Point-and-click report building and new service consumption options highlight BPM suite upgrade.
Business process management suites are aimed at bridging the gaps among the many systems and human work steps involved in "end-to-end" business processes that would otherwise be disjointed, unmesurable and unmanageable. Once the process is monitored and managed in a systematic way, BPM lets users measure and then adjust processes for peak performance. The "bridging the gaps" part is about integration, so services-oriented architecture (SOA) – an approach that simplifies integration with granular services – can work hand-in-hand with BPM.
Taking aim at better measurement and better use of services, Metastorm early this month released Metstorm BPM 7.5. The upgrade includes a new wizard-style interface that helps business users and process owners configure custom reports from the suite's Metastorm Insight process intelligence module. The module collects and exposes process metrics and business data that can be used to maximize the performance of existing processes while also guiding process change. The wizard guides users through the process of building historical, point-in-time and time-phased reports.
"It's a point-and-click interface that lets you select the data you want, the format you want and the time frames you want to investigate so you can generate reports very quickly," says Laura Mooney, Metastorm's director of product marketing.
To better support SOA environments, BPM 7.5 lets users access Web services from any repository or Web service catalog and incorporate them in the Metastorm design-time and run-time environments. This fosters service reuse, helps avoid redundancy and reduces development time and effort.
"We're trying to bridge the gap between business and IT from an SOA perspective," says Mooney. "As new Web and process services become available, we want business users to be able to understand the capabilities and how they can use them."
Also in the services area, Metastorm BPM 7.5 can expose process components as Web services so they can be published and shared in any external repository or business catalog. This is especially important when business partners need to collaborate and agree on process improvements.
To spread access to Metastorm-managed processes, BPM 7.5 adds JSR-168-compliant portlets for Java-based portal environments. Metastorm already offered a library of Web parts for SharePoint, but as a close Microsoft partner, the vendor has also added support for Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) Process Designer, Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. Thus, process designers can now use WF as a design tool and export then models to Metastorm while participants can monitor their processes in the "ribbon" display of Office interfaces or in Vista desktop gadgets.
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