At multiple clients, I always see that there are (content management) groups created for different content. For instance: the communications department is in control of the corporate news, but announcements are being posted by the facilities department – when for instance the fire alarms are being tested – but also by IT – when there is an issue with some IT system – and sometimes by the communications department.
More and more communication departments I meet are afraid they aren’t in control anymore or in some cases they would like to know what’s happening in their organization. The reason is a different discussion and I could write a completely different blog post about that, but I would like to focus on something different.
Most of the times companies use their intranet for these situations, but they could also use Yammer. Why use Yammer? There is a mobile app for instance, employees are immediately notified when you post an announcement in a Yammer group.
There is a big downside to announcements in Yammer. When you use the announcements too much, employees will probably leave the group because they are fed up with the announcements. Some sort of control is handy in these kinds of cases.
What could you use to manage announcements then? There is no such thing on Yammer like a admin approval for announcements. Luckily the Yammer service is available in Microsoft Flow. With the new feature “button inputs” you could even ask for inputs when triggering a button Flow.
Perfect for our situation!
To create this flow, you must create an empty Flow and start with a button trigger. When you selected the button trigger, you can add inputs. The Yammer post action only needs the title and the message inputs for now, so let’s start with those.
When the inputs are gathered, we could try a couple different routes. We can get the manager of the user who is logged in and ask them for approval. For some cases that could work, but with announcements normally the manager of a person isn’t the one who needs to approve the announcements.
For now, we will just add an “Office 365 Outlook – Approval Mail” action. Why? In my experience, there is always an email address you can use for approval mails. It could be a mailbox from a person, but it could also be a shared mailbox (from for instance a team).
The next step is to add a condition. When the approver approved the announcement, it should be posted to Yammer, but when the approver rejected the announcement something else should happen. In this Flow, I will send feedback to the person who requested the announcement, in this case an email.
Note: pay attention to the broadcast parameter in the Yammer post message action. It must be set to true to create an announcement. Otherwise it will be a normal Yammer post.
All things considered
This scenario is easy to configure and it uses some fun new features, but there are a couple of things you should consider:
- The approval email will be sent from the user who configured the Flow first, not the one who triggered the button. That’s something that could be confusing for the person who gets the approval emails. The “normal” email action has a from parameter which you can use to send an email as a group, but the approval email action doesn’t have that option.
- There is no styling available in the body of the approval email. I would love to see some more possibilities here. For instance: a logo and html formatting for the body. It would make a huge difference for a lot of customers when they can apply their own styling.
- The Yammer message will be posted to one group. There is no easy way to change this group, because the only “good” way would be to add another input. The group ID is needed for the post to Yammer action, so there is no user-friendly way to handle this. If the connector would support group names it could work in a user-friendly way.
- The Yammer post will be posted by the account you used to create the Flow. There is currently no way to use the user account of the user who triggered the button.
These kinds of Flows could help power users to use (manager) approvals to streamline processes and easily automate their business processes. There still some quirks that should be resolved in some scenarios but I think the possibilities are endless!