Move SharePoint Designer Workflows to Power Automate
SharePoint Designer has been the go-to tool for creating workflows in SharePoint for many years. However, Microsoft has been phasing out support for SharePoint Designer, and it is no longer available for download from the Microsoft website.
- Starting April 2nd, 2024, SharePoint 2013 workflows will be turned off for any newly created tenants.
- Starting April 2nd, 2026, Microsoft will remove the ability to run, or create and execute SharePoint 2013 workflows for existing tenants.
This means that it’s time to move your old SharePoint Designer workflows to Microsoft Power Automate.
Microsoft Power Automate is a cloud-based service that allows you to create automated workflows between your favorite apps and services. With Power Automate, you can create workflows that integrate with SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and many other popular tools.
In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the steps of migrating your old SharePoint Designer workflows to Microsoft Power Automate. If you’re interested to read more about the basics of what Power Automate is, check out my post, What is Power Automate?
Step 1: Identify your SharePoint Designer workflows
The first step in moving your SharePoint Designer workflows to the cloud, is to identify which workflows you want to keep. Review all of your workflows and decide which ones are still needed and which ones can be retired. Use the Microsoft 365 Assessment tool to scan your tenants for legacy workflow usage, if you’re not sure where they are.
Step 2: Determine the complexity of your workflows
Next, you need to determine the complexity of each individual workflow. Some workflows may be simple and straightforward, while others may be more complex and involve multiple steps and conditions. Look at each workflow to determine its functionality, and document which lists and libraries are using them and why.
Step 3: Plan your strategy
Once you have identified the workflows you want to re-create as flows, and determined their complexity, it’s time to plan your strategy. Keep in mind that “migration” with this product really entails re-creating them from scratch as flows. There is not a system in place that will create/move them automatically. Your plan should include the following:
- A timeline for completing the migration
- A list of the workflows to be migrated
- A list of the steps / actions involved in each workflow
- Any dependencies or integration points with other systems or applications
- A testing plan to ensure that the new workflows work as expected
Step 4: Create new flows in Power Automate
With your plan in place, it’s time to start creating your new workflows in Power Automate. This is a manual process, one workflow at a time. You can use the templates provided by Microsoft, or create your own custom workflows. I usually like to try out the templates just for inspiration and ideas. For real world projects, I create each flow from blank, not from a template.
When creating each new flow, you should focus on simplifying the process and reducing complexity where possible. Power Automate provides a wide range of hundreds of actions and connectors that allow you to integrate with other systems and applications, so you can take advantage of these to streamline your workflows.
Four years ago (in 2018), I streamed a video where I went over some concepts / actions and how to translate them from SharePoint Designer workflows to Power Automate flows.
Step 5: Test your new workflows
Once you have created your new flows in Power Automate, it’s important to test them to ensure that they work as expected. You should test each workflow thoroughly, making sure that it behaves as it did in SharePoint Designer and that any integration points with other systems or applications are working correctly. Most likely you’ll love the flow interface and performance much better than the old SharePoint Designer way.
Microsoft has created documentation on how to translate specific actions that were used in workflows, to the new way to build them in a flow.
Here is an example. Look at all of the things that you can accomplish in flow that you couldn’t do in SPD!
|List action||SharePoint workflow||Power Automate flow|
|Get items||Not available||Yes|
|Create an item||Yes||Yes|
|Update an item||Yes||Yes|
|Delete an item||Yes||Yes|
|Copy a list item||Yes||Yes, by reusing ‘Create an item’ action|
|Get attachments||Not available||Yes|
|Get attachment content||Not available||Yes|
|Add attachment||Not available||Yes|
|Delete attachment||Not available||Yes|
|Set field value in current item||Yes||Yes, using ‘Update an item’ action|
|Get changes for an item||No||Yes|
“Migrating” from old SharePoint Designer workflows to Microsoft Power Automate can be a tedious process, but with careful planning and execution, it can be done successfully. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can ensure that your migration is as smooth and seamless as possible, and that your new workflows work as expected, and even better.
Learn Power Automate from me, in my Basics and Advanced courses.
Would you like to learn all about how to create flows in Power Automate? Check out my online self-paced courses at my website, IW Mentor, by clicking the link above. I’ve written other blog posts about Power Automate also.
I’ve converted most of our SharePoint Designer Workflows, mostly to Power Apps. Some of the Power Apps have Power Automate components.
Thanks for this post! I have 50-60 SharePoint 2013 Designer workflows I have to migrate over to SPO in the next few months so this will be very helpful!
Have you read about this from Micrososft? https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointmigration/spmt-workflow-migration-spd?source=recommendations
Thanks, no I hadn’t seen that. I was searching everywhere for something of the sort when I was writing this post. Thanks for sending the link.