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HOW TO CONNECT SWAY, FORMS, DYNAMICS 365 AND OUTLOOK TO MICROSOFT FLOW IN A BUSINESS SCENARIO

PUBLISHED: 22. February 2018.

While reading Office 365 tools that you (may) know nothing of, which will help facilitate your business, a blog by my colleague Jovan Milosavljević, I have come across the idea to see how some of these neglected tools actually work.

The tools I decided to put to the test were  Sway, Forms and Flow. Then I went one step further and connected these tools to Dynamics 365 for Sales SMB suite, which our company offers to small and medium-sized business.

Before explaining how these tools work and how I used them, I would like to point out that they really are unjustly neglected as they can be more than useful in everyday work. Regardless of whether they deal with presentations, information gathering or connecting – they help us complete our daily tasks in an easier, quicker, better and more simple way.

Sway

Sway is an Office 365 app used for presentations.

When compared to PowerPoint, this app has its advantages as well as drawbacks, and my general impression is that it is interesting and easy to use. Microsoft has presented Sway as a tool primarily used for education purposes. However, it certainly can be used in business environment. Getting Sway free of charge in preview to Office 365 makes it a huge advantage.

Sway allows you to create interactive presentations where you can import content taken from YouTube, BingImages, Flicker, Pickit, etc. You can search the specified services directly from Sway, add them from OneDrive or upload them from your personal folder.

Best of all, Sway suggests certain searches based on the presentation content.

Sway readily adapts to mobile devices. For Windows and iOS phones it has a support in the form of an app, whereas Android devices are managed through web browser, with still good display. Android devices have a particular advantage in the form of Edge by Microsoft app which through Microsoft web browser allows for high-quality display of presentations.

At the first encounter, Sway felt strange, probably because I immediately started comparing it with PowerPoint. When I got rid of this and started using numerous advantages of the tool, I realized that it is actually very easy to use.

This should come as no surprise since it is mostly used in education – to help students easily create, share, and view interactive presentations together with their professors and friends.

The tool offers easy import of PDF, PowerPoint, and Word files which are automatically distributed throughout the presentation and uses the existing text to create slides.

There is a problem with the import option – Sway automatically separates images from text. For example, you can get your PowerPoint template broken into several slides – separate slide for each respective image (although such form can also be attractive). It also recognizes PDF document as image only, which makes it impossible to separate text from background. As for the PowerPoint, solution to the problem is easy enough: all you need to do is delete redundant slides in Sway.

Presentation is easily edited, with the following three basic layouts available: horizontal, vertical or screen-by-screen. Individual slide editing comes down to setting template, font, and font size. Although modest, the font selection and size is quite satisfactory.

Sway presentations are organized in the following manner: each section has its own Heading Card, which is followed by the content related to the heading.

What makes it great is that you can insert into your presentation video clips from YouTube or any other website as well as those imported directly from your PC.  The same principle applies to photos, which can be displayed and organized using several interesting effects (animations).

Also, you can always choose one of the three existing slide sizes (page section being used) or if more text/several clips/photos will be displayed on the screen.

Each template comes with a set of animations accompanying transition. Intensity of each animation can be adjusted according to your needs, or you can simple disable it.

Additionally, slides may contain links and hyperlinks.

Forms

Forms is a tool used to create questionnaires and quizzes, gather information, etc.

Microsoft presented it as a great education tool that can possibly be used for test creation and sharing with students as well as for test result calculation. So, this is yet another tool used in education, with potential for broader application.

Forms can be used to create questionnaires, gather feedback, and measure user satisfaction.

Tests, quizzes and questionnaires can be easily created using Forms. All you need to do is choose the type of document you like to create and then follow simple and perfectly logical steps.

The great thing is there are different types of responses to questions, and they take the form of review, written response (either long or short ones), multiple-choice, statement, ranking, etc. When creating questions, Forms offers mandatory field option, which is highly significant if responses are being entered into databases intended to be used for certain company’s activities (and respective data affect the success of the activity).

Forms is synchronized with Microsoft Flow, allowing you to connect to other Microsoft tools. There is a limited number of templates and advanced users can customize their Flow.

Microsoft Sway and Dynamics 365

Having tried out the above mentioned Office 365, I wanted to check in what manner they could be used for business purposes. In that respect, I tried to connect Sway, Forms, and Dynamics 365.

The scenario was as follows: a presentation which came with a form of a questionnaire, all connected to Dynamics through Microsoft Flow.

The entire scenario was a success and there were no major problems. For the occasion, I used Forms as a sign up for additional presentation. Forms is connected with Sway by a hyperlink displayed at the end of the presentation. By following this path, you leave Sway and enter the connection between Dynamics 365 and Forms, which uses Microsoft Flow as a connecting tool.

My idea was to automatically create Lead in Dynamics the moment someone signs up for the presentation in Forms. Then, the user is automatically sent an email where we thank them for signing up and inform them that soon they will be contacted for the arrangement regarding the presentation.

Microsoft Flow already has templates for connecting Forms to Dynamics 365, but none of them could fully apply to the scenario. In this occasion, the only useful template element could be Forms-to-Outlook, but it still misses Dynamics.

I decided to create my own Flow. Read on to learn about my experience.

I have encountered minor issues regarding form recognition in Flow, which I managed to overcome quickly enough – I have succeeded in completing everything at the first attempt.

It was crucial to properly connect the fields required in the questionnaire to Dynamics 365 Lead. In other words, first I had to check which pieces of information were necessary and useful for importing a new Lead to Dynamics, and then make sure to obtain those pieces of information through the questionnaire. I would like to stress that Name, Surname, and Email were marked as mandatory fields, since these data were important for Lead.

After completing all the fields, it is necessary to finalize flow formation. The entire process of connecting the tools ends here.

Was the experiment successful? Of course it was. The result was a very creative presentation connected to Forms, Flow, and Dynamics 365 through other Microsoft tools.

My conclusion is that often neglected Office 365 tools can be very useful in business environment. With a variety of applications and a range of useful features, these tools are a proof that Microsoft certainly oversees and meets its business users’ needs.

Have you already used some of these tools? If you have any questions or want to share your experience regarding the use of and connection to Microsoft tools, feel free to write a comment below or contact me directly.

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