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Alternative GAL - SharePoint List to Outlook Contact

Hello fellow FLOWeenies (yes, it's a term of endearment),


My apologies (in advance) if this sounds obnoxious and/or unprofessional, but I type this with the utmost level of professionalistic frustration and ask you hold your thoughts/responses until this ride comes to a complete stop.  :0)


It seems like there might never come a day when Microsoft's GAL will play nicely with smartphones (at least the Apple and Andriod devices I'm tasked with supporting). It's been posted across the internetz something like a bagillion times and either many of us that submit to and follow such interests are continually left "in the dark" OR maybe we refuse to (or can't) spend $$$ on something that seems rather elementary. While I hold no ill-will towards Microsoft regarding THIS particular situation, I hope and pray that maybe someone, somewhere (could it be here, with FLOW?) knows how to solve this puzzle.


BACKSTORY: Information contained within the GAL doesn't cross-contaminate a smartphone's contact list, making it extremely problematic when an employee/colleague contacts another using his/her home, mobile, DiD, grandmother's number. Outbound identifcation isn't much of a problem, although it's not perfect, however inbound is one very hot mess...Caller ID, addresses (Google/Bing mapping), alternative means of contact (social networking) simply don't work as desired.


OPTIONS: Many workarounds and solutions have been offered/proposed throughout the years, but most of those workarounds have major flaws/drawbacks. I've even read on the internetz (it must be true, eh?) that some of these pay for "solutions" have drawbacks as well (i.e., some require the existence of PUBLIC FOLDERS). W...wh...wha...what!?!!?!


While I could simply walk people through copying our GAL to their Contacts list, this works most (some) of the time. People forget things all the time (I do too) -- in this case, they forget to occasionally update their Contacts or, in the best case scenario, they forget how to do it. In the end, it's never a good time to ask the IT weenie how to do this when it's 5 minutes before leaving for the weekend or said IT weenie is in the middle of a catastrophe, yet getting Joe's contact information is much more important than any server outage could ever be. 


MY SITUATION (backwoods solution):

I've created a SharePoint (Online) List that includes many columns with such critical information (names, phones, addresses, spouses, child(ren), Twitter, Facebook, etc.). With the help of a template I found on FLOW, I aim to set this little doohicky up and automate the task of keeping everyone's Outlook Contact list "up-to-date" with such information. It seems like it could work quite well, however I've run into a few bumps and I'm hoping someone here (I am simply/truly not a "flow" kinda guy) can help me further my great experience.


1) This template I'm using throws an error if I don't include the employee's email address in the flow (should the entry from the SPO list not already exist within the Outlook Contact list, it gets created).


Why is this a problem? That's a good question - so glad you asked. As I continually deal with the fallout from those who manually "copy the GAL" (infrequently at best) to their Contacts list, it occured to me that, in terms of address books and resolution, the entries within the Contact list could take priority over the GAL's email address. In typical IT fashion, I can no longer count the times (without a calculator) someone has appraoched me with the good ole, "I can't send an email to Joey" and have it turn out to be caused by said entry having a malformed (or additional) email address. Of these times, I would guesstimate 40% of the errors are not errors at all -- the communication was sent to Joey's personal email address.


The point of the GAL is to maintain an accurate, up-to-date record of all employee contact records and circumventing it using this process is not much better than absolute failure. It is not a matter of IF, but WHEN that comes crashing down. The best part of the GAL (to everyone using it), is that it's READ ONLY.


The good news in this is the FLOW runs 1x/day and, as part of the "update" process, proceeds to remove the associated "work" email address the next time it runs, thereby eliminating this problem. But I'm a glass half-empty kinda IT person and something tells me "we can do better". Running 1x/day (just like the offline GAL) means it will take 48 hours for this to "correct" itself.


2) While this FLOW (its triggers and actions) is rather vanilla, my level of comprehension limits me from modifying, err, adding to it -- some things I'd like to include don't appear to exist (on the surface anyways).


a) Spouse/Partner -- maybe I'm missing the boat here, but the field does exist within the Outlook Contact, but it's not included as a field to import (if that's the proper term) within the UPDATE CONTACT action in FLOW. Maybe I can accomplish this goal by creating my own action, but again, I'm not blessed with the time or ability to attempt this...struggling and failure is not a good use of my time, especially if someone else has already figured this out.


b) While on the subject, is there a way to add other non-existent fields to the Outlook Contact? In other words, I know one can design a custom "contact" form within Outlook and provide it to others within the organization, but in doing so, can the CREATE CONTACT and UPDATE CONTACT be modified to allow/include such information? Per my "critical information" listed above, I'd like to include the names of said employee's child(ren). We are a small  company (30+/- employees) and when I say we're family, I'm not joking.


3) Last, but not least, what are my options for getting this FLOW deployed to everyone in the company? I realize this can be "packaged", but I'm curious if there's a way (of course there is people...there's always a way) to push this out or deploy it to everyone in the company (i.e., powershell?) without getting anyone/everyone involved. It would be great if this sort of thing just "happens".


Again, I apologize if this message/post comes across as heavy (if you knew me, you'd recognize the comedic sarcasm in everything I do), but (a) I'm at the end of this rope and (b) I'm 110% sure someone out there can help me tie it (save me from myself).


I anxiously await any/all constructive advice/criticism...I'ma man and can take it.

Community Support
Community Support

Hi @laughey,


Could you share a screenshot of your flow? How is it created?

What do you mean by “some things I'd like to include don't appear to exist”? Do you mean some actions or some fields that you want to use don’t appear?

Do you want to include Spouse/Partner in the contact when using Update Contact action? Currently there is no field for Spouse/Partner, I would suggest you submit a request on Flow Ideas Forum at here:

I am afraid that custom fields in Office 365 Outlook contact have not been supported yet, please vote the similar idea at here:

If you want everyone in your organization to be able to use Microsoft Flow, they should have a submission of flow. Then you create the flow and share it with your co-workers. Please check this doc for more details:

Please feel free post back if you need more help.


Best regards,


Community Support Team _ Mabel Mao
If this post helps, then please consider Accept it as the solution to help the other members find it more quickly.

Hey, @laughey!

Thank you for posting on the Flow Community Forum! It appears as though @v-yamao-msft would like some more information in order to further assist you properly with your issue. Please share any additional information that was requested in order to decrease the amount of time that it will take for you to be assisted!

Thank you for being an active member of the Flow Community!

Flow Community Manager

- Gabriel
Community Manager
Power Automate | Power Virtual Agents
Super User Program Manager

Hi Mabel, thank you fro your feedback (and sorry it took so long to get back - one man IT dept).


I appreciate the suggestions to submit "ideas" -- I keep forgetting that such a platform exists -- I am in the process of doing so.


As of the moment, I believe I have worked out all of the kinks with the Flow I have...maybe I wasn't specific enough in my first entry, but I was hoping someone might get a chuckle in my frustration and point me to a better or more robust solution. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that my quest for GAL-to-smartphone contacts is an issue for most (all).


At this point, my 2 biggest issues (questions) are:


1) Getting this FLOW to each employee of the organization (without involving them). Not as much of an end-user thing as it is an admin thing. I'll keep digging...surely there must be a way to do this...PowerShell? Magic? Prayer?


2) Figuring out how to "delete" entries within a user's contact list that no longer appear in the SharePoint list.

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