Nintex - A worthwhile Goliath sized solution, but not without an Achilles heel
Updated December 23, 2015

Nintex - A worthwhile Goliath sized solution, but not without an Achilles heel

Matthew Greene | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version

Nintex Workflow for Sharepoint

Overall Satisfaction with Nintex Workflow

Nintex is a very powerful tool for improved workflow capabilities within SharePoint, but at the same time some key weaknesses must be taken into account before making a large purchase like this (will cover what these are a little later). Having implement the installation and use of Nintex for multiple clients in various industries (HealthCare, Architecture, State Agencies, etc) the general application and use surpasses anything SharePoint can provide out of the box.
  • SharePoint 2013 workflows made some big improvements to match some of the capabilities Nintex has had since it's 2010 version, but in a head to head Nintex wins by a landslide in flexibility and ease of use. It's a workflow platform that can be used from nearly all skill levels, which means an enterprise deployment is not bottle-necked to a select number of "experts" to maintain all workflows. In smaller department deployments it only becomes that much easier from a governance perspective. Visual workflow building is a huge benefit in a technology world where most things are pure code. This provides a lot of flexibility in designing workflows.
  • Nintex also has the great functionality of exportation and importation. This allows a developer to build out workflows in one environment (dev) and import into another (production) after testing and quality assurance has passed. No more rebuilding workflows!
  • In addition, Nintex has a large number of workflow actions that SharePoint (2010) workflows do not include out of the box. Things like web service calls, XML parsing and string building, collection building (think arrays or dictionaries) and list querying! The list goes on and on. Adding additional custom actions is rather easy as well, and there is a large number of supported 3rd party actions out there (such as muhimbi PDF Converter).
  • Site collection settings for workflows allow for one stop shops of managing things like; error notifications, workflow history purging, reporting, and workflow constants (such as a service account accessible for use by end users in their workflows, but restricted enough to prevent the mass spread of username and password across the organization).
  • Nintex is not without its faults and limitations. One of the largest is it's workflow logging. Every single action in a workflow is stored in a database. This is good in theory, but can cause very large problems in practice if Nintex is being used in an organization that runs thousands of complex workflows everyday. The database can very quickly inflate and take up a LOT of disk space. To make matters worst, there is no quick way to clear the database or disable this functionality. Luckily there is a "purge workflow history" option in site collection settings, but remembering to have to periodically purge can be a burden. This comes off as a large limitation to me because the larger the deployment, and the more Nintex is used, the bigger a problem this will become. No company will enjoy having their "wings" clipped like this.
  • Another limitation is in how slow some default actions can take. One action that has great potential but falls flat on implementation is the Stages action. This action allows you to build out different stages within a workflow, and transfer between them based on decisions within the workflow. This has been a great use when building out custom iterative and dynamic feedback or approval workflows, but it can be so slow in triggering! According to my research, the timer jobs related to the action has a number of faults that can cause large pauses between switching stages. I've seen these pauses last anywhere from 5 minutes, to 3 days! This has resulted in having to completely remove stages from a number of workflows, and made development a lot more difficult to figure out. Very unfortunate that such a great feature has such a major flaw. I'm still waiting for a fix on this one...
  • Nintex has helped me build out full end to end processes for clients that would not be possible out of the box with SharePoint 2010 without custom code. Better yet, it made handing it off to a team of individuals easy due to it's ease of use.
  • Paired with Nintex forms, a lot of dynamic functionality becomes available. On the downside Nintex forms is not as well build out as Nintex Workflows. Better than Infopath, but still...
  • SharePoint Workflows
The most obvious comparison would be Nintex versus SharePoint workflows. Typically, Nintex will win hands down. But at a high price point, it can often times be a purchase where the ROI is minimal in the end. SharePoint 2013 has a lot of improvements compared to 2010, and the separation between functionality shrinks a great deal, making the decision even harder. I would pick Nintex Workflows over SharePoint 2010 workflows any day of the week, and have had a number of very happy customers, but SharePoint 2013 vs Nintex requires some detailed evaluation before decision making.
As mentioned, Nintex works best in a small to medium sized deployment, or in a deployment where very high use (1000+ workflows a day) is not needed. The biggest limitation to Nintex grows the more the product is used on a daily basis.

In addition, Nintex is a good fit if the following is true;
  • SharePoint out of the box workflows cannot do what they need (SharePoint 2013 has a lot of the same features now)
  • There is a need for a large population of end users to be able to build workflows visually.
If either of these cases are true, and the first item mentioned is not a limitation, then Nintex can be a very valuable tool for your organization.

Using Nintex Workflow

Even with the limitations of Nintex the functionality and capabilities are strong enough to make this tool a great addition to your arsenal. With clever development close to anything is possible, and I've yet to have a customer believe it was not worth the price point. No product is perfect, and that includes Nintex, but that shouldn't scare you away from considering it for organization.

Nintex Workflow Implementation

Change management was a major issue with the implementation

Nintex Workflow Training

Nintex Workflow Support

Nintex Workflow Reliability

This product works well as you scale business processes but there is a point where things become too complex. Administratively it scales fine, number of users is no problem, and since Nintex relies on the build in SharePoint workflow manager, it falls under the same scalability perimeters. Business Process complexity is the limiter for scalability within Nintex.