“Yes, I Understand” – A Story About the Importance of Clarity

Have you ever gained sudden ownership of an abundance of Nintex workflows and forms? I have – over 350 of them – huge, undocumented monoliths, tiny stand-alone notifications – it’s a bouquet of Nintex goodness and for the most part I have wrangled the workflows into a state of subservience. Generally, I only interact with these when I need to: maybe there’s an error, maybe there’s a change request – that’s when I swoop into action.

But this story isn’t about when things go well.

This is a story of how on February 21st at 3:28PM, the click of a vague button on an inconspicuous page by a well-meaning end user cost me over 5 hours of work.


 


What Havoc Did This Cause?

This workflow resets all of the document number references for a project. This means that all of the document numbers generated after 3:28PM were erroneous and had to be changed via individual workflows on each record, which also have their own sub-processes to run.  Oh, and, I didn’t find about this until the next day.

How Can This Be Improved?

Ideas that would’ve made this button less tempting:

  • A title of the workflow that this would trigger.
  • A description of what the workflow does.

Some ideas that would’ve prevented this issue:

  • Audience targeting. This is in a web part, it could have been visible to only particular groups.
  • Limiting which workflows end-users can run.

Ideas that would have lessened the impact of this issue:

  • A notification at the end of the workflow to let the Nintex Admin know when this has been run, since it should be done only a few times a year. The faster we can react, the less mess there is to clear up if it’s run accidentally. 
  • A requirement to gain permission at some point in the workflow from the Nintex Admin or another user to reset it, with a description of what will happen if “Yes” is chosen.
  • A workflow that undoes whatever that previous workflow did. (In my dreams.. maybe some day!)

Anything Redeeming About This Approach?

The requirement for a “Yes, I understand” to be checked to prevent accidental “Start” clicks is a great idea when you have that big tempting start button out on a page.  I also think that having a simple way to run daily workflows, like this one, is great. … Daily workflows, mind you. Not annual ones. 

Final Thoughts: Don’t Cry; Laugh!


Admittedly, when I figured out what had happened … I laughed really hard. The fact that this button existed in the first place and that the end user not only clicked it, but also checked the “Yes, I understand” box without any idea what it was… you have to admit, that’s pretty funny! 

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have any of you ever run into some questionable workflow practices? 

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