Attended and unattended scenarios

With any of the automation methods you use, the automation is going to be either attended or unattended.

Unattended and attended.

Diagram showing a person sitting at a computer unaware of the unattended automation running alongside, and another diagram showing several people sitting at computers that each have attended automation running on demand.

Attended (human-initiated) scenarios In these scenarios, the automation is executed when users are in front of their computers. This is suitable when you want to automate tasks and processes at an individual level. The automation is often triggered manually whenever the user wants to run it. The process might require human interaction or decisions between steps.

Unattended (fully automated) scenarios In these scenarios, a designated computer or a server is set up to run the automation on behalf of a user. The whole automation process is run fully by Power Automate, and no interaction or decision is made by a human (with the exception of approval flows, in which the person doing the approving is considered to be technically a "third party" to the automation). The automation process can be triggered automatically from another system or service, or on a schedule.

The following table summarizes the two types of automation scenarios.

Attended Unattended
Requires human interaction or decisions No human interaction or decisions required
Manually triggered Automatically triggered
Sign-in isn't required because the automation assumes that the system is already signed in. Windows Sign-in is automated with predefined user credentials

You can use a combination of attended and unattended automation in your solution.

In the expense report example, the approval process can be automated with unattended automation. The cash reimbursement process might be better suited to attended automation, because Abhay might want to check the details of the bank transaction as a final confirmation.

Business process that shows a combination of attended and unattended scenarios.

Diagram showing a business process flow with multiple people involved, where emailing approval results and archiving expense reports are unattended automations, and looking up employees' banking details reimbursing cash are attended automations.