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Lombardi Blueprint Eases the Path to BPM

1) Link processes to business problems and goals and 2) Simplify collaborative building of process models
While I've been shouting from the rooftops that process modeling (in BPMN, ARIS or whatever) is not that hard, Lombardi Software has been hearing from its customers that it's not that easy, either. The tools are complex, expensive, and only a small fraction of their features are used. Collaborating on models - while they're being developed - is near impossible. Making the models understandable to executives or business users means reducing them to a simple Powerpoint diagram or Visio flowchart. So process modeling - step #1 in the process of BPM - is already a barrier.That barrier is what Lombardi aims to blow away with Blueprint, launched officially February 12. I've seen a lot of tools that the vendor insists is cool and different, but Blueprint really is cool and different. It tries to do two basic things:

* Link processes to business problems and goals * Simplify collaborative building of process models

Blueprint is a hosted service. No software to install, no servers to maintain. The models are online and shared in real time by your project team. Modeling a process is essentially making a list of activities and their component tasks, not drawing a diagram. Each activity can be linked to business goals and problems, and assigned a problem severity and frequency score. The tool then guides you to the processes with the most significant business impact, for further modeling.

The visual metaphor for model-building is not Visio drag-and-drop but a Web version of Powerpoint outliner. You list out the sequence of activities and their component tasks in the outline view on the left side of the interface. You link each step with a performer role. Blueprint automatically creates the diagram (in the main window of the interface).

As someone who has done more than his share of dragging and dropping in creating my BPMN training, I can attest that Blueprint is a lot easier. No it's not BPMN, at least not in this view. In the simple process view, the process is just a horizontal string of boxes with a column of task boxes under each one. But you can generate a BPMN view as well.

At this point it's just skeleton BPMN, but Blueprint is a full BPMN editor, so you can add more complex gateways, events, and other BPMN doo-dads if you like. You can also export into Lombardi TeamWorks (see this Intelligent Enterprise review), which is the BPMS, either to automate the process or to monitor the KPIs. The connection to TeamWorks is round-trip. Blueprint can sync up with model changes in TeamWorks, and I believe the performance monitoring is also accessible through Blueprint as well. Going the other way, for executive presentations, you can export the model to Powerpoint. That's not rocket science, but it removes a lot of the busywork of real-world process modeling.

Lombardi originally planned to offer a free version of Blueprint limited to two users and a single process, and the real version at a cost of approximately $50 per user per month (for 10 users). Check this page for more details Blueprint, and watch this site for upcoming opportunities for online- and in-classroom BPMN training.While I've been shouting from the rooftops that process modeling (in BPMN, ARIS, or whatever) is not that hard, Lombardi Software has been hearing from its customers that it's not that easy, either. Lombardi's on-demand Blueprint offering tries to do two basic things: 1) Link processes to business problems and goals and 2) Simplify collaborative building of process models