Overall Satisfaction with Nintex Workflow
Nintex Workflow is used throughout our company for many different purposes, from managing document approval processes to exporting list data to Excel. We have over 300 workflows in use in SharePoint 2007 and 2013. As a SharePoint farm administrator, I use Nintex Workflow to manage our site request/creation process and our SharePoint 2007 to 2013 migration process. The beauty of Nintex Workflow is that it empowers our users to address their own business problems in the way that best suits their needs, with only training support from the web services team.
- Nintex Workflow's UI is far easier to use than SharePoint Designer's UI. You can drag and drop actions to where you want them, move them around, copy them...all in a very intuitive way.
- SharePoint Designer workflows are linear, which is too inflexible for many of our business process. Nintex Workflow's looping, parallel actions and state machine allow for a very dynamic workflow that can do far more work for you in a single workflow. I particularly like the state machine, which allows you to go forwards and backwards or even jump around in a process based on user responses.
- With Nintex Workflow, you can query lists for items that match specific criteria then loop through those items to perform actions on them. This workflow can then be scheduled to run at specific times, automating many of the tasks you now do manually. For example, we have document libraries where the documents have expiration dates. We wrote a workflow to alert the owner that the document was going to expire at 180, 90 and 30 days from the expiration date. This workflow runs nightly.
- Nintex Workflow integration actions extend the workflows outside of the site collection. You can use web service calls to interact with lists and libraries in other SharePoint site collections, even in different web applications or farms. You can query Active Directory to get more user information. You can even make direct SQL calls to bring in more data.
- We use SharePoint on premises, including Nintex Workflow. Nintex has it's own databases to store the workflows. This has some disadvantages, two of which can be serious issues. First, workflows can become disassociated with their lists, make them useless. Second, in migration, backup/restore and data recovery scenarios, having to deal with two databases complicates things. I'd like to see the workflows stored with the site collection database or have on premises Nintex Workflow servers, like Office Web Apps or SharePoint 2013 workflow.
- The error messages log to the worfklow history can be less than helpful, in many cases. It would be very helpful to have those provide more detail as to why an error occurred in a step. I find that I have to add a bunch of email notifications to the workflow as I develop it to track where things are going wrong.
- A minor irritant is that the 2013 version doesn't handle the SharePoint 2013 changes to the format of various variable types. People and Group columns in a claims environment, for example, have odd values (i:0#.w|contoso\chris) that I end up having to write regular expressions to clean up so they work in other actions. It would be nice if Nintex Workflow was more aware of that. I am a bit behind in updates, so this may have already been improved.
- Increased employee efficiency by automating many processes.
- Improved accountability. User can be assigned auditable tasks, which can have reminders and escalations to keep the process moving. Workflow history tracks the basic status of the process and you can also create audit entires in standard SharePoint lists for longer term retention.
K2 runs on it's own server, which means you generally don't have to worry about migrations, upgrades and things like that. It also has more design UI options - you can use the browser, Visual Studio, or other desktop tools. I believe K2 has a more powerful platform, but Nintex provided the better value for the cost.
If the goal is to provide end users with an easy to use but powerful workflow tool that can be designed through the web, this is the tool for you. It has some performance limitations when it comes to querying large lists, so if you tend to run lists with more than 10,000 items in them, this may not be the best choice. If you want to do heavy integration with internal systems, you'd most likely have to rely on the web services action, which can be slow over http, so, again, you may want to select a different product or develop Visual Studio workflows.