Nintex versus Microsoft Flow and PowerApps

Image: The Nintex Platform Branded Header
By Tony Clegg on

Why Nintex?

Over the last few months I have been talking to customers about Process Automation and its benefits . The first question I am often challenged on is can we use Microsoft Flow and PowerApps for introducing Process Automation?  My answer is generally a question back. What do you want to automate and how complicated do you plan for it to be?

The reason for this is if you want to create a process in your team or organisation that triggers on an action happening then you could use the products that Microsoft offer in Flow and PowerApps.  But if you want to introduce Enterprise level automation and know what’s happening in your process then you need to look at what is available from Nintex.

Nintex provides detailed process analytics

If I am building my process then I probably want some analytics on its performance.  Do we have any delays in the approval process?  Can we gain any financial statistics from the process to drive improvements? Let’s say a simple expenses approval process. How long does it take on average to approve an expense?  What amount of money has been claimed this month by a project or user?  How often is this process used? This would be important to me and Nintex is far better placed to provide that information.  Workflow process and usage analytics will be key in understanding how much people are using your workflow environment. As well as how well key processes are performing.  Microsoft Flow does not make any of this information available or even have any options around doing this.

Image: Nintex Hawkeye Dashboard

Document generation

Another area where Nintex scores is automating document generation. I may have a sales process which results in an invoice being raised at the end.  We create a workflow which goes through approval, captures all the key information around the sale and then, through automation, places that information in a document template.  So, you define the template and the process automatically generates a targeted PDF invoice which it sends to the customer.  The document generation ability is an area Nintex has invested in as a core part of their product. Microsoft Flow even with third party support doesn’t have this option.

Electronics forms

Then lets consider forms we might want to add which captures our data in the process.  One option is to use Microsoft PowerApps but it isn’t the easiest tool for a business user to build a form.  Put Nintex Forms in front of a business user and straight away they can build a responsive design form, with a drag and drop designer. And it automatically works on mobile, tablet or desktop. Include some adoption and your business users can build simple logic into the form. And then integrate it into a modern SharePoint Online page with the included modern web part.  While Microsoft PowerApps is a service in Office 365 that also offers the ability to capture information for a process, it requires specialist or developer knowledge to build an effective form and then lacks some of the integration options found with Nintex.

Image: Nintex Form example

Process duration

While reviewing the documentation for Microsoft Flow its worth highlighting there is a 30-day timeout to the process.  So, if your process runs and doesn’t complete within the 30-day period then Microsoft Flow terminates the process.  Microsoft do have an answer to this in the form of Logic Apps in Microsoft Azure which runs for 12 months but this is a development platform requiring specialist knowledge and will form part of your Azure cost model.  Nintex doesn’t suffer from any limitation around duration and doesn’t require Microsoft Azure.

Workflow cloud

Nintex is no longer a tool that needs Microsoft Office 365 . Within the same plan you can build yourself an automated process in Workflow Cloud that integrates with Box, Salesforce, SAP and many other platforms, whilst always capturing analytics on how those processes are performing.  If you want to trigger a workflow from Salesforce that gets information from SAP then updates a site in SharePoint Online, Nintex is the best tool.

Image: Nintex Flow chart on PC Monitor

Summary

Microsoft Flow and PowerApps have their place in an organisation that has been licenced to use them and I have implemented some processes successfully with these tools.  They are tools which are improving and gradually catching up with Nintex.  But they are often trying to solve different problems. Flow is looking to transform individual productivity tasks while Nintex is aimed more at transforming organisational processes.  You can take the Logic Apps in Microsoft Azure route but that is putting an emphasis on developers rather than self-service by the business.

Intelligent Process Automation is changing rapidly and Nintex are looking at Machine Intelligence with natural language processes and machine learning.  If you’re looking at a cost-effective way to implement processes then Microsoft Flow may be your tool of choice but for enterprise wide processes across multiple systems then Nintex is a far more established tool.

If you’re interested to find out more, then Silversands is experienced in working with Microsoft Flow and PowerApps as a Gold Partner and are also working as a Nintex Partner. To contact us simply complete the form below.

Please be aware that we run regular workshops and webinars providing the latest updates and expert advice about Microsoft 365, Cloud and Hybrid IT and partner tools. We also post regular blogs so please do follow us.

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