Automation: Get an alert when someone updates a SharePoint list

Please note that since the original publication of this blog that Microsoft has renamed Flow to Power Automate

Microsoft has integrated the apps Flow and PowerApps into modern SharePoint lists. Flow lets you configure work flows in the if this then do that format and PowerApps lets you turn your list into a mobile app. In this article I’ll show you how to add a Flow to your SharePoint list. In another article elsewhere on this blog I show you how to create a PowerApp from your list.

Flow is designed to automate business processes. In my case we want an email sent to a couple of people in our company that work on the accounting side letting them know of a new entry in our Purchases Made list. Silly me I though they wanted this information so they could enter it right away into the accounting system, but no, what they really wanted was a heads up when our lines of credit with our vendors had been used. They need to keep an eye on that because our sales volume is up and so we find ourselves constantly bumping up against those purchase limits. So this is the business process to solve. No longer do they have to visit SharePoint to see whether someone has used up our credit; they’ll get an email.

Before you start

Not all lists are created equal. Only modern lists in SharePoint have the Flow feature built-in. When you create your list then be sure to create it by adding the Custom List app. This is the modern list. You’ll know if you’re looking at a modern list when you see Flow at the top of the page.


Create a Flow

Microsoft has provided many templates from which to start. I recommend starting from a template as a way to get familiar with Flow.

Click on the Flow drop down menu and choose Create a Flow. The template list will open and will be already filtered to only include templates that include SharePoint. It will open as a sidebar but at the bottom when you click the See more templates link it will open in full screen and provide many more choices.


In this example we are going to create a flow that sends an email with some custom content to two people in our company when a new item is added to the list.

I selected the template for Send a customized email when a new SharePoint list item is added. When I do the configuration wizard opens.


To begin configuring I fill out the form by selecting my SharePoint Site Address and SharePoint list name. You will be asked to make a connection (which is SharePoint language for login). The wizard will use this to display the available options in the wizard.

Choose your SharePoint site in the top box and the list that you want this flow to apply to in the bottom box. Then press Create Flow.

Immediately your Flow will become active. However, it is not yet fully configured. You need to do two things here. First turn your Flow off. We don’t need it firing off until we’re ready. Once you’ve done that click on Edit flow to start the configuration.


Configure your Flow

The configuration screen shows each step in the Flow. To edit a step we will click on it. In this Flow the only step that we need to edit is Send Email. Click on that step to begin


The default email will open for editing. Clicking the Show advanced options link provides the full content options for the email. Now we will configure the email. Doing so isn’t much different than how you would compose an email ordinarily except that we have the ability to include some data from Active Directory and fields from our List.


In the To field we will obviously put the email addresses of the people that we want this email to be sent to. The default entry that you see in the figure will send email to the person that created the connection that this Flow works under.

In the Subject field enter you subject line

Now compose your email or edit the sample provided. The item Given name is the persons first name that is receiving the email. Flow will pull this information from Active Directory. In the body of your email you can include any column titles that you wish to. If you want to add fields, click the add dynamic content link. The list of available fields from AD and from your list will appear to the right. Below is an example of a finished email template.


When you have finished with your customization press the Save Flow button and turn it back On. Next you will want to test it. Flows provide a log which you can see below. It lets you know when the flow was last edited and when it last ran.


If you click on one of the log items you will be taken back into the configuration screen but this time there are green checks for successful steps and red x’s for unsuccessful ones. To fix any errors just click to reconfigure that step.


In my example, the email is successfully sent to the two addresses and looks like this.


Flow can be used for many, many, many purposes. Its strong suit is automating tasks and preventing duplication of effort from your employees. Every business has processes big and small that can be improved and Flow is a great tool for improving them.

Originally posted in 2017 this popular post was migrated over from our previous blog

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