K2 or Not to K2?
May 25, 2016
K2 or Not to K2?
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with K2 blackpearl
K2 Blackpearl is being used in multiple segments of our organization and is used in various types of engagement models and architectures. Its use is two-fold - in one scenario, K2 Blackpearl is leveraged through its use of SmartObjects to orchestrate manual-centric workflows for integrating business segments with custom in-house host systems for interoperability. In another scenario, K2 Blackpearl SmartForms are used to implement a smaller, isolated work process for a specific business segment/need leveraging SmartBox.
- K2 BlackPearl provides better versioning of processes than other BPM products I have used. Because of the feature-rich capabilities available being built on the MS Workflow framework, you can ultimately reach the level of code customization you need - but also leverage the tooling and code automating features of K2.
- Its level of extensibility is fantastic. To say it is extensible and interoperable means a lot, because a lot of products SAY you can extend a feature, but it requires ripping out the kitchen of the house. K2 Blackpearl doesn't require kitchen replacement... you can upgrade the sink, replace the cabinetry, and extend pretty much everything. I have not run into a situation in the 6 years of using the product that I could NOT customize/extend a capability.
- K2 Blackpearl's physical architecture options are plentiful. If you understand the product components and the granularity of the specific business need, you can provide an accurate blueprint installation of the product initially, and adapt or scale the product capabilities with relative ease via configuration and distributed options. They even offer training on physical infrastructure deployments if you are concerned about future use or growth.
- Because it can be used as an integration platform, debugging and problem resolution can be cumbersome. If there was a way to spin up an environment isolated to a local sandbox it would be hugely beneficial vs. a full blown development or quality assurance environment.
- Features to support complex form building capabilities are not as advanced as other BPM products. Something to consider when evaluating your business use case.
- Because the platform is rather large, when trying to get support for a specific issue, it can take some additional clarification and patience with support in getting the correct skilled resource to help you with your problem.
- Deploying an enterprise model has provided infrastructure reusability across the enterprise.
- Building Smart Objects for integration provided the reusability of service objects/brokers across the enterprise vs having one-off integrations of services per process/business segment.
- Versioning smart objects and service brokers is challenging in K2 blackpearl and a process/pattern should be defined for your company. Also a reference application and architecture should be defined for guidance of all development teams.
When we brought K2 Blackpearl into the organization 5/6 years ago, it was brought in for a larger, enterprise build. Because of the scale of the program (3-4 year investment initially in 2010), it was important to invest in a product that not only met the needs of a specific business segment, it was important to understand a longer term strategy of the product's use within the organization. Given we have multiple BPM products within the organization providing different solutions to similar problems, the other products are used in specific business segments. The intent of K2 Blackpearl was to become a candidate product for use via our BPM Center of Excellence committee. Since 2010, it still stands up against various candidates such as Lombardi and IBM BPM and is the only Microsoft-based BPMS we have. I think, if you have a staff of .NET gurus and a business partner mature enough to understand the benefits of a BPM product, I would definitely chose K2 Blackpearl again.
Just like any product, you need to make sure the product is solving the business use case and is the appropriate solution to the problem. K2 Blackpearl is for manual-centric workflows where work items are assigned to individuals (not queues) and immediate response on a work item assignment should not be guaranteed. It is not a form-based workflow or a synchronous work process - it needs to be used to manage the work of individuals on a per-work item basis when inventory, visibility, traceability/auditing, and system interoperability is required. For Smart Forms, like any forms modeling tools, the Data Capture and Presentation needs to be a concise, simple, and relatively basic validation. Like any Forms Automation tools or Forms Modeling tools, when you need to start verifying your claim number to a source of truth, your invoice to an invoicing system, and the complexity increases, you need to be smart with the product chosen and think through vision/strategy on how long the life span of your application is vs. the amount of build time to build.