At Dapt we've been keen to get our hands on rules in Microsoft Lists since it was first announced last year. It's now available in our demo tenant (targeted release), so we wanted to do a quick blog post to show you what to expect.
Previous options before we had rules
In the past, if you wanted to be notified about changes to a SharePoint or Microsoft Lists you had 2 options:
Create an alert
This is the option we have had the longest. It allows you to set up basic email alerts based on activity in an entire list. It doesn't however provide any granularity at the row or column level to control why notifications get sent.
It's pretty basic and hasn't changed in years. If anything it is slowly being shuffled out of sight and is now only visible by clicking on the 3 dots in the list menu.
Create a Power Automate Flow
This option provides the most flexibility and allows the author to build everything from a simple notification through to complex, multiple condition-based alerts.
See our recent Power Automate trigger conditions blog post for a working example.
Power Automate can however be intimidating for some users. Unless they can find a ready to go template, they may struggle to design one from scratch without assistance.
Where do list rules fit in?
Based on our initial play with rules in Microsoft Lists, we think it sits nicely between the two existing options listed above.
Creating and editing rules is easy enough for anyone to pick up and you also have much more control compared to the existing alerts functionality.
There are 4 different rule triggers as shown in the image below.
The most interesting of the options is to notify someone when a column value changes as it allows you to add specific conditions based on the value of a column. For this reason, we put together a quick demo using this trigger as an example.
For this demo, we used a list created in a previous blog which is used to track issues on a project.
In this scenario, we want to notify a project manager if progress on a project has been blocked for any reason.
1. Click on the Automate drop-down in the menu above the list and then select the option to Create a rule
2. Select the column you want to apply the rule to, specify the condition and the value. You can then chose who to send the email to.
As you can see above, for our demo we are sending an email alert to the Project Manager when Progress has been changed to Blocked.
Rules are a quick and easy way to set up condition-based notifications on your lists. It's a fairly basic feature at the moment but as with most things in Microsoft 365, we expect it to have a healthy road map and grow in functionality going forward.
It would be great to be able to build multiple conditions into one rule and also schedule notifications but I'm sure things like this will come in the future.
Rules should help to persuade a few more of your users to move away from Excel and start using Microsoft Lists to enhance your business processes.
Have a play with it and let us know how you got on!