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:
First, I want to point out that I lead a large Portals and Collaboration (SharePoint) practice at DevFacto and we are a Nintex Platinum partner, but that said, I am not driven by sales here, I am driven by a piece of software that can make your life and SharePoint solution better.
Nintex is a company, not a product, and in reality Nintex offers several products, but when SharePoint people (like me) talk about “Nintex” they are usually referring to two products (Workflow and Forms) that are often bundled together as a BPM solution for SharePoint. These are the products I am going to examine and demonstrate how you can gain value and save money in their use.
What does Nintex do that SharePoint doesn’t?
This is a question I get a lot, while the answer was simple, it has recently changed. I used to say that Nintex doesn’t do anything you can’t already do with SharePoint, but now I have to say it doesn’t do a lot more, though it has some key additional functionality when it comes to integration. While SharePoint offers extensive workflow capabilities out of the box, you need to be a developer or employ a developer to leverage it. Out of the Box (OOTB) SharePoint needs either SharePoint Designer or Visual Studio to create anything but the basic workflows in the platform, while the workflow development tools are there, unless you know C# you likely won’t be creating workflows anytime soon.
Nintex changes all of that and takes what is a programming interface in SharePoint and makes it a graphical interface, adding in all of the parts that take a lot of effort to program, like auditing, tracking, and performance monitoring. The first advantage this gives is that it allows developers to mentor power users in the creation and maintenance of their own workflows. It also allows your developers to reduce the time required to create a workflow by a factor of three (from my experience) and finally, everyone can see the workflow and each step as it executes, tracking the time for each step, the decisions made, and auditing each step in real time.
Until recently I would have said that forms provide a ‘nicer’ interface than the Microsoft tools (InfoPath) as well as an easier way to brand your forms consistently. However, since Microsoft announced the deprecation of InfoPath, Nintex Forms no longer has a Microsoft equivalent for comparison, making it and other third party tools a requirement if you want to customize the form user experience.
Ok, so how can we calculate ROI?
To keep things simple, I will first go through my basic mathematical assumptions and a rough (overestimated) cost for Nintex (Forms and Workflow). Then, you will see where the break-even point will be:
Nintex Cost $15000 USD per Web Front End (WFE) = C You have two WFE Servers (for load balancing and redundancy) = S The average C# workflow will cost $10,000 (from my experience it is usually more) to develop = W Nintex Reduces your development by a factor of 2 (as mentioned above, my development team has typically realized a factor of 3) = f We will not account for the value added by Forms or by Power Users who learn to develop workflows.
Note that by overestimating the cost Nintex, underestimating the cost of a C# workflow, and underestimating the factor of improvement, we achieve a worst-case scenario of six business processes before you begin saving money. In reality, most of my clients realize a positive ROI between creating three and four workflows. So in conclusion, I suppose the question to you is: How many workflows do you have that could be automated and is there any advantage to them being automated?