What are Workflow Applications?

Workflow applications are tools that make certain business processes easier, more efficient and more accessible through automation. They are desktop-based, tablet or mobile platforms that monitor and facilitate known workflows (series of related steps that make up a given process).

These applications remove manual steps and help move the process along, allowing users to focus on the core steps that require certain levels of user interaction.

What Do Workflow Applications Do?

Workflow applications create a logical structure or path for a process to follow in a repeatable manner. The goal of the application is to automate or shorten the steps in a process, giving the user more time to do other things without interruption.

There are many types of workflow applications, but they all serve to make people more productive and make work easier in some way.

How Do They Work?

Workflow applications are driven by two key concepts: simplicity and repeatability.

Simplicity

Workflow applications follow the rules that the user specifies to perform a certain step. Simply speaking, if A happens, then B will happen as a result. You may have heard of If-this-then-that (IFTTT) –an application that allows you to stitch simplified logic together to perform a targeted process.

Using the IFTTT example above, you could create an application that, when you receive an email containing a specific keyword, such as “Emergency” (IF THIS), it will send a text message to your phone (THEN THAT).

Applications allow you to do many things with a process, and each application has its own set of rules and processing logic to help you automate some steps within its boundaries. The goal of the application is to perform a set of steps as simply as possible so that they can be repeated as efficiently as possible.

If you use Gmail or Outlook, have bought anything from eBay or Amazon, or used your phone to purchase from a store with Samsung Pay or Apple Pay, then you’ve interacted with multiple types of workflow applications. The more complex the logic process, the more complex the application needs to be to support the many rules and possibilities.

An application that clearly illustrates this concept is Mailchimp. Mailchimp is an e-mail marketing platform that makes it easier for businesses to connect with consumers. Mailchimp gives businesses the option to automatically send welcome emails to new subscribers, or send purchase reminders to consumers who leave the website with items still in their cart.

If a reader clicks “subscribe” (A), Mailchimp will send them an e-mail (B). If a customer leaves the website with items in their cart (A), Mailchimp will send them a reminder e-mail to come back later and keep shopping (B).

Some platforms, such as Nintex Workflow, make it easier for users to create their own workflows by using low-code or no-code processes and existing templates. The drag-and-drop function removes the need for any level of coding which enables the regular business-level user to construct their own workflows, rather than relying on a developer to build them. This doesn’t mean that developers can’t use such a platform; in fact, it helps make certain aspects of coding repeatable without needing to program and create classes or sub-classes over and over again.

Repeatability

Speaking of repeatability, one of the main purposes of a workflow application is to make it simpler for users to implement and manage the processes that they want to automate. One way to help make the implementation simpler is by giving users templates or pre-configured processes that can be reused to solve specific needs.

With Nintex, the drag-and-drop function also allows you to re-use existing steps from other workflows that you have already made to easily copy and paste into the new process. This is especially important for longer processes that are made up of a bunch of smaller processes, such as employee onboarding.

The benefit of this platform is quite simple: set up the process once, and use it as many times as you need. This saves time and effort in the long run. Once you set up a process once, it will continue to run on its own, and you can continue to use these tools to make similar workflows.

Not only can companies reuse templates that they have made, Nintex Xchange is a place where users can share their templates with others and use templates that other users have made. No need to reinvent the wheel.

 

Set up a free trial and start automating your processes today.

Eric Harris

Nintex Technology Partner Evangelist Eric Harris is a technology enthusiast at heart and loves solving problems. He enjoys working with Nintex and helping people understand how to better automate processes. Follow him on Twitter @EHarris04