How to Replace SharePoint Workflows with Power Automate Flows

We now know that the rumours are true: Microsoft has announced the deprecation of SharePoint 2013 workflows. It’s been a long-time coming, and it’s why so many organisations have already begun to replace SharePoint workflows with Power Automate flows.

That’s where we come in. As Microsoft 365 experts, we knew there was a way to make this transition easier. So to help you through the process, we’ve created this comprehensive guide on how to replace SharePoint workflows with Power Automate flows.

But before we show you the how, let’s dive into the what – what is Power Automate, and how will it replace your existing SharePoint workflows?

What is Power Automate?

There’s a reason why there’s been such an organic transition to flows in Power Automate. It’s an intuitive platform that comes with a myriad of benefits.

  • It includes more logic options:
    • Apply to Each
    • Switch
    • Parallel branches
    • Conditions
    • Actions can be configured to run depending on the success of a preceding action. If you have a workflow that has multiple steps, and one fails, you can set alternate actions. For example, if a document fails to upload then a tangent action is triggered. Rather than waiting for client to tell you something has failed, Power Automate is transparent about what’s gone wrong.
    • Rather than creating tasks, Power Automate has an approvals connector. All of the incomplete approvals assigned to you are stored in one central spot.
  • Using the approvals connector, outcome options can be customised for each approval step (and just having one outcome is an option).
  • If an action does fail, the number of retries can be set.
  • Power Automate has a graphical interface with actions that can be renamed, or comments added to them.
  • Any issues or problems in the Flow are highlighted with suggestions to fix automatically as the Flow is being built.
  • Microsoft are releasing new features and actions to Power Automate all the time.
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The limitations of Power Automate

As with any system, there are some limitations: 

  • Run duration is limited to 30 days. Workflows that haven’t been completed within that window will time-out. 
  • Run history is only stored for 30 days. 
  • No more than 500 actions per Flow.
  • If a Flow only runs every 90 days (audits, performance reviews, etc.), Power Automate will switch it off then send an email to the Flow creator to inform them. The Flow can be turned back on.
  • Apply to Each actions cannot process more than 5000 items at once (free license). 
  • Apply to Each actions cannot process more than 10,000 items at once (Plan 1, Plan 2, and Per User licenses). 
  • 600 calls per connection to SharePoint. Find more details here. 
  • Flows are permission trimmed – if someone else needs to edit them, the Flow needs to be shared with them. 
  • Rather than a workflow history, Flows have a run history which can be reviewed. However, this is deleted after 30 days. 
  • Unlike tasks, approvals are only visible to the person they are assigned to – chasing up bottlenecks can be trickier. 
  • If you want to manage approvals via tasks, the supporting actions and Flows will need to be included to create the task and monitor the list to send reminders. 
  • Flows are not reusable but they can be copied, or a copy can be sent to a colleague.

Comparing SharePoint flows and Power Automate flows

We’re used to all the actions being SharePoint-focused, with everything we create based on SharePoint lists, libraries, and sites. Power Automate, on the other hand, not only connects to SharePoint but also Outlook, Teams, and Twitter – among others. 

What this means for your conversion to Power Automate is that some actions you want may not be listed with the SharePoint actions. For example, if your SharePoint designer workflow has the action ADD TIME TO DATE you would look under DateTime for the action GET FUTURE TIME. Luckily there are some common connector groups which will help in your migration from SharePoint classic workflow to modern Power Automate: 

  • Control: Logic actions such as switch, condition (if statement), or Apply to Each 
  • Approval: All actions relating to approvals (even enables approval from an email) 
  • Variable: All the actions relating to variables such as initialise a variable, append to string variable. 
  • DateTime: Date-related actions such as Add to Time or Subtract from Time 
  • Office 365 Outlook: Actions which relate to Outlook, such as ‘send an email’ or ‘get an attachment’. 
  • Mail: The connector only has one action – ‘send an email notification’, which is useful if you are not using Outlook 365. 

It’s a good time to review your workflows and see if Power Automate might offer you a new way to achieve your goals. The transition from SharePoint 2010 workflows to Power Automate can be fairly seamless. There’s no need to be scared of replacing SharePoint workflows. As leading solutions experts, we’ve built a conversion table to help you find the equivalent SharePoint action in Power Automate. 


Replacing SharePoint workflows

Here’s an action comparison between SharePoint Workflow and Power Automate:

SharePoint workflow action 

Power Automate action 

Create list item 

Create item 

Delete item 

Delete item 

Set field in current item 

Update item 

Update list item 

Update item 

Wait for event in list item 

Do Until (Control) 

Wait for Field change in current item 

Do until (Control) 

Check in item 

Check in file 

Check out item 

Check out file 

Copy document 

Copy file 

Copy folder 

Discard check out item 

Discard check out 

Translate document 


Add a comment 

Flow actions can have comments added to them 

Set workflow status 

PA does not have a workflow status, but could still update a column with the Flow status 

Set workflow variable 

PA has a collection of actions to do with variables: 

·         Initialise a variable 

·         Append to string 

·         Append to array 

·         Set variable 

·         Increment variable 

·         Decrement variable 

There is also a collection of build-in actions for data operations (e.g. create csv table, create HTML table, select, parse JSON etc.) 

Log to history list 

PA does not keep a workflow history list. Instead, it can log out to a list on the site to help track the actions of the Flow. 


You can also review Flow history and trace which actions the Flow ran and whether they were successful or not. This is deleted after 30 days 

Go to a stage 

Stages are not present in PA, instead the same behaviour can be achieved with a Switch statement inside a Do Until action 

Pause for duration 


Pause until date 

Delay until 

Add time to date 

Get future time 

Set time portion of date/time field 

Get future time 

Find interval between two dates 

Set a variable with an expression 

Do calculation 

There are a collection of expressions for calculations which can be used with the Set Variable action (add, subtract, divide – even a randomizer!) 

Trim string 

There is a trim expression which can be used with the Set Variable action 

Replace substring in string 

There is a replace expression which can be used with the Set Variable action 

Find Substring in String 

Extract Substring from End of String 

Extract Substring from Index of String 

Extract Substring from Start of String 

Extract Substring of String from index with Length 

All string manipulations can be done with expressions in the set variable action 

Build dictionary 

Count items in a dictionary 

Get an item from a dictionary 

PA has replaced dictionaries with arrays. These can be manipulated with the data operations actions 


Create CSV table 

Create HTML Table 

Filter array 


Parse JSON 


There also expressions which can be used with these actions to provide the functionality (and more) of SharePoint Designer workflows 

Start a task Process 

Assign a task 


Customisable approvals can be created using the Approval connector 


Alternatively, tasks can be created in a task list using the Create Item action 

Send an email 

Office 365 outlook ‘Send an email’ action 

The outlook email allows the Flow creator to determine the mailbox the email is sent from 

Call HTTP Web service 

Send an HTTP request to SharePoint can handle any HTTP web services call to the SharePoint environment (without messing around with authentication headers!) 


For all other API calls, the HTTP actions are required which are part of the premium plan 

If Statements 


Condition (under the Control connector) 

If/Else is not present, but the same functionality can be achieved with the control actions. 


Bonus actions for SharePoint in Power Automate

These are Power Automate actions which are not available in SharePoint Designer:

What it’s called 

What it does 

Add attachment 

Add an attachment to a list item 

Create new document set 

Creates a document set (folder with properties) within a library 

Create folder 

Creates a folder in a document library 

Create sharing link for a file or folder 

Creates a link that can be used to share a file or folder 

Set content approval status 

Sets the status of a document in a library as it moves through the approval process 

Get attachments 

Get a list of the content of all attachments for a list item 

Get changes for an item or file (properties only) 

If versioning is turned on, this will return information about columns that have changed within a given timeframe 

Grand access to an item or folder 

Grant access to an item or a folder in SharePoint to specific people 

Get files (properties only) 

Creates an array of the properties for all or a selection of files in a SharePoint library 

Get Items 

Creates an array of the items in a list 

List folder 

Returns the files in a specified SharePoint folder 

Move file 

Moves a file from one document library to another, even across sites or site collections 

Move folder 

Moves a folder from one document library to another, even across sites or site collections 

Resolve person 

Using a name or email, this searches for a matching user for use in a person column 

Send an HTTP request to SharePoint 

Sends an API call to SharePoint – no messing around with building dictionaries! 

Set hub site join status to pending 

Set the requested site’s hub join request status to pending 

Stop sharing an item or file 

Deletes all sharing links associated with a list item or file 

Delete attachment 

Deletes a specific attachment from a list item 

Extract folder 

Extracts an archive (e.g. .zip file) to a SharePoint folder 

Get all lists and libraries 

Creates an array of the lists and libraries for a site 

Get attachment content 

Extracts the content of an attachment from a list item 

Get file content 

Returns the content of a file from a SharePoint library 

Get file metadata 

Gets information about the file (size, created date, modified date etc.) 

Get folder metadata 

Gets information about the folder (size, created date, modified date etc.) 

Get list views 

Returns an array of the views on a particular list 

Get lists 

Creates an array of the lists for a site 

List root folder 

Returns information on the files in the root SharePoint folder 

Update file properties using AI builder model results 

Updates the values stored in library columns for a file analysed by a specified model 

Approve hub site join request 

Sets the hubs approval request to approved 

Generate document using Microsoft Syntax (preview) 

Create documents based on modern templates from Microsoft Syntex. This preview requires a Syntex license. 

Extract folder 

Extracts an archive file into a SharePoint folder 

Cancel hub site join request 

If a hub join request was submitted incorrectly, this cancels the request 

Join hub site 

With an approval token, this action adds a site to a hub site 

Set hub site join status to pending 

Updates a hub request status to ‘Pending’ 

Get started with replacing your SharePoint workflows

Now that we know for certain that 2013 workflows are being phased out, it’s time to start planning your transition.

It’s easy to see how Power Automate and other flow connections can meet your business needs. Have a look at your SharePoint Workflows and see if there are spots where Power Automate can slot in or identify points that can be streamlined as part of the conversion. 

Want some expert advice on transitioning from SharePoint flows to Power Automate? Chat to Propelle today.