IBM Blueworks Live Review

Easy to use and improves process maturity, but the costs are too high for a small organisation

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is process discovery and modeling prior to process deployment using the IBM Business Process Manager (BPMS) solution. It includes the capture and management of process governance roles against processes such as process owners. This was in a publicly funded emergency services organisation.

How has it helped my organization?

It raised the process maturity of the organisation from a low level to a reasonable degree of awareness and introduced some process language and conventions to the organisation. The SaaS solution was quick to set up and use.

The solution is quite easy and visual to use for stakeholder collaboration such as during workshops.

It did improve process maturity and floated the idea of the process governance roles but the organisation lost interest and found new tools (toys) to play with.

Along with the IBM BPM solution, the costs escalated too much and were unsustainable for a relatively small organisation.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the support for BPMN 2.0 because it is an industry standard.

Blueworks is easy to use.  If you want a very simple quick and easy solution for fairly simple workflows, this is a good choice.

I believe that the APQC cross-industry process hierarchy and some linear single role workflows can be imported.

It has a built-in capability to capture process owners and managers against processes along with other process governance roles. The 'milestone' models are quite good for discovering architecture and then moving into workflow modeling.

What needs improvement?

The models produced are not sufficient to be imported and used by IBM Business Process Manager - the developers will need to use the IBM BPM modelling functionality to design processes.

The user interface is quite easy at first but process analysts soon run into roadblocks of limited functionality, which is disappointing.  For example, anything but a fairly simple 'happy path' workflow soon becomes tangled with the process flow lines being routed automatically and looking messy and off-putting for stakeholders.  In the version I used (I'm not sure if this is different now), a modeller cannot move any of the model components and re-route the flows; this can be mitigate by using the 'milestone' functionality which enables you to 'stage' a workflow - but this has limited effectiveness and also has the side effect of introducing artificial stages into the 'milestone' view of the model.

The workflow management functionality is so basic it was almost pointless. I was looking for some functionality and realised there isn't any - it is just a list of tasks which get sent as emails to users.  Again, very simple 'happy path' workflow.  If that is all you need, then this produce is fine but there are other similarly-priced solutions that have more extensive user forms, document and email generation etc. that can be configured closer to a full SaaS application.

IBM had an alternative product that was more comprehensive in its functionality but this was discontinued.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used Blueworks Live for 24 months, with 12 months in each of two different organisations.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We had a few performance issues occasionally that frustrated the team.

How are customer service and technical support?

Not too bad.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I've used this in two organisations between 2012 and 2017 - the functionality didn't seem to have changed much from my perception as an end user.

How was the initial setup?

Very easy browser-based, cloud-hosted SaaS solution - the way most solutions are heading.

What about the implementation team?

In the first instance, direct with IBM; in the second instance, via a reseller.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's fairly cheap and scalable for simple process discovery applications.  It is easy to use.  There are more comprehensive solutions at a similar price.  Beware that there is a minimum contract period and some fixed annual costs.  With a larger number of users, it would like make sense to switch to a proper BPMS such as Appian (although I've not used Appian).

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Not really, it was recommended by IBM as part of the IBM BPM package.  Other solutions (Hitachi) were evaluated against this but I was not part of that process.

What other advice do I have?

Unless you really want a simple solution for process discovery only and value simplicity over the ability to exploit more functionality, I see Signavio as a much better option.  Of course, IBM may develop Blueworks.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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1 Comment

author avatarassistan836511 (Global Business Process Management Leader at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees)
Top 20Real User

This a great read up - especially connecting the dots between IBM BPM and IBM BWL. We recently evaluated IBM BPM for onboarding and wanted to take the advantage of seamless integration between Blueworks (BWL) and IBM BPM. the scalability of such combination is higher, however we found it to be redundant as IBM BPM also offers the limited process modelling features. Any BPMS is going to be a complex one and IBM BPM reinforces that - I see a missed opportunity of simplifying modelling with IBM BWL. Cost is another common pain point across BPMS deployment especially to SAP houses where cost takes over the benefits of having an independent business layer through BPMS.