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Collaborative Workshops for Process Discovery in Blueworks Live

By Genevieve van den Boer posted Thu October 15, 2020 11:21 PM


IBM Blueworks Live is your front door to digital transformation with the IBM Cloud Pak for Automation. The digital transformation journey starts with the Gather phase, where the focus is on identifying a sponsor and business goals, building your team of business and technical subject matter experts (SMEs), and capturing the model of the current business operations and pain points. In the fourth of this series of articles, we will discuss approaches for holding efficient and dynamic collaborative workshops to drive your digital transformation initiative.



In the second of this series of articles, we introduced the roles necessary to staff your transformation with a team led by the business and supported by technical SMEs. Once you initiate your discovery journey, each of these team members will perform roles in the collaborative workshops. The following table lists the leading business roles you will require to drive the workshops.

Table 1: Core Business Roles for Workshops

Core Roles



Business lead 

Present and engaged

Provide the business direction and constraints


Process Lead – Senior Process Analyst

Lead and facilitate discovery and design of business processes.

Mediate discussions and resolves conflicts.

Elicit and encourage inputs from appropriate business and technical SMEs.

Not the Scribe


This is a rotating role to document the model and outputs of discussions in Blueworks Live. It can be held by any of the Business Experts, or optionally, a Business Analyst, if one is dedicated to the project.

Business Experts


Subject matter experts (SMEs) representing all the participants (roles) in the process. Ideally, these are SMEs who perform the work and are familiar with all details of the tasks they perform.

Provide business expertise and requirements

From the very beginning, you will require technical support in the workshops. To ensure you initiate your discovery journey with sufficient technical insights, each of these technical team members will perform roles in the collaborative workshops. The following table lists the supporting technical roles you will require to assist in the discovery workshops and enable the design workshops.

Table 2: Supporting Roles for Workshops

Supporting Roles


Project Manager

Guide and track the overall project execution

Author and Manage to project plan

Schedule project meetings

Oversee project deliverables

Solution Architect

Technical Lead

Provide the technical direction and constraints

Guide the overall solution design

Technical SMEs (Current)


Provide technical expertise and requirements

Subject matter experts (SMEs) representing all the current systems (applications) in the process.

Technical SMEs (Future)

Workflow/Robotics/Content/Decisions/Integration Architects

Technical subject matter experts (SMEs) with expertise in future platforms.

Provide technical guidance and design the capability-specific solution components


Every workshop needs to have well understood goals; ensure it starts with a stated agenda. All participants should know what the goals and scope of the workshop are, and what topics will be covered, so they can come prepared. If reviews of material are expected prior to the workshop, confirm they have been completed. If materials need to be brought to the workshop, make sure they are ready and in hand.

Invite the Right People

Once you have your team assembled, confirm you have the right people in the room for your discovery and design meetings, based on the agenda.

If you have too many people, it can be hard to stay focused, as there may be too many opinions and potentials for side discussions. Contrastingly, if there are too few people, key inputs can be missed, or decisions may not be taken. Ensure decision makers are in the room to keep discussions moving forward.

Make certain to include those with experience in the activities and systems in the process, so progress is not delayed by a lack of knowledge or insight. This includes knowledge of how to perform the activities, but also a contextual understanding of what is required as input to perform the activity and the value and outputs that are generated. In addition, familiarity with pain points and preferred improvements are also desirable. This is why participation and collaboration among both business and IT is important.

Facilitate collaboration

The role of the Process Lead is to facilitate and guide the workshop, to encourage active participation from all SMEs. Workshop facilitation is key to ensure the workshop remains focused on the stated goals, within the agreed upon scope, but it is equally important to guarantee all participants have a voice by providing input to the discussions, discovery, design, and documentation.


Start each meeting with a short playback of the process discovery that was covered in the previous workshop. This gets everyone on the same page and engaged in the process discussions. A playback should be an interactive activity; it is an opportunity to bring the process to life and gather meaningful feedback.

Walk through the process step-by-step as discovered, or designed, thus far, focusing on reviewing the details that were part of the preceding workshop. For each activity in the process, have the SME for the role responsible for the activity, the participant, speak to and describe the characteristics of that task.

Ensure that the Scribe captures any comments or questions raised in Blueworks Live during the playback. It is important to capture the feedback real-time and address it promptly if it is related to the playback scope, although some queries may still need to be addressed afterwards.


Digital business transformation is best performed in an iterative manner. With each discovery session, after playing back what was covered in the previous session, iterate over those topics again to see if anything was missed before moving on to the next topics for discovery. Restating and playing back are not timewasting activities or duplicate work, they promote discussion and expose questions and information that may have previously been overlooked.

All hands on the keyboard

The scribe can be any of the SMEs, and SMEs can each provide their own inputs. It is key to successful transformation initiatives to get all SMEs engaged, and as early as possible. A SME who documents their knowledge directly is more connected with the discovery process, so it is essential to encourage all hands on the keyboard. Blueworks Live is designed to support multiple editors in parallel working on the same process blueprints, and all changes are noted in the Activity Log, so it is easy for SMEs to make their updates simultaneously during a workshop. As noted in the previous posting about user types in Blueworks Live, the participants can be either an Editor or a Contributor in Blueworks Live to make active contributions to the process discovery. Only Editors can update and author process blueprints, but Editors and Contributors can both review process blueprints and add comments.

Collaborate in person, or remotely

Ideally, collaborative workshops should be held in person with all team members co-located. This provides the most efficient environment for dynamic conversations and promotes interactive process discovery and design. Where working environments do not allow for in person co-located workshops, however, as an alternative, Blueworks Live can be used in a web conference hosted workshop that still fosters discussion and live collaboration. Blueworks Live is designed to support multiple editors in parallel working on the same process blueprints, and all changes are visible virtually instantaneously and noted in the Activity Log, so it is easy for SMEs to make and track their updates simultaneously during a workshop.

In this article we introduced some guidance to run effective collaborative workshops, with the right people participating in known roles, a stated agenda, regular playbacks, and active participation from all SMEs. In our next posting, we’ll discuss how to get started with modeling your current state.

1 comment



Tue October 20, 2020 05:57 AM

Thanks for this wonderful sharing!