims to do for Power Automate Desktop!

  1. 5 best and 5 worst things about Power Automate Desktop
  2. 5 best things about Power Automate Desktop
  3. 5 worst things about Power Automate Desktop
  4. Overall recommendation (this blog)

Posted by Andy Brown on 29 March 2022

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Overall recommendation

Like any other software application, Power Automate Desktop is good for some things and bad for others.  Rather than giving a recommendation I thought it might be useful to list some of the regular tasks which I wanted to automate, and see how well I got on.

Monitoring SEO results (automating using a website)

This should have been a big time-saver, but wasn't:

What Notes
The task Monitoring search engine results.
The problem Every day I type in 3 or 4 standard results into an anonymous browser called StartPage and see where Wise Owl come in the results returned (often this involves paging, since StartPage only shows 20 results at a time). 
The answer I spent a long time trying to get PAD to get even a single page of results.  Thereafter I gave up; I realised that even if I managed to get my flow working properly, it would still need constant updating as the structure of the search website changed. 
Verdict Unless you're an HTML guru and you're working with a web page whose structure is well-defined and not subject to change, automating filling in web forms probably won't save you time.

Monthly back-ups

I had much more joy with this:

What Notes
The task Back up a fixed set of files each month.
The problem I created an Excel workbook containing a list of the files I back up each month, with the target folder for each.
The answer I created a flow which read in this list of files, creating a data table for each, then looped over the rows in this data table copying each file.
Verdict This worked very well, and I will  incorporate into my end-of-month routine.

Sending different emails to different people   

I want to send different workbooks to different people, based on the name of the workbook:

What Notes
The task Create a distribution list.
The problem Take a list of files in a folder, and send them out as attachments to the right people
The answer It is easy in PAD to loop over the files in a folder.  For each I could then build up a list of which files should go to each user, and send out an email containing the files as attachments.
Verdict This flow really plays to the strengths of Power Automate Desktop - sending and receiving emails is astonishingly easy.

This pretty much reflects my experience: PAD is great at automating a series of actions when the human involvement is limited, but not so good when there are lots of keystrokes and mouse-clicks.

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