Pega Puts Pedal to Process Development Metal

New tools and frameworks speed business process definition, development, deployment and globalization.
Riding high after snatching the top position in both the 2007 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Process Management Suites and the Q3 '07 Forrester Wave report for Human-Centric BPM for Java Platforms, Pegasystems last week unveiled the latest release of its SmartBPM Suite. The upgrades centered on three themes: encouraging business user participation, speeding deployments and automating globalization of processes.

To empower business users, Pega has introduced an Application Profiler that's said to enable anyone to capture and prioritize business goals and objects with little or no training. A complement to the SmartBPM Suite modeling environment, the Profiler lets users simply type in what they're trying to achieve and the types of functions they would like to see.

"The goal is to engage the business directly and immediately, and to avoid weeks of requirements gathering and writing of long documents," explains Karim Akgonul, vice president, product marketing. "Once the requirements are gathered, the goals of the project are all visible, so the implementation teams never stray from the business requirements as they develop the process flows and the supporting pieces of the application."

The Application Profiler is tied into a series of new tools and development-side capabilities aimed at speeding process deployments. For example, a new Application Accelerator automates the development of processes based on the goals and flows defined in the Profiler. An enhanced Automated Unit Testing tool is applied to scripts and assumptions associated with new or revised process. A new Project Management Framework is said to rank and prioritize the entire portfolio of process improvement projects. Finally, a new Continuous Documentation capability automatically documents the system as it's built, including screen shots, process flows, underlying rules and business use cases.

The speed-to-deployment enhancements are in part an answer to criticisms that Pega's BPM suite can be daunting. In its latest BPM Magic Quadrant, for instance, Gartner wrote that "Pega's rich functionality can be overwhelming for new users... [and] most buyers rely on Pegasystems consulting for initial assistance, adding to entry cost." Using the Application Profiler and the new development aids, Pega says new applications can go from concept to deployment in as few as three days.

"We've taken the power of BPM and turned it inward on the problem of developing and managing BPM projects," says Russell Keziere, senior director, product marketing. "We've developed these tools and frameworks in response to customer feedback, and they're being put to use by our professional services team as well."

To speed global deployments, a Localization Framework in SmartBPM 5.4 extracts the text, data fields and screen shots from an existing application so they can be easily and quickly translated and adapted to local languages and currencies. An Accessibility Compliance Framework ensures that user interfaces pass US, Canadian and UK regulatory requirements around providing access to those with disabilities.

With the latest release, Pega is also introducing frameworks for Insurance Claims Servicing, Care Management for Healthcare, Fraud Case Management, Financial Services Industry Foundation and Product Configuration. The frameworks give business and IT a head start on these industry-specific processes.

SmartBPM Suite v5.4 will be released by the end of this quarter with base prices starting at "less than $3,000 per user," according to the vendor.

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