By Brian Benoit, Manager, Solution Consultants
“What is IBM’s Business Automation Workflow?” “How will this affect our processes?” “We just launched BPM– why should we upgrade? Doesn’t it do everything IBM Case Manager already does?” “What’s new?” “Why does it even matter?” “Why did IBM combine BPM and Case Manager in the first place?”
These are the exact questions my clients ask me on a weekly basis since the release of IBM Business Automation Workflow (BAW).
First, let’s start with what it is: Business Automation Workflow (BAW) is a combination of IBM Case Manager (ICM) and IBM Business Process Manager (BPM). This means that IBM has brought case management and BPM features into a single tool: BAW. So, what do you need to know to begin taking advantage of BAW’s new features to create more efficient workflows?
Process Designer is here to stay.
With BAW, those who are accustomed to using the old Java Applet-based P8 Process Designer will now be able to start building workflows using IBM BPM Process Designer, a web-based workflow design tool. It offers a more modern workflow-building interface with increased flexibility, features and expandability. Additionally, it’s BPMN-compliant, meaning users can build a workflow in different tools, like Blueworks Live or Visio, and import it!
Business Automation Workflow is not a rip-and-replace.
BAW is an evolution rather than a revolution. The P8 Process Engine that you’re used to isn’t going away so everything will continue to work. Everything you’re familiar with and have deployed will continue to function as it has in the past without change. The bulk of your work will come from learning new IBM terminology within the Case Builder and getting comfortable building workflows using the BAW Process Designer (as opposed to P8 Process Designer) with new features.
IBM Content Navigator will continue to be the interface.
Breathe easy knowing that any customizations and effort in training and learning to use Content Navigator are still valid. This experience will also make it easier to quickly adapt to other tools in the DBA platform.
Do note, however, IBM has changed the name of “IBM Content Navigator” to “IBM Navigator.” It might be confusing for a while, but if you see IBM referencing Navigator, they are referring to your “Content Navigator.”
“Tasks” is now “Activities.”
Remember Tasks? Well, now they are being called Activities. Using the term Activities is more in line with the industry’s term for process fragments, so this is essentially a good change. Most of these changes are cosmetic, but learning and understanding the language that will be used going forward with the workflow pillar will be the first step in the integration of the formerly separate products. Consistency in the terminology is important in the beginning stages of the implementation so you can keep up with discussions around BAW.
IBM is still building out user interfaces for Business Automation Workflow.
Because IBM is still building out additional user interfaces for BAW and integrating them into Navigator, we recommend you start to familiarize yourself with IBM’s BPM Process Designer. Focus on the backend process instead of the user interface, since it will be changing in the future. That tool will continue to be used for now.
Note that the BPM Process Designer is an entirely new tool to build workflows, but it does not significantly change the way in which you design workflows. However, if you are still using P8 Process Designer and know the interface and all the little quirks like the back of your hand, you will have to relearn those in the BPM Process Designer.
Although this isn’t a huge upgrade implementation-wise, it does hold significant changes in the way we define workflow and a lot of the common terminology in IBM tools. Prepare for these changes and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running with this enhanced workflow engine.
The best way to safely implement your first BPM workflow is to pick an activity within Case Manager that doesn’t require user steps such as sending data to a system of record. Use IBM BPM Process Designer to build that workflow. Pick processes with these characteristics that require work only on the backend because the user interface will not be fully integrated until end of 2019. Note that legacy P8 processes can live side-by-side with BPM processes.
Hope this helps!
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Manager, Solution Consultants
About the Author: Brian’s been helping Pyramid Solutions clients exceed their goals for 15 years. You can catch him at the gym or playing with his dogs in his free time.