By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2006-08-25 Print this article Print

A menu bar across the top of the central work space provides access to basic functions, and Process Commanders context-sensitive tool bar offers navigation aids and quick access to underlying object properties, such as a processs rules in XML.

Process Commander has a number of simple shortcuts and design elements—for example, the ability to drag and drop objects, such as form elements—that greatly speed design. In addition, companies can expand an applications capabilities using HTML or Java to build custom elements. SmartBPM connects to other applications through a series of standard protocols, such as SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and SQL, rather than application-specific connectors.

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Process Commander also has very good versioning support, so companies can design, prototype, deploy and revert with relative ease. We also liked Process Commanders documentation and logging tools, which will help users document and identify the reasons for process changes, as well as when the changes rolled out in production.

As is the case with every BPM product eWEEK Labs has ever evaluated, learning the ins and outs of SmartBPM Suite 5.1s tools is a considerable challenge, and companies should be sure to budget adequate time and money for training.

In addition, if companies plan to purchase consulting services to get up and running with SmartBPM Suite 5.1, they should rely on the consultants only for help in defining the initial processes and to be a training resource to business analysts and developers. We say this because actually working with the tools is the only way to retain the knowledge needed to be proficient with them.

From the user side, Pegasystems organizes the SmartBPM Suite 5.1 interface according to a users role in the organization.

For those tasked only with executing work, the interface can be fairly simple but does include elements for organizing prioritized tasks and checking spelling in a form. Applications can make use of AJAX (Asynchronous Java-Script and XML) widgets to pull underlying work order information to the forefront using hover elements.

Managers or those tasked with approval and workflow reporting can have access to a more complex set of tools and interface elements. The manager view is organized by expanding elements in a left-hand pane and the usual action center view.

As managers, we had an initial performance dashboard view, a work order view and a monitor activities view that allowed us to define our own reports. Pegasystems has done a good job of abstracting report writing through a fairly simple wizard.

In addition, SmartBPM Suite 5.1 has broad platform support: The server is Java-based and runs a broad range of operating systems, from HP-UX to Windows, and Java application servers. Database support includes Oracles Oracle, Microsofts SQL Server and IBMs DB2.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.


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