Power Automate & amp; To-Do The beginnings of a beautiful relationship

A little while ago I wrote an article about To-Do. It’s had a massive response so I thought I’d follow up and delve a little deeper into the current Power Automate (formerly Flow) relationship that is there today and where I see this going.

So, as a connector, Microsoft To-Do only has actions, no triggers as yet. The Actions available are;

  • Add a To-Do – literally adds a single task
  • Get a To-Do – fetches a task by ID
  • List All To-Dos – grabs all lists that you are a part of

There are a few templates, but most have very low engagement numbers;

Also a few templates such as creating a To-Do item for a flagged email are already replaced by the native features set now, released in the newer outlook integration features.

So, what useful things can we use Flow Automate for that we face in everyday life with Power Automate assistance? Well the first, maybe 10 solutions I designed on paper relied on the connectivity to the “Today” list. However this is not addressable, it is not returned in the list of lists from the “list all To-Dos” action and there is, as yet, no API to pull or push that data. It features on the To-Do UserVoice to get this functionality in place; a useful explanation of the intent of the My Day though shows why it is not yet available and you could consider that if it were does To-Do become too much like Outlook Tasks and there will actually loose its identity.

So, thinking then about how To-Do has become a focused middle ground between Email, Planner and a paper based scribbled focus of what you are going to get through today, then where can we see this tool blossom with a better Power Automate partnership?

Well, I think we can already leverage other triggers and connectors to build out some powerful scenarios; my favourite is the email trigger to create a to-do to respond – the reason being its a clear indication that email has become noise – for me I get hundreds of emails a day and I know I’ve seen some Microsoft Project teams with thousands of emails per day. So if you can define what an “important” email is and add that to a list on To-Do to handle it, then we can use the really nice To-Do interface to see the email without having to go digging through Outlook, where let’s face it the search is not the fastest!

So, this pattern is also one of the most popular templates and looks like this;

Now, to use this flow (I can still call it that, I checked…little f) you will need a flow for each definition of importance, well that just needs another step the huh πŸ˜‰

So, to make this more useful lets add in a couple of steps and make sure that our VIP To-Do email response list can be useful for multiple types of VIPS – for mine I’m going to create a list of “important people” who qualify for getting their email into an Action, now Sharon, this one matters, To-Do list.

To do that we are just going to add in a simple VIP SharePoint list –

In here I have a name, a couple of potential email address matches and a subject that matter to me – this means I can add logic for any combination of;

  • Name of person mentioned in Body – regardless of sender, not just gossip but maybe an out of office etc.
  • Email address match for either work or personal if everything they say is vital to me.
  • Subject or Body text and work email match together – so maybe it’s not vital that I respond today unless they are talking about a timely event like a conference, cancelling an appointment I’m driving to etc.
  • Just the text – match any of my trigger words, are you are a VIP?

For simplicity, let’s just show pulling the data from my VIP list only when the first email addresses column matches – via a query in this example – but please build your own list and logic to suit your needs;

Over on my To-Do we see my new email has been converted and appears in the list. I also get a handy link to Outlook to the exact email message.

This is a pretty powerful way of being able to use Power Automate to make sure your extreme volume of emails don’t get in the way of what you really need to get done.

So, bear in mind that we currently only have 3 actions and no triggers – this has to be a relationship that will grow and grow and I’m looking forward to working with it as the new features come to both To Do and Power Automate. I hope you will too πŸ™‚

Update – Following a post of this topic on the Power Automate Community blog there were some great responses from the To-Do team talking about improvements to come soon – so please let me know if you spot new features and functionality in your tenancy soon πŸ™‚

Thanks for listening β€“ don’t forget to leave comments below or get in touch with me directly if you’d like to chat about the content posted here or anything to do with the Power Platform – I’m a Business Applications speaker and evangelist with a clear focus on delivering real business value from technology. I speak at least once a month so please find me at an event and #LetsGetCoffee

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