Founded 2013 | HQ Dublin, Ireland | 60 employees (approx.) Feb 2023

Flowforma is a quick-to-adopt process workflow platform focusing on medium to large businesses in industries that are not typically early adopters of high-tech software. Piggybacking on Microsoft 365 for base services means FlowForma can offer integrations with familiar productivity tools and a platform that requires little IT backbone to support and maintain compliance.


The Company

Initially founded in 2013 as an incubated unit within Irish IT services company Ergo, FlowForma became a separate entity in 2016 with the support of initial funding from Enterprise Ireland. It received a subsequent grant from the European Union’s EASME (Executive Agency for SMEs) in 2018. In June 2022, FlowForma raised a further venture round of €4 million from sources including Ergo’s co-founder John Purdy, Pádraig Canavan (founder of Singularity), and Marc Murphy (founder and CEO of Fenergo). Led by CEO (and former CMO) Olivia Bushe since 2019, FlowForma currently employs around 60 people across locations in Dublin, London, a development center in Lithuania, and a recently established small sales office in New York. FlowForma suggests that its platform currently has 200,000 active users in medium to large organizations across 20 countries.

The Technology

From its inception, FlowForma has focused on providing a simplified, no-code toolset that is suitable primarily for business users in industries outside traditional high-tech software early adoption (see Figure 1). It offers what it refers to as a “3-in-1 tool,” where forms, the workflow behind processing those forms, and ultimately document generation to produce the output of that workflow data are all in one place. The FlowForma platform is built on top of Microsoft 365 (therefore sharing underpinnings with Office and SharePoint), which enables it to sit within a software landscape familiar to the scale of organizations that are predominantly in the company’s sights.

FlowForma’s sectoral focus is on healthcare, financial/professional services, pharmaceutical/life sciences, and – where it reports the most significant current traction for new business – construction. The construction industry is the primary focus of the recent move into the US market and, in part, the rationale behind the recent bump in funding to do so. FlowForma believes that the construction industry in general lags in adopting automation technology, and its approach of straightforward tooling that requires little IT support is well-suited here. Across these sectors, FlowForma tends to find a home within organizations that already focus on an operational excellence or compliance discipline or wish to adopt one rapidly.

That 3-in-1 process toolkit is premised upon a “no-code, logic-only” promise. As long as a business user has a solid understanding of the end-to-end process, that logic piece of the puzzle, automation, can be achieved using a straightforward forms designer – one that utilizes pre-formatted logic blocks to form some or all parts. The form output is customizable in visual and logical terms, as required. Multiple-step forms are included, complete with rules (e.g., step validations, field validations) and the ability to add documents to move from step to step within processes. Users can also complete the forms via FlowForma’s own iOS and Android apps, as well as Microsoft’s Teams app: essential for use cases where user mobility is likely. In addition, using the Engage module, forms can be made available to users outside the organization such as suppliers, partners, or the public via authenticated links sent by email or by embedding the form within a website.

Beyond capturing structured data, the forms built and maintained within FlowForma can also capture the output in document form, with a plugin for Microsoft Word as an editor here. Because FlowForma is built on top of Microsoft 365 it has a wealth of inherited capabilities as well as the ability to push that same data to external systems, both within the greater Microsoft estate (e.g., Dynamics) and beyond (SAP, SQL-supporting databases). It’s here that the FlowForma IT governance feature becomes particularly useful as it provides the ability to provision sandboxes for business users to build and test more advanced automation, offering observable guardrails against compliance challenges. Reporting of processes (progress reporting, step analysis, etc.) is available natively or through OData/SQL access.

Given how wedded FlowForma is to the Microsoft 365 platform, it’s inevitable to make comparisons to Power Automate, also a no-code process automation tool. FlowForma suggests that customers using its platform can complete development and deployment projects five times faster than would be the case using Power Apps for the equivalent business process.
FlowForma is using recent funding for geographical expansion and to augment the platform. In general, there is an ongoing user experience improvement program, as the company recognizes that this is key to easing adoption within their key target market segments.

More specifically, the recently added Collaborate module is designed to foster better adoption within customer organizations by enabling groups to work together on building workflows and associated automation, decreasing deployment time and improving initial accuracy with process discovery tasks. Coming soon to the platform is Smart Process, designed to provide guidance when building new workflows based on prompts about your organization and best practices derived from other organizations’ use of the platform. While FlowForma is not labeling this just yet as providing artificial intelligence to the platform, the ambition aligns with other vendors’ definitions of the term.

Figure 1
User-Friendly Landing Page

Our Opinion

It is too easy to overlook that many business processes within organizations can be delivered through structured means that do not require the advanced automation features of technologies like complex business process management platforms. Such processes may be perceived as lacking complexity when in fact they deal with a vast array of request forms in every organization. Also, they lack the immediate glamour of easier-to-grasp “business critical” functions. However, an overwhelming number of critical business processes in any organization – from the smallest upwards – meet the criteria to be automated. FlowForma, by explicitly targeting less digitally advanced organizations, recognizes this and addresses their need directly. Pragmatically piggybacking on Microsoft 365 to provide base services, it can offer integrations with familiar productivity tools and a platform that requires little IT backbone to support and maintain compliance.

Advice to Buyers

For organizations that already have significant financial and emotional investments in the Microsoft 365 stack and its familiar productivity tools and are looking for a straightforward way to manage a litany of processes without kicking off a big IT project, FlowForma is designed with you in mind. This is especially true for customers that fall within FlowForma’s sectoral experience sweet spot, as plenty of pre-built and pre-formatted elements should suit your common use cases. The investments that FlowForma is making in their platform, both functionally and through an improved user experience, should only add to the attractiveness of that significant niche, where it should be compared against Microsoft’s Power Apps (especially Power Automate) to judge fit and suitability.


SOAR Analysis

Strengths

  • Quick-to-adopt, easy-to-implement process workflow platform for Microsoft-centric organizations

Aspirations

  • To grow internationally through finding industrial sectors that have been digital transformation laggards
  • Particularly targeting growth in the US

Opportunities

  • In terms of sheer numbers, most business processes are simple and often neglected, representing a large potential market

Results

  • Strong funding
  • Over 200,000 users of the platform
  • Increased US presence

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