Workflow Automation and more with Nintex’s Jake Dennison – #33
Best practice Workflow Automation from Nintex Senior Solution Engineer, Jake Dennison
In this episode Arno and Sascha sit down with Jake Dennison, Senior Solution Engineer at Nintex, to talk about Complete Automation, use cases and best practice for getting started with Workflow Automation.
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Connect with Jake on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jake-dennison-fcl/
Learn more about Nintex: https://www.nintex.com/
Connect with The Automation Guys: https://www.theautomationguys.net
Sascha Cutura 0:16
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the process and automation podcast with the automation guys. Today’s episode is again an interview special. But usually you hear just Arno and myself talking about all things process and automation. And today we have a great guest, who is also very passionate about process and automation with us. It is with great pleasure to welcome our next interview guests to our podcast. He is UX and process automation expert, and senior solution engineer at Nintex. Hello, Jake. Thank you for joining Arno and myself today. Thank you.
Jake Dennison – Nintex 0:50
It’s a pleasure to be on the podcast today. And it’s going to be great talking to you.
So but before we go into the main set of questions, yeah, please tell us a bit more about you and what you’re doing at Nintex.
Jake Dennison 1:05
your introduction says quite a lot of it. So yeah, my name is Jake Dennison. I’m a senior solutions engineer at an Nintex. Put very simply, my job is to work with the sales and partner teams to ensure that all the technical aspects of the products are used to the full fruition and that I can talk to customers and partners about all the possible technical outcomes and how they can use the products to achieve the processes on a day to day. So very hands on hands on role can be very hands on. Yeah fantastic. Yeah, it’s very busy in automation. So I guess Nintex are also super busy. Very, very busy!
Lots of work, obviously. Now, with COVID. A lot of things are happening in terms of processes are getting more automated now because of the need for it. So it’s definitely a very exciting times.
Yeah, so it’d be been on myself, we are working with various Intelligent Automation vendors, to support the companies we working with was all things process and automation. And where do you see the sweet spot for Nintex in the market?
I think the really important thing to understand from Linux is perspective is the fact that it’s a very broad platform. It’s not a singular tool that can achieve or solve singular purposes, it’s, it’s more of a full suite of applications and platform capability that can actually solve a whole broad range of use cases that actually range from very simple and very easy to solve to very complex and very involved processes. So it’s being able to, you know, say, for example, you know, you look into the market, very often find businesses look into the market and look for a tool to solve a single need, like I need to HR tools to solve my HR problems. Nintex is really powerful in the sense that it can position itself not only as the solution for that, but it can also solve problems for things like it tools and legal tools and other applications. So a bit more varied in that capability.
And yeah, I think over the years Nintex acquired a couple of other companies to enrich their portfolio and what was this? What were these companies.
So I think originally, there are a few acquisitions, some of them happened before my time Nintex. So draw loop, which was acquired as a part of a document generation document creation capability. That happened to allow an Nintex to move more into the Salesforce space, which is working very well. So that’s allows an Nintex to build document generation capability that goes along with automation, then the acquisition of promap. So that’s obviously mapping and understanding and building your processes from a business perspective, not from a technical or an IT perspective in any way, actually just allowing the business to map it, sort of like Visio, but on all kinds of steroids, which is very cool tool. We also have robotics process automation. RPA, for anyone who’s obviously familiar with the terminology, and that obviously is a form Nintex is perspective, much more of an extension of our workflow capability. When the workflows unable to interact with applications or systems. We would reach out to RPA to be able to perform those functions. More recently, we’ve actually done it we’ve actually done quite a lot of acquisitions. More recently K2 which Historically was one of our primary competitors, bit of, you know, a back and forward competition between the two applications. The acquisition from that was not only strategic, but also to try and create the best of both worlds scenario, they have some amazing technology, some amazing people and amazing customers. And we wanted to build on that and obviously improve our own platform at the same time. Most recently, you may be aware or not, we just acquired a sure sign, which is an electronic signature platform will be looking to develop our own electronic signature platform built into an Nintex to cover everything was going on at the moment, isn’t it? Yeah. And we’re not stopping there. Okay, good.
I have a broad portfolio of products now in the Nintex suite, which is, which is quite impressive. It seems like it touches quite a lot of technical capabilities and technical basis. So I suppose with the recent acquisition, then of K two, it probably stretches that even broader, I suppose. And it probably helps to really look at the broader range of automation problems, and solve those. And, you know, Sasha, and I, you know, we talk a lot on this podcast about use cases. And for our listeners out there, and they generally respond well, to us explaining what types of use cases they are for automation. You know, which is very beneficial for people to understand, you know, what is possible with the tools and technologies we use? And so I guess the question, you know, if you look back in the last sort of year, or so, Jake, you know, what do you think was the sort of most exciting or impactful use cases delivered by you guys on the Nintex platform?
Yeah, I think that there are actually quite a few, especially, you know, due to COVID. It’s quite a huge hot topic at the moment. And it’s driven a lot of the process automation that we’ve seen. I think one of them, that comes to mind personally from my own involvement was our influence in helping the automation for a company called BOC here in the UK, BOC which is brings oxygen company is the primary and almost sole supplier of most of the oxygen to the hospitals and the NHS. And we’ve been working with them quite closely to try and improve not only the automated processes that drive that actual initiative, but also many other things as well. So we’ve been working very closely with them. But I think if I was to choose one, I would say it’s probably with zoom themselves. So obviously, the what we’re using at the moment to talk to each other, that company, obviously zoom reached out to us because, you know, their onboarding processes, their billing processes were not as refined and not as capable as they would have liked them to be. And they needed obviously, with the huge uptake of orders that they were getting during COVID and huge amount of customers that they were getting now that they needed to process those much faster. And I think at the time, when they approached us, there was a point where just onboarding, a new customer would take three days minimum. So we worked with them. And this is something actually quite rare from an insect’s perspective is where we actually directly work with a company to assist them purely because we saw the requirement and the need to be able to do this on a very high level and get it done very quickly. But we worked with them and actually went through the processes with them and help them build out those processes to the point where they were actually happen in Nintex real time and not are waiting three or so days to complete. And to the point where you could be, you know, point of interest, you could go from point of interest to completely signed up customer and everything, within minutes if every one was immediately ready to be done. So we’ve really greatly improved, not only the efficiency that their existing employees could work out. But we also, you know, increased a huge amount of scope of how many customers that they could supply at any one time. So I would say that that’s one of the best ones for sure. Yeah, thank you, Sam asuna was certainly and huge increases in enough demand. And it’s incredible that actually, yeah, we’re able to scale our platform that quickly. Yeah, I think it took in all from the point of zoom contacting us to the point where we actually had a production environment up and running in Nintex was about four weeks. So it was very quick. around and that included things like integrations into Salesforce, Zendesk. All other applications, which is a big strong point of an Nintex for sure.
Yeah, so. So was all the Intelligent Automation, hype, automation, all these big buzzwords. So looking a bit into the future, where do you see things developing for companies in the area of automation in these areas? So there’s probably the next, the next big, weird buzzword coming up.
Yeah, the one I tend to kind of go back to and especially looking at from the Texas perspective is complete automation is not just automating, you know, intelligently, because that’s really important begining out in your journey of automation, you want to automate what will have the biggest impact and the best impact first. And obviously, hyper automation is that the scaling and pushing of that, but complete automation in my eyes, and from an insect perspective is to bring every process and bring every single thing that you do within the business up to a certain level, and then at least completely understand what they are. So that should you need to automate something that it’s very simple to know, go into the automation of that very quickly, and get that deployed as fast as possible. One of the main things I think a lot of companies lack at the moment is a lack of vision, into what processes within their business they can automate, and what are the ones that are delaying based on others?
Yeah, that is true. So I think a message we have as well, throughout our podcasts regularly, is, it’s really to start small. And, you know, try and identify processes across your business. And even if your first iteration of the automation is small, you can always grow that. And you know, you can grow it in a direction where you can grow it as big as it needs to be, or, you know, you could have something very simple, it’s still automated, it’s effective, it works. And perhaps, you know, you don’t have to throw anything else at it apart from, you know, if there’s regulatory changes, or the odd requirements changes, here and there in the process itself. And I think, you know, if you look at the product suite that obviously was lost, he conveyed Oh, Sasha. And his team does, I think it’s sort of the same mantra Isn’t that where I think what we see is the easiest way for people to really get started and to understand the power of these tools is to start with something small, and to really kind of continuously improve it. And then, with that understanding, you know, bring in some of the progressive things, you know, like the RPA. Because it’s sometimes incredibly difficult to explain to people where that fits into automation. And of course, it doesn’t fit into every automation use case. But I think once you’re on that journey, and you map that process out, and you have that first version one, which at least got rid of that spreadsheet that lands in somebody’s inbox, then all of a sudden, it’s something to hang, you know, all of these other progressive technologies off some very much on board with that sort of automate everything. To a degree. You know, of course, there’s a lot of processes put inside of business by, you know, we always try and promote this concept of automation, first thinking. If something comes into the business, let’s by default thing, how we can automate it. So, and I guess, you know, there’s so much technologies out there. And, you know, another question I’ve got for you, Jake, is, you know, what advice would you give to companies out there that wants to start with, you know, process and automation projects? What is your secret formula?
It’s a very involved question. That’s the Holy Grail. I guess, in automation, for sure. I think, ultimately, you know, I briefly mentioned on it in the in the past, one is understanding your processes is genuinely 100% that the most important thing, if you have a complete understanding of the processes, you need to automate your 90% of the way there, the rest of it is using the right tools to achieve that goal. So understanding what your endpoints are, what information you need to receive, you know, what the information is you need to get, and then what your end point is like, Where do you want to go and where do you want to achieve that? That can be, like you said, minimal viable product, which is obviously just enough to suit the current need and the current requirement. Or you can obviously go and improve some, you know, automation by giving some better quality of life to those who use it, you know, save some time for people say, some clicks for people, that kind of stuff. So I think, ultimately, you know, first you map it, map out what your processes are, think about what has the biggest impact on your business, you know, what’s going to make you the most money in terms of return on time, primarily, and then obviously, in terms of cost. And then also, obviously, how that impacts your customers as well. So those are the ones that I would say, take a big keen look at and see what you can do to automate those. Great.
Yeah. So um, this Nintex for specific enter industry? So how can how can maybe, small, smallish business get started on it?
Yeah, we support all industries of any kind, and any size, okay, so you have customers ranging from public charities with two or three employees all the way up into multinational banks, and governments and defence systems, you know, that kind of thing. So we do have like the US government as a customer, but we also have schools locally within the UK as a customer. So there’s no kind of limit on who will, you know, talk to and help with a customer level, which is really powerful, because we can bring that wealth of knowledge and experience from not only every industry vertical, but also all kinds of levels of business as well. Which is really cool.
Yeah, that’s, I think, is more on the agenda of more and more businesses, typically 15 years ago, we all started with was automation for enterprises, but it becomes more here and there. RPA is more well known. Every business really wants to get started on automation, and not necessarily automation. I think sometimes that’s a bit discouraging, some companies are not even at the point of getting stuff digital, sometimes. So yeah, starting as a small business on just getting stuff digital is already a good starting point. If they then go on a platform, which can also do automation, and all sorts of other stuff like signature, like process mapping, then I think it’s great for small business to join.
Yeah, and the cool part about Nintex Tex is a lot of that split up. So if you know you’re not quite at that point of journey to say, for example, use RPA. You don’t necessarily have to have RPA. To use an Nintex, you could, you know, start out by just using promap to map your processes. And then when you’re comfortable with that, and you have a lot of stuff mapped out, you can then Okay, okay, I want to use workflow now. And then you can add that, and that’s about using workflow with it. Okay, my workflow isn’t isn’t able to talk with these platforms and these systems, because it’s legacy, and it only uses a UI on a desktop. Okay, well, we can, we can work with the RPA to do that. And it sort of grows from that point. Certainly in the in that kind of way. Everything sort of coordinates from that central point of the workflow. Fantastic.
I mean, I seems like promap is an obvious starting point for a lot of things you guys do? Would that be a fair assumption? Absolutely. And it also looks like promap is a very valuable to start that journey of automation by mapping these processes out and continue to map them out. And during that period, try and fix some of those candidate processes where you can take that thing into the, I guess, the automation factory, we start configuring your orders, you start to configure your integrations, your workflows, you start identifying the points where perhaps you want to, you know, generate the document or introduce electronic signatures, or, you know, integrate with a back end system.
That’s exactly it. Yeah, so the idea and the reason why they’re they’re sort of split in that way, a lot of BPM and process workflow platforms have them as the same thing. The reason why we split them out is because a lot of the time what the business understands the process to be does not match with what say the technical or it understand what process understands. You know, the business is not interested in what Excel or SQL databases you’re referencing in the background. They just know that point a point B point three, you know, to move through linear progress with some decisions here and that it creates a really good environment for actually that communication between the business and the technical resources within the company. Because, you know, I, as a business, understand my process really well. And here is the procedural information that I follow to do my job. I don’t know what systems might need that I don’t know what platforms you might need to support doing that as automation. But it puts everything in a structure that those who do can do that. And they can build those workflows in the background. And if you say, for example, I change my process, like you mentioned, there are regulatory changes to my process, I can make those on promap. And that will notify the automation experts within the business, the changes have been made, and you need to go and modify that workflow. And that can start a whole process of obviously, change management, which is really, you know, a huge thing and really important thing to actually get within the business is keeping a hold of that change management process and doing it in the right way.
Yeah, that sounds very powerful. So I guess it is just a good repository of a single source of truth for your processes. Regardless if any automation is linked with it or not, it is just the procedures to drive process outcomes. But of course, then the baseline requirements to actually go and do the automation. And then your long term management change control off the processes.
Yeah, exactly. And, you know, to give you an example, you know, we have customers who use promap, almost solely, but we also have some customers who use it with the workflow, you know, to name a couple, I mean, obviously, big names, Amazon, and McDonald’s, even Cola, they all use pro Mac to Mac, things that are nothing to do with automation. I think we have Donald’s even has one where they map just how to make a lot of their products. And you know, what ingredients are involved? What the cooking times are that kind of thing. Operational standards, and yeah, kind of lovely. Yeah, and you can use it as train Nintex for new employees. here’s, here’s a platform that tells you how to do everything. And you can follow along with that, which is really cool. But if something’s happened, where you could automate something, you can use it for multiple purposes, which is something that’s really powerful about an Nintex is it’s a bit of a jack of all trades, software that you can do anything you like, with.
Yeah. And so there’s, there’s not a Visio diagram inside, then if you guys work, or do you still use tools like Visio, nobody still use Visio. It’s a bit of a naughty word. But what happens in promap, if you have a look at it, is you write every everything down procedurally as if you would, in a Word document, and the map for that the visual map that everyone’s familiar with the Visio style is generated for you don’t have to have to build it in any way. So it’s, it makes things a lot easier, the swimlanes are all there and everything’s the same. So you never have one Visio. That’s really good. And really well thought out and designed, and then another Visio, that you have no idea what’s going on. It’s all the same language and design experience. So yeah, consistency across all processes.
I think that’s very important, just that consistency of how process mapping or outputs of process mapping looks like. Because, of course, one person’s idea of how to map something in Visio, for example, is going to be different to another person, another person I find is that you’ve just got a mishmash of different types of notations people use. People have different styles. And that in itself makes mapping a bit of a challenge. Because everybody, like I said, kind of do things in their own way. And then of course, the management of that is really hard because Visio files are like Excel spreadsheets, they don’t they lie somewhere on a person’s desktop. It’s a file, and it’s not very collaborative in nature gets emailed around. So yeah, I can definitely see the power of promap for that kind of single repository for your process maps. And then optionally, a point of, we’ve got a documented Now, how do we automate it? if we’re going to automate it? So that’s, that’s really great.
So what we do on this kind of interviews is, yeah, our listeners really like to get to know our interview guest a bit more than just the sort of the technical and the business side. So that’s why we like to ask you a couple of quick questions. I hope that’s okay for you, or with you. Sounds good. Perfect. Okay. So there might be my bits a bit different than usual questions. Who’s your idol and why?
I had to think about this one. Actually, quite heavily. And I think if I had to say one person, it would be my grandfather. I know that a lot of people would probably pick someone famous or someone notable and things like that. But to me personally, the most important person in my life in terms of who I idolise is my grandfather, he taught me a lot in terms of how you should be as a person, how you should question things, you know, my mindset in terms of how I automate stuff, and a lot of what I do in my work, comes from the things that he taught me. And obviously, I think everyone’s family and grandparents are obviously very important to them and their experiences from the past, is obviously very powerful. So yeah, that would be my answer. For sure. Great, thank you.
So here’s one for you, Jake. Imagine you can get all the contents and knowledge from a book? Which book would you choose? And why?
So this is a book I’ve been? Well, I, you know, I’ll be sad to say that I’ve been trying to read it and trying to understand the full extent of it as best as I can. But sometimes, you know, it takes a lot of time, a lot of research, but there’s a book I’ve been reading called artificial intelligence, a modern approach. I think it’s the third edition one. It’s very long book, 1000 pages. And it goes hugely into detail around AI, how it can sit within a world, how it can be implemented within the world and what it all entails. And I wish I could obviously understand all and everything within that. So yeah, definitely that because I think it would be beneficial, not only for me as an individual, but also to my work as well. So yeah. And 1000 pages yet. restasis. I think it’s tough to get through. anything, any scary bits in this kind of come?
No, I think it makes out quite clearly that. Obviously, I think a lot of time humans are still ultimately fully in control. But it’s it’s more like, obviously, when you’re talking about artificial intelligence, people start to get a bit worried and think oh, no, yeah, like Skynet is coming and that kind of thing. But really, it’s it’s, it’s It is as simple as being able to achieve, you know, super complex stuff very quickly, you know, identifying things like, you know, cancer cells and all that kind of stuff very quickly. And, yeah, it’s, it’s a powerful tool for humans to have. And we should use those tools properly and in the right way. And I think that’s a big part about what the book is tries to approach. Definitely lots to cover in the future. Lots of topics to discuss the ethics. how it fits with society, him Yeah, will be very interesting to see what’s what’s happening with Nintex in 10 to 15 years, or maybe we have to find some answers already bit earlier. Let’s have another podcast and see where we are. So what’s the best advice you have ever received? Okay, a very tough question. I think the best advice I’ve ever received, I’ve received a lot of advice that I’ve worked. Obviously, I’ve had a lot of advice from my grandparents and things like that in school. And I’ve worked almost 1012 years within finance and banking. And I received some advice from one of my old bosses, his name’s Don. And his advice was me was never assume anything ever. And his words were, you know, otherwise, you’ll make an ass of you and me, which is how you spell assume. But the idea is that, you know, if you’re not sure about something, don’t say anything. If you’re not sure, don’t proceed, find out first. And make sure that you fully understand something before you say anything, and before you make any judgments or decisions. Because it’s really important to do that. Because if you don’t, you may end up making the wrong choice, and it will come back on you in a very negative way. So never assume anything, always check everything you can and never say anything for definite.
So what critical one, so I received that as well, when it came to sort of software sales, because sometimes we assume a customer, maybe you call him but for some reason you use Hume they don’t need that specific solution. They need something else. But if you just ask, it will tell you instead of assuming what they might like or not like And just making up your mind already to it’s not very useful. Exactly. Sometimes you’re surprised what the customer actually wants.
And it can be taken in another way of say, for example, you know, you follow a process, because that’s always been the process, you know, taking it back to the subject, you follow a process, because that’s always the way that everyone has done it. So you assume that that’s the only way you can do it, which can sometimes be very negative in terms of how are you going to automate that process? Because you’ll think, actually, I can’t automate that process, because that’s how it is. When in reality, we know that that’s very rarely the case. And a lot of the time, if you don’t assume and actually re explore these things, you probably can. And it’s just a matter of doing that, and not assuming you that everything is the right way. Because it is.
Yeah, I think it’s also just, you know, challenging the status quo. I think I find, if I sort of build a bit on top of what you’ve just said, is, if you are curious, and you do challenge, the status quo, and sometimes you do ask the silly questions, but I think sometimes that does the truth. And, you know, we found that a lot, especially in you know, specific industries, where perhaps you’re not a domain expert, and you’re the one that asked a silly question that nobody else wants to ask because they too scared to ask it in front of their boss. And then all of a sudden, you just have this thing. And people say, Oh, my God, why do we do it that way? That that’s just, that’s just crazy. Why are we doing it that way? Because we’ve been doing that for 10 years? We don’t. So yeah, very good words of advice. And I guess it comes to the last question for you, Jake. It’s a bit of a fun one. And if you are Olympic athlete, what sport would you choose? And also if you are an athlete, who do you aspire to be? And had a lot of Usain Bolt’s? So?
Yeah, so I think when I was in school, I have to kind of take obviously, based on experience and what I think I would be good at, you know, obviously, I want to pick something that I enjoyed or did in school. And, you know, I played a lot of sports when I was growing up. And in terms of Olympic sports, I would probably say the one I would enjoy the most is field hockey. I find that it was when I was in school. That was one of the things I was notably good at. So I would probably play that in terms of who to aspire to in that sport. I honestly, I don’t know anyone within the within that sports, I wouldn’t even know who to who to begin with. But on the spot in terms of an Olympic person. I don’t know. I have no idea who I would aspire to out of the Olympics.
Very difficult question. You can choose those same bolt if you wish. Yeah. Let’s just go through the same thing, right. Yeah, see? Yeah, because that’s what he always does. He does that with his with his arms, we point arteries rise. I probably can play hockey as well. My guess is he’s probably pretty good at hockey. Yeah, you can run pretty quick, right? I think he’s probably pretty good at lots of things where you put a ball in his hand or a racket or ask him to run or on a bike or in water. Some people are very talented. Yeah, that’s it.
I take thank you very much for being our podcast guest today was a really good conversation. And lots of great insights. Thank you very much. So if our listeners would like to reach out to you or get in contact with you what would be the will be the best way to do that.
You can even contact me through LinkedIn. Obviously you just search my name Jake Dennison. And you’ll find me on LinkedIn. Please feel free to reach out to me there add me on there, I’ll accept anyone. Or if you want to reach out to me through Nintex obviously just go to the unsexy site and get in touch with one of the guys there. Just let them know who you’re trying to find. And they’ll they’ll get you through to me.
Fantastic. Yeah, so we will put this all into the show notes, all the information, your link to LinkedIn, the link to the website. And you have anything else you’d like to share later on. We you want us to link to them. Let let us know. And yeah, it was a great pleasure to have you on the show? Thank you very much for taking the time. And you’re looking forward to the next session with you talking about AI and maybe a couple of years. 15 years 2032.
Let’s try that.
Great. Thank you. No worries. Thank you very much. Unfortunately, that’s it again, with this episode of the process and automation podcast. If you liked this episode, please give us a five star rating. And don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast, so you don’t miss any upcoming episode. We hope you will tune in next time and until then, let’s automate!