IBM BPM Review
Enables business to change procedures as needed, even daily, keeping them up to date


What is our primary use case?

We're using BPM in our policy area for when we deploy new rates. We're an insurance company. We change rates based on market trends, or analysis, or new vehicles in the market. We try to get those change requests in, process them, and get them back out so our rates are updated for market share.

We had been using a process that was very manually intensive. We use BPM to take that manual process and automate it from start to finish. When the product manager requests a change, it will go to the pricing analyst, they'll do their work and it's all organized and coordinated in sequence, so that they can make the right decisions at the right times for the process. And hopefully reduce the time that we get the rate revisions out to market.

We're not using it with Case Manager, it's just BPM exclusively at this point. In terms of workflow process, as I mentioned, the request comes in and it follows a sequence of events. The pricing analysts that work on these requests, they have a lot of decisions to make, a lot of documentation to look at based on state regulations or different product types. This helps them organize that and presents the information to them at the right step of the process, so they're not spending extra time searching through hundreds of pages of documentation to try to find what they need. It's all right there as they work through the process.

How has it helped my organization?

Right now we're about eight months in, and the processes are long. They can take multiple weeks, so we haven't had a chance to go through a number of those to realize the benefits. But just word of mouth, and talking to people using it, they're seeing value in more efficiency in the steps that they're working through, they have documentation presented to them. Word of mouth has been great, but we haven't actually seen the numbers yet because it's just been implemented recently.

It is having an impact on our ability to change or update our processes. There is information during the process that the analyst will look at, their procedures. We created a part of the application such that the business can change those procedures as needed, on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. As the reps go through the process, they don't necessarily know it's changing, they just know they have to refer to some documentation, and the business can keep that up to date. That's been a great way for them to make those changes quickly as they need to.

What is most valuable?

It's really helped our customers learn the process. Before you go into BPM you have to document the process. Working with the different groups that are involved with the process, there was good collaboration so they understand what the process is and how it can be most efficient, prior to adding the tool on top of it.

So, process analysis first and then applying the tooling, it's been working great.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more inclusion of RPA technologies. If we have more manual processes, we can use robotic process automation and integrate that in with the solution. Other than that, it's meeting our needs with what the requirements were.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In production, it's great. We have about 60 or so users, so it's small. We are in the cloud. There was some learning early on in development of the application. We just had one, sometimes two, developers, and there were some things that we had to do in the cloud to allow for the performance. It was taking up memory and we didn't know it. We had to work with IBM support, create some scripts to clean up the environment on a weekly basis, so that we weren't loading up memory.

It was a little challenging early on because we had just started. We were having problems right away with just two developers, but we got it sorted out and support helped.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had an opportunity to scale it. From what I understand about the architecture, it's definitely scalable to the enterprise. But we haven't used it in that capacity yet.

We just have the one application and it has not been in production long enough to really see the ROI yet, in terms of scaling. But based on the project, cost benefit analysis early on, it was showing positive. But we're not there yet.

How is customer service and technical support?

It's been good. They've been responsive. We've been able to escalate when we needed to. We haven't had any incidents in production. It was just, while we were developing a solution, working with it, there were some issues early on, and support was great.

Which solutions did we use previously?

No solution previously. We've been discussing BPM for a number of years, just looking for the right use case and the right time to do it.

When selecting a vendor, typically we look to see if we have strategic partners, strategic relationships with larger vendors, like IBM; if they have the product that meets the requirements. We tend to look at analyst information to say, "Okay, who are the players in this particular space?" We tend to go with that as a starting place, and go from there. If they're someone we're already doing business with, and we have a strategic relationship with them, that will be our first point of reference, and then look at the requirements, can they meet the requirements?

We went with IBM largely due to, from what I gather, the requirements, the technology and functionality, were very similar. And we weren't doing business with the other vendors, while IBM, we are.

How was the initial setup?

It was straightforward from our perspective. It was in the cloud, they provisioned the instance for us. However, I think there were some things that we didn't know about that needed to be fixed, and those incidents happened early on. We were a little bit caught off guard. 

We thought there might have been a little more discussion early on about, "Hey, if you're doing this, set it up this way," or some best practices or some guidance that we didn't get. But we fixed the issues and were able to work through that. From that point on, it's been good.

We worked with IBM to implement. I think we implemented it at the right time. I don't think we needed to have started earlier. The business unit that's using it had some overarching projects to look at, in terms of efficiency and improving speed to market. As they were looking at different technologies or process improvements, one of the options was to try to clean up this process. In working with them and working with IT, we landed on using BPM for that. It was actually good timing for their overarching goals. They have other projects in flight that will work in parallel with this to hopefully reduce the time to market.

What other advice do I have?

I think this solution is an eight out of 10. It has a strong place in the market. BPM is one of the leading tools, if not the best BPM solution out there. It has extensibility across the platform to allow you to do any number of things. It gives you scalability and functionality, breadth to handle just about anything you need to do.

Regarding advice, if you're not using a partner, use a partner, or use IBM to get some consulting services to help you get started. They have some quick-win programs that are designed to come in, they'll bring a developer in and they'll work with your developer to get you started. That's what we did and that worked really great. We got an understanding of the product, we got an understanding of how to deploy the product. And when we were done with that engagement, we were off and running. I would definitely say go that route. It works.

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