Planning and Mapping a Process with Nintex Promapp

“If a process hasn’t been documented, how can you know if it’s broken?”

Why should you document your processes? Simply put, process documentation is a core function that’s needed to understand your business. Being able to identify an area of a process that can save time, money and improve effectiveness is extremely valuable to any organization. It can make all the difference between a business that operates on the verge of burnout and one that is successful and growing in a sustainable manner.

At its most basic, documenting a process is an opportunity to capture and identify the critical elements of a process often described as the 5Ws:

  • What needs be done?
  • Who will do it?
  • Where will it be done?
  • When will it be done?
  • Why should it be done?

This straightforward analysis helps us understand the reasoning behind the process and recognize all the steps involved. However, documentation alone is not enough. In order to be truly useful to the business, we need to clearly communicate the flow of tasks and activities with others. Process maps do a great job of doing just that. Because humans are visual learners, we find it a lot easier to understand concepts when they are laid out in easy to follow diagrams. With process maps, we can explain even the most complex processes in a way that’s accessible to everyone. Once  we can see and understand our processes, we can begin to improve them in a meaningful way.

Choosing a process mapping method that’s right for you

There is no one right method of mapping a process. In fact, the method you select for process mapping should depend on the needs of your team and your project. In most cases, a whiteboard is a great starting place for processes that are new or haven’t yet been clearly documented.

While whiteboards are extremely helpful in the early stages of mapping processes, they aren’t exactly ideal for remote collaboration. A centralized process mapping solution such as Nintex Promapp can help you empower your teams to own their processes in a truly collaborative fashion.

One of the reasons why we love Promapp, is because it allows you to make process mapping fully digital. What does that mean in practice? For starters, it makes it easy to continuously improve processes. Because the tool is centrally managed and can be accessed from anywhere, it helps to get everyone in your organization on the same page. Any stakeholder in your organization, be it a member of the process or someone who is affected by it, can access the Promapp-built process to provide feedback about any of the tasks or activities. By combining maps with an actionable feedback loop, you can continuously adjust processes in a truly agile fashion. When a process changes, the process expert and process owner approve the change and automatically push the updated map to all stakeholders. This takes the trouble of version control completely out of the equation.

Benefits of Process Mapping with Promapp

After going through process mapping with Promapp, clients we work with report at least some of these benefits:

  1. Improved customer experience. Accurate processes that are easy to understand ensure the best possible customer experience, no matter who is serving the customer.
  2. Increased efficiency and productivity. Teams that have a visual representation of a process are better at understanding how the process works. They are also quicker to identify improvements to increase efficiency and productivity.
  3. Simplified compliance management. Regulatory compliance becomes less tedious when processes and procedures can be easily updated and shared with external auditors.
  4. Improved quality and consistency. Mapping processes establishes ownership and accountability. Knowing who is responsible, empowers teams to identify and implement opportunities for improvement in their day-to-day work.
  5. Reduced Costs. Current, standardized processes make it easier to identify areas in your business where you’re wasting time or money, or where processes are repeated.
  6. Increased business agility. Driving change in your business is easier and faster when everyone has accurate, up-to-date process information at their fingertips.

ProMapp Process Mapping Demo

In this short video we demonstrate how easy it is to create a process map in ProMapp:

Interactive ProMapp Demo

You can also view the interactive demo version of this Promapp process by clicking on the image below:

Promapp Process map Demonstration

Why use Microsoft Flow?

When the name “Microsoft Flow” gets brought up in a conversation, the typical response I hear is “Oh, the automated workflow tool released by Microsoft! It looks great, but I’ll wait a couple of years to see how it matures before using it for business process automation.”

Quite often, I see that that because Microsoft Flow is still fairly new by enterprise software standards, many customers will shy away from it because they believe it’s too raw to be used as a production level solution. Although it is true that Flow is a new player in the workflow automation space, nevertheless it can deliver significant value to anyone looking to get started with business process automation. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of the tool.

Benefits of Microsoft Flow

Ease of Use

One of the biggest advantages of Flow is that it is incredibly easy to use. Flow was designed for non-developers, so even someone without technical background can use it to create workflows. The simplicity of the tool and the small learning curve are a definite advantage over other process automation applications.

Lots of Connectors!

Microsoft Flow has hundreds of connectors that can be used to connect to data from many different sources right out of the box. Large collection of easy to use, pre-built connectors makes integrations with third party applications, such as Slack or Dropbox, a breeze.

Microsoft Flow Connectors

Microsoft Flow comes with over 250 ready-to-use connectors

Creating Custom Connectors

Another benefit of Flow is the ability to create custom connectors with the same straightforward no-code approach. All that’s required is understanding what the API of the application that you want to integrate with Microsoft Flow looks like. In other words, the connector just needs to tell Flow what the API is and which requests and responses they support. The process for creating a custom connector is as simple as creating workflow in Flow.

Weaknesses of Microsoft Flow

Before implementing Flow, it’s worthwhile to consider the limitations of the tool.

Latency

One of the main weaknesses of Flow is its latency. Very complex workflows used when designing a webpage or program can significantly affect performance especially if conditions and actions are left open.

Another issue with latency is the time it takes for the flow to trigger. Depending on the subscription plan, it could take up to 15 minutes for a single flow to complete. Microsoft Flow is an attractive tool because it is bundled with Microsoft Office 365. The most basic version of Flow comes without an added cost, making it easy to get started. However, many users don’t realize that there is a difference in flow frequency times between the available plans. The free Flow plan has a maximum flow frequency of 15 minutes while the next tier has a maximum flow frequency of only 5 minutes!

Microsoft Flow Pricing Plans 2019

2019 Microsoft Flow Plan Comparison Chart

Permissions

In Flow, it isn’t possible to set/change permissions on a SharePoint item without the usage of a web service or a third-party connector. Currently, there is no out of the box Microsoft solution available which is a serious limitation of the product.

Creator Based

Flows are creator based. Since the creator of the flow is the one doing the action, the actions will be attributed to them. This might cause issues depending on what is the goal of the flow. To illustrate this, let’s consider setting up a flow to send an email from an alias. Since the workflow is based on the creator of the flow, then a person who has access to that email alias MUST be the one to create the flow.

Is Flow right for you?

As you can see, despite its limitations, Flow is still a strong business process automation tool that might serve well in your organization. When deciding if Flow is the right solution for you, it is worthwhile to consider the complexity of workflows you are hoping to build. For example, fairly simple workflows that can utilize basic out of the box connectors in Flow, are an excellent candidate for the Microsoft tool. However, processes that apply complex workflow logic might require more powerful tools better suited for complex tasks. For more information on workflow tools and getting started with business process automation, be sure to check out our resources.

Intelligent Process Automation – Webinar Recap

Municipalities and ministries are no stranger to paper-based manual processes; processes that are often prone to delays, errors and other inefficiencies. Sound familiar?

Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever to automate these and create a more efficient and effective system for everyone.

We invite you to view our recent webinar hosted by DevFacto consultant, Julian Charles, which presents a unique case-study approach to automation for municipalities and ministries. See first-hand how Nintex’s Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) platform can be used to easily create an automated, more efficient business process.

The Case: Automating the Property Tax Rebate Application Process at Harrington County

Harrington County (a fictional municipality) was utilizing a paper-based process by which citizens could apply for a refund on their pre-paid property taxes. The original process was manual and was prone to delays and errors in processing. As part of a county-wide initiative to transform, Harrington County leveraged the Nintex IPA platform to recreate the process as a dynamic, responsive web-form; automating this and other similar processes quickly and easily.

See Harrington’s Public Form here.

About Nintex

Nintex specializes in solutions for municipalities and government ministries, including:

  • RFP Processes
  • Inventory Management
  • Safety Inspections
  • Incident reporting
  • Public-Facing Forms
  • Mobile-Worker Forms
  • Leave Requests
  • Employee On-boarding and Termination

The Nintex Workflow Platform provides you with powerful digital workflow and content automation capabilities. Turn time-consuming tasks into a few simple clicks, and inefficient department-wide processes into well-run engines. We give you the ability to do more:

  • The advanced workflow engine provides enterprise logic to drive sophisticated processes.
  • Gain visibility with process intelligence to make better decisions and optimize processes.
  • Modern and responsive forms are easy to build and deploy often improving web interfaces with the public.
  • Dynamically create documents based on metadata that is collected.
  • Design, deploy and manage mobile app solutions for staff or the community with just a few clicks.
  • Make your Nintex Forms Mobile with offline capabilities

 

Lessons from Nintex xchange 2018 Pt. 1: Introducing the New Era of Intelligent Process Automation

By Julian Charles, Solution Architect

As shared in our previous blog post, DevFacto was recently in attendance as a sponsor at Nintex xchange 2018 in San Diego. The conference was a great opportunity to network within the Nintex community and it provided a unique perspective into how these thought-leaders are using the platform to automate processes across a number of industries. Read more

DevFacto to Sponsor Nintex xchange 2018

From February 26 to 28, a few lucky DevFactonians will travel to San Diego, California to participate in Nintex xchange 2018. DevFacto is proud to not only be a key sponsor of this event, but also to be Western Canada’s only Nintex Premiere Partner. Getting involved with an event like xchange further solidifies Read more

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In my previous blog post ECM Governance – Part Five, I mentioned that I should post about Nintex and discuss how to determine an ROI for the purchase. So, let’s dive right in and talk about Nintex:  Read more

Nintex – Replacing a Decision Control with Save and Submit Buttons on a Flexi Task

If you’ve got a Flexi Task that has non-standard outcomes (or more than 2) and you want to replace the Decision Control with buttons that submit the form and sets an outcome, you can do so with just a little bit of configuration and JQuery. Read more