How Nintex has Boosted Our Productivity

Understanding a return on investment can drive excitement through the organization about recent purchases, trainings, etc. Throughout my everyday work I don’t take much time to think about Nintex’s overall value to our organization, I just love working on the product and building. As an organization we have benefitted quite well from deploying the O365 Suite.

I sat down and busted out some numbers to give you an idea of what you can gain – in terms of the numbers.

To give you an idea of our organization:
– Approximately 400 employees – currently 85 are heavy Nintex automation users.
– 14 Departments – including Health Clinic, Court, Police, and Education.
– 5,500 citizens are serviced by the government to some capacity

To give you an idea of our SharePoint O365 Environment:
– Publishing Sites are all interconnected – all employees have capacity to some sort of information about each department
– All departments are provided with a team site to keep department centric content.
– All boards, committees, councils, and commissions have access to team workspaces in SharePoint
– Special project management groups utilize SharePoint
– Full automation has only been provided to 1 council

To give you an idea about our Nintex deployment:
– 25 Workflows and Forms
– 1/2 of these are complex processes – meaning multiple process brought together via site workflows.

To give you an idea of our current employee feelings on automation:
– Human Resources, Education, and Finance has been a large champions of the digital transformation.
– Current backlog of processes in need of automation is approximately 6 months out.
Here’s a numerical break down of our current processes:

Savings Per Request YTD
# of Requests Per Month 200
Cost per Request – for manual processing – average set based on time, cost of paper, and manual storage. $75.00
Total Cost Per Month $15,000.00
Total Annual Costs $180,000.00
Annual Savings – Reduction of employee time by 60% per transaction $135,000.00
Initial Nintex Investment $26,514.90
ROI on Requests 409.16%
Process Cost Savings YTD
# of Requests a Month 200
Average Minutes per Request 30
Total Minutes/Month 6000
Total Hours/Month 100
Average Labor Cost/Hour: For person(s) processing requests $25.00
Total Labor Cost/Month $2,500.00
Annual Labor Costs $30,000.00
Annual Savings $22,500
Productivity Gains YTD
Avg. Hourly Wage $35.00
Min. Productivity Gain(%): Estimate of time saved per employee through process automation. 5
Productivity Gain/Hour $1.75
Estimated Hours/Week 40
Productivity Gain/Week $70
Estimated Work Weeks/year 45
Productivity Gain/Year $3150
# of Employees Utilizing Currently 85
Total Productivity Gain/Year $267,750.00
FTE Saved YTD on 85 employees^ 4.4625
^ We are a nonprofit organization so our goal is give our employees more time to advocate for citizens. The savings of 4 FTE currently relates to departmental directors and mission critical employees having more time to coach front line employees on duties.

Setting up Team Sites and Publishing Sites.

When I’m approached and asked to just “spin up a site” I stop and ask my end users a few questions. Many users may find themselves confused about what they are looking for. I find it difficult to also shut down someone’s enthusiasm to use SharePoint.  It takes some time to work through your end users wishes. I’ll include in my post these questions I like to ask, which I will follow with my rational for asking.

What do you envision on your new site?
Starting out with this question is going to quickly knock off people actually looking for a library. If they respond with “See we’ve noticed that we have X items, and they no longer fit in Y library.” They need a new library. If people are finding there area such as OneDrive or a library becoming cluttered with similar documents… they probably need a library.
Now when your approached with a rational… If they respond with “Well have decided that our three programs have become very large, and we’d like to see them in specialized areas so they can have calendars, contact lists, and placed to put X,Y,Z documents so it is organized to meet ABC organization’s reporting needs.”  You may need to investigate this need even deeper. A new sub site could be in their future depending on planning.

How do you see permissions on your new site? Who needs access to this information?
Understanding the rational behind permission an individual is looking to find may be a great way to direct them to look at one drive. If someone starts talking about “Well, I share this document with Joe, and only Joe needs it.”  This may be a great bridge to asking “Is this document important to the organization as a whole, if you and Joe were no longer with us?”
Depending on how the answer this second question… it could be this item is just something Joe and this person works on to add (copy/paste) to another report. At this point I’d advise Joe and company to consider keeping this one off on the One Drive for Business.  Now, if his answer is different and he starts explain the use, and who receives it, and who accomplishes what with this information we may need to look into a document library or a workflow possibility.

After receiving this bit of information I ask the requestor to grant me the time to assess the needs to see if we are looking at a bigger information architecture or business process issue. This time could include taking the liberty to ask other departments about their current interaction with this information. Taking time to investigate needs will lead towards a better information architecture.

Planning for next year’s project? Listen to your end users.

It’s that time of the year again, strategic planning.

Personally, I enjoy this time of the year. The organization as a whole gets to join together and talk through goals, needs, and pain points. Hopefully this isn’t the moment when you are beginning to gather your project ideas. If it is, that’s okay just get caught up, you don’t want your budget needs to be overlooked. In this article I’m going to outline some tips for picking up on your end users needs throughout the year, and during your strategic planning as well.

Spend Time In Various Departments

I am guilty just as much as the next person. It’s human nature to be attracted to departments that make you laugh, has great discussions, or just provides the most snacks. Other departments may be the quiet few that slip from your radar, these departments still have great input into your enterprise system development.

Grant yourself time every quarter to make house-calls. Larger organization may have many branches or buildings, go visit your colleagues. This time doesn’t need to be spent on technology projects, but just a visit. There is no need to for you to schedule a meeting, or find a room. Just stop into their space, watch how they are working, and ask questions. Here’s a couple great questions to get the conversation going?

  • How do you like working in your team site?
  • Is there anything your having trouble finding?
  • Is there any information you’d like to see added?
    • Leave this one open ended.. it could be metadata, libraries, custom lists, who knows…

Attend outside of work organization functions

Networking with your colleagues and peers outside of work is a great opportunity for them to begin opening up to you about their dreams of an ideal workplace. I’m not saying go out and become friends with your entire organization, but make an effort to step out of the office to do networking during off hours. Individuals that may be afraid of voicing opinions around management staff could lend great ideas to an organizational wide project. Remember, knowledge workers that are on the front line are going to use SharePoint much more than senior level staff.

My job is boring…”

Hopefully you don’t think your job is boring! End users have a tendency of down talking what it is they do on a daily basis. End users that are either afraid of change or hating talking will tell you “My job is boring…” or “I don’t really do anything that important…” peers like these will typically be your technology fence sitters. Getting to know these end users better may produce large quantities of processes that are currently inefficient, making their lives easier may free them up to learn other job roles that they may not consider to be so booorrring.

End Users may throw the line out that their job is boring, or that they don't do anything important..

End Users may throw the line out that their job is boring, or that they don’t do anything important..

Planning season should be fun, entertain others ideas because you never know where your next innovative solution to human issues may come from. If you have a topic you’d like to see covered, I’d love to hear about it! Till next time… Happy SharePointing!

Two Words: Requirements. Gathering.

Want to clear a room out fast?
Mention free pizza.

Want to clear a room out fast, and not have a single person come back?
Mention requirements gathering.

This trend is ongoing and it really doesn’t matter what field of work you find yourself in. Requirements gathering is the necessary evil that exists for Business Analysts, SharePoint Architects, and end users alike. We all go into the room unaware of how a meeting will turn out, just like the first day of school.

Taking the bully approach of “give me everything you know about your job” has a tendency to leave end users not engaged, and at times… well bullied. Not everyone in the room is brave enough to share their ideas.

Here’s a few tricks that I’ve been using the past couple weeks to help facilitate productive meetings that have end users feeling engaged, heard, and appreciated for all the work they contribute to our organization and this project:

  • Keep Meeting Invites to a Minimum – A personal number that I shoot for is 10 people or less included in meetings. Naturally, people will feel more obligated to participate in the main conversation if there is a smaller group. The more people you bring in the chances of people starting side conversations or completing work in the meeting will go up dramatically. Utilizing smaller groups actually helps you, as a facilitator, better direct the attention of the room as well as keep a running tab of who your largest/smallest contributors are.
  • Get to Know Everyone in the Room – Working at a small organization is a wonderful opportunity. We get to share in the exciting news of our coworkers, see our peers grow in their jobs, and participate in employee gatherings where we know everyone’s name. It is still important have introductions at meetings, people want to share something about themselves. I like to change up my introduction slide whenever I’m getting ready to start a new project, conduct a training, or am working with external groups. Using fun questions give people an opportunity to share about themselves and learn more about their peers. This also give you, the facilitator, an opportunity to take notes on individuals you work with you may not see everyday, so later you can continue to build trust by remembering what is important to your peers.  On an intro slide ask people to provide the following:
    • Name
    • Quick Description of Position w/in Organization
    • Silly Question: What is your favorite vacation spot? What is something that should be on your resume but isn’t? Who’s your superhero/band/musician? If you could be an animal which one would you be and why?
  • Gamification –  Sitting for two hours straight can be a huge drag on end users. Especially to your introvert users, for some talking can be a huge undertaking. There are several companies out there providing valuable insight into how people want to share information. I’ve personally become interested in Innovation Games. After playing a few of these games with my end users I’ve found myself with more information than I have time to process. Turn your requirements gathering into a game of writing down what is important to end users. During a session we had sticky notes flying and staff having fun working together through how they do their jobs.

    After 20 minutes we have found all this information!!!

    After 20 minutes we have found all this information!!!

  • Assign a Scribe – When facilitating it is essential to have someone recording the meeting. Taking notes on body language, who said what, and all those little nuances that are happening around the room, who’s on their phone, drawing, working, or almost sleeping! Always make sure your scribe is someone you know has the ability to take detailed notes. Those notes will play a key role when it’s time to begin writing implementation plans.
  • Follow-up Emails –  Let end users, stakeholders, and anyone else you’ve schedule your meetings with know that your appreciate their time and input in your project. As mentioned earlier people want to know that you appreciate their support. Sending a quick email is a reminder that you are looking to build a working relationship on the foundation of trust. Becoming a strong contact point for your platform and department will lend others to reach out for help in the future for development as well as end user adoption since they know you are there to help out.

Remember, when your out working with end users have fun and try to keep the tech talk to a minimum. End users are not going to be excited hearing about libraries, custom lists, and the term store.  Nerding out is best done with your Information Technology department.


Please let me know what you’d like to see next, I’m open to topic suggestions.