K2 Blackpearl - Pros and cons in a nutshell
September 15, 2015

K2 Blackpearl - Pros and cons in a nutshell

Ajay Mandke | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version

Other

Modules Used

  • K2 Blackpearl core, K2 for SharePoint

Overall Satisfaction with K2 blackpearl

K2 BlackPearl provides a robust enterprise level workflow platform and we are using K2 BlackPearl to automate business processes within the organization. Some of the business processes are small and specific to group or department (such as vacation approval) but some processes involve users from multiple departments and involve field workers. Examples include: adding a new meter equipment in field and a spot bonus approval process to recognize employees.
  • K2 BlackPearl provides exclusive activity/event library addressing common systems and scenarios ( AD integration for user management, Exchange integration, SharePoint integration for actions such as document management, user management, CRM). It also provides excellent framework to connect to LOB systems using Smart Objects. This helps developers focus on core process logic than interface details.
  • K2 offers ability to version control process definitions and process instances. It also provides mechanism to recover from errors (such as retry, or move process instance to newer definition). This feature is critical especially for long running processes involving multiple approvals/user actions. K2 also provides excellent, powerful reporting out of the box. Custom reports can be built leveraging the existing skill set such as SSRS.
  • Unlike many other specialized workflow platform (SharePoint workflow, Nintex etc), K2 BlackPearl platform is powerful and allows integration with any system that supports standards such as .NET, Web Services etc. Developers can build reusuable custom activities, custom functions etc. or leverage growing list of community developed library at K2 Underground. K2 also allows Visio based plugin to allow Business users to define process flow and then have it imported into Visual Studio for developer to implement it. K2 also provides multiple ways to define processes targeting different audiences (K2 For SharePoint designer, K2 Studio for less complex processes and Visual Studio for developers)
  • Better integration with TFS automated build tools is one feature that is missing out of box. My organization has controls on code migration and deployment and use TFS for other code and builds. We cannot use the automated build for K2 workflow projects.
  • Ability to define business rules in external rules engine/repository which can be used by workflow processes
  • Using K2 BlackPearl as a process automation platform allows us to develop the automation quicker than before. It also provides users insight into the process execution and identify bottlenecks (through real time visualization and reports). Having multiple designers (esp. K2 designer for SharePoint and Visio) allows non developers to model processes quickly. Thus overall it saves time and improved efficiency.
SharePoint workflow is very tightly integrated with SharePoint platform and does not allow external system interfaces easily. The activity library provided by SharePoint workflow (Windows workflow) is not abstracted to high level scenarios such as (upload document, create AD user etc) so the developer has to program from ground up. SharePoint based workflow and WF does not provide robust error management (such as retry, redirect to error queue, resume) and lacks solid versioning ability.
Nintex Workflow also is very tightly integrated with SharePoint and lacks integration ability to external LOB in the enterprise.
K2 is best suited for business process that involve
    • Human participants (User tasks with rules around task assignment, escalations)
    • Integration with multiple systems such as AD, SharePoint, Exchange, CRM, any custom in house application with supported database layer
    • Ability to manage versions, robust error handling
    • Reporting and audit for workflow processes
With other process automation such as BizTalk, it is important to distinguish that K2 is not well suitable for system workflows that involve data transformation, manipulation and exchange between systems.

K2 excels at business process automation compared to other common products because it can integrate with multiple systems and can truly be enterprise grade workflow platform leveraging common skill set of .NET, Web services, SSRS etc.

K2 Software Feature Ratings

Process designer
9
Process simulation
7
Business rules engine
5
SOA support
9
Process player
Not Rated
Support for modeling languages
7
Form builder
5
Model execution
6
Social collaboration tools
Not Rated
Dashboards
9
Standard reports
9
Custom reports
9
Content management
9

Using K2 blackpearl

K2 platform has multiple designers (Web based designer ,k2 studio, visual studio) each targeted at business analysts,power users, and developers. The platform provides consistent web experience in workspace navigation for users and admins and provides excellent reports out of box.
ProsCons
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Consistent
Quick to learn
Convenient
Feel confident using
None
  • Developing workflows/process automation using K2 Studio or Visual Studio is quick as k2 provides lot of activities/wizards out of box for common systems and integration scenarios
  • K2 provides a powerful web based workspace where users can access their tasks, view reports and perform common actions such as delegate/reassign tasks etc.
  • Real time visualization of process execution is an excellent feature provides users insight into whats happening and has been a 'wow' feature for my users.
  • K2 Tasklist /K2 process portal in SharePoint can be simplified and allow more options to customize the web parts with more filters.
  • Ability to edit few of smart functions (esp. Hyperlink) in email wizard. You need to delete the existing smart function and add it back with new data. Edit action does not work.