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IBM Business Automation Workflow OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

IBM Business Automation Workflow is the #12 ranked solution in our list of BPM Software. It is most often compared to IBM BPM: IBM Business Automation Workflow vs IBM BPM

What is IBM Business Automation Workflow?

IBM Business Automation Workflow combines business process management and case management capabilities in one workflow solution. It integrates the capabilities of business process and case management into a single workflow offering. It unites information, process, and users to provide a 360-degree view of work to drive more successful optimized business outcomes. IBM Business Automation Workflow on Cloud provides the same capabilities that are offered in the IBM Business Automation Workflow offering, all within a ready-to-use, cloud-based environment that is hosted in IBM Cloud data centers and managed by IBM.

IBM Business Automation Workflow is also known as Business Automation Workflow.

Buyer's Guide

Download the Business Process Management (BPM) Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

IBM Business Automation Workflow Customers

Key Bank, Barclays, Control€xpert, MIR Insurance Brokers, Conqord Oil

IBM Business Automation Workflow Video

Archived IBM Business Automation Workflow Reviews (more than two years old)

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JT
Software Engineer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
It gives us the ability to create toolkits and use them across many different applications

Pros and Cons

  • "It gives us the ability to create toolkits and use them across many different applications. It allows us to write things one time, instead of having to write a diary for every single different application. We can write at once and reuse it."
  • "The workflow of BAW's automation is handled inside of BPM, so we can see what state it is at and how things are processing through."
  • "The development UI is sometimes a little slow."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is to underwrite workflow.

We are using the IBM Automation Platform for Digital Business to do paperless movement of underwriting files. So far, it has been good. We haven't done as many things as they are talking about with AI at the IBM conference, and I'm excited to try some of those things out.

We are using ODM, BPM, ECM, and BAW from the IBM portfolio.

How has it helped my organization?

We use automation to process documents, bringing the email directly into the process workflow for underwriting. We plan to expand our use of automation in our organization. We want to be able to read the forms for ACORD documents, or different other type of underwriting intake, automatically and not need to have any human processing interaction.

It helps in a lot of ways. We have moved it from just underwriting workflows to expanding it to document process automation. We have also used it as a service. The process engine itself is a service instead of just a UI, so there are a couple of other groups in our company who have been using it to facilitate their workflow process instead of just writing their own process solution or buying another one.

The solution has helped with decision-making in our organization. E.g., the processing department and some of our underwriting divisions are able to quickly create views, then their processors can very quickly decide what type of work we will do today. This can be controlled by management instead of by email.

What is most valuable?

It gives us the ability to create toolkits and use them across many different applications. It allows us to write things one time, instead of having to write a diary for every single different application. We can write at once and reuse it.

The workflow of BAW's automation is handled inside of BPM, so we can see what state it is at and how things are processing through.

What needs improvement?

I am not that excited about the move to using BPM on the web. I like the thick client, because it seems a bit faster. However, I haven't put a timer to it.

Previously, we wrote our own case management solutions, because they weren't there yet. Therefore, I am excited to see what we can do with the new case management tools inside of BAW. However, we haven't used them yet.

We would like to use machine learning to drive rules in ODM. The complexity of the rules that we can write for it is not quite what we want yet.

Technically, it does everything I want it to do. However, the development UI is sometimes a little slow.

The speed of response could use improvement.

For how long have I used the solution?

Our first PoC was four years ago.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is fine. I have not seen any examples of an unstable BAW.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is wonderful. We have had no trouble with that at all.

How are customer service and technical support?

We don't have any big issues with technical support. It is never fast enough nor quick enough. You never get to the smart guys fast enough, but that is just normal. I guess I'm satisfied with it.

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

Our previous solution, AquaLogic BPM, got to end of life and was bought by Oracle. Then, they changed a bunch of things in it, and we didn't like it

How was the initial setup?

The straightforwardness of the initial setup was the one of the reasons that we ended up purchasing IBM BPM.

What about the implementation team?

On our first proof of concept, we did use a consultant.

What was our ROI?

It has increased productivity on the development side. We have been able to move applications from thought to production quicker.

The solution saves time in development, as well as with time to deploy.

It has been able to reduce operating costs.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Oracle, Appian, and Pega.

The reason that we went with IBM was because they offered more of a developer-centric model instead of a configuration-centric model.

What other advice do I have?

Don't choose a product until you've actually tried to build a simple workflow by yourself.

Our business users have fairly good usability. The Salient team wrote the SparkUI components, that we use, which allow us to really create a better user experience.

We found that a lot of our processes were very similar, then we were able to generalize them in a way that we didn't expect.

The integration process is fair and normal.

I did the tech track for the first session, then the business level track for the second. The thing that I learned in the tech track was they talked about these things called emitters: this idea of data admission. So, I'm excited to try to use the dashboards that they were talking about. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
SD
Senior Manager at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
It saves time by automating manual tasks

Pros and Cons

  • "It has had a positive effect on decision-making in my organization. It helps us with our dispute process."
  • "Every client is moving to the cloud. We are still a little behind with IBM, but we are catching up from my point of view."

What is our primary use case?

We have multiple clients. We provide them multiple solutions. So, based on the customer needs, we propose different solutions to them. These solutions include FileNet, Datacap, etc.

We have contact centers, which we have also built for our client resolution. The contact centers interact with customers and understand their queries. We also create a case, so case management is also coming into the picture. There are different steps within the case activities where we try to resolve and close the case.

Right now, our clients are using ODM for rule engines, BPM processors, and the case management part.

How has it helped my organization?

It helps with compliance and governance issues.

It has had a positive effect on decision-making in my organization. It helps us with our dispute process. 

What is most valuable?

Most valuable is how it improves the customer experience. Our company adds the value for the overall implementation, and clients always ask us, "Based on our investment, what value we will receive?" Automation will help them to improve their efficiency for any case resolution and improve the customer experience.

The usability is nice.

What needs improvement?

In the market, Appian is quoting, "Low quote or no quote." IBM is almost to the point of no quote, but it is not there yet.

Every client is moving to the cloud. We are still a little behind with IBM, but we are catching up from my point of view.

More education and training of users is required.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability has been good so far. We don't have any problems with it.

How are customer service and technical support?

With technical support, when we create a ticket, we receive a response on time.

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

There are old versions, which are not being supported in future, so we have to upgrade.

What about the implementation team?

We have our own team for the deployment.

What was our ROI?

The solution increases productivity.

The solution has decreased operating costs. We see this at our customers' sites after implementation.

It has saved our customers time by automating manual tasks.

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

Nowadays, clients are looking at pricing as one of the major factors. For IBM products, they always think it is expensive for them. We are still educating our clients on the IBM FlexPoints licensing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

From an integration and security perspective, I think IBM is far better compared to others.

What other advice do I have?

The hybrid solution is something very good. We promote it to the client to try it out. It is great holistic, end-to-end tool, which is why I recommend it.

For the IBM portfolio, we have DBA, ODM, and BPM. They are very good for scalability and performance. They are also pretty stable right now.

We have third-party applications too. For integration, we are exposing our APIs, then they are consuming them. So, most of them are REST APIs.

Within the VPN, we have connectors that we are using.

We do have plans to expand our use of automation.

I will be attending the technical tracks. In the technical track, I would like to explore all the components specific to AI, which is very hot in the market with our clients. They want to how AI can help them and how automation plays a role.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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MO
Principal Consultant at a tech services company
Consultant
Usability for application developers is strong but needs improvement at the data-visualization level

Pros and Cons

  • "It has integrated UI and deployment models, and it has a deep set of consultant and service provider ecosystem features."
  • "I would like to see more streamlined install and provisioning; preferably containerized IBM BPM would be helpful."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for automating workflows for medium to large-scale processes.

How has it helped my organization?

It streamlines who is doing what, at what time. It has increased productivity. Employees spend less time worrying about whether or not they need to work on something or checking the status of an ongoing process. Generally, it has saved time and improved business processes.

What is most valuable?

It has integrated UI and deployment models, and it has a deep set of consultant and service provider ecosystem features.

The usability of the solution, from an application developer's perspective, is strong. From an infrastructure and deployment management perspective it's okay. For business users, the usability is strong at the task- and work-completion levels.

What needs improvement?

The usability could use improvement at the data-visualization level. Also, there is room for improvement around the effort it takes to stand up and develop the solutions that are more complex, although I think that is getting addressed.

I would like to see more streamlined install and provisioning; preferably containerized IBM BPM would be helpful.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is average. Once it's up and running and stable, it remains stable. But there's a little bit of extra effort needed to deploy and manage and configure both the on-premises and cloud solutions.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is better than it used to be.

How are customer service and technical support?

The solution's technical support could use improvement. The IBM BPM platform, at least from a cloud perspective, still requires using IBM support, which is not very responsive. On premises, the product under the covers is a little bit more complex than some competitors.

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

There was no preexisting solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex. The product isn't containerized, and the complexity of provisioning the proper footprint for what you need is difficult to judge ahead of time, until you get into the weeds of setting it up.

What was our ROI?

We are using the solution for automation projects and we have seen neutral to slightly positive ROI.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson I've learned using this solution is to start small and show success with a smaller-scale process application.

Start on the cloud, start small, and focus on your customer experience before the technical requirements.

We have integrated the solution with other solutions. It was a positive process for compatible and built-in integrations, and limited for more broad, generally-available integrations.

I would rate this solution at six out of ten because it needs to evolve and transform more quickly than it actually is, as compared to its competitors. And there is still a relatively high total cost of ownership to actually implement, support, and stand up solutions.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
GS
Solution Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Usability is pretty impressive - we can bring products quickly to market

Pros and Cons

  • "One of the most valuable features is the way that they are adapting to the market. Initially, it was doing only workflow. Now it has started bringing all the other components like rules within the workflow and then the integration with RPA."
  • "From what I understand, in the next release they're actually going to combine all of this together as one integrated solution... If we could have one unified way to build a solution, that would really help."

What is our primary use case?

As a business partner, we generally use this product to help our customers with their digital transformations. Most of the time we use IBM BPM or DPA to provide a solution and bring continuous process improvements to our customers.

The majority of them are used by business users. It depends on what type of solutions we are building. Some are back-office applications. Some are real, end-user applications. It depends on each use case.

Our clients are using it to automate some features. With Automation Anywhere being a partner, they're trying to automate the process overall. Some customers use us for overall digitalization, automating their processes. From there, they are trying to automate using the RPA features as well.

How has it helped my organization?

After being acquired from Lombardi by IBM, BPA was only workflow-related. Over a period of time it evolved. It has a lot of capabilities that were added to the product, like the rules, business decision-making and, now, with a more enhanced toolkit to build applications very rapidly.

The solution has absolutely reduced operating costs. It is customer-specific. We may not know the exact ROI, but it has definitely improved. Some of our customers see more than an 80 percent reduction, depending on where it's used.

The solution has helped with compliance and governance issues. Most of the time when we build a solution using this product, it involves some approvals. Depending upon the scenario, it has to go for compliance approval. And that can be incorporated within the solution, what we build using this application.

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable features is the way that they are adapting to the market. Initially, it was doing only workflow. Now it has started bringing all the other components like rules within the workflow and then the integration with RPA.

Also, the usability is pretty impressive. We can bring this quickly to market. We can start with a quick proof of concept and then we can take that to the next level. We can also use it to build auxiliary solutions for future use.

What needs improvement?

From what I understand, in the next release they're actually going to combine all of this together as one integrated solution. Obviously, once they started acquiring more and more products, the flavors were going to be there. Sometimes, you need an integrated solution. Customers don't want to have to say, "Oh, I'm acquiring this product, now I have to go build up that product. I have to go and build something else in another product and integrate." If we could have one unified way to build a solution, that would really help.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's very scalable. IBM has stacks of software to quickly bring into play.

What other advice do I have?

Start taking advantage of all the features that have been given as part of this product. Sometimes - especially the DBAs - they will execute it as an IT project. More than that, they should start using it from a holistic perspective. How can this bring value to the whole organization?

It's like a double-edged knife: If you don't know how to use it, it might come back to haunt you and hurt you. But the way they have implemented it, evolved it, it's actually helping us to improve and provide plug-and-play. We find that if it is not going to go well, if we need to create more APIs to overwrite some solutions, then we can actually do plug-and-play as well.

I would rate Business Automation Workflow at eight out of ten. Compared to other products, this one has actually evolved a lot, and they have brought a lot of value with it, especially adapting to the rapid expansion of industry.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
GH
Sales Engineer at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
Reseller
The tool is great for rolling processes out quickly without being too locked into them

Pros and Cons

  • "No matter what somebody's technical experience level is, the tool can start adding value immediately. Even if that is just an analyst who doesn't have any technical background, they can use some of these no quote accelerators to get things from ideation to deployment in a matter of minutes."
  • "It helps develop applications very quickly. Once clients get used to it and familiar with the methodology, then they don't feel so locked in. It is able to add this element of agility to our clients' software development lifecycle. That is my favorite thing about it: You're not so locked in as you used to be when developing applications."
  • "I would definitely like to see a unified interface between the BPM side of the house and the case side of the house. Something that just seems a bit more cohesive, because right now there is sort of a disconnect between the BPM and the case side of the house. That makes it a bit of a hard sell sometimes. That is definitely first and foremost on my wish list."

What is our primary use case?

We are a consultancy, so we resell the tool. We also do projects with Business Automation Workflow. I am in sales, but this is what we do as a company.

We use it for billing, logging our hours, and project management, which is our biggest use case and our core business. We have seen the tool help increase productivity in these areas.

How has it helped my organization?

We do use it in our organization. We call it, "Like drinking our own champagne." We use it for a lot of our internal processes and see a lot of operational efficiencies all across the board.

Everybody in my company is an expert in this tool. There is no lowest common denominator. There is nobody in the company who doesn't use this tool professionally, except for some nontechnical employees who use it for entering hours. It is very usable, but a lot of that comes down to the design of the application. The tool is only as good as how you use it.

We have used the solution to improve business process management in our organization. This is sort of the fundamental point of the it. On the case management side of the fence, but we haven't really used that component internally.

What is most valuable?

It helps develop applications very quickly. Once clients get used to it and familiar with the methodology, then they don't feel so locked in. It is able to add this element of agility to our clients' software development lifecycle. That is my favorite thing about it: You're not so locked in as you used to be when developing applications.

The tool is really great for rolling processes out quickly without being too locked into them, so you still have the ability to come back and make alterations and grow. Let your processes grow with your business and keep that competitive edge through your operational efficiencies.

No matter what somebody's technical experience level is, the tool can start adding value immediately. Even if that is just an analyst who doesn't have any technical background, they can use some of these no quote accelerators to get things from ideation to deployment in a matter of minutes.

Technical people can use the tool to build custom widgets. They can just start coding if that is their comfort zone. Though, I might not recommend it. Obviously, you should always use what is there first, then when you find the deficit start to think about code. 

What needs improvement?

I would definitely like to see a unified interface between the BPM side of the house and the case side of the house. Something that just seems a bit more cohesive, because right now there is sort of a disconnect between the BPM and the case side of the house. That makes it a bit of a hard sell sometimes. That is definitely first and foremost on my wish list.

There were some issues with it historically. For example, people didn't like the UI, but the UI is great now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable, as long as when you build it, you adhere to best practices and build things correctly. I can't say it enough, "A tool is only as good as how you use it." It is a good tool.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is all about how you build it. The tool is only as good as how you use it.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is pretty good. I have definitely been frustrated at times, like opening PMRs, then getting later responses than I would like. However, I also realize that the support team only has so much bandwidth.

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

We are a consultancy on this tool.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is pretty straightforward.

The implementation is very straightforward. It is very clear what each artifact type does and how they're supposed to work. It is very low code, and that low code element is continually getting better with every release. It has a lot of configuration options and is very intuitive, even to business users. 

However, once you have to get in the weeds and start scripting, it is still straightforward if you're a coder. But, if you're not, then there is a bit of a learning curve there.

What was our ROI?

Customers see ROI. 

When you're talking about ROI, we've seen infinite ROI considering that our licenses is as a partner. It's saved us from buying licenses, HR systems, and other things that we just built out ourselves. The solution has also saved us time.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

It might take three or four difference licenses to get something like the functionality that we have with this tool, since what we have is custom to us.

What other advice do I have?

It is pretty usable. There is still a market for people like us, which means that it is not 100 percent usable. There are also some really good accelerators in the market to even increase the usability. In general, it is very usable. As long as you have a good understanding of the process, know what you are doing, and are not falling into pitfalls, then the tool is easy enough to use. It's pretty low code.

The solution helped us with compliance or governance issues to some extent, but it is not really something that we internally use it for. I've seen it in several use cases external to our consultancy where that is the case.

The integration process is great. Every integration is unique and has its whole gamut of complexities. In general, it has the tools there to make the integration simpler and a lot more straightforward. The tools exist: Web Service connectors, subconnectors, drag and drop REST calls and SQL calls. The components are there, but that doesn't mean it's just going to work. I've seen this happen several times, but I don't think that is any fault of the tool.

I have seen a lot of use cases where it does have an effect on decision-making.

We do automation projects with this tool for a living. However, internally, it sort of depends on if we have a use case that fits the tool. If we have some resources that are available to sort of build something like that, then I will use it.

The vision of the product is very good. They are on the right path. The emerging case in process is a no-brainer, Anybody who has been in this space for awhile realizes that processes aren't structured or unstructured, and there is a lot of fluidity. While the vision is there, I just don't think it's quite there yet. This goes back to that there is a pretty strong disconnect between the case functionality and process functionality.

Biggest lesson learned: How to visualize processes and visualize improvement areas/problem areas. I really like that the tool is visual. E.g., if you get a chart that is expressing some sort of information to you, and until you can interpret the chart, you can't really act on that information. The visual component of the product: seeing processes, flow lines, boxes as are activities, swim lanes, and all these BPM concepts, which are visually displayed throughout the application, helps you understand what is happening. It helps me bring myself up to speed. 

I can go into an organization that has complex processes with no explanation. By just using this tool, I can pretty well understand what is going on. I might have some questions like, "Why did you do that?" I might not know how they got there, but I know what the organization does.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
Graham Wallis
General Manager at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Offers capture content management and a process suite, as well as rules in RPA

Pros and Cons

  • "IBM has spent a lot of time on the connections between the rules engine and its other product, the core BPM platform. They've really centralized the suite as one offering now."
  • "It is the only product that includes capture content management and a process suite, as well as rules in RPA."
  • "The main areas which need improvement are specifically around reporting and analytics."

What is our primary use case?

The use case is a wide range of things. We have implemented it from standard claims automation to getting your video from the studio to air, removing it from Netflix and things of that nature. Anytime there are business processes, business rules, and you need distinguishing workflows between users, that's where the DBA platform accelerates.

How has it helped my organization?

As a partner, we do a lot of finance and healthcare industry. We support the entire back office operations for a $111 billion brokerage. Anything from IRA contributions to distributions to money transfers to wires. Anything like that is all done by DBA.

What is most valuable?

IBM has spent a lot of time on the connections between the rules engine and its other product, the core BPM platform. They've really centralized the suite as one offering now. That's something that should have been done a while ago but is something that's a real big game-changer for them.

It is the only product that includes capture content management and a process suite, as well as rules in RPA.

What needs improvement?

The main areas which need improvement are specifically around reporting and analytics. The analytics suite is limited in this regard. I know they're working on something, but it's still a ways away. I'm waiting to see what they come out with on that.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is extremely stable. Obviously, there is always performance tuning and things that happen over time. Usually, if there is any major issue, it's usually the database's fault, but the impact of it is that your product goes down. You have to monitor the database and that is the area which people often forget to do.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's scalable. Right now we're running 10 million transactions a day.

How is customer service and technical support?

I work closely with the support team. There are varying levels of quality of support between Level 1 and Level 2. 

Once you've worked with support and know how to build a package of what they're looking for, it's very quick and easy. It's more about making sure that you have the package ready: All the logs and the other things which are important. If you don't have the package, you're going to spin your wheels for a bit.

How was the initial setup?

Over the years, the setup has become straightforward. Back in the day, it was complex. With the move to containerization, it will become a lot more straightforward. You're just going to be spinning up containers.

What other advice do I have?

I rate it at nine out of ten. There's always room for improvement. I've used the product for many years now so I appreciate the power of the tool.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.