In the recent months, we have our customers constantly asking about the future direction of SharePoint workflow. The answer, however, depends from enterprise to enterprise, based on their needs and the choices available now. Picking a right option is important and must be in line with the corporates' needs.
Microsoft states, "Microsoft Flow is the successor to SharePoint Designer for many common business scenarios such as approvals, document review, and onboarding/offboarding. It will be the tool for building business automation in SharePoint moving forward."
For Microsoft, an area that has required constant attention to improve is the Workflow management. The Microsoft Flow is an architectural replacement of SharePoint designer to meet the cloud. That said, the present Microsoft flow is not extensive to meet all requirements. In this article, we will discuss the present Microsoft Flow vs Other Workflows that are available now.
MS Workflow vs Predecessor SP designer
Microsoft Flow is integration friendly and works well with API and is built with intention of a no code model. Flow can be maintained by a semi-skilled person and doesn't take much time to do changes. MS workflow closely works with PowerApps to make faster process automation. Flow has readymade connectors support various protocols, communication and 3rd party applications like Salesforce, Oracle, and SAP.
They also have social media connectors for Facebook, twitters and other popular media.
Microsoft Flow can be easily accessed through a browser from any modern list or library using the flow menu in the list navigation bar or through the office app launcher. It can also be managed and accessed through mobile apps. In the end, Microsoft Flow may not be appropriately called as a direct replacement for SP Designer workflow. Flow can be termed as the development of business process management allowing the users rather than giving independence to the users for building sophisticated solutions, which can influence clicks instead of codes.
K2, Nintex, Custom Workflow vs Microsoft Flow as options now
Not to be surprised, cost happens to be the prime driver when it comes to choosing any software. There was a scenario when the question being raised was choosing of payable Nintex over free services offered by InfoPath, PowerApps etc. Since the inception of Nintex, the focus has been majorly on creating an extremely user-friendly workflow, which SharePoint Designer workflow always lacked.
Nintex is expensive and complex whereas Microsoft Flow is relatively simple applications. It is true that Flow is in the process to acquire the features of that form USP of Nintex, even then, Flow works in a better way for users in combination to save money.
Ok, then should I use an "SP designer, Microsoft Flow or 3rd party tools?
The SP designer is not going to be supported for future versions. Other options can be considered based on the depth of requirement.
Our recommendation to customers
With SharePoint Designer not going to be the MS's option anymore, the enterprise has to look for other available options. With SharePoint 2019 and SP Online available now, the choice in the future will be one of them. SP 2019 can be a relief, as it will support backward compatibility to execute existing workflows, however, is restricted to create any new Workflows using Designer with 2019.
That said, enterprises will have to use Microsoft Flow, or 3rd party tools like Nintex, K2 or will have to build their own custom code. If you are heavily reliant on SP Designer, then it is time to resolve.