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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Workbox vs other workflow solutions

We have received a number of questions regarding how Workbox places itself against other Workflow solutions on the market, like Nintex, K2, Skelta or Kaldeera.

First of all, Workbox is working on the state workflows, all other products use sequential ones. In our opinion the sequential workflows are harder to use when modeling a complex processes and also are harder to comprehend. People tend to think more in a state workflow manner - "what is happening with the invoice now", "what is the current situation", "what I want to do next with this item". If you have a large workflow seeing (like in sequential workflow) all actions on one diagram is very confusing and does not give you a general insight of the process.

Also, we are much more integrated with SharePoint – we use SharePoint's engine, lists, users, permissions and so on, so the environment is easier to deploy, manage and develop. Users do not have to use additional add-ins like special workflow libraries or separate sites and tasks list to use the workflow. They can act directly from their item - invoice, task, call.

Next thing – we only have the web designer, so all functionality is available through the web. Other companies (except Kaldeera) have additional windows applications, that provide the full functionality, and the web designer is less functional.

We also think, that our designer is easier to use and provides more capabilities in some areas like lookups. Lookups in Workbox are very powerful and give users the ability to use the SharePoint and external application data in the workflow.

Workbox is a small but powerful solution. We have heard many times that people see other workflow solutions as huge tools where they are not sure where to start from, how to configure it, how to install it and how to do more complicated things. We try to keep the designer simple, limit the number of objects and just enhance the way you can configure the objects and make them work together. At the same time Workbox is very flexible. You do not have a predefined solution that you must use (for example an approval activity) and adjust jour process to the tool's capabilities. It takes a bit more configuration but gives a lot more flexibility and allows you to model the process exactly as you want it to run.

We are at the same time aware, that we lack certain things our competitors have – like reporting. We are just starting with workbox, and with every release we are making it more and more functional. We think that our state workflow architecture and deep integration with SharePoint give us great advantage over other products. And also we are cheaper than the competition products and our licensing model is more flexible.