November 9th, 2018 • BPM
The good news is that we live in a world where automated tools are at your fingertips. No longer just the domain of the seasoned developer, you can now use automation tools without needing to know a line of code.
The bad news is there are so many process automation tools out there, it’s hard to know where to start.
Process automation is one of the easiest technologies to use that can also have a huge impact on how your business runs. What used to take days of coding now can be built very simply in a matter of minutes.
But deciding on which process automation tool to use can be a headache. Should you just close your eyes and pick the first one you come across?
While a lot of process automation tools offer similar functionality, they are often geared toward a different audience or different technology stacks.
Check the core functionality. Every process automation tool will be able to automate basic processes. However, the key will be what additional features you need. Conditional logic? Deep integrations? Advanced reporting? Access to the source code? CSS editing?
Technology stack. There are some options out there that are only for Microsoft shops. They may have a few offerings outside of this, but it will be hard to make the transition. Conversely, something like KiSSFLOW plugs in easily with G Suite, unlike other options. You’ll also need to look around to find if you want a cloud or on-premise option.
Pricing. There’s actually quite a big difference between providers. The most affordable options are around $9-15/user/month. Then, there’s a group at about $30/user/month. Some of the more exclusive options can get even higher than that. What’s the difference? Sometimes nothing, but there may be something about those more expensive options that you desperately need and it makes sense to go with them.
Free trials. Most vendors will offer a free trial, but there may be some strings attached. While some will let you in with just an email address, others will want to do an in-depth personal call to make sure you are worth their time. There are also a few options that have free versions of the product you can run indefinitely for limited team members to get a feel for how it works.
User interface. Some of these options were built back before Facebook or American Idol were a thing. Their products have improved a lot, but redesigning the UI for an old tool is an expensive endeavor and many are unwilling to invest into it. Plus, workflows and processes are so highly visual that even with modern tools, you can get the UI/UX wrong. So, choosing one that has a modern and understandable layout speaks volumes about how invested the vendor is in the future.
Comindware is one of those options that is used exclusively by Microsoft shops. It has great functionality and is pretty easy to use, despite a bit of a dated UI. Those who fit its use case love it and will stick with it. There’s no native mobile app, so approving requests on the go is a bit tricky, but the desktop version is very easy to navigate. Pricing is usually in that middle tier of around $30/user/month, so it’s not a cheap option.
KiSSFLOW is a web-based process automation tool, so it doesn’t matter what OS your systems use. However, being cloud-based, it is perfectly suited for G Suite due to its easy user sync features and quick actions in Gmail.
Kissflow offers multiple pricing options based on your business size and requirements.It comes with built-in collaboration and project management. Find the pricing plans here. KiSSFLOW’s strength is how easy it is to use for any business user, regardless of their technical background.
It has great reporting tools, but some other options have superior templates that make displaying data easier.
K2 is an option used mostly by enterprises in the Microsoft world. It’s probably the most sophisticated tool out there for Microsoft, but because it has to compete with Nintex and SharePoint, it’s often very complicated to know how and where to use it along with other tools.
K2 has very good technology and it is pretty open and transparent in terms of how to see what’s going on. But, it’s also on the more expensive side and will require a specialist to really know how to run it to its potential. However, a K2 developer isn’t easy to find, despite being such a great tool.
Process Street is the most basic option on this list, but it functions really well for what it does. Think of Process Street more as really sophisticated checklists as opposed to high-powered workflows. Process Street gives really good, responsive support and is ready to help you with whatever you need. However, there’s no native mobile app, so approvals on the go are harder to come by.
Process Street is one of the few process automation tools to provide a completely free option for automating up to 5 workflows among 5 people. However, they price jumps up to $30/user/month if you want basic features like conditional logic.
Tallyfy is a newer entry among process automation tools and has a flashy UI to support it. Processes flow pretty smoothly and is a good tool for small and medium businesses looking to streamline some of their basic processes.
However, like Process Street, they really make you pay for additional services like analytics and decision trees, with the price climbing up to $30/user/month. They also do not provide any readymade templates for common processes unlike most of the other options.
Pipefy is another newer entry, but is still a solid choice for process automation. They also provide a free plan if you have only a limited number of users and processes. Pipefy uses “pipes” to talk about its workflows, which may make sense in its own context, but doesn’t really fit with any other product. The mobile app is one of the better options out there with a nice sleek design.
Where Pipefy is weak is with documentation and support. The product is good for basic to mildly complex workflows, but you’ll need a lot of help getting to the next level.
Nintex has been the staple choice for enterprise Microsoft SharePoint users for a long time. It’s impressively easier than trying to create workflows in SharePoint, and is even simple enough that a regular business user could make something basic without much help. However, for serious workflows, you’ll need to have a dedicated builder on the platform.
Of course, the price is pretty high, but if you are dedicated to a Microsoft platform, you won’t find too much of a difference between Nintex and K2.
There’s a lot that goes into picking the right process automation tool. Certain options may look perfect, but you won’t discover if they are the real deal until you try it out yourself. Spend time in a few different products to learn the ins and outs and decide how much money you want to spend.
With the lowest barrier to entry, KiSSFLOW is a great way to set a baseline and compare other tools. Try a free 30-day trial today!
* - Based on usage requirements