Any list of the best SharePoint add-ons has to include Nintex for workflow automation. Nintex Forms in particular works so well that Microsoft has announced they’re phasing out InfoPath, the form design kit that comes with the platform, because compared with tools like Nintex it’s just too hard to use. Scott Walsh, one of our SharePoint Architects at Aptera, recently put on a webinar in which he demonstrated some of Nintex’s capabilities. After entering information into a ready-made form, he then opened a SharePoint site to show where the information had been stored as the workflow was kicked off. Walsh then went to Power BI in Office 365 where he pulled up bar graphs and maps representing the data he’d just entered. To get an automated process like this up and running with SharePoint Designer would probably take weeks or months of developer hours.
Referring to one of the demo workflows he created that takes information from a form, moves it into SharePoint, and then allows you to analyze it with Power BI, Walsh says:
“To build out the list took me about an hour to put the column there. To build out the form, I really just loaded up a Nintex form, which defaults to fields that are already there, and I deleted a few of the fields and added some cascading dropdowns and things like that—which was just a few minutes. And then I clicked Mobile Form so it would provide me one for the mobile app. I hit publish and it was instantly available.”
Nintex Forms is especially handy from a cost-saving perspective because building similar types of mobile apps from scratch could easily take months-worth of developer hours and cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. Instead of doing all the work on the back-end to connect the form to all the necessary information and workflows, with Forms you start with layouts for different types of device and use dropdown options and drag and drop tools to create a front-end that can automatically access various parts of the platform.
Newly Announced Features
And Nintex is still adding features. Last month, the company announced a set of updates to the workflow and forms tools. They’ll be demonstrating the new capabilities at Microsoft Ignite this week, but here’s a quick preview:
Lazy Approval: Normally, when you get an email alert that an item in a workflow needs your attention, you have to sign into Office 365—or whatever other workflow application you’re using—and either approve the document or request changes. But with Lazy Approval you can simply respond to the email notification with “yes” or “no”, “approve” or “reject,” whichever terms you set it up to recognize.
Geolocation: You can let the app access your device’s GPS so it can automatically fill in the latitude and longitude of your location, eliminating one of the steps in completing a form to enter data.
Barcode Scanning: If you’re Nintex mobile form includes fields about a product, you can now enter the item code automatically with a quick scan.
Cascading Lookups: This is a way to complete more of the form during setup so users don’t have to spend as much time filling it out. Cascading Lookups connect you to the item lists that are relevant to your context, filtering out those that don’t apply. Choosing an item in one field on a form automatically filters the choices you’ll be presented with in a dropdown box for a dependent field. So, for instance, if you choose Spain for “Country,” then the items you see in the “City” field will be limited to cities in Spain, making the form much easier to complete.
You may be reluctant to purchase yet another product after you’ve already invested in SharePoint. But when Forrester Research surveyed businesses who used the add-on they found that the 3-year risk-adjusted ROI was 176%. Seeing how easy Nintex makes it to build forms and set up automated processes, it’s easy to see why. If you’re interested in checking out the demos, just click on the rocket link below.
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