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Workflows Speed Fulfillment

Users can drag icons around an interface to make connections
Business-process-management software vendor Intalio Inc. is simplifying its n3 applications. Version 2.5 of the software, released last week, will use Web services to more easily connect disparate enterprise systems and enable communications among them to support established business processes and rules.

With components of the software exposed as Web services, n3 will be able to integrate networked applications across a company. "This would take hundreds of hours of programming without Web services," says Ismael Ghalimi, chief strategy officer at Intalio.

N3 version 2.5 will feature a simplified user interface that will let business managers design workflows--for example, the route that an electronic invoice takes as it makes its way through inventory and accounts-receivable systems. Users can drag prebuilt icons around a Web-based interface to make the connections they want.

Some well-known businesses are already making use of such technology. Document-search firm LexisNexis, part of Reed Elsevier, was able to create an order-fulfillment system for small law-firm customers using Intalio applications, the vendor says. Its Web-based intranet fulfillment tool was set up to send an order in a predefined XML schema over the company intranet to an n3 server running Microsoft Windows 2000, where various processes and subprocesses are linked to a database to update order status and provide reporting. A LexisNexis spokesman confirms that the system slashed the time for fulfilling customer orders from 48 hours to two hours at the company.

More businesses are set to deploy business-process-management software as customers demand faster response times when doing business with a company in virtually any industry, says Ovum Research analyst Katy Ring. "Business-process flexibility is key to organizational survival."