BPM (business process management) tends to be pretty dreary stuff, with heavy-duty BPM suites addressing workflows in such vertical industries as manufacturing or financial services. Since mid-2009, IBM has been experimenting with an alternative: a sort of "community BPM" called Blueworks, hosted by IBM as a Web application, that lets collaborators model and refine processes without locally installed software.
Today, IBM introduces Blueworks Live, which lets users create lightweight BPM applications for everything from expense management to document approval. The intent is to make BPM more nimble and responsive and to target simpler workflows than those addressed by big BPM suites. The Blueworks community Web app is part of the package -- and is still free -- but the new ability to create and run process apps costs a modest $10 per seat per month.
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According to an IBM poll of its customers, 75 percent of processes -- such as creating a marketing campaign or getting approval for sales quotes -- are still accomplished by emailing around documents and spreadsheets. IBM's goal is to help customers formalize those processes and make them more efficient. The Blueworks Live approach derives from four basic questions:
- What is the process?
- How can it be more visible?
- How can it be tracked?
- Can any of it be automated?
According to IBM, Blueworks Live is the company's first foray into cloud-based process apps. More information can be found at the Blueworks Live website.