Power Automate, the Scientific Method, and saving your team time

scientific method, experiment

Have you ever wondered how businesses can make their processes more efficient? What if you could automate some currently manual tasks, freeing up your employees to do more value-added work? Power Automate is a complete software as a service (SaaS) platform that provides an easy-to-use interface to create and run automated processes. But… we’re assuming you already know that.

Whether you’re new to Power Automate or highly experienced, there might be a point when you have no clue where to start. For us, we find experimenting can be a significant first step. The best way to begin your experiment is by first knowing about the scientific method. 

What’s the scientific method

The scientific method is a great technique when trying to learn something new, like how to automate those tricky workflows. It’s a process of learning about the world around us. It involves making observations and asking questions, testing possible answers to those questions by performing experiments and then analysing the results. The scientific method aims to help us understand how things work—and why they sometimes don’t. 

scientific method

Getting started…

Before starting automating, you must look at your manual processes and understand how they work. Is your finance team spending too much time downloading attached invoices from emails, or is it wasting time reading those invoices and inputting that data into a different system? 

There will always be processes that can be automated, so first things first, work out what you could automate. 

What do you want to do?

As you start brainstorming your experiment, you should determine the question you want to answer. 

  • Make sure the question is specific and clear. For example, can I save more time by automatically extracting data from PDF invoices or automating attachment downloads?  
  • Ask yourself if the question is answerable by collecting data through automation and analysis.  
  • Think about whether it’s realistic to use Power Automate to solve the problem in a timeframe that interests you. If not, then maybe Power Automate isn’t the best place to start, and instead, you need to re-evaluate your manual processes or goals.  

What do you think will happen?

To get the most out of your experiment, you should begin by defining the problem you’re trying to solve. What do you want to achieve? Think carefully about this before starting on a solution, and make sure it’s something that will motivate you. Saving time for your finance department by automating the invoice process is a straightforward goal that could start to spiral, so be sure to keep your goals narrow.

Make sure that your goals are actionable—and then act! Don’t worry about other people’s goals; they don’t matter unless they’re helping you reach yours. Be ambitious but realistic: setting lofty goals can feel good now but ultimately disappoints everyone involved.

What are you going to change?

Experiment variables are the input values you want to change in your experiment; they are the things you are experimenting with and changing. On the other hand, the output variable is what you will measure due to these changes. 

Simply put, experiment variables are the things you want to change and see the effect on the output variable. They’re usually referred to as factors in science because they factor into an experiment’s results. For our invoice process, we could see whether automating the downloading of email attachments and saving them to SharePoint could save the most time or extracting the data from those PDF invoices could be the clincher. Who knows, maybe it’s both?!

Ready, set, go!

Think you’re ready to run your experiment? Give it a whirl! 

Suppose the experiment is successful: get in touch with the finance department and tell them about all your great work! Get ready to implement your newly automated process, and don’t forget to ride the wave of praise about saving people time and money. 

If the experiment failed: think about where it might have gone wrong or set up a chat with the rest of your department with details about what went wrong, along with screenshots from Power Automate and any other helpful information that might help you fix it together. 

How did it go, and what have you found out? 

The scientific method is an excellent way to think about how to run experiments in Power Automate. You start with an idea and then try different ways to test it out.  

You might want to try different versions of the same thing or other ideas altogether. You can change the design of your workflow, its behaviour or even just one step in making it work for you. Once you’ve tried all these things out, then take some time to think about what worked best overall. 

  

Scientists have used the Scientific Method for centuries, but its principles are still relevant today. It involves breaking down an issue into smaller parts, testing out different hypotheses and looking at the results of those tests objectively before making decisions based on them. So, what are you going to be experimenting with today? 

If you’re experimenting with Encodian Flowr actions, feel free to 💬 reach out to our Support Team. 

 

Is Encodian FedRAMP compliant?

FedRAMP and US governments

With more and more US governmental agencies digitising, data security has become a priority. So, it’s understandable asking if we’re FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) compliant. The truth is, we don’t need to be! All US governmental agencies we work with, both federal and state, opt for our Dedicated Plan, which means we install Flowr directly into your Azure tenant, meaning you have complete control. And as FedRAMP is only for cloud-based services, no cloud means no need for FedRAMP!  

What is the Dedicated Plan? 

If you’re on our Dedicated plan, Flowr, the API and services have been installed directly into your Azure Tenant, so it never leaves your infrastructure. It means that you can use Flowr as much as you need without having to worry about security risks from a third-party provider and it circumvents the need to use the cloud entirely.

If you’re wondering about how we would install it into your Azure Environment, you can see our Dedicated plan blog post here.

FISMA Compliance 

Although it is your responsibility to ensure that your company is FIMSA compliant and to audit third-party suppliers, we are happy to help by answering any questions. Many of our customers have security questionnaires they send us before adding us as a supplier, so feel free to do the same. We also regularly work with software like UpGuard, which specialises in third-party risk and attack management. 

So, can we use Encodian in the GCC?

Yes! Encodian Flowr can be installed directly into your Azure tenant. That’s what our Dedicated Plan is there for. Installing Flowr into your estate is something we have done multiple times for our high-security customers. Because we don’t store your data, you can rest assured that your information is secure whilst using Encodian. 

If you’re wondering what the GCC is, this is how Microsoft explains it: “To meet the unique and evolving requirements of the United States Federal, State, Local, and Tribal governments, as well as contractors holding or processing data on behalf of the US Government, Microsoft offers the Office 365 Government GCC environment.” It’s basically a version of Microsoft 365 specifically built for governmental agencies to ensure the highest level of security.

How can you be sure we’re doing what we say? 

We are ISO 27001 certified, an international standard to ensure we work by the best practices in the industry. As a regulated assessor evaluates us annually, if we’re not doing what we say, we lose it! As a document management company, data is our bread and butter, so we ensure that yours is as safe as possible. 

 

We take your data security very seriously. If you do too, please reach out to us to talk about our Dedicated Plan today 💬

Meet Chris, our Senior Software Developer

Meet the Team - Chris

Let us introduce you to Chris Allen, our Senior Software Developer!

Chris has been with us just over a month, so what’s the best way to welcome him into the business?
Grill him mercilessly… 🔥

What is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

Becoming a husband to a wonderful wife, becoming a father to my beautiful daughter and getting my degree many years ago.

What is your motto or personal mantra?

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

What gets you out of bed in the morning? 

Family and career.

How would you describe your day job to a child? 

I type things into the computer to make it go beepidy and boopidy. 😀 

What three words would you use to describe your role? 

Interesting, challenging and engaging.

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? 

Einstein, as he did thought experiments that changed the world.    

If you could switch jobs with anyone, who would it be? 

Would love to be able to share my abilities on a social media platform like Linus tech tips on YouTube but apart from that, I am happy where I am.   

What do you like most about your job? 

The people I work with, the happy team environment and the challenge of something new. 

Have you got any hobbies? 

3D printing, astrophysics, coding, gaming, learning random stuff on YouTube videos.

What’s your most memorable facepalm moment? 

I thought gammon was salmon for the longest time until my wife laughed at me and told me they are different. 

What are you watching at the moment? 

Money Heist.

What’s your favourite line from a film? 

“To infinity and beyond” – Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story.

If you could have any superpower, what would you have? 

The ability to know anything and everything or to learn new things with minimal effort. 

What is your guilty pleasure?

Gaming nights and eating junk food.

Which actor would play you in a film about your life? 

Rowan Atkinson.

Have you got any pets? 

1 dog, 2 cats, 1 rabbit.

You’re invited to a costume party, what do you come as? 

A computer nerd, that way I don’t have to get changed. 😀 

 

So now you know a lot more about Chris, maybe more than you ever thought you needed to…
Or maybe you want to find out even more, so why not reach out to him on 🤝 LinkedIn!

Flowr: Dedicated Subscription 

Flowr Dedicated Plan

Our Dedicated plan is designed to serve the specific requirement of data never leaving a company’s Microsoft tenant. How do we do that? We install the Encodian connector (Flowr), API and services directly into your Azure Tenant, so it never leaves your infrastructure.  

Many companies choose this because it alleviates any of their data privacy and security concerns when working with highly sensitive or regulated workloads. 

How is Flowr installed into your Azure Tenant? 

Once your subscription order has been confirmed, our Encodian engineers will reach out to organise your installation. We will walk you through giving us ‘ring fenced’ access to your tenant to ensure that we only have access to the section we need. 

We then install Flowr and carry out testing. Once we, but more importantly, you are happy, remove our access to your environment and voila! You’re ready to get going. 

We’ll take care of everything from start to finish, and it’ll only take half a day to install. We can also return twice a year to update your connector with new features so you can get the most out of your subscription. 

How we keep your data safe 

  • Your data is encrypted whenever it is in transit or at rest by using 256-bit AES encryption.  
  • We have current SHA-256 and RSA Encryption Certificates for all API (Application Programming Interface) services. 
  • All our API services use TLS1.2 as a minimum and enforce the HTTPS protocol. 
  • We never store your processed data – we just count actions. 
  • We use an API to immediately and permanently delete your data as soon as it’s been processed. 
  • We are ISO 27001 certified and work by the best practices in the industry. 

For a more in-depth look into data processing, check out our Data Security and Data Privacy article on our support network or our Data Processing Agreement. 

What do you get with a Dedicated subscription? 

  • 18,000 actions a month 
  • Flowr installed directly into your Azure Environment 

Not 100% sure what an action is, don’t worry! We have a video for that. 

Need more than 18,000 actions a month? There is no upper limit, and we can offer custom pricing to meet your requirements. 

How much does a Dedicated plan cost? 

$ USD: $10999 a year
£ GBP: £9999 a year
€ EUR: €9999 a year 

All costs include installation. 

 

We hope that clears everything up for you about the Dedicated subscription, but if you want to know more, why not 💬 chat with Dan, our Sales Director!

Flowr: Enterprise Subscription 

Flowr - Enterprise Subscription

Whether you need more actions or need to choose a specific Microsoft Azure Datacentre, an Enterprise subscription has you covered. 

With up to 12,000 actions a month, you can OCR PDFs, convert Word Documents to PDFs and resize images (and so much more) to your heart’s content. But the most crucial part for many of our customers is that they can choose specific geolocation for processing their data. Encodian operates at Microsoft Datacentres in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany and Australia, but if you need one elsewhere, we can set one up in just two weeks!  

Why would a company care where their data is processed? 

Some exceptionally highly regulated companies must ensure their data never leaves the country. So, by choosing an Enterprise plan, they can ensure that their actions are only ever processed at a specific Datacentre. 

How safe is my data? 

We solely use Microsoft Azure PaaS (Platform as a Service), which means your data never leaves a Microsoft Datacentre and is governed by Azure security throughout the entire process lifecycle. 

How does Encodian keep my data safe? 

  • We never store your processed data – we count actions. 
  • We use an API to immediately and permanently delete your data as soon as it’s been processed. 
  • We are ISO 27001 certified and work by the best practices in the industry. 

So, you know that working with an Encodian connector, you are as safe as when you work within your own Microsoft Azure environment. For a more in-depth look into data processing, check out our Data Security and Data Privacy article on our support network or our Data Processing Agreement. 

So, what’s my data’s journey? 

When you trigger a Flowr action within Power Automate, your data is encrypted and sent to the Microsoft Azure Datacentre of your choice (be it the UK, Germany, USA, Canada, or Australia). From there, your action will be processed and your data wiped, so Encodian never sees any of it, then it’s re-encrypted and sent back to you. 

It’s that simple! However, if you need your data to remain within your infrastructure, you will require a Dedicated subscription. 

What do I get with an Enterprise subscription? 

Not 100% sure what an action is, don’t worry! We have a video for that. 

How much does an Enterprise plan cost? 

$ USD: $5499 a year or $549 a month
£ GBP: £4499 a year or £449 a month
€ EUR: €4999 a year or €499 a month  

Need more than 12,000 actions a month? There is no upper limit, and we can offer custom pricing to meet your requirements.
We hope that clears everything up for you about the Enterprise subscription, but if you want to know more, why not 💬 chat with Dan, our Sales Director? 

 

Partner alert 🚨 Portal Systems are here!

Portal systems logo partner

We want to welcome our new partner, Portal Systems, into the Encodian family!

We are here to announce our collaboration with Portal Systems. Their commitment to high-quality standards, customer service and support, drew us together. Portal Systems has a great team of experts, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. So we know that will be invaluable in helping us both achieve our goals.

Portal Systems focuses on Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions based on Microsoft 365, mostly managing commercial records and documents. As we both work solely within M365, we are a great match!

Partner goals

We both focus on providing organisations with solutions for their document management needs, including the ability to search and retrieve documents from anywhere. We’re committed to helping businesses achieve their goals by leveraging technology and processes that maximise efficiency, productivity and profitability.

This partnership allows them to provide their clients with Flowr as part of their offering. Portal Systems were particularly interested in our OCR PDF Document action because SharePoint lacks out-of-the-box functionality. Thanks to having an Azure Data Centre within Germany, Encodian is a perfect partner for Portal Systems to offer their customers with complex security needs. This partnership allows Portal Systems to provide its customers with a fully integrated solution for SharePoint. Not to mention, our newest product, Trigr, will be released shortly, and Portal Systems are excited about being among our first partners to offer this product.

We are proud that our technology has helped many clients improve their performance with innovative tools and solutions that enhance their productivity, saving time and reducing costs related to manual processes. Above all, Encodian and Portal Systems can do more together than apart as it allows us to share knowledge and experience and create additional value for their clients through an integrated approach that combines expertise from both sides.

We are looking forward to watching our partnership grow in 2022 and beyond!

 

Want to partner up?

Are you a reseller, or do you want to partner with Encodian? We want to hear from you!
📮 Get in touch with our Sales Director, Dan!