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Compare and Contrast: Microsoft Forms in Office 365 and Nintex Forms - A Case for Both

At a High Level

*It's important to note that Microsoft Forms is currently available for Office 365 Education licenses only. However, the technology is rumored to release for other license types in the foreseeable future.

In hopes of helping you and/or your organization live in a post-InfoPath world, I decided it would be helpful to do a quick run down of Microsoft Forms in Office 365 (O365) and where it may fall short for enterprise-wide needs.

Despite being a powerful and useful tool in the O365 stack, there is a case to be made for provisioning Microsoft Forms and Nintex Forms (or a similar 3rd party tool) in parallel throughout your organization. Another reason this topic is timely is the increasing trend of 3rd party tool providers moving to a subscription model where pricing is tied to usage/metrics. A sensible O365 implementation plan can (and possibly should) include an out of the box tool in concert with a more robust forms solution like Nintex.FormsO365.jpg

 A more lengthy but quality overview of what to expect with Microsoft Forms can be found elsewhere; however, the skinny version is as follows: Microsoft Forms is a workload within Office 365 that can be accessed by the App Launcher, as shown. Once launched, users have the ability to create a multitude of forms in an easy to use interface that also allows them to save, edit, and monitor each form. A user can create a quick survey, an anonymous nomination form, a quiz, or application for intramurals and create a link that can be distributed by email/messaging or imbedded as a link on a webpage. Microsoft Forms can also be enabled and disabled in the O365 Admin Center under the User Management tab.

 

Microsoft Forms

PROS:

  • Forms designer is simple to use and doesn't require an admin
  • Finished forms are accessible for anonymous users or can be limited to internal responses only
  • Multiple entry types are provided, and restrictions can be placed on specific parameters (ie. only 9 numeric digits for a case number)

FormsO365Question.jpg

  • The tool provides the ability to set start dates and end dates for each form
  • Users can create branching depending upon the response and information provided
  • Fields can be set to required or not required
  • The GUI allows the form designer to place instructional images or videos next to a question to explain a portion of the form or the context
  • Forms are easily dissemenated by emailing, distributing a link, embedding on a website, or creating a QR code
  • Forms are natively mobile friendly by design and can be previewed as such
  • A Dashboard with easy to understand metrics is provided to assess all responses to the form
    FormsO365Distro.jpg

KEY CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Lookup options are currently not available
  • Respondents cannot attach pictures, and, conversely, the forms designer cannot create a field for media to be attached by the respondent
  • Electronic signature or formal verification is not available in Microsoft Forms
  • Results can only be exported as an Excel file

FormsO365Export.jpg

  • No direct ties exit between Forms and Flow, nor Forms and PowerApps 
  • Roll-up or accordian views are not provided in this tool
  • Design customization is limited (ie. Stock themes, single column scroll view only, etc) - however, this limitation makes every form responsive to mobile and tablet viewing
  • A limit on the amount of responses you can receive is 5,000

To check out the look and feel of a finished form, check out this form I created as a demo for K-12 school systems.

Nintex Forms

PROS:

  • Provides an integrated automation platform; thus, all forms can be tied to a workflow action or initiate an action
  • Designers can create task forms that let users approve, review, and track information

NintexCapture.jpg

  • Can include lookups or preloaded data based upon entries or information about the user accessing the form
  • Allow for geotagging, uploading of media, and timestamping
  • Can be put into production in SharePoint on premises and SharePoint Online via O365
  • Forms Designer allows for in depth customization by infusing JavaScript, jQuery, and CSS if the form necessitates
  • Mobile and tablet friendly, and can be distributed by similar means as Microsoft Forms
  • Security configuration on forms can be more granular than simply 'Anyone with a link' and 'Ony people in my organizationl'

NINTEX FORMS KEY CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Cost associated with its use; whereas, Microsoft Forms is free with Office 365 (still, it's worth every penny)
  • Though the designer is fairly easy to use for any user type, the integration with SharePoint lists and general administration requires some administration oversight at least
  • Not 'available' to everyone, because you must have administration rights to the site in order to churn out a form - this could be considered a security PRO for most organizations, but important to mention 
  • Some functionality is not integrated with O365 workloads (ie. Microsoft Forms can embed a Form in Sway)

 

Conclusions

There are also similarities between the two. For instance, you will need a migration tool in most cases to migrate forms to another tenant (it is unclear how or if Microsoft Forms can be migrated, and I will update this blog once I retrieve new information). Also, both products meet FERPA and BAA standards, and are compliant with HIPAA. At the center of your considerations it is important to understand that Nintex can fully replace InfoPath in its functionality, but Microsoft Forms falls short of that and they (MS) openly admit it. Therefore your institution can weigh the investments for both and deploy where appropriate. 

You also should take the time to trial both Nintex and Office 365 and/or ask for a demo of both from a consultant you trust. Both companies' partners put out a tremendous amount of informational videos and blogs to fill in the gaps as well. In the meantime, you can watch both of the following videos to better grasp the functionality of each tool.

 

 

Learn More About Nintex:  Workflow for Everyone. 

Related post: http://info.summit7systems.com/blog/enhancing-nintex-forms-with-javascript 

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