IBM Revamps User Interface For BPM Suite

The revamped user interface of the BPM Suite is called business spaces and leverages Web 2.0 technologies to build interactivity within a portal environment.
IBM has built a portal layer on top of its business process management suite that makes it possible for IT organizations to provide views of information based on the needs of employee groups within a company.

The revamped user interface of the BPM Suite, a software bundle built on a service-oriented architecture, is called business spaces and leverages Web 2.0 technologies to build interactivity within a portal environment, IBM said.

The BPM Suite is built on top of IBM's WebSphere application server and other technologies that provide the underlying application integration layer. BPM comprises a modeler, process server and rules engine. On top of the BPM Suite sits the new business-space UI.

IT staff first configures the portal software to the needs of individual groups within an organization, such as executives, business analysts, operations managers, or any other segment. Each UI gives a specific group access to the information they need within any business process, such as order fulfillment, tracking sales leads or purchasing supplies.

In addition, IT staff can build interactivity, such as the ability to customize key performance indicators or dashboards, create task lists and distribute them to other employees, or set up alerts. Business analysts, for example, could use their space to modify rules and policies within a particular process.

The idea behind business spaces is to give users a non-technical approach to viewing and manipulating information, Sandy Carter, VP of SOA and WebSphere strategy at IBM, said. At the same time, IT organizations can build their own space for monitoring, managing and deploying processes.

Business space is one of a number of upgrades to the BPM Suite. Other enhancements include a modeler plug-in that enables business analysts or executives to import a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. From there, the IBM software can generate a flow chart that an IT organization can then translate into business process execution language for the deployment of a new process.

IBM also plans to launch a consulting service called Healthcheck, which will provide clients with an assessment of their business processes, suggest a roadmap for improvements and build a strategy for deployment.

The fully updated BPM Suite will be available in the fourth quarter. The business space tools, however, are available as of this week.

While there's a big push among vendors selling BPM software, particularly modeling tools, experts warn customers to first get a full understanding of the impact of design decisions before deployment. Exceptions are often unpredictable and companies that are not careful risk becoming less flexible by using BPM software to design too structured and rigid processes.