Wednesday, September 10, 2003

New software enables business managers to fine-tune important processes virtually on the fly, with only minimal involvement by the IT department. Two years ago, LexisNexis realized that its ability to serve new Web-based customers was severely strained. Thousands of small and midsize law firms represented a huge business opportunity for the company's legal-information services, but they often had to wait 48 hours to have their Web accounts activated after signing up. For smaller firms seeking to buy documents in small quantities, often to apply to pending cases, such a delay was intolerable. Clearly, LexisNexis needed to revamp its customer sign-up and order-fulfillment processes, which were designed for large law firms and the ordering of hardcover legal tomes. But instead of spending millions on a massive new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, LexisNexis chose a somewhat unorthodox and unproven route: by reworking some key workflows to require fewer manual tasks and installing a new kind of software (from Intalio Inc.) that choreographs the activities of several existing back-office systems, it was able to get new Web accounts running in a matter of minutes.

Re-reengineering [source CFO Magazine]

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Lombardi Software, the developer of TeamWorks(R), award-winning business process management (BPM) software, will be featured at The Brainstorm Group's Business Integration & Web Services Conference to be held at the Hyatt Regency Burlingame, Sept. 15-Lombardi's Executive Vice President (EVP) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Phil Gilbert, will join industry experts to explore best practices for business and IT analysts performing BPM across the enterprise and with supply and distribution chain partners. Now in its fifth year, the Business Integration & Web Services Conference Series is the leading forum specifically designed to provide business and information technology leaders with actionable advice, invaluable networking opportunities and practical solutions to the most pressing business integration challenges.

Lombardi Software Executive to Be Featured Speaker on Brainstorm Group's Business Process Management Best Practices Panel [source BusinessWire]

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Now that many plumbing issues have been sorted out, it's time to bring business process integration, transaction support and systems management into the Web services realm, according to one IBM executive. Toward that end, IBM is building BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) support--as well as WS-Security support--into its WebSphere application server, Tivoli systems management and other IBM products, said Bob Sutor, director of WebSphere Infrastructure Software for IBM Software. IBM already supports SOAP, WSDL and UDDI in most of its middleware software. BPEL is an emerging specification that would give programmers a way to formally describe processes underlying business applications so that they can be exposed and linked to processes in other applications. IBM and Microsoft submitted the spec to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) for approval. For a while it appeared that BPEL was on a collision course with another specification effort backed by Oracle and others and winding its way through the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) but those two efforts now appear to be converging.

IBM Exec Touts Need For BPEL Support, SOAs [source CRN]
As Hewlett-Packard Co. submitted a framework for managing Web services, Sun, HP subsidiary Arjuna Technologies Ltd. and others put forward a specification for Web services that need to communicate and work together. “It defines how resources are to be managed, what their properties are, how that information is to be retrieved and the relationship between the objects in the model,” said Joe McGonnell, director of HP’s Web Services Management Organization. While HP submitted its standard to OASIS, its subsidiary Arjuna, along with Fujitsu, Iona, Oracle and Sun, is promoting a framework for what it calls context in dealing with Web services that interact with one another. WS-CAF is a collection of three specifications: Web Service Context (WS-CTX), Web Service Coordination Framework (WS-CF) and Web Service Transaction Management (WS-TXM). WS-CTX helps all Web services participating in an activity exchange information about a common outcome. WS-CF manages context growth and life cycle, and notifies the various Web services of outcome messages to Web services participating in a particular transaction. WS-TXM helps servers negotiate outcomes and make a common decision about how to behave, especially in the case of failure. Its all part of defining the elements of executable processes bottom up from Web services, as opposed to top down as in BPML. It helps companies with no BPM technology get into the BPM space, through extension of existing technologies.

HP Sends Management Framework to OASIS [source SD Times]
Sun Microsystems Inc. and several partners published Monday a web services specification for coordinating electronic transactions, prompting some analysts to question the need to develop the technology outside of similar efforts already underway. The Web Services Composite Application Framework, or WS-CAF, overlaps with WS-Coordination and WS-Transactions specifications under development by Sun rivals Microsoft Corp. and IBM. Arguably, the new specs have a different focus in the area of electronic transactions, but there's no technological reason for a separate effort, analysts said.

Sun, Partners Publish New Web Services Spec [source CRN]

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Process thinking is back, and CSC World (corporate magazine) recently sat down with two of the leaders in this resurgence: Michael Hammer and CSC's own Howard Smith. Hammer is one of the originators of business process redesign, and he brings long experience and new thinking to the subject in his latest book, The Agenda. Smith's book, Business Process Management: The Third Wave, looks at the way information technology supports — or, more often, constrains — business processes and shows how to end the business-IT divide. Both of them want business to be in charge of business processes, but they come at the problem from slightly different perspectives. We thought these two would have a lively and illuminating conversation, and we weren't disappointed.

Michael Hammer and Howard Smith on Process Thinking [source CSC]

Monday, September 01, 2003

In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell searches for catalysts that precipitate a "tipping point" — that moment in time when the boiling point is reached. This concept holds that small changes will have little or no effect on a system until a critical mass is reached. Then one final small change "tips" the system and a large effect is observed. It's that one dramatic moment when everything changes all at once, the unexpected becomes expected and radical change moves from possibility to certainty. We are rapidly reaching that point in IT. The current focus on Web services and service oriented architectures (SOAs) misses a much bigger story: We are now on the threshold of the next wave of computing after the Internet — the "information technology-savvy" organization. This type of organization is one whose employees are willing and able to take responsibility for computerizing their part of the business, ideally within the context of an enterprise platform that facilitates re-use and sharing. Yes, it's called BPM!

Are You Ready for the IT-Savvy Company? [source Darwin Magazine]
Showing that it has been plugging away since the high-profile exit of Microsoft in March, the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Services Choreography Working Group published the first public working draft of Web Services Choreography Requirements 1.0 Tuesday. When Microsoft chose to throw its support behind the OASIS Web Services Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) Technical Committee, many industry watchers saw evidence of a growing rift -- not just between heavy-weights like Microsoft and Sun, but between the OASIS and W3C standards bodies themselves. But a meeting between the BPEL Technical Committee and WS Choreography Working Group in May seemed to signal that the two organizations were ready to put that potential trouble behind them. The working group's draft Tuesday, may be a further sign, as it identifies BPEL as a component among the Choreography programming languages in the document. Choreography is currently one of the most important issues facing Web services, according to W3C.

W3C Publishes WS Choreography Requirements Draft [source InternetNews]
BPMN will provide businesses with the capability of understanding their internal business procedures in a graphical notation and will give organizations the ability to communicate these procedures in a standard manner," said Stephen White, chair of the BPMN Working Group. "BPMN follows the tradition of flowcharting and swimlane notations for readability, yet still provides the mapping to the executable constructs as defined in BPEL4WS. By doing so, BPMN fills a technical gap between the format of the initial design of business processes and the format of the languages that will execute these business processes. This creates an environment where business people will be more involved in developing, managing, and monitoring IT-intensive business processes." "Semantic differences between leading process modeling tools and arbitrary differences in visual notation have hindered the take up of process management in the marketplace," says Howard Smith, co-chair of and CTO for Computer Sciences Corporation Europe. "Process and performance management is the majority of all work. The BPMN proposal points toward a time when business people will readily exchange processes as easily as they do word processing documents and spreadsheets today." Releases Working Draft of BPM Notation 1.0 [source Businesswire]
IBM and Intalio Inc. each are readying product upgrades designed to make it easier to put business process modeling and management tools into the hands of less experienced users. IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., this fall will roll out software updates that more tightly integrate the Modeler and Monitor tool components of its WebSphere Business Integration suite. This will enable some of the same common data sets used to create and monitor processes to be reused; it will also let end users jump between development and process-management environments. A business analyst using the Modeler upgrade can set down key attributes to run "what-if" scenarios and then determine what to monitor. To aid business-process monitoring, IBM is using model-driven development technology from its Rational Software Corp. acquisition to extend its process dashboard. With a dashboard that incorporates business-process integration across the range of activities from modeling to management to monitoring, users can apply analytics to more intelligently build future integrations, officials said. Separately, Intalio looks to solve user interface, standards implementation and data-mapping issues with Version 2.5 of its Intalio/n3 business-process management platform, code-named Neo. The Director and Designer modules in Neo will provide a simplified user interface, said Intalio officials, in San Mateo, Calif. Director will be enhanced with a new library of about 35 to 40 so-called Widgets that aggregate the building blocks of a user interface, making it easier for users to implement form elements and data tables. Designer's user interface will get a Windows XP look and feel. On the process-monitoring side, Intalio has added an Audit Trail Interface that connects its process server to business intelligence tools. Intalio also is adding a user interface for real-time monitoring that includes about 25 pre-built charts. "We've been looking for [Intalio's Designer tool] to be a bit more user-friendly," said Terry Williams, senior program manager at LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier plc. The Dayton, Ohio, company uses n3 to manage business processes involving order taking, verification and fulfillment. "We knew over a period of time it would become more intuitive," said Williams.

Upgrades extend BPM to new users [source eWEEK]
Pegasystems Inc., a leading provider of rules-based, smart business process management software (BPM), announced the results of a white paper from Strategic Focus, which conclude that using PegaRULES Process Commander will help accelerate Java development when building, deploying, testing and maintaining applications. Strategic Focus ( is a Milpitas, California-based software evaluation and strategy consulting firm. Strategic Focus, experts in evaluating development tools and software products, recently conducted an independent and objective comparison of the developer productivity of building and changing a business process application with Process Commander and a typical Java IDE coding development approach(b). According to the research, it takes 38 percent less time to build, deploy and test a Java-based BPM application with Process Commander and 58 percent less time to maintain the application once it is built, suggesting significant productivity increases. When evaluating the purchase of technology to build BPM applications, increased agility is one of the most critical factors to consider. Strategic Focus identified several features that support the use of Process Commander to increase productivity. These features include: rule and workflow-based development process built on an easy and extensible framework, personalized process flow, a reusable rule base and a rules resolution and inference engine.

PegaRULES Process Commander Accelerates BPM Application Development [source Businesswire]
No less than 85 percent of companies will have business performance measurement initiatives underway by the end of 2004, according to a new report from research group META. Specifically, 76 percent of the companies surveyed by META said they were involved in BPM for better decision-making, while 66 percent cited the goal of more efficient reporting and planning. Fifty-eight percent claimed that BPM would lead to better resource allocation. The high number of BPM participants isn't necessarily surprising, because BPM (which META breaks out into planning, reporting, consolidation, scorecarding, and modeling) has been a hot topic for years. What's new is the proliferation of e-business tools that purport to enable BPM, including tools from ROI specialists as well as tools from enterprise applications providers themselves. The plethora of BPM tools (including tools that support BPM from within enterprise resource planning, business intelligence, and other application areas) has led to the adoption of point solutions by many companies, stated the META report. However, given that "Excel spreadsheets are the most commonly used tool for performing BPM activity," the mere adoption of e-business tools is a progressive step. Traditionally, performance measurement has been the purview of consultancies. Regardless of who's measuring, there are a lot of complexities to be navigated. In this regard, META notes that business plans designed to achieve metrics, and reporting/forecasting to measure performance, are just as important as the measuring technology itself.

BPM getting bigger [source Line56]
Metastorm, a provider of Business Process Management (BPM) software for automating, managing, and controlling processes, is shipping e-Work Version 6 -- its BPM software platform for large-scale enterprise process management. Metastorm says e-Work Version 6 “enables organizations to more effectively execute and improve business processes, allowing them to maximize the return on investment from their existing software applications, deliver the framework they need to leverage Web services and ultimately gain market advantage.” “The capabilities of e-Work Version 6 separate Metastorm's product from other BPM products on the market,” the vendor asserts. “Version 6 maintains its proven reputation of supporting the most complex requirements with human-focused tools that are easy to use, code-free and have minimal overhead. e-Work Version 6 provides enhancements that further support the creation, deployment, and maintenance of extremely complex, mission-critical business processes across the enterprise.”

Metastorm Out With Suped-Up BPM Offering: e-Work Version 6 [source]
Software for automating financial controls required by the new federal regulations mandated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is the goal of a new Supervisory Control Application (SCA) developed by Fuego Inc., a Dallas-based BPM software vendor, and Deloitte & Touche LLP based in suburban Plano, Texas. Being marketed to retail businesses facing stricter regulation under Sarbanes-Oxley, SCA automates the compliance process but allows for human intervention where necessary, explained Scott Chamberlain, Fuego's CFO. It can help to ensure compliance in areas such as manufacturers' rebates, known in the trade as ''vendor allowances'' to retail operations, and help to provide documentation in case of audit, he explained.

BPM-based app automates Sarbanes-Oxley compliance [source]
The inability of organisations to link corporate strategy to actual performance has given rise to a new category of business intelligence (BI) software dubbed 'business performance management' (BPM). BPM promises to deliver strategic cross-functional alignment across an enterprise's operational boundaries – in other words setting benchmarks on performance levels to determine where you stand now, against where you want to be. BPM is now seen as an evolutionary successor to BI and a bevy of vendors are (re) positioning their tools and applications under the BPM banner. Much of the market confusion surrounding performance management is caused by the terminology being bandied around. "There's an alphabet soup of acronyms; everyone and their grandmother is claiming to do BPM," says Roman Bukary, director of product marketing at SAP. BPM (business), CPM (corporate), EPM (enterprise) and SEM (strategic enterprise) are a few of the TLAs competing for mindshare, around which a raft of traditional BI suppliers, BPM specialists and mainstream ERP providers are aggressively pushing their own flavours of performance management. So what exactly is BPM? It's our view that you cannot do true BPM (performance management) without BPM (end to end process management)!

Performance Matters [source CBR Online]
Fuego, helping corporations orchestrate, manage, monitor and optimize their business processes with agile business process management system (BPMS) software, announced the results of a performance evaluation assessment conducted on its Orchestration Engine(TM) by Doculabs, a technology consulting firm that helps organizations reduce the risk associated with technology decisions. Fuego commissioned Doculabs to conduct an intensive and comprehensive evaluation of its system based on real-world customer criteria.

Doculabs Benchmarking Proves Flawless Performance Of Fuego Business Process Management System [source PR Newswire]
Metastorm, a leading provider of Business Process Management (BPM) software for automating, managing and controlling processes, announced that Robert J. Farrell, president and chief executive officer, will give an overview of emerging trends in the BPM market, highlight Metastorm's success in the enterprise software market and answer questions from attendees about the company. Recently named one of four BPM leaders in the prestigious Gartner Magic Quadrant, Metastorm's total revenue for the first half of 2003 increased more than 23 percent over the same period last year. The company expects total year-over-year revenue growth to be at least 50 percent.

Metastorm CEO Robert Farrell to Speak at SG Cowen's 31st Annual Fall Technology Conference [source Yahoo]
Ultimus, the leading provider of complete workflow automation and business process management (BPM) solutions, today announced that it has appointed Jeff Smith to the position of Chief Process Officer (CPO). In his new role at Ultimus, Smith will be the first CPO from a BPM vendor who will be available to consult with customers as he accelerates his company's own use of BPM. Smith will work with company executives and employees to identify and automate key business processes using the company's Ultimus Workflow Suite. Today, Ultimus helps more than one thousand customers worldwide leverage BPM technology to increase profitability through increased efficiency, while at the same time it applies the same practices internally. Chief Process Officer (CPO) is a relatively new position that is assuming important responsibilities in highly competitive companies. Organizations are realizing that the productivity gains they can see through more traditional efforts cannot match the gains they can make through the automation of internal and external processes that are possible through BPM. An increasing number of companies understand that these productivity gains are so compelling they merit a "C-level" executive to lead the ongoing effort. While some companies have announced CPO appointments, Ultimus is the first BPM vendor to create the position to expand and improve its own processes and serve as a model for its customers.

Ultimus Announces an Industry First by Appointing a Chief Process Officer [source BusinessWire]
The latest process management tools purport to put business users more in control of the development and implementation of technology based business tools, a dramatic shift away from today's reliance on full-time software programmers. This panel discussion will elaborate on the extent to which business modeling, and its ability to evolve into applications that deploy more rapidly and with fewer quality issues, has advanced.

Business Process Management - As easy as drag and drop [source BusinessWire]
The top reason for implementing a business performance management (BPM) solution is to improve decision making in the organization, according to Business Performance Management, a new report released today by META Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: METG). Gaining efficiency in the financial planning/reporting process and enhancing allocation of company resources rounded out the top three reasons most cited by respondents. "The increased interest in BPM is primarily due to the rapidly changing economy and new public accounting regulations intended to provide greater transparency and visibility. These regulations have put tremendous pressure on organizations to provide better visibility and accountability in enterprise financial results," says John Van Decker, META Group vice president, Technology Research Services. "BPM initiatives typically begin with a desire to move from Excel in an attempt to support a more centralized, dynamic, and active planning process within an organization. They often expand to cover reporting and metrics management and, when applicable, financial consolidations."

85% of Organizations to Have BPM Initiatives Underway by End of 2004, Says META Group; New Report Based on BPM Survey Examines Impact of Sarbanes-Oxley on IT Investments [source BusinessWire]
Lombardi Software announced today the release of TeamWorks 4, the latest version of its business process management software. The company says its performance tracking, reporting and improvement capabilities, now available out-of-the-box, will enable enterprises to move beyond process automation and into active process management. According to Lombardi, TeamWorks 4 continuously monitors for critical business events, collects data and transforms that information into a meaningful context, enabling senior executives and managers to make informed, real-time decisions that drive process efficiencies and operational responsiveness. "Business process management wins the 'triple crown' of saving money, saving time and adding value," said Jim Sinur, Gartner, Inc. vice president. "Continuing product innovations will drive even more benefits, while enabling BPM to drive the evolution of the real-time enterprise."

Lombardi Software Releases TeamWorks 4 For Business Process Management [source]
"Our definition centres around the need to be process-enabled," says Ron Brown, technical director of CSC's UK systems integration practice. "Companies that take on a process-centric view of life; using the new business performance management [BPM] and process tools, you can now draw from a blank palette. But what you need to be able to change, and fast, are the business processes, which have nothing to do with the applications, servers, etcetera. It's about grabbing hold of the levers of process. If you can grab those, then you get much closer to the turning circle the business wants, rather than having the turning circle of a supertanker." This may not sound especially dramatic. Many organisations, and their IT departments, would argue that they already focus on business processes. But that is very different from being business process-centric.

Fail at your peril [source CBR Online]
MindBox won the Trend Setting Product of 2003 award by virtue of the next-generation capabilities that its ARTOptimize product has brought to the category of Business Process Management (BPM). Until now, BPM software has automated only the repetitive and administrative processes in today's enterprises; ARTOptimize is leading the next wave of innovation by automating complex creative processes -- processes that have in the past required a human being to complete. Using a combination of rules and MindBox's sophisticated inferencing engine to emulate the human decision processes, ARTOptimize can, for example, evaluate a loan request for a bank and, instead of just accepting or rejecting the borrower based on simple ratios and policies, the software can design and structure a completely different loan solution -- for example, suggest closing out the car loan and lumping that debt into a larger first mortgage. ARTOptimize works both on-line and off-line (website, interactive kiosk, call center, field agent's laptop, etc.), so that creative processes can be centrally managed and decisions applied consistently.

ARTOptimize Software Chosen by KMWorld Editorial Staff as Most Influential Product in Business Process Management Category [source BusinessWire]
There is a transformation underway. Vendors like FileNet, Staffware and Metastorm are now championing a new category of software they are calling business process management (BPM). "Imaging management is seeing only single digit growth," says Roberts. "Document management and content management probably 20%, and BPM is much more explosive – like 50% growth." But how does this BPM category differ from ECM? BPM provides the ability to model, integrate, execute, manage and optimise all processes, crossing any application, company boundary, or human interaction in real-time. BPM resides on a layer above enterprise software packages to co-ordinate and manage business relationships both inside and outside company walls. It is much more people-focused than previous approaches, and places less emphasis on the technology that integrates applications and data, and more on the ability to devise and implement better ways of managing business processes. Its key components are the ability to model business processes, execute them, and finally to optimise them.

Filing On All Cylinders [source CBR Online]
Staffware, a global leader in Business Process Management (BPM) software, has signed a partnership with Corticon, a leading provider of decision management enterprise software. The partnership combines best of breed business process management and business rules engine technologies. It simplifies the design of complex decision-making process steps that might otherwise require elaborate 'coding' and/or human intervention, such as in Financial Services, Telecommunications and the Public Sector. The combined offering allows such processes to be designed more rapidly and be more fully automated than previously possible. This in turn means process automation solutions can now be deployed faster and changed more rapidly. Non-technical business users are able to independently change the underlying business rules of applications already deployed, delivering these higher levels of flexibility.

Staffware and Corticon Redefine the Rules of Business Process Management [source BusinessWire]
Ben Gaucherin, CTO of Sapient, believes BPM (business process management) platforms are critical to a company's architecture. This is where you'll see how your company is performing. Gaucherin might be right in thinking we are in the midst of a business process revolution. Take a look at what's happening with the big application vendors. Oracle and ERP vendors in general own many of these critical processes, so they have a legitimate claim on the BPM platform of the future. They are trying to make their applications more flexible. Witness SAP's NetWeaver and xApps . Gaucherin, however, sees other players and other platforms, such as Microsoft BizTalk, IBM WebSphere MQ Series Workflow, BEA WebLogic Integration, and Tibco's ActiveEnterprise suite -- which come in at a higher level of the stack -- as serious contenders. The economy, competition, and even compliance issues are all setting the course for IT and the way they power the company; the trick is not capsizing.

Picking a process platform [source Infoworld]
Visio provides broad capabilities for graphing, mapping, and charting complex ideas. For example, SQL Server developers use Visio to diagram database models. Employees in technical fields use Visio because it provides a lower-cost alternative to high-end engineering tools such as CAD. In addition, many businesses use Visio as a business process management (BPM) tool. Visio's visual presentation helps decision makers analyze workflow and see how to streamline processes.

Microsoft Announces Visio 2003 [source SQLMag]
This report will analyse the benefits and dangers of moving intelligence into the network and away from the application nodes, and review the major technologies involved and solutions provided. To be successful in the current economic climate businesses have to have a more flexible business model, which will enable them to outsource business processes, divest themselves of product lines, integrate partner products, support mergers, take advantage of new technologies and opportunities etc. All of this translates into requirements on IT to connect multiple applications within the enterprise and across enterprises in a flexible and robust way. This requires more than just a simple messaging system; it requires intelligence within the network to produce complex business process flows and to ensure changes in one area do not impact existing applications.

Intelligence in the Messaging Layer [source ITDirector]
Metastorm, a Columbia company developing software to automate many of the day-to-day processes instrumental in running a business, said Thursday it had begun selling the newest version of its flagship product. E-Work Version 6 is a software platform designed to perform functions as varied as managing procurement or coordinating human resources. Broadly, Metastorm's software targets an organization's human resources, customer service, finance and operations functions. The 7-year-old company is focusing on the financial services, manufacturing and government sectors, among others. Analysts estimate the "business process management," or BPM, market could hit $6.3 billion by 2005.

Metastorm gathering force with new software [source Washington Business Journal]