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  • Writer's pictureGavin Jones

Microsoft Lists For Task Management

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

If you are struggling with reminders and recurrence of tasks in Microsoft Lists, then this is the video for you!

In this tutorial, we take a look at using Power Automate to help make Microsoft Lists for Task Management (in SharePoint, as the option is not there in Teams) usable by adding reminders and recurring tasks with automation

This is the third in the series in using Microsoft Lists for Task Management, if you have not seen part 1 yet, then go watch that first and/or part 2

If you're following on from the last video on how to make Microsoft Lists more useful, then you're in the right place. If you haven't seen this video yet, then probably best to go and check that one out first. This one's following on from that one, where last time we looked at how to make Lists more useful using some of the functionalities that are within Lists about notifications. And in this video, we're gonna look at how to use Power Automate for recurrence and reminders using Lists as our task or project management app of choice. So click the subscribe button and the bell icon if you haven't already. Got new videos on Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams coming out every Tuesday. Why listen to me? Well, I am the founder of MeeTime. We help organizations with modern workplace transformations using Microsoft 365 to save people hours per person per week. If you're interested in doing the same and working together, then stick around to the end for some details about how to do that. But for now, let's finish off having a look at Lists and Power Automate.

So the bit we need Power Automate for, then, is to remind someone that their task's due. So maybe we set them a task and it's got like nine months to go. We've assigned them, they've got a notification that they've been assigned a task, and then we've never followed them up. So then all of that is manual. And that's the bit that PlanIt does really well in chasing people for you that's missing when we come on to use Lists. Actually, the benefit of Lists is that we can have a lot more bespoke columns and stuff we would need to keep track of. So in this example, they've got another column saying Risk, so we can keep track and filter on, you know, the riskier items that we want to manage, that we couldn't do that easily in PlanIt, although there are some fields we could use, like labels and things. But what PlanIt does really well is follow people up, but which Lists doesn't do out of the box. So that's where we need to jump into Power Automate, and we can do that a couple of ways. You can either click on Integrate and then go into Power Automate, Create a Flow, and then we get some ideas. We can show more. And there isn't really many things that are gonna do what we want to do, which is a little bit surprising considering this, you know, it's a quite basic functionality we want to do. We're just gonna jump out into Power Automate proper. Should make that a little bigger for you. And we're gonna create one from scratch. Gonna do it as a schedule cloud flow, just to make the logic a bit easier. So we'll call this Recurrence 2, 'cause I already made one. We're gonna run it every Monday morning at 7 AM, whenever, and we're going to repeat it every week on a Monday. Because we're looking at monthly sort of cadence of documents, it makes the logic a bit easier when we're doing Power Automate. So every time this runs, it's gonna look for things that aren't completed that are due within the next 30 days, and then email the people that are responsible for those tasks. If we have the cadence a lot shorter than that, they'd get an email every day. It's like, well, I'm working on it. Why do you keep bothering me? It's 'cause the recurrence is set too quickly. So if you do want to follow someone up every day, you can set it to every day. But know they're gonna get pinged every day until they complete it. And you could have a couple of these, so one that's notify them every week when it's 30 days out, and one that's notify them every day once it's a week out or something like that. So you could combine these. And we're gonna create that. So we got the recurrence. We're gonna do a new step, which is SharePoint, Get Items.

So we just need to pull back the items before we can do anything with them. We are going to go in the Testing Team for YouTube. The list name is Test List for Maria. And what we're gonna do is click on Show Advanced Options, and we need to filter the query. 'Cause otherwise we're gonna send, we're gonna use the entire list and it's gonna go through every single item on the list and ping everybody on the list, even if stuff isn't due and it's already been closed. So we need to filter stuff that has been closed, using a view that we've already created. Doesn't actually filter the table for us, so we need to do the filter query. So I've already done some Googling and found that we can hit to type in due date is less than or equal to, and we need to use the apostrophe because otherwise it breaks. If you miss this bit out, it's very frustrating and you can't see why it works. It doesn't tell you why it's not worked. And then we need to add in the expression. We're gonna add days, right it pops up, we're gonna use that one. ETC now, and then we're gonna add 30 days onto that and we're gonna go, year, year, year, year, month, month, day, day. And hopefully we've got all the apostrophes and the brackets all sorted. So that's gonna say the due date's less than or equal to today plus 30 days, same as we did in the view, but this is the sort of code version of it. Add that in, remember the second apostrophe in there, and then we just need, and status is not equal to closed. Let me just type that in. So hopefully that gives you some idea about what you might need in there to filter the query, if you're not used to that sort of thing. And then the notification we're gonna use for ease in this example is then just go and send someone an email. So we do New Step, want to use Outlook, Office 365 Outlook, send an email, V2. So when we go and put in who we wanted to send the email to and add dynamic content, we're gonna pick the Assigned To Email from the list that we've just got. And as soon as we click that, it's gonna wrap in in a Apply to Each sort of wrapper for us. So what that means is it's gonna get the items, but filter down to just the list of ones that aren't closed and are due in the next 30 days, or ones that we've missed. And then this Apply to Each is gonna step through every single list item, one by one, and then send an email every time it finds someone in that list. So there are some more complicated ways where we can just find out all the tasks that are due to somebody, create some HTML, and then put that in the email so they just get one email. For the purposes of our use, to make it simple, we're just gonna get one email every time there's a list item there that's due. So subject, so we can then pick out some more dynamic content so we can say Title is Due Soon. And that's gonna pick out the title from the list item, and then we can put whatever we want in the body. But for now, I'm just gonna put the title and link to item so that at least someone can get back to it from the email.

So that's all we need to do. Then we just click Save, and that's good to go. I'm not gonna save it, 'cause I've already got one that's set up. So I don't want to have two things running. And then the last bit of automation that we need to make this really work is that when an item is modified, 'cause otherwise it'll create an infinite loop if we do it with a created, then if the conditions that the status is equal to closed or completed, then we'll create a new task that's copied the one before, with the next due date on. So to do that, we're gonna click back on Create. I'm not saving it, so that's okay. And this one's an automated cloud flow. So it's on SharePoint, when an item or file is modified, so that's what we want, create, we will pick our Testing Team for YouTube, Test List for Maria, and that's all we need in that step. We need a condition that the status, status value we want, because it's the value of that column we want, is equal to closed. So if it's not equal to closed, then it's just remain, just do nothing. So we're gonna do nothing there. But then if it is closed, so it's only triggering when it's been modified, and we know that if it's been modified and then it's closed we're then gonna create something else. You need to be again mindful of the logic. If you modify something else on a closed record, it's going to duplicate it for you. So there's a bit of business rules that we need to think about in training so we don't go and change anything that's closed. That's pretty unlikely in our scenario, so we can get away with something a bit simpler when we come on to do the automation. If people are gonna likely to change stuff that's closed, you need more logic to say whether you do or don't want to recreate that task. So this is when we're completing a task that's say monthly, we then want it to create another task for us that's the same task, but the next month on. And because we've got a choice column to say how often things are due, then we can use a switch to then sort of do that logic for us. So if it is equal to closed and it's just been modified, so we've just completed that task, we're then gonna use switch, and the switch is on the frequency value. And so we need to type this exactly as it's in our choice. So if it equals monthly, we're gonna do something else, if it is quarterly, and if it's semi-annually, we're gonna do something slightly different in each of those cases. So it's gonna look for this frequency value, and then if it's equal to one of these, it's gonna do the thing we're gonna say underneath. So we need to make sure these are typed exactly correctly, otherwise it's not gonna work. So the thing that we are gonna do in each case is create a new item. So I want to go into SharePoint and Create Item. I want to create an item in the Testing Team for YouTube and the Test List for Maria. The title we're gonna pick from the other title. So it's gonna copy the one that we've just closed, assigned to, we're gonna pick assigned to, link to file is the same link to file in this instance. But if it's different for you, then it's different for you. And then due date, we are gonna add a function, or an expression rather. So we're gonna do add days, trigger outputs, question mark, square brackets, we need an apostrophe, body slash due date. And then outside the square brackets, two dash 30, comma, year, year, year, year, month, month, day, day. Oh, I've put bossy, that's not good. Body. I don't know code. If you don't know code, just try and Google it and copy someone else's code, which is exactly what I did for this bit. This seemed to work. I tried lots of other different things, and someone very helpfully put this on the internet. So thank you, whoever that was. I can't remember, but thank you. And if it was you, let me know in the comments below.

Frequency value, we're gonna set to monthly, 'cause we know it's in the monthly bucket. It's gonna stay monthly. And the status value, want to put back to open, and the risk value we want to be the same as it was before. So we're gonna pick dynamic content and search for risk, risk value. So that's how we're doing that one. We do the same thing for the other two. So quarterly, we're going to add 90 days. Semiannually gonna add 180 days, or whatever a half year is. And then that's all we're gonna do. We just recreate it, and that's the end of the flow. So we just click Save, and then it's all done. Now we come back into those Lists. If we have come into this test request one, so ID number seven, and we say, yeah, we're overdue, but we've now closed that one, saves it, that one that has changed to closed. In the background, that Power Automate should now be running to create us a new task. So if we click, if we wait a little bit and click Refresh, we should see this one disappearing, 'cause it's now closed, and that should then go off our view, and we should see another one pop in there. Okay, so the Power Automate is now fired up and then we've got another couple, cause I did one. So now we've got two more new task requests that were number seven and nine, and now created number 10 and 11. And we can see that's added on another month to those dates that we had before. So making Power Automate a lot more useful. If I get assigned a task, it's gonna notify me. If someone changes the task and changes the assignment, it's gonna notify me, and I'm gonna get reminded when the due date's coming up, all via email. And I'm also gonna create another task with recurring tasks. And when I make it closed, it's then gonna create another task for me. So hopefully you've seen how to make Lists a lot more useful. If you want to know more, and want to work together to do stuff like this, then we've got a variety of options on working together now. In the comments below, just popped some links to how to get into touch, but probably best to link up on LinkedIn if you're interested. If you want to do some Teams training, there's a link in the description below to help you do that. And if you want to know how to structure everything, then one of our prerecorded webinars is linked below as well. If you're in the food and beverage industry, then we do some live webinars, and the best place to link up for that is on LinkedIn. If you haven't already clicked the Subscribe button and the bell icon to get notified every time a new video comes out, we've got a new one coming out every Tuesday. And if you liked this video, remember to give it a thumbs up before you leave. It really does help the algorithm and help us on YouTube. If you really liked it, consider it buying me a beer using the link in the description below. It would just help support the channel and keep new content coming out for free. So thanks very much for watching so far, and we'll see you in the next video.

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