Flowable


Founded 2016 | HQ Bern, Switzerland | 350 employees (approx.) | $65M revenue (est.)

Flowable is an open-source provider of digital process automation software designed to meet the most complex process automation needs. What impressed us is that while Flowable will appeal to the techiest of developers, the company’s model-driven concept makes it highly usable and manageable for business experts, analysts, and administrators.


The Company

Flowable is an open-source provider of digital process automation software headquartered in Bern, Switzerland, with 11 offices throughout Europe, the US, and Asia. The privately owned company has approximately 350 employees. The firm does not disclose revenues, but Deep Analysis estimates its revenues at $65 million. Flowable was formed in late 2016 when lead developers for digital process automation software left Alfresco and started the Flowable Open Source project and consulting practice.

The Technology

Flowable’s product automates structured processes and dynamic case management; overall, the software is highly dynamic. The product has a simple, easy-to-use UI that can be quickly modified based on the complexity of the process and the type of user (i.e., beginner, intermediate, and advanced). Flowable’s developers have primarily focused on building a highly dynamic process automation platform that fully integrates case, process, and forms data; aggregated data; and analytics (see Figure 1). The product supports dynamic process injection as a flexible way to add process snippets to executing processes. The process platform integrates with chat applications including WhatsApp, WeChat, Telegram, and Line. Flowable also offers its own chat product and supports AI-driven chatbots. These chatbots are integrated with data, content, process, and machine learning.

Flowable itself comes in three basic flavors/products:

  • Flowable Work – the core low-code BPM platform
  • Flowable Orchestrate – for service orchestration across applications and platforms
  • Flowable Engage – a CX-centered product to manage customer messaging

Under the covers is some impressive technology, running on Apache Kafka, AWS SQS, and other event frameworks designed to meet the most scalable and complex needs. Flowable has made strides to simplify the use of such a complex system as much as possible. For example, creating models (process, case, security, etc.) in Flowable is typically done with low-code. Though there are low- or no-code elements throughout, pro-code is available and, as with other BPM systems, still necessary for many tasks. It’s important to note that using Flowable centers around the use of models; indeed, the system is model-driven. When you create a case, for example, you are building an executable data model (object). This approach means that data models can, in turn, generate live database schemas, creating a deep relationship with the database back end, the data sources, and the models that drive them. All in all, this is a neat and straightforward approach to working with what is a highly complex platform of process functionality.

Furthermore, Flowable embraces common standards and approaches such as BPMN (Business Process Model & Notation), CMMN (Case Management Model & Notation), and DMN (Decision Model & Notation). Along with its open-source foundations, this means hiring and training developers is less of a challenge for companies using Flowable than for those using other automation vendors who take a more proprietary approach.

One feature that caught our eye is Flowable Inspect, which provides a range of real-time and asynchronous inspections and tests to detect breakpoints and visual debugging of complex activities. We also liked that there are easy-to-use elements that help with UI design for case management, etc., and the ability to view different design environments for various roles within the same process.

In practical terms, this translates into the following: although it is a BPM system in principle, Flowable has been designed around the concept of the flow of data between humans and machines (and vice-versa). So rather than a traditional monolithic “process chain” approach to BPM, Flowable approaches process automation from the perspective of chaining different systems and services together; in our analysis, this is more of an orchestrated, decentralized approach to automation than is typical in the market. It’s an approach that Flowable describes as “Open Intelligent Business Automation.”
Finally, it’s worth noting that Flowable can be deployed 100% in the cloud on Azure, AWS, or Google, or – as is often the case for complex process management – in a private cloud or as a managed service.

Figure 1
Process Automation Example: Credit Request

Our Opinion

Flowable has been designed to meet the most complex process automation needs. But what impressed us is that though Flowable will appeal to the techiest of developers, the company has built out a model-driven concept that makes it highly usable and manageable for business experts, analysts, and administrators.

Advice to Buyers

Consider Flowable if your organization is seeking a process automation platform for application developers. Shortlist Flowable if your organization is interested in an open-source process platform and/or a focus on combining process automation across a range of intersecting processes and applications. Lastly, consider Flowable if your organization’s business processes are highly dynamic and need to be maintained and changed regularly over time.


SOAR Analysis

Strengths

  • A viable OEM business with multiple partners
  • Open-source platform, coupled with additional fee-based products and services

Aspirations

  • Implement low-code tooling in the near future
  • Integrate the process and chat software with call center solutions

Opportunities

  • Continue differentiating the platform by targeting omnichannel initiatives in financial services
  • Consider expanding the product for business analysts and business developers

Results

  • Multiple OEM customers
  • Rapid growth since inception

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