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IBM BPM OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

IBM BPM is the #1 ranked solution in our list of top Application Infrastructure tools. It is most often compared to IBM Business Automation Workflow: IBM BPM vs IBM Business Automation Workflow

What is IBM BPM?
IBM Business Process Manager is a comprehensive BPM platform giving you visibility and insight to manage business processes. It scales smoothly and easily from an initial project to a full enterprise-wide program harnesses complexity in a simple environment to better meet customer needs.

IBM BPM is also known as WebSphere Lombardi Edition, IBM Business Process Manager, IBM WebSphere Process Server.

IBM BPM Buyer's Guide

Download the IBM BPM Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

IBM BPM Customers
Barclays, EmeriCon, Banca Popolare di Milano, CST Consulting, KeyBank, KPMG, Prolifics, Sandhata Technologies Ltd., State of Alaska, Humana S.A., Saperion, esciris, Banco Espirito Santo
IBM BPM Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about IBM BPM pricing:
  • "I wish it was less expensive. I don't know why their pricing model is so high for a piece of software that could benefit so many. It just seems to me that they could have a lower cost, maybe with fewer features or whatever, but it should be possible to do a lower cost workflow software that uses the same interface and underlying engine but does not cost so much that you have to be a Fortune 50 company to buy it. It is annoying to me. There are a lot of solutions that IBM has that are really powerful but nobody can afford them. They know their business, but I still feel that there are a lot of customers who would benefit from this sort of thing. I don't know what this elitism is all about. I am sure they have people doing the money numbers, but it seems like you can make a lot more money by selling it to way more people for a little bit less."
  • "Licensing is managed by the client, but we know it is yearly. Camunda is relatively cheaper. There is not much difference in pricing of IBM and PEGA. For large licensing, there are discounts as well."
  • "It's expensive. All software is always extremely high. The manufacturing cost that we have compared to the selling cost, it's not like you're building a house or building a car. But putting that aside, considering that it's expensive, it's a lot of money. If you compare it with some of the other alternatives in the market, it's a similar price. For instance, if you compare it with Pegasystems, it's a similar price."
  • "The price of the solution is fair for an enterprise solution that has both cloud and on-premise deployments and when comparing to competitors. Recently IBM has introduced Cloud Pak which allows for more flexible licensing options for automation and other features."
  • "I already compared some solutions related to business process management, and I saw that the cost of IBM BPM is more expensive compared with that of Camunda, for example."

IBM BPM Reviews

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Blake Smith
Unemployed at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 20
A very stable and powerful tool for handling lots of concurrent users, but it is expensive, and the Eclipse-based tool has performance issues when you have a lot of developers

Pros and Cons

  • "I liked its robustness the most. It was a very robust platform in my experience. It seemed like a very stable and powerful tool for handling lots of concurrent users and hammering at the system."
  • "It is a really powerful tool, but its entry price is so high, which makes it a very exclusive club for who gets to use it. The thing that seemed to be the most intolerable was that you could put lots and lots of users on it, and it worked fine, but if you put lots and lots of developers on it, it sure seemed to have challenges. The biggest challenge was the development because of the Eclipse tool. It just seemed like irrespective of the development team that you put together, whether it had 10 or 50 people, you would end up having to reboot the development server throughout the day when you concurrently had lots of people hammering on the system. The development server just got sluggish. This was true for every project I was on. Once you got more than about five people working on the system at the same time, it would just get slower and slower during development work, and the only way to fix it was to reboot the server. It became just like a routine. Sometimes, we would reboot at lunch or dinner time, which is silly. After the cloud instances started rolling out, I never saw that again. That was probably the one big advantage of the cloud version. Instead of using an independent Eclipse-based process development tool, we moved to web-based process and design. The web-based tool definitely had greater performance than the Eclipse-based tool. I never got onto another project after that with 50 people, so I don't know how the performance is when you get a large team on it, but it definitely seems that the cloud design tool was a massive improvement."

What is our primary use case?

I used it in my previous company where we did a lot of work with banks, financial institutions, and accounting firms. We were primarily using it for automating business processes, but a lot of them were really custom applications that used the process engine for making things happen. We were using it in innovative ways to make that BPM process engine do lots of other things that I'm not sure it was really ever designed to do. There was a lot of financial stuff. There were financial calculations that would fire off a SQL process and then get the results back. 

What is most valuable?

I liked its robustness the most. It was a very robust platform in my experience. It seemed like a very stable and powerful tool for handling lots of concurrent users and hammering at the system. 

What needs improvement?

It is a really powerful tool, but its entry price is so high, which makes it a very exclusive club for who gets to use it. 

The thing that seemed to be the most intolerable was that you could put lots and lots of users on it, and it worked fine, but if you put lots and lots of developers on it, it sure seemed to have challenges. The biggest challenge was the development because of the Eclipse tool. It just seemed like irrespective of the development team that you put together, whether it had 10 or 50 people, you would end up having to reboot the development server throughout the day when you concurrently had lots of people hammering on the system. The development server just got sluggish. This was true for every project I was on. Once you got more than about five people working on the system at the same time, it would just get slower and slower during development work, and the only way to fix it was to reboot the server. It became just like a routine. Sometimes, we would reboot at lunch or dinner time, which is silly. After the cloud instances started rolling out, I never saw that again. That was probably the one big advantage of the cloud version. Instead of using an independent Eclipse-based process development tool, we moved to web-based process and design. The web-based tool definitely had greater performance than the Eclipse-based tool. I never got onto another project after that with 50 people, so I don't know how the performance is when you get a large team on it, but it definitely seems that the cloud design tool was a massive improvement.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for a little over seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It was very stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is a powerful system. It can scale to really big numbers in terms of the number of users. You can put lots and lots of users on it, and it works fine, but if you put lots and lots of developers on it, it seems to have challenges.

It was a development house, and we had 25 people using it, but now, because of COVID, they have cut back, and there are probably 14 or 15 people left.

How are customer service and technical support?

There are different kinds of tech support. There is the free knowledge-based stuff, and they also have really good development support if you have a high-end contract. I have used all that, and it is pretty fine. Sometimes, we would find bugs, and they would send us a fix that would get rolled in with the next version. I don't like to be the one that uncovers real bugs, but it has happened.

Support was superior and absolutely wonderful if you could afford it. It is IBM, so if you're in that ecosystem, they expect you to have lots of money and be prepared to let it go.

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

My first exposure to BPM was with IBM BPM. I had never heard of it before I got the job.

How was the initial setup?

Having used lots of software over my life, I would say this one is pretty much on the complex side. Before the cloud version, it was challenging to make sure you've got the right versions downloaded. They had so many different variants with different licensing agreements, and then the patching has to be done in a particular order. The installation has always felt like a homebrew scripting system rather than a really robust installer. It always felt like if you made one mistake, it might take you an hour to back out of it. It was not a very forgiving and intuitive installation.

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

I wish it was less expensive. I don't know why their pricing model is so high for a piece of software that could benefit so many. It just seems to me that they could have a lower cost, maybe with fewer features or whatever, but it should be possible to do a lower cost workflow software that uses the same interface and underlying engine but does not cost so much that you have to be a Fortune 50 company to buy it. It is annoying to me. There are a lot of solutions that IBM has that are really powerful but nobody can afford them. They know their business, but I still feel that there are a lot of customers who would benefit from this sort of thing. I don't know what this elitism is all about. I am sure they have people doing the money numbers, but it seems like you can make a lot more money by selling it to way more people for a little bit less.

What other advice do I have?

When it first started, one of the things that were clunky about it was that it was ugly out of the box. It was not a very pretty program. There was a whole ecosystem of people who would do development on top of this IBM business tool, and everybody was coming out with their own toolkits to have a better UI application-wise. That was a real big problem. Towards the end, they bought up something called SPARK UI, and that toolset was significantly prettier and made the applications that you produce with BPM look a lot nicer. There are definitely some improvements there, and they are heading in the right direction.

In my previous organization, we had mostly moved to the cloud. Originally, I was doing server implementation, so we were running everything on AWS and EC2 instances. After that, we moved over to cloud-based stuff. I've been doing IT work for 25 years, and I've always been a get inside and figure out what's going on kind of guy. Personally, for troubleshooting, I don't like the extra layer of abstraction. I like being able to dig in and go right for the logs and see exactly what's happening. I like being able to see exactly what's going on performance-wise. The cloud instances felt a little further away, but on the other hand, I didn't really see any of the performance issues, so there wasn't a lot of troubleshooting to do. Maybe it's just me being old-fashioned, but I do prefer the ability to get in as far as I want to go into troubleshooting. BPM in itself was already running in a big Java instance on IBM, so it was already isolated in the operating system into its own Java Virtual Machine. There were already abstraction issues, but I did enjoy having more detailed access.

IBM has clearly invested a lot of money in making the product robust in developing it. At the same time, as an IT professional within the same career field, it is risky to be a single vendor ecosystem participant. It is really much wiser to have BPM development skills that would transfer to other platforms. I would say don't forget that there are other systems besides IBM BPM to fix automation and workflow challenges.

I would rate IBM BPM a seven of ten. It is really good and powerful, and you can do a lot with it, but its price is hard, and there are challenges using it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Zoran Cerkez
Owner/CEO at IT SPHERE
Real User
Top 5
Offers lots of space, quite stable, and perfect for large enterprises

Pros and Cons

  • "IBM's deployment box is one huge black box. We can create all the services with our own code or without a codebase, however, we have a huge amount of space with practically no limitation."
  • "If you want to use IBM BPM, you will have to invest a lot of money for licenses and you need to learn that there are limitations in developing applications. You cannot create anything you want."

What is most valuable?

 It is perferct if you have to develop complex apps without much coding (only java script). It is also good if you don't have much IT resurces in your company and woudl like to involve business analysts in process of developing apps. My opinion is that no it stuff can do about 50% of all developers work.

What needs improvement?

If you have a company that doesn't like to have everything ready out of the box and likes the capability of customizing a solution, you'll probably have a problem with this solution. You will need to do customizations on process portal, on your BPM applications ...

If you want to use IBM BPM, you will have to invest a lot of money for licenses and you need to learn that there are limitations in developing applications. You cannot create anything you want. You need to follow all the rules that IBM BPM requires.

For example: you cannot implement modern programming techniques (OOP), microservise architecture. You have services, you have a graphical tool for creating solutions, however, you cannot use this part of the code in other apps freely if you don't use toolkits and it can be sometimes very tricky. 

There are some things that the solution needs to improve upon from a developer's perspective. Software developers that use the eclipse process designer in older versions of BPM have had issues. The eclipse process designer and web process designer are quite different. With a web process designer, they cannot use IntelliSense during the coding in JavaScript. They cannot use some functionalities that weere in previous versions.

From the client's perspective, there are problems with licensing. It is complex especially when you need to do upgrade from old to new version. You will  need to use VPC instead of PVU per core and it is confusing. 

In case we are talking about cloud pack for automation it is good idea and it shoud be the future of automation of business processes but it is not ready yet. There are some functionalities that are missing ( for exampe sql services).I epxect that it will be solved soon.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for more than ten years. I started with the very old versions, with BPEL processes and then swich to BPMN.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is extremely stable. IBM is a reliable product. There aren't issues with bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution can scale well. It's already quite sizeable and it's designed for larger organizations.

How are customer service and technical support?

We actually give technical support to our clients directly.

I do have some technical support experience with some of IBM's technical support team, especially in relation to the setup, installation, and upgrade. I needed their help during installation and the response was okay. I'd say that I am satisfied with the level of support.

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

I am using also Camunda. It is an open-source BPM and I can make a parallel between these two tools. Therefore, if you want to create new apps and you have experiance software developers and have resources, and you don't wish to pay licences then it will be better for you to create a business process apps using open-source.  If you woudl like to create your services and your UI in some external tools, like Java. .NET, Angular, .. it is possible in camunda and it is not easy to achive in IBM BPM. On other hand if you don't have IT resources and you woud like to create apps faster then use IBM BPM.

How was the initial setup?

The solution is complex to set up. However, you expect this going in. It is a huge application. It is running on a WebSphere Application Server. The WebSphere Application Server is an application server, and therefore, you need to set up this application server first and then to set up the BPM solution. After that, you need to create profiles and so on. There are multiple and sizable parts to the implementation that have some very problematic steps. On top of that, if some error is happening with these steps, we will have a problem. 

On the other hand, you really have a huge and powerful tool at the end. Therefore, you cannot expect the tool will have a simple setup or simple installation and to have all this functionality that you get with IBM BPM, especially with IBM Business Automation Workflow that you ultimately have.

Basically, for first installation and customization of one small dev, test and prod environment  you will not need more than a week.

If you have old version of BPM and olready finished some appps, and you need to upgrade it, then it is a bit more complex, due to the fact that you will probably have problems with the application if these applications are developed in an older version of BPM. Instead of only upgrading software, you will need to convert the application and sometimes it could need some time.

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

IBM BPM is not for every company. This is a solution is for a company that has at least 500 people and more employees. I don't expect a company with only 100 people to invest a half-million dollars into the licensing and the same in the services. A company like that should look into other open-source options.

What other advice do I have?

We're just customers. We are not partners. We don't have any business relationship with IBM.

I started with the very old versions, with only BPEL processes. It was also BPM, however, I was using BPEL processes

Right now, for the latest client, we are using the business automation workflow 19.0.0.3.

Our clients are mostly in the banking industry, and therefore we don't really deal with the cloud versions.

IBM is preparing some new tools specific only for the banking industry and for the cloud. I don't much about it but I'm sure that it will be presented soon.

Basically, if you company is large, has problem with IT resources, need to rapidly change business processes and to fast create new apps IBM BPM will do your job.

I'd rate the solution eight out of ten. They can still improve their software. They have some parts missing and I'm expecting that these parts will be upgraded in the future. It is not a full 10 now, as there are somethings that they need to improve on.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Integrator
Learn what your peers think about IBM BPM. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: October 2021.
540,984 professionals have used our research since 2012.
DM
Client Partner at a computer software company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Good support, easy to set up, and scalable, but tedious to customize and has closed infrastructure

Pros and Cons

  • "Setting it up is fairly easy. If somebody has knowledge of the system, he or she will be able to do it fairly quickly."
  • "From the testing perspective and minor enhancements perspective, customization is something that is a little tedious as compared to new tools. In addition, various open-source tools that are available are not working with IBM BPM."

What is our primary use case?

A banking client is using IBM jBPM for Customer Due Diligence, and they are having user screens developed in Brazos. I think they are treating it like headless BPM, but it is not actually headless BPM. So, some of the screens and the navigation are from the old jBPM technology itself, and they have some of the customizations on top of that by using Brazos screens.

What is most valuable?

Initially, when it was developed eight or nine years back, it was really good because of the features and usability.

Setting it up is fairly easy. If somebody has knowledge of the system, he or she will be able to do it fairly quickly.

What needs improvement?

From the testing perspective and minor enhancements perspective, customization is something that is a little tedious as compared to new tools. In addition, various open-source tools that are available are not working with IBM BPM.

Some of the flows that are developed are end-to-end flows rather than modular flows. With a complex system, such as Customer Due Diligence, there are a lot of reviewers and profiles, and people need to log in and use the same flow again and again, which makes the maintenance of the tool difficult.

The security and testing side of things can be improved. If something can be done to make the latest tools and technologies available for doing the testing from the performance side and security side, it would add a lot of value. Currently, it is very difficult to put all of those tools on top of the closed infrastructure of IBM. Some of the new tools, such as Camunda, have solved this a little bit with the security scan that needs to be done in the DevSecOps pipeline that we are using nowadays.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

IBM is known for stability and reliability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

From a scalability perspective, it is already being used as a very complex system, and it is working okay. The new solutions, such as Camunda, say that they are good from the scalability perspective, but it has not yet been proven, especially in the financial world. That's the reason we're rating Red Hat and IBM higher in this regard.

How are customer service and technical support?

Initially, there was a lot of to-and-fro communication with the IBM team. Without them, it was not possible at all. Their support was good. 

Because it is very IBM-centric in terms of technology, getting the right people is very difficult. That's the reason why people go to the support team more for getting answers. This is something that is good in other offerings available in the market where the customization can be done very easily, resulting in fewer calls going to the support team. 

Their support is very good. People are good, and everything is good, but in this modern world, there should not be a need to go to the support most of the time.

How was the initial setup?

Its deployment was good and easy, but the problem was that we were not able to get the people with the right skills. It is not like Java technology for which you get a lot of people with skills. It requires very specific skills, which was another challenge that the client was facing. That's why they asked us. 

We don't own the entire application. We have just done a small part of it. They are now looking at what needs to be done and how they can modernize it.

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

Licensing is managed by the client, but we know it is yearly.

Camunda is relatively cheaper. There is not much difference in pricing of IBM and PEGA. For large licensing, there are discounts as well.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are currently checking out various BPM solutions and seeing how IBM BPM stands with respect to other BPM tools that are available. Red Hat is now IBM, and we found the Red Hat BPM to be a little bit more open source. So, the problem the client is getting may get resolved by Red Hat BPM. Our recommendation is Red Hat BPM and not Camunda, which is an okay solution, but it is a new kid in the market. From the robustness perspective, we are leaning towards Red Hat BPM, but the client has not taken a decision yet.

There are two types of BPM products available. One is the platform solution, and the other one is a little bit open-source kind of solution. Camunda is kind of open-source.

What other advice do I have?

If you are looking for a good solution where you don't need to do multiple enhancements and there is a good troubleshooting and support team, you can definitely go ahead with this solution. If you are looking for a lot of customization after implementing a BPM suite, then I would recommend Red Hat BPM over IBM BPM. For example, in the financial industry, we have critical processes that keep on changing because of regulatory changes. For such cases, Red Hat BPM is more suitable.

I would rate IBM BPM a seven out of 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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Pedro-Peres
Senior Manager at Celfocus
Real User
Top 20
A business process management solution with a lot of capabilities and potential

Pros and Cons

  • "Overall, I'm satisfied with the product. If you compare it with other products, it's probably not as easygoing or as simple to implement as the rest. But after you get used to it, it works. It has a lot of capabilities and potential, but the people, who come from different technologies, have some difficulty getting used to the way of working with IBM products."
  • "This is technology, and there's always room for improvement. It would be better to have a single solution. Trying to have an overview in terms of this solution brings together the concepts of BPM processes, customer journeys, and an automation part for KPIs. All of this working together and coming up with a single solution with privacy is more commercial than anything else."

What is our primary use case?

I'm a consultant. We are working for a consulting company, and we initiate solutions in IBM BPM at the moment, mostly for banks.

What is most valuable?

Overall, I'm satisfied with the product. It has a lot of capabilities and potential. 

What needs improvement?

This is technology, and there's always room for improvement. It would be better to have a single solution. Trying to have an overview in terms of this solution brings together the concepts of BPM processes, customer journeys, and an automation part for KPIs. All of this working together and coming up with a single solution with privacy is more commercial than anything else.

Because when you try and initiate things, we see that it's two different applications. But there's an effort to combine all of these applications and have an overview of internal processes. I believe they are making investments in this part, but they are probably delayed a bit.

Adding a control app or something easier in terms of maintaining the versioning will help. Make it easier to manage the patches so you can just do it and move on to the next one. Every time we tried to meet to do some upgrade of a version of the solution, it was a lot of work. Even minor upgrades always required a significant amount of work in intensities and trials.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

From our side and our core customers, we didn't get any complaints.

How are customer service and technical support?

Depending on the geographical area you're in, depending on the relevance of your customer, and if it's a big customer, the support goes very well. We don't have many complaints. If it's a smaller client in a smaller country, sometimes the support is delayed a bit, and we get some pushing from their side to make sure that we have a proper response.

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

We also have projects in our systems and projects with Comunda, and we are doing some parallelly. We also have some experience in using the BPMO methods and Software AG. It's not great, but for small things, it does the trick in terms of the licenses model. Sometimes depending on the situation, it becomes much more interesting for some of our clients.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is kind of a pain when compared with other solutions like Comunda, which is more or less like plug-and-play and quite easy. The solution is quite quick in terms of IBM, and it's a bit more complex. Especially if you're talking about having a more enterprise environment, it becomes a bit complex. You have to configure a lot of additional components from that infrastructure to make sure it's running okay, and sometimes it becomes a bit complex.

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

It's expensive. All software is always extremely high. The manufacturing cost that we have compared to the selling cost, it's not like you're building a house or building a car. But putting that aside, considering that it's expensive, it's a lot of money. If you compare it with some of the other alternatives in the market, it's a similar price. For instance, if you compare it with Pegasystems, it's a similar price.

If you're talking about smaller companies or smaller clients, probably they're going for something more simple like Comunda or something else because it's much cheaper. Even the support becomes much cheaper than getting a full IBM BPM solution. 

If you're a very big company or a bank or don't want any headaches, you would probably prefer IBM. You know the old saying that no one has ever been fired for buying IBM. It's one of those things, and that rule still applies. 

What other advice do I have?

I would advise potential users to get proper training and figure out the most suitable version that they need. Because in terms of internal versions and support, they need to be careful. Like all software, the latest versions always include some bugs. Older versions lack some support. You need to be careful about that. 

Have a proper solution architect that knows enough about the BPM system's ins and outs to make sure that you have proper internal support in terms of projects. Apart from that, try to build a close relationship with the vendor.

People who come from different technology backgrounds have some difficulty getting used to working with IBM products. If you compare it with other products, it's probably not as easygoing or as simple to implement as the rest. But after you get used to it, it works.

On a scale from one to ten, I would give IBM BPM an eight.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: partner
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Paul Parisi
Enterprise Architect at Mobiliser
Consultant
Top 5Leaderboard
How to decide which edition of IBM BPM you need
Since the blue-washing of Lombardi, IBM has introduced three variations on the core BPM product in order to provide different entry level costs to customers based on the how they intend to use the product suite. These levels are defined as Express Edition Standard Edition Advanced Edition Broadly speaking Express and Standard differ in how the customer is allowed to use the technology where Advanced edition differs in that it allows customers to use WebSphere Process Server (WPS) capabilities which have now been integrated into the technology suite (this includes Integration Designer which is the new WebSphere design too and also Business Spaces) Update: IBM is introducing additional changes to BPM Advanced edition that will result in a further divergence of the…

Since the blue-washing of Lombardi, IBM has introduced three variations on the core BPM product in order to provide different entry level costs to customers based on the how they intend to use the product suite.

These levels are defined as

  • Express Edition
  • Standard Edition
  • Advanced Edition

Broadly speaking Express and Standard differ in how the customer is allowed to use the technology where Advanced edition differs in that it allows customers to use WebSphere Process Server (WPS) capabilities which have now been integrated into the technology suite (this includes Integration Designer which is the new WebSphere design too and also Business Spaces)

Update: IBM is introducing additional changes to BPM Advanced edition that will result in a further divergence of the Advanced edition from Standard and Express and have advanced their Cloud offering significantly. More on this later.

WPS has previously been known for strong integration capabilities and Lombardi has been known for strong human centric capabilities so the combination makes sense in larger more complex environments (barring a solution that meets both needs) Purchasing Advanced Edition would be a consideration for anyone wanting those advanced integration capabilities.

From experience I would not recommend Advanced edition for BPM 7.5.x as they were still issues ironing out the blue-washing of the product for full compatibility with the Lombardi Process Center and model. With version 8.x there are a number of improvements with each release but still some gaps leaving it not quite integrated the way it should have been. Version 8.1.x and 8.5.x have improved significantly from the other code streams but I'd recommend a full proof of concept to be conducted before investing the additional cash in Advanced Edition even with the current 8.5.x releases. I'd also call out that Advanced has a number of limitations around integration that many integration specialists would unlikely be satisfied with.

Deciding between Express and Standard is more about licensing restrictions. Express carries restrictions on both authors that can write processes (typically a maximum of 3) and on the number of users that can use the system (typically 200 users) Express is not licensed for use with a scalable architecture so unless your operator base is under 200 people (or 200 logins not concurrent users) and your existing systems don’t need scaling its unlikely Express would serve you. Express seems to be more targeted to proof of concept / first time projects, SMBs and systems for internal use (i.e. HR systems, internal processes that have non-critical SLA’s). Some clients may go Express edition as a form of production trial system then upgrade to Standard if they find the BPM solution can add value in additional areas.

If Express happens to meet your needs the other advantage is its easier to install because it doesn’t support complex advanced configuration options (clusters). Also if your worried about three process authors don’t be. A medium scale project can be completed by three BPM specialists as long as process specialists have a way of capturing requirements in BPMN format or similar. There are plenty of free BPMN tools around and a great cloud based tool called Blueworks live that allows for design of processes at a business level. The bulk of the analysis can therefore be done without using the Process Designer which is more geared towards technical implementation in any case.

Breakdown of features

All editions

  1. Process Designer (BPMN Compatible)
  2. Collaboration and Playback capabilities
  3. Human Centric Form Designer
  4. Very basic ILOG style based process rules (but not using ILOG in all cases)
  5. Real time monitoring and reporting
  6. Optimiser
  7. Performance Data Warehouse
  8. Shared asset repository and Process Center

Express

  • Max 3 Process Authors
  • Max 200 End Users
  • Development / Production 2 / 4 cores
  • Single Server only

Standard

  • Unlimited Authors
  • Unlimited End Users
  • Unlimited Cores (bound to license costs so scalable cost)
  • Clustering

Advanced

  • Unlimited Authors
  • Unlimited End Users
  • Unlimited Cores (bound to license costs so scalable cost)
  • Clustering (Golden Topology is relevant)
  • WebSphere Process Server Compatible
  • New tool Integration Designer (SOA / BPEL / ESB)
  • New tool Business Spaces
  • Transaction Support
  • Integration Adapters
  • New Case Management feature which has been under trail since early 2014

So in summary, Standard Edition is probably going to be the key version that most customers will be happy with as it covers scalability, provides all the key BPM features without adding the burden of having trained WPS staff on hand but still has the ability to integrate with anything using custom developed code. On the sales front I suspect IBM will still get customers to buy into Advanced Edition for “future proofing” or longer term integration with mainly existing WPS customers buying into the offering for reasons founded on technical needs.

Going forward I suspected IBM would direct more features into Advanced Edition to get premiums on licensing from larger customers and this view certainly has recently been proven with the appearance of a basic case management capability available in the Advanced edition of v8.5.5 even though it was originally considered for inclusion for standard edition.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
VC
Manager - Systems and Services Delivery at a comms service provider with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Straightforward to set up with the potential to scale but configuring was difficult

Pros and Cons

  • "The installation was straightforward."
  • "They should incorporate an API gateway functionality within it to simplify integrations."

What is our primary use case?

We're primarily using the solution for workflows, mostly. We are a telco-based company, however, most of our use cases are kind of in a workflow format. We're trying to workflow things across other systems.

What is most valuable?

The installation was straightforward.

What needs improvement?

For us, we had the challenge whereby the training was not done properly through a sales partner. The BPM has a partner to deliver, and with our local partner, the training was not properly done, so we were not very comfortable. We never got to a comfort level with the product. We ended up not using it that much. There were missing modules within it. For example, the document management part was missing and we failed to integrate it into our SharePoint. In the end, there was no uptake for the processes that we had put in through it.

The solution as a whole should be simplified due to the fact that it has so many paths. It's difficult for a customer, when you are onboarding this system, to understand all the parts that you have to put together. 

What you buy depends on what you know about it. For example, if it's supposed to then have BlueX and a separate document management platform like FileNet, and a process server and a processing center, decision center, you kind of have to put these things together. And yet, you don't know them due to the fact that you are not an IBM expert. It's not like you can say, "Look, I want in a BPM solution." And then it just comes with everything together.

They should incorporate an API gateway functionality within it to simplify integrations. One of the key issues with IBM, BPM is the integration part. It is not very flexible with integration. For an automation platform, you really need easy integration. If I am going into SharePoint, if I'm going into ERP, those are some of the key things that you have to integrate into. We were doing point-to-point integrations. Within the system, the API gateway and the integration management should be part of the solution.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've probably been using the solution for two years at this point.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability was likely okay. For us, we had issues, however, I don't think it's the platform, which caused the problem. It was likely the expertise in terms of the actual deployment.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The company licensed at the PVU level and the scalability is a bit complex. You can't really tie it to the processes that you are putting in. You always have to monitor at a system or hardware level, the impact that you're putting on it - the more you customize and add things on it. It's a bit difficult to know when to scale up or down.

Originally, we wanted it to be used by at least 1,000 plus users, with the potential, depending on the process that you've put in, of more. We would've wanted to end up hosting process automation for processes to be used across 5,000 plus users, potentially. Unfortunately, we didn't get the adoption rate we were looking for.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support was okay. We didn't really have any issues with their level of assistance.

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

We didn't previously use a different solution. It was mostly just acquired Shadow IT.

How was the initial setup?

While the installation of the solution itself was straightforward, the customization wasn't straightforward for us. It was too complex, and the training we received did not help us understand the solution. We needed to be experts and we weren't.

What about the implementation team?

We used a consultant to assist us with the process. We did not handle the entire process in-house.

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

The licensing is a bit expensive for a main process automation platform. Maybe it's because of our background, however, we found it to be a bit pricey.

What other advice do I have?

We were just end-users and customers of IBM.

It's hard to rate the solution as we didn't really get to use it. I would likely rate it at a seven out of ten - if it was installed correctly.

If I learned anything from the experience, it's the importance of proper training. A company really should get proper IBM training to understand the product first, before committing to purchasing and implementing it.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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SuhasVasudevamurthy
BPM Architect at GBM
MSP
Top 10
Improved user interface, easy to scale, and highly reliable and stable

Pros and Cons

  • "This solution has always been lacking in the user interface (UI), it needed to be improved a lot. However, from the acquisition of Spark UI, the UI is much better. Overall the solution is robust and has the ability to integrate with any product for complex workflows."
  • "IBM BPM integrated with Spark UI and the UI is now much better, but they still need to improve the UI because competitors have predefined templates and other additional features. In these competitor's solutions, you are able to use the templates, map your data, and the form is ready to use. With this solution, you need to write a lot of code to have the same quality as the competitor's templates. It would be a benefit to make this platform more towards low-code or no-code."

What is our primary use case?

I am a Solution Architect and I support both cloud and on-premise versions of IBM BPM. I use the solution for banking applications, such as account opening, fund transfers, corporate and credit limit approval process. In the insurance sector, digitalization, underwriting, life insurance claim settlement process, and vehicle claim settlement process. 

What is most valuable?

This solution has always been lacking in the user interface (UI), it needed to be improved a lot. However, from the acquisition of Spark UI, the UI is much better. Overall the solution is robust and has the ability to integrate with any product for complex workflows.

What needs improvement?

IBM BPM integrated with Spark UI and the UI is now much better, but they still need to improve the UI because competitors have predefined templates and other additional features. In these competitor's solutions, you are able to use the templates, map your data, and the form is ready to use. With this solution, you need to write a lot of code to have the same quality as the competitor's templates. It would be a benefit to make this platform more towards low-code or no-code. 

The REST web service integration needs to improve by providing other features, such as different security options.

In an upcoming release, they should add video calling capabilities to the solution. I work mainly in the Middle Eastern market and many of the bank companies use video Know-Your-Customer (KYC) to call the customer directly from the BPM tool. They do this for customer verification, such as document and identity authentications. Additionally, every organization at some point would like to send out letters to their customers, for example, welcome letters, but there is no easy way to do it with this IBM BPM. There needs to be a template available or an attachable generated PDF document that can be made easily within this solution.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for approximately 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is very stable. When looking at all the features reliability is one of the strongest points of this solution. It has greater scalability and stability compared to the other competitors, such as Appian.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is really good. The scalability of IBM BPM is one of the best in the market because you can scale seamlessly. You can add any number of user licenses, CPU cores, or other components.

Most of the customers I have are enterprise companies using this solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support is not very good. When we raise the Problem Management Report (PMR) for any support, they usually take a long time to respond. They tend to ask a lot of questions instead of evaluating the system themselves by doing screen sharing sessions or other troubleshooting evaluations. There are times when we finally get a response from support but the solution they gave is not helpful and the issue remains.

I rate IBM BPM customer support as seven out of ten.

How was the initial setup?

I have been using this solution for a long time and for me the setup is not difficult. However, it is a little complex if it is your first time or when you compare it to competitors. The length of time it takes to do the setup depends on the hardware environment, but it typically does not take very long.

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

The price of the solution is fair for an enterprise solution that has both cloud and on-premise deployments and when comparing to competitors. Recently IBM has introduced Cloud Pak which allows for more flexible licensing options for automation and other features.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have evaluated Appian.

What other advice do I have?

I rate IBM BPM a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Integrator, solutions architect
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TT
BPM Consultant at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Consultant
Top 20
Has powerful team management and process performance features

Pros and Cons

  • "Some of the features that I like the most are team management and process performance. They are both very useful and very powerful with regard to the workflow."
  • "Some of the features are not enough for my business. We need to build custom user management for the many end users affected by BPM."

What is our primary use case?

We use IBM BPM for marketing. We use a lot of processes on IBM BPM at the bank.

How has it helped my organization?

In my Organization, we have a lot of business cases to bring to the BPM Platform. We bring all most workflow like ATM Operation, Loan process for Business Banking and Retail banking.

What is most valuable?

Some of the features that I like the most are team management and process performance. They are both very useful and very powerful with regard to the workflow.

It's a stable solution and can easily be deployed.

What needs improvement?

Some of the features are not enough for my business. We need to build custom user management for the many end users affected by BPM.

For IBM BPM, we have half a million users with their own processes in IBM BPM. Currently, we have a lot of processes, and we have a lot of custom groups for the onsite user to look at and run on their groups. When we add a lot of users at the same time to a group, the process admin is not enough for this, and we need to use the custom interface to do it. So, there are some issues with scalability.

The cost is higher in comparison to that of Camunda, for example.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using IBM BPM for a year.

We are currently on-premises but hope to have a cloud version as well. We have a lot of processes that may need to be run on-premises and on the cloud. We hope to use Amazon AWS for the hybrid cloud services.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is good at present.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have had some issues with scalability. Currently, we have a lot of processes, and we have a lot of custom groups for the onsite user to look at and run on their groups. When we add a lot of users at the same time to a group, the process admin is not enough for this, and we need to use the custom interface to do it.

We currently have about 5000 users and may increase to 6000 to 7000 users next year. The users are member staff and managers.

How are customer service and technical support?

The customer support has been fine with IBM.

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

We have used LinuxONE, but we have a lot of solutions related to IBM. We chose IBM BPM for the sake of consistency.

How was the initial setup?

We didn't have any big issues with the network deployment.

We needed two people for the deployment.

What about the implementation team?

We have in-house and also use some vendors for development. If the rate is level 1 to 10 I think I will rate for 6. 

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

I already compared some solutions related to business process management, and I saw that the cost of IBM BPM is more expensive compared with that of Camunda, for example.

We also pay for support.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing This solution We already create a business case to compare some Enterprise Solution. Have Page, Cammuda, IBM BPM

What other advice do I have?

If you follow good business processes, I think that IBM BPM on-premises is a good choice. It's a good solution, and I would rate it at eight on a scale from one to ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

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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