Below is an interview with Jared Michalec, Salient Process VP of Client Services, by IT Central Station. Click here to access the original copy of the interview.
What is our primary use case?
We are resellers. Our use case varies from client to client, but the most common are for initial demonstration, cut mapping, and workshops with the clients.
We are always looking for opportunities to expand. We work with clients, but we also look at our processes internally and where we could streamline some of those.
We are using the following tools from the IBM DBA portfolio: Blueworks Live, BPM, ODM, and RPA.
We have implemented the IBM Automation Platform for Digital Business with our customers, but not internally.
How has it helped my organization?
We use automation in a few different areas. We have a number of internal (as well as external) processes; like expense reporting, sales hand-off and time tracking, which are all done in the IBM automation suite. In terms of direction, one of the things that we value in a tool is not just that we are getting a benefit from it, but can we apply that benefit to other client situations. One of the things that we look at when assessing if something is a candidate for automation is: "Is it repeatable, or is it something that we could bring to our customers?" This is definitely something that we consider when we are thinking about automation.
What is most valuable?
That it has the ability to document in different formats. It is not tied to a specific model. You can look at it from different angles and see the intuitive nature of it. It always generates a valid diagram. You cannot create something that is not BPMN compliant.
It is very usable. That is probably one of its biggest selling features - its ability to have someone sit down and spend a couple minutes on it, then they are off and running.
What needs improvement?
In the past we have seen some projects not start on time. This is because we had some process gaps in our automation. By removing those and getting the right people involved at the right time, we were able to send notifications and make sure the information was in the right place. This has really helped to eliminate that risk.
We would like the ability to add additional custom colors. We would like to color additional items to add notes to the blueprint.
We would like to see more robust API access. We want it to be able to interact not just through the front-end, and have the ability to integrate with other systems more easily.
The reporting and analytics features have room for improvement, as well as some of the management and governance. These should be done out-of-the-box, as opposed to being built manually.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The system is very stable if it is setup the right way.
The cloud versions that we use for customer-facing things are usually more resilient, as opposed to us standing something up internally. Sometimes we miss something, or something is not setup exactly right, but these are not product issues.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It's very scalable, either horizontally, adding more servers to the cluster, or vertically, where we are increasing the server size. It is pretty easy to keep up with demand and being able to spin things up and down.
How are customer service and technical support?
We don't have a lot of interaction with technical support. In most cases we are the technical support since we have the background. For Blueworks, they are very responsive.
Often we will either log tickets ourselves or log tickets on behalf of our customers. Then the Blueworks support team is very responsive and will get back to us right away.
If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?
We try it ourselves before putting it in front of our customers.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup is straightforward. For Blueworks, because it is cloud-based, they stand it up for you and provision it usually within 24 hours.
What was our ROI?
The solution has increased productivity and reduced operating costs (in soft costs).
It saves time, probably a couple days a month, but this is dependent on the process. E.g., it reduces our onboarding from about five days to three days. Therefore, it saves us about 30 days over the course of a year. This is how it helps us from a business process management use case.
For automation projects, the ROI varies depending on the tools. The RPA capability definitely has the fasted ROI and lowest investment. However, we see a more significant ROI with some of the deeper automation tools, like BPM and ODM.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost and licensing?
Our licensing costs are very minimal because we get a lot of the solutions for free (as a partner).
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We only work with IBM.
What other advice do I have?
Try it out. It is clear once you start using the solution that it is a different type of application. There is no direct competition to the tool.
I don't think that there is another product out there quite like it. There are some competitors certainly, but they are either more complex, costly, or too simplistic and not geared towards process documentation.
The integration process is pretty open-ended. You need to be fairly technical to make it work, but we have seen success in integrating it with QuickBooks and Salesforce. Now we are looking at other systems to integrate it with, as well.
I learned the best approach to adopting process improvement across an organization from using this solution.
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.