KiSSFLOW is a cloud-based business process automation software platform designed to help customers very quickly build and deploy workflow-based applications to automate ‘long tail‘ administrative processes.
KiSSFLOW is a cloud-based business process automation software platform, active since 2012, and owned by OrangeScape, a US- and India-based software development firm founded in 2003 by Suresh Sambandam.
What does it do?
KiSSFLOW is a web-based workflow application platform, hosted on the Google Cloud, designed to help customers very quickly build and deploy workflow-based applications to automate ‘long tail‘ administrative processes.
KiSSFLOW applications are built around five main elements:
- Forms. Using the inbuilt graphical form editor, you start designing an application by defining a form that will be used to enter data to kick off a workflow (see below). Each application has only one form associated with it; you can choose to make this form publicly available, if you like, so anyone can initiate a new workflow. As you design your form, KiSSFLOW automatically creates a data table in which form data will be stored. Forms are HTML5-based and responsive; more importantly, though, you can define forms that are moderately complicated – you can specify master-detail relationships (to enter data about invoices and their respective invoice lines, for example), specify permissions on form elements, and apply conditional logic (to, for example, show/hide certain fields or make them editable/non-editable based on context). This last point means that if you have a complicated application workflow that requires multiple participants to see multiple views of application data, you can specify one ‘master’ form for the application and configure the form so that different participants (or different stages of the workflow) drive different form sections or elements to be displayed.
- Workflows. Using the graphical designer (see figure 1), you specify a workflow for your application (working vertically). There’s no ability to define swimlanes to model tasks carried out by different roles, but you can specify conditional tasks, looping (via a ‘goto’ function), branching (based on logical conditions) and two or more parallel flows with merging. You define which individuals and roles have permission to start your workflow, and which individuals/roles can conduct which tasks; there’s also simple organisational model concepts with hierarchical relationships, so (for example) you can define that a given task should be carried out by the manager of the individual carrying out the previous task in the workflow. If you’re a G Suite customer, you can opt to have G Suite sync your user and organisation data with KiSSFLOW. You can configure tasks to send notifications to individuals (even if they’re not assigned a role in the workflow), and also define deadlines and SLAs for tasks (taking into account working day and holiday schedules that you can set globally).
- Data. Every task in a workflow instance has access to the field data from its associated form (including files that can be attached to forms from users’ local filesystems, Google Drive or Box); in addition, your application can refer to Masters (multi-column business reference data, for example a list of customer records or product records) and Lists (single-column reference data, for example a list of office locations or customer types). There’s also a ‘lookup’ facility that allows you to obtain field data from other live KiSSFLOW apps and use that to populate or cross-reference form fields.
- Reports. KiSSFLOW provides a range of reports for application administrators, as well as for application users. Administrators can report on workload by user (and from there, alter tasks if necessary to reassign them); and on application metrics. The application metrics report enables administrators to quickly explore task volume and workflow progress; and performance against SLAs and deadlines. Administrators can also create reports – which can combine system data (such as data relating to tasks and the individuals working on them) with field data. In this way, custom reports can provide insights into business performance (such as total invoice value processed over the past month).
- Integrations. KiSSFLOW provides three principal methods for integrating your application to external data sources, platforms and applications:
- A public REST API that enables external authorised applications to introspect and ‘drive’ application behaviour.
- The ability to use Google AppScript to automate actions on G Suite applications that transfer data into your KiSSFLOW application(s).
- A pre-built connector to the popular Zapier cloud-based integration platform, via which you can build integrations with hundreds of third-party cloud-based applications, platforms and technologies.
Figure 1: KiSSFLOW’s Workflow Editor
Part of KiSSFLOW’s “speed of delivery” comes from how it encourages customers to start their work with a pre-built, completely functional application from a built-in gallery of over 50 applications (covering processes like employee onboarding, purchase request handling, travel reimbursement and sales discount approval) – which can then be customised as required.
KiSSFLOW is hosted on the Google Cloud; it uses Google App Engine and Google Cloud. Each paying customer is assigned its own separate instance of the KiSSFLOW application database; customers can choose the data centre(s) that they want to use.
In line with its Google-focused heritage, KiSSFLOW is licensed on a per user / per month basis. The Standard Edition is currently the only edition available and costs $9 per user, per month (with a minimum purchase of 10 user licenses). Bulk pricing is available if you want to make KiSSFLOW available to more than 100 users, and KiSSFLOW also offers discounts for non-profits.
Who is it for?
KiSSFLOW is primarily designed for, and pitched at, small- to medium-sized enterprises. However the customer base is not only made up of smaller organisations: around 50 of the Fortune 500 are also customers – including Airbus (manufacturing), Motorola (high-technology) and Reckitt Benckiser (FMCG). Its most committed customers have 5,000-6,000 users working with the platform.
Given its architecture and integration capabilities, KiSSFLOW is naturally used by organisations that are already Google Apps customers at some level. It’s designed to enable customers to build systems that help automate the ‘long tail’ of business processes, and typically, it’s used to build ‘satellite’ applications that work around the edges of, or in between, key corporate systems-of-record.
Although the Google Cloud Platform is global, KiSSFLOW is careful to offer customers hosting and data residency choices, though, so you can choose the data center(s) you want to have your KiSSFLOW instance and its data served from, to suit your needs. KiSSFLOW’s implementation is also certified in line with Privacy Shield and Safe Harbor directives, which will give customers cautious about foreign hosting more confidence.
KiSSFLOW is typically procured within organisations by IT teams, but in most cases, it’s then ‘business users’ who build and maintain KiSSFLOW applications.
Why is it interesting?
KiSSFLOW is particularly interesting for four reasons.
First, KiSSFLOW’s pricing – starting at $9 per user, per month but often lower than that – means it can provide solutions to relatively straightforward workflow scenarios at almost a ‘no-brainer’ cost.
Second, although KiSSFLOW is very modestly priced and doesn’t purport to help customers address truly business-critical processes at scale, it does provide some sophisticated features – for example, in relation to the structure and dynamic features that you can design into application forms.
Third, KiSSFLOW’s support for nine languages – Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, German, French, Polish, Italian, and Russian, as well as English – sets it apart from many workflow and business process automation tools available, and provides additional appeal in many international markets that English-only tools can’t match.
Last but not least, KiSSFLOW’s ‘Google connection’ – in terms of its connections to the G Suite applications, its use of the Google Cloud Platform and its presence on the G Suite Marketplace – gives it a big advantage for any G Suite customer looking to add work automation and co-ordination to the core digital workplace systems that the G Suite provides.
How established is it?
KiSSFLOW was first made available in 2012, and the business has grown quickly since then. At the time of writing there are around 10,000 KiSSFLOW customers across over 120 countries, with around 1,500 subscribing to a paid service tier.
Beyond initial ‘angel’ funding of $1m for KiSSFLOW in 2012, the company hasn’t taken any external funding; it’s entirely bootstrapped. Although it’s a privately-held company that has no requirement to publicise its financials, the company does state that it’s been profitable for each of the past three years.
How open is it?
As standard, KiSSFLOW provides pre-packaged integration components for Zapier (simple cloud-based application-to-application integration, providing connectors with over 1,000 applications out-of-the-box), Google Sheets, Google Drive and Google Calendar. There’s also the ability to send data to an external ‘webhook’ – a URL provided by a third-party cloud-based application that can accept notification data.
Beyond packaged integrations, KiSSFLOW provides an open REST API enabling customers to carry out simple operations on a given KiSSFLOW instance from external applications – for example, creating, submitting, deleting, approving and rejecting requests; listing applications and requests; and obtaining workflow progress details for a current request.
KiSSFLOW doesn’t support any standard notations like BPMN, and instead uses its own (much more stripped-down) workflow notation.
Who does it partner with?
KiSSFLOW runs a partner programme that’s currently designed principally for organisations wanting to resell KiSSFLOW. It has around 45 partners in the programme spread across 10 countries; partners can join at Silver, Gold or Platinum level, and offer training and implementation services as well as reselling the KiSSFLOW platform. The company is also building a programme for large global systems integrators, but it’s not yet able to publicly announce formal partnerships.
Are there areas for improvement?
As a platform aiming to support customers dealing with the ‘long tail’ of administrative workflows, it’s not reasonable to expect KiSSFLOW to ‘improve’ by adding complicated features for multinational customers wanting to address core, business-critical business processes. However there are, of course, still some areas where KiSSFLOW can improve. Enabling each application to contain more than one form, for example, would make the design of more complicated, long-running workflows involving larger teams or spanning departments easier. In addition, enabling customers to deploy applications in a ‘test’ mode would make it easier for teams to test applications with users before deploying them into live operation.
KiSSFLOW is currently working on a range of enhancements to its platform, to enable customers to drive less structured work through KiSSFLOW applications. Part of what it’s doing revolves around integrating collaboration technologies that enable individuals to work together on sets of tasks as needed – rather than relying on static, singular assignments for particular tasks.
Should I consider it?
If you’re looking for a low-cost, relatively simple platform to help you quickly address the ‘long tail’ of administrative processes in your organisation with workflow applications, and you’re happy to have this platform run in the cloud, then you should definitely consider KiSSFLOW. If you’re already a G Suite customer, then KiSSFLOW should be high on your priority list.