Every day, an array of tasks are performed in and between Microsoft Office 365 tools, such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. Many of these tasks are repetitive by nature and when performed manually over and over become not only tedious to perform, but also error-prone.
Oftentimes, these tasks are good candidates for robotic process automation (RPA), and much time and effort can be saved when either part of the task or the entire task is automated.
To automate them isn’t necessarily difficult if the right tool is chosen, and the result to be expected is not only faster performance of tasks, but also higher accuracy. This will drive higher productivity, lower risk, and lower costs - which are absolutely pivotal during the economic downturn that we are currently facing.
Examples of tasks you can automate in office 365:
- Reading and writing data
- Migrating data between applications
- Data manipulation and reporting
- Integrating with applications and databases
- Filling in forms with data from Excel
In addition to automating the task in itself, many businesses also have the need to test that certain tasks work in and between Microsoft Office 365, because they’re a part of a critical business process.
For this, test automation can be used, and the same outcomes of higher productivity, lower risk and lower costs can be achieved.
Test automation and RPA are thereby two methods of automation that can be used with great benefit for Office 365 applications.
To give an example of how the different applications can be automated, we’ll zoom in on one of the most widely used technologies within the Office package: Excel.
Example: Data-driven automation with Excel
Excel is used to store, manipulate and organize data in a wide range of business cases across almost all departments and industries.
Because it is often used as a data source, many processes involve transferring data from excel into another application, and vice versa. If performed manually, this task can be extremely time-consuming and subject to error.
Although analyzing data is a complex task, and for the most part one that requires human intelligence, transferring it does not, and is often performed better by a robot. When robots take over tedious tasks like these, people can spend their brain power on the more analytical tasks that require critical thinking.
Using data in excel as a source in automation is also called data-driven automation.
When automating with data, it’s best practice to use excel as a source rather than hardcoding it, because data usually changes. If the data is coded into the automation flow, the code must be changed continuously, and it therefore becomes impractical to maintain the automation flows.
To ease maintenance of data-driven automation, it pays off to use a no-code tool with a visual language that makes it easy to keep an overview of automation flows.
Choosing the right automation tool
When looking for a tool to do your data-driven automation, or any other type of Microsoft Office 365 automation, many resort to Microsoft’s own automation tool, Power Automate.
Power automate allows you to set up simple automation flows via pre-built templates across Microsoft’s applications.
The tool does, however, have it’s limitations. Due to its pre-defined nature, it doesn’t allow you to fully customize automation flows, and it doesn’t integrate easily with external applications and technologies.
Therefore, if you want to automate across technologies, you’ll want to opt for an alternative to Power Automate.
No-code automation for Microsoft Office 365
With LEAPWORK’s no-code automation platform, repetitive processes within Word, PowerPoint, Excel and other Microsoft Office 365 applications can be automated with ease.
LEAPWORK has a no-code UI that allows you to automate any Office 365 task without writing a single line of code. This means that anyone wanting to automate can, and that they’re not held back by the need to program.
Watch the video below to see an example of a data-driven automation flow in LEAPWORK.