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Microsoft

Personal productivity is essential to teamwork.  SharePoint lists and libraries have long allowed to you defined custom metadata columns to track dates.  As announced at Ignite 2018, we are releasing a new capability that lets you set reminders for any of these dates.  You’ll be able to receive a personal email alert ‘x’ days in advance of a date on any document or item in SharePoint.

 

Create a reminder flow

To create the reminder flow, your list or library should have at least one date/time column in the current view. You’ll then able to create a reminder by selecting the Flow->Set a reminder menu.

 Reminder1.png

 

 

You can enter the number of days in advance for the reminder, based on the selected date column.

 Reminder2.png


Based on your selection, you’ll get an email from Microsoft Flow for any items or documents ‘x’ days in advance of the selected data column value.

Reminder3.png

 

Once the flow is created, it can be edited from the Microsoft Flow website. You can modify “days in advance”, or add additional actions.

 

This feature is slated to begin rollout to Targeted Release on or about December 18, 2018.  If you’d like to try it in advance, you can see reminders in action on the Business Apps Resource Center.

 

As always, we are listening for feedback.  Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions.  Thanks.

22 Comments
Contributor

Does it give a capability to select users from the list/library columns for eg. sending reminder emails to created by or modified by or any other User field in the list/library? Instead of setting reminders per user this way it can send reminders to users from list column. This is similar to alerts on the list.

Senior Member

Wery good idea!

Occasional Contributor

Hi @Chris McNulty, this looks great.  

 

Will this flow be available and work for external guest user accounts?

 

Regards
Pete

Senior Member

Hello @Chris McNulty,

 

This looks great! Keep up the great work!

I do have a couple of questions.

1. Can anyone with Read Only permissions set up reminders in any list or document library (as long as there is a custom date/time column in that list/library)? 

2. Will these flows be created as “personal” Flows (listed under My Flows tab in the Microsoft Flow website)?

3. Will these flows count as “flow runs” against the Flows quota for the tenant?

4. What happens with these flows if the user creating the flow leaves the organization?

 

Kind regards,

Ovi.

Senior Member

Great feature. I also would like the ability to set reminders for other users.

Regular Visitor

We will want to set a reminder off of Modified Date.  Ideally we would send out a reminder when a page hasn't been modified in a year.

 

If I have 100 pages in a library and many of them get updated regularly, I would get this reminder notification for the pages that HAVEN'T been updated.  This will indicate that we may have some content that was missed or is no longer accurate.

Contributor

Great feature, looking forward to getting this. Can you only do this in lists with the modern design though, i.e. can you use it on Task lists?

Frequent Contributor

Are there the equivalent of generic accounts for flows? For example, using a generic account to email a distribution list a reminder? I don't want some of the flows dependent on a particular user?

Occasional Contributor

Is this feature available on all tenants?  I checked and I still don't see the option on my tenant.

Contributor

This is a pretty neat feature. 

 

I understand that this set in the context of the individual user and an individual item.

 

I'm pretty new to using Flow itself.

 

Is is there an ability configure a Flow (not the one referenced in this article obv) on a list to send a reminder to a group of users (e.g. Office 365 Group) related to ALL items in the list?

 

 

Regular Visitor

Doesn't appear to work.
he option appears under flow, it offers me a choice of my 3 date columns in my library but once I choose one nothing else happens. tried under chrome and edge.
Any thoughts?
(No error message)

Occasional Contributor

Hi Ian,

 

I had the same issue on one of my sites.   I tried creating a brand new modern team site and tried it again and it then worked fine.   I haven't dug any further to try and find out why it didn't work.   It might be worth creating another modern site and testing it on that to see if you have any better luck.   I'll try and dig further into why one site in particular of mine doesn't work.  It may be related to the site template that I used to generate it.

 

Regards

Pete

Occasional Contributor

Thanks, Pete. I think you are right, I have since confirmed that it works in another one of my tenants. Annoyingly, the document library in question is once with many added columns, validations, calculations and quite a number of files etc. Last time I tried moving a library to another site (which I guess is now the way to do things with hub sites) it was very clunky and muh work. I don't suppose this has improved - export/import type option.

 

IanC

Occasional Contributor

Glad to hear you made some progress Ian.   Regarding moving your list, you could take a look at the Office 365 Cli.   It's a great resource and the latest release v1.13.0 has some commands specifically around extracting list sitescripts and moving files. https://pnp.github.io/office365-cli/about/release-notes/ which might be helpful to you.

Pete

Occasional Contributor

So is it confirmed then that this only works on a modern site? 

 

This then is worthless to all but a very few of our sites most of which were migrated from on premise SharePoint 2013.

Contributor

A few things should be noted, that Microsoft really should clarify. In all these cases the Flows are created with each running dailycounting against your number of Flow runs.

 

First, it is not clear that making a selection of items/documents in a list/library is pointless. It does not create a reminder for specific items but all items that fit into the criteria you specify. For example, we have a list we use for tracking projects with many date columns for phases and milestones. Selecting to be reminded 1 day before the Phase 5 date will create a Flow that runs every day and will email on you listing all items with a Phase 5 date of the next day (1 day before). For the PMO who wants to get reminders for ALL projects this is a fairly handy tool, but I don't need to be reminded of every project when it hits that qualifying date! There is nothing on this page or the MS support document page that states this, but rather insinuates you can select an item and get a reminder - singular - for just that item when in actuality the action of "Set a reminder" is "Set reminders for all items." 

 

Secondly, if you do select an item and choose a date where the days before ends up in the past, nothing happens, but it still creates the Flow. I would think you should get some kind of message or email from the Flow that indicates you chose a date in the past. 

 

Lastly, and most annoying for the use-case we could use this in the most if we could select specific items, this does not work with calculated date columns, even though they will show up as a choice to set a reminder on. We have a calculated Next Milestone date that automatically changes which would be great to get reminders based on the items I select whenever they're close to the next milestone. The result - you will get an email immediately that just says "something failed" with the Flow created which will run every day (sending you the same error email) until you modify it to point to a standard date column or delete the Flow.

 

2019-03-15_11h36_34.png

I submitted a support ticket based on these findings and spend over an hour on the phone with the support engineer who went from agreeing with me these were issues to telling me they were "by design" and I should suggest changes via UserVoice (aka - the black hole unless hundreds search for the same thing and vote on it). He conveyed that the product team was working to fix the calculated column but still used the "by design" excuse, which is used far too often by every support engineer I've dealt with. It's highly frustrating to find issues and spend valuable time going over them only to be told it's by design and have the ticket closed. 

 

I would love to communicate this new feature to my users but we don't have any good use cases for setting reminders for all items in a list. I'm also afraid of how many Flows are being created that will run daily by curiosity on what it does. 

Visitor

I'm new to this discussion so please help. I have a few documents in SharePoint for DR purposes and these documents should be refreshed every 6 months. Is it possible for me to create and send a reminder to the end user community via email using Flow? If so, can someone please explain how I can do this? Thanks!

Frequent Contributor

@Shri Dana , you would need to check the "Recurrence" Flow.

 

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/flow/run-scheduled-tasks 

 

 

Visitor

Thanks @David Gorman Can we set up SharePoint links with MS Flow?

Regular Visitor

Hi. I read interesting developments in Flow in combination with reminders. I may have missed it, but is the following also possible? In a library we have a column action date and a column contacts (persons responsible) Can I also send reminders if the "action date" is approaching to the relevant contact persons? Thank you in advance for helping me out.

Contributor

@Jer Harwood you make some great points and hopefully they are addressed soon by Microsoft. 

 

In the mean time I wanted to share some workarounds that we have implemented.

 

One thing we do is we use a generic/service account to run the reminder Flow for our list. The account has to be licensed, but this setup allows us to administer the Flow instead of having users setup several of their own Flows. The flow still runs daily, but it is only one Flow for one service account running instead of several individual user Flows. We still encourage individuals to setup their own Flows when it makes sense for them, but for this scenario a single account running a Flow for all users is ideal. 

 

Next, we use the Set a Reminder Flow just as a starting point, then go into Microsoft Flow and customize it to add more conditions and actions as needed. For instance we can configure it to send reminders only for certain categories of items which are defined by a Category choice field in the list. 

 

We also have a "Subscribers/Users to Notify" field in our list. Users can edit an item and add themselves to this field if they want to be sent email reminders only for specific items. Our Flow is customized to read this field for each item and only send to the users in this field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contributor

@Kevin McKeown - I appreciate the suggestions and I also use a separate service account for creating our enterprise Flows that users can use or that run automatically on item changes. I could easily create the option for them as well like you described, but then our context isn't relevant to this built-in feature Microsoft has provided - as many of the comments are not related to this blog and should be posted in the general Flow community. Not to take away from the value of workarounds to accomplish a need, but I was simply stating that the published content describing this feature are a bit misleading and the feature might be quite annoying given the results of "reminding you" of every single item in the list that fits within the query every day that the user defined once. 

 

As a long-time veteran of SharePoint and Office 365 evolution it can be extremely frustrating how many things are released that either are broken, don't do what it appears it should do or cause issues depending on how you interact with it. It feels that every 2-3 weeks I'm putting in a support ticket with MS over a bug I've found only to be dismissed as "by design" and pointed over to the lost sea of User Voice to try and get it enough votes for it to be noticed and fixed.

 

I've been in this career for some time now and absolutely love so many aspects of it, which is why I'm in it, but Microsoft really needs to work better on the QA side of their 365 products before releasing them into the wild. It's the worst feeling to show users how great a feature or product is only to find bugs that require you to retract your recommendation for it until it's fixed in some unknown timeframe.