Tips for Designing Workflows in Nintex Workflow Cloud®

I was pleased to present at Nintex xchange 2018 last month to provide conference attendees with an update on Nintex Workflow Cloud, including the latest features and best practices for successful automation.

Since our launch of Nintex Workflow Cloud, there have been thousands of workflows designed and published. During my session at Nintex xchange, I provided an update on what we’ve seen, heard, and learned from our users when it comes to using our cloud-first, no code platform.

Designing Workflows in the Cloud: Top Four Tips

1.  Prime Your Tenant

First things first, you’ll want to get some of the basic tenant settings configured within Nintex Workflow Cloud:

  • Invite other workflow designers and participants who would be executing workflows.
  • Select the Connectors that your organization uses so that the workflow toolbox shows only the Connectors you care about.
  • Set the default file location. This is required when using specific actions in the workflow and the form upload control when designing a form.
  • Set the workflow error alert notification.

It only takes a couple of minutes to configure the basic settings for your tenant but it will ensure a smoother experience when designing and running your workflows.

2.  Design Your Workflow

The two most popular ways to design workflows are ‘build as you go’, and ‘getting all requirements up front and then building.’

There is no right or wrong approach when it comes to building workflows. It is largely dependent on the process, the process owner, and the people interacting with it. My recommendation is a hybrid approach to get the big picture of what the process is, which helps you understand how you could optimize the process. You can then identify parts of the process where you want to rapidly build and run, and involve end users early on.

As you build your workflow, give the workflow actions meaningful names and identify parts of the workflow you could potentially group by using an Action Set. This makes the workflow readable and maintainable. You may need to come back to the workflow in the future or someone else might be tasked with making updates to the workflow. It’s common to forget, but if you’ve described your workflow, it’s easy to pick up where you left off.

We constantly hear from our customers and partners how easy it was to use the workflow designer. The designer makes it simple to create and adjust (“chop and change”) the workflow. The smart use of variables also compounds this notion of easy-to-design and maintain. Variables allow you to create placeholders in your workflows where the variable is substituted with a value at runtime.

Therefore, take advantage of setting a variable’s default value rather than hardcoding values into action configurations where possible. Create an Approver variable and set the approver’s email as the default value, rather than putting the email address directly within the Express Approval’s action configuration.

Think about reusability – are there parts of the workflow that can be turned into its own workflow from which other users could benefit when building workflows? The parts of the workflow you’ve grouped using an Action Set would be the first place to look when trying to identify reusability. If you do find reusable sub-workflows, you then have the option of converting the workflow into its own action via Xtensions®, or simply using “Call a workflow” action. The options are available – the advantage to do it via Xtensions® is that the workflow can be represented as its own action in the toolbox ensuring greater discoverability.

3.  Run Your Workflow

Run your workflow before publishing it – even more so if you’re making an update to an already-published workflow. And with our new capability, designers will have the ability to run their workflow directly within the workflow designer. This will provide a better experience when building out your workflows. You can run the workflow, track progress, and move tasks forward – all from within the Run workflow console.

This will ensure that the workflow is ready to go immediately after publishing rather than publishing the workflow multiple times.

4.  Be Curious about the Workflow You’ve Built

Lastly, when designing your workflow, think about what success looks like if the workflow achieved its purpose. What questions do you need to be answered about your process?

Add Nintex Analytics Beacons early in the design phase of your workflow to improve your process intelligence. Are there process specific data you want to capture in your workflow? For example, for contract approvals, you might want to capture the amount, frequency of approvals, or number of rework for certain type of contracts.

You can only optimize and improve the workflow when you understand and have clarity of what’s going on in the process.


Hopefully, you find what I’ve shared above provides a framework and guidance when designing workflows in Nintex Workflow Cloud.

For more details, contact a Nintex representative today, or message me directly. If you have suggestions or ideas on how we can improve your experience designing workflows in Nintex Workflow Cloud, visit Nintex UserVoice.

Joshua Tan

Joshua is the Director, Product Management based in Melbourne, where he leads the product management efforts across the Nintex automation platform. He has over 10 years of experience in defining and building products. Enjoys the occasional recipe experimentation during his free time.

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