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Fitz Shares 4 Takeaways About SharePoint Workflow

I was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series. I chatted with Josh Bland about SharePoint workflow, Nintex and next week’s SharePoint Technology Conference in Austin (Nintex is a diamond sponsor).

The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders. TechnologyAdvice is an Inc. 5000 company looking to help buyers find business intelligence software, data visualization systems, and more.

In this episode, Josh Bland and I discussed a few of the biggest trends, challenges, and solutions with SharePoint workflow today.

Below are four key takeaways about SharePoint workflow, Nintex and SPTechCon from our recent conversation.

1.  The biggest trend right now for SharePoint workflow is that it gets more interesting and more valuable when it’s not about one product.

If you look at SharePoint, it has some rudimentary workflows built in. Salesforce.com has a couple of different built-in workflow systems. SAP, the same thing.

Pick any of a number of different cloud offerings or service offerings and they usually have a little bit of automation attached to them, but that automation is usually inward-focused. That’s really limiting.

Aside from it not necessarily being easy and powerful, it’s also very limiting because the magic happens when you connect Office 365 to Salesforce and maybe to Marketo for marketing automation and a bunch of other things.

2.  The really inspired business processes that do new and magical work usually involve cross-product processes.

This is probably one of the biggest points. Everyone cares about being easy. Everyone cares about being powerful. But making that cross-product process an easily created and easily modified and easily adapted – and easily understood – thing, that’s certainly what we’re focusing a large amount of our energies on right now.

You can see it on a limited basis, with a single-purpose focus, in products like IFTTT or maybe Zapier, and on a team/corporate-wide basis at Nintex. But it’s not like other people won’t get this too, which is why it’s safe to call it a trend as opposed to just something Nintex is focused on. Nintex is doing a great job with it, mind you, but it’s a genuine industry trend.

3.  It’s an ever-present challenge to figure out what kinds of building blocks or LEGO bricks people want to connect together in this industry.

If you’re building a SharePoint workflow inside of Nintex, anything with an API using REST or SOAP or SQL or something like that, we can reach that, but to do that, you need to think like a developer and understand APIs. Your average citizen developer doesn’t, probably never will and maybe never should.

But if we create ready-to-use LEGO bricks, if you would, that just say, “Snap this in and you can talk to Oracle Financials,”

OK, now we’ve got something.

Figuring out which specific APIs we should be exposing as reusable building blocks, that’s part of the present challenge. And also figuring out at every single moment how we can make it easier. We define easy in a very specific way when it comes to SharePoint workflow.

When we at Nintex make something easy, we don’t take away your choices or your options. We take away the amount of time it takes to get something done. In other words, we strive to offer the right defaults at least 80% of the time, so that most of the time you just click, click, click and you’re done. But, those 20% scenarios where you do need something that’s a little weird, a little hard, a little interesting, all those options are still there.

Being easy is hard. It’s worth it, though.

4.  We like SPTechCon for a couple of reasons, both as human beings and as members of the SharePoint community.

I love the focus on education. I love the focus on an audience of practitioners. It’s not people presenting to themselves to impress each other with their knowledge; it’s people presenting useful knowledge to people that need it the most and can use it right away.

I love the TechCon for that.

It happens to attract some of the best speakers in the industry – that’s also a big plus. As an exhibitor, Nintex gets a lot of traffic at our booth; a lot of great conversations take place there. Generally speaking, it’s a well-attended event, well attended by a wide cross-section of people, but I’d say the emphasis on education and practicality are what make it special.


If you’re attending SPTechCon in Austin, stop by Booth #600 for a demo and don’t miss Nintex Director of Enterprise Partners and Alliances Steve Porter’s keynote on Tuesday, Feb. 23. And you can learn more about SharePoint workflow on our website.


Click here to get your free 30-day trial of the entire Nintex Workflow Platform. 



Mike Fitzmaurice

Vice President of Workflow Technology Mike “Fitz” Fitzmaurice is Nintex's subject matter expert and chief spokesperson for workflow, business transformation, and technology evangelism. Before Nintex, he spent 11 years at Microsoft, and was involved with every version of SharePoint from pre-2001 through the 2010 release. His expertise includes process automation, integration, collaboration, and a lot of other “ation”s. Follow @mikefitz on Twitter.

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