BPM Adds Social Collaboration To Streamline Human Interaction - InformationWeek

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7/11/2011
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BPM Adds Social Collaboration To Streamline Human Interaction

By building skills profiles into the system, OpenText’s Metastorm lets employees route tasks to the people most capable of handling them.

OpenText's Metastorm business announced an update to its Business Process Management suite, including an expansion of the social collaboration features in the Metastorm Smart Business Workspace.

Version 9.1 of the Metastorm BPM suite is the first product update since February, when enterprise content management player OpenText announced the acquisition of Metastorm. Like all BPM software, Metastorm's products help businesses define and execute business processes, including those that can't be fully automated because they require people to make decisions and hand off tasks to each other. By building richer profiles and social communication mechanisms like chat into the product, Metastorm aims to make human interaction through the system more efficient and allow the software to handle even relatively ad hoc processes, said Sandra Moran, senior director of product marketing.

"There is a lot of buzz about social BPM, but I think we've viewed it a little bit differently" from other vendors, she said. "Instead of taking a social environment and pushing BPM into it, we're embedding social capabilities into the business process."

Most BPM products can vary the routing of work through the system based on the workload of individual users, so that no one person is overwhelmed. By building skills profiles into the system, Metastorm is allowing employees to route tasks to the people most capable of handling them, not just the first person with free hands, she said. These social profiles can be used both in the design of a business process, shaping it according to the skills within the organization, and in the execution of that process, she said.

Although BPM usually proves its worth first in automating routine processes, the next step is to use it to manage processes the organization may not consider routine, Moran said. "We can handle ad hoc processes and do it in a very dynamic way," she said. In the process, Metastorm can often capture data about how a process is being managed--and who is interacting with whom to get work done--that leads to further possibilities for automation, she said.

As part of Monday's software suite update, Metastorm also introduced new Business Performance Intelligence Dashboards with charts and graphs meant to make it easier to see which processes are performing best and which process changes are showing results.

In recent months, OpenText has added social software features to its content management platform and introduced its own OpenText Social Communities enterprise social network.

Since the social features in Metastorm were under development prior to the acquisition, the BPM profiles and social features are so far separate from OpenText's social software, Moran said. There is "not a complete overlap" between the kinds of social profiles maintained by the two software stacks, she said. "The way I define my skills and the whole routing component are very specific to how we use that in process improvement."

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