Scheduling a record was not something achieved without some thought using workflows in Dynamics 365 CE. Mostly the ‘Bulk Delete’ trick was used where scheduled Bulk Delete of records (normally to remove legacy data) would act as the trigger for your custom workflow, effectively creating a scheduling system. Still, this doesn’t feel exactly clean and this functionality was not something that can be achieved logically from the workflow designer. This has since changed with Microsoft Flow.
Microsoft Flow has a ‘Recurrence’ trigger. This trigger is very simple – you state the interval e.g. 1 day and the Frequency e.g. Hour, Day, Week, Month. Extra parameters can be set for example time zone, and depending on the frequency, such as if you selected Week, you would need to set which day of the week you wish to use (e.g. Friday). To make it even easier, there is even a ‘Preview’ of the time that the action is configured for and the summary of the frequency so you can make sure it is exactly what you want.
This is what was missing from standard workflows within Dynamics 365 CE. Considering we have access to the Dynamics 365 CE system through the Common Data Service for Apps connector, we can also use this to then create or even update existing records within Dynamics 365 CE with relative ease. A simple scenario, displayed in the screenshots below is creating activities, such as tasks. This can be a great way to display reminders to a user’s (or customers) inbox, or if an internal user has the Flow app, to their mobile phone – the possibilities are really endless and are limited by only your creativity.
If you wish to utilise existing data within the system to set fields using dynamic data, such as ‘Regarding’ records or populate other lookup fields based on what data your creating or interacting within Dynamics 365 CE, you will need to retrieve those using collections (discussed in a previous post here) and include these within the scope of the Flow so these can be added using Dynamic Fields.
Another notable way of using the Recurrence Trigger is to also send regular mobile notifications. This can be an easy way to set up push notifications e.g. change of preferences and also changing specific settings e.g. when using Microsoft Portals. Perhaps your company has regular training, or even a notification every week for timesheets, this is a great way to reach people.
Get started by typing ‘Schedule’ in a blank Flow and select ‘Recurrence’. This will display the action, select this and configure as below:
- Interval: 1
- Frequency: Weekly
- Time Zone: London (enter your respective time zone)
- On these Days: Friday
- At these Hours: 20:00
Next, add an Action using the Common Data Services Connector to ‘Create a new Record’.
Select the Environment and the ‘Entity’ as Task. Configure the following fields:
- Subject: This is a weekly task! (add whatever you want)
- Due Date: Add the function (addDays) and select UTC Now as the Timestamp parameter and then 7 to increment this as due in 7 days from the creation of the record
- Priority Value: High
That is it – you can go ahead and test your flow. You can see this would have created a new Task within Dynamics 365 CE when navigating to ‘Activities’ as shown in the screenshot below.
Note – When using the Phone Calls and Appointment entities, the ‘To’ and ‘From’ fields are not included in the Common Data Service for Apps connector at the time of writing for these entities, which is based on the base Activity Pointer fields only. These are being worked on by the Microsoft team and will be available in an upcoming update.
That is really all there is to it to set up recurring notifications or actions within Dynamics 365 CE and also in other platforms available within Flow (or even using a custom connector!). Any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to help!