By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2006-02-13 Print this article Print

As a new service, Teamlines doesnt have a great number of bells and whistles, but it provides a good set of tools for building and running team-based workflows. Until Itensil builds out additional tools, it will fill in some of the services gaps with custom development services.

Teamlines abstracts a lightweight workflow engine through an AJAX-based graphical mapping tool, allowing teams to quickly create document-centric applications.

The process-mapping tool in Teamlines approximates process-mapping capabilities found in BPM (business process management) applications such as Ultimus BPM Suite. The Teamlines process-mapping palette is simpler and more limited, however, with eight elements for defining steps, paths, decisions, delegation, joins, triggers, notes and terminators.

To read about Microsofts new designer tools for both its future Web services platform and the upcoming Windows Workflow Foundation. click here. This basic approach worked well for a workgroup application in our tests. It was much easier to create, deploy and revise an application with Teamlines than with richer BPM tools.

Teamlines is intended to be driven by users, not IT, so the products lack of a user-level forms editor is a big shortcoming. Until Itensil makes an end-user forms editor available, Itensil will develop Xforms-based forms upon customer request. An XML code-level XForms editor also is available should companies want to develop forms on their own.

At the core of the application is the document library, which supports two classes of documents: Microsoft Office documents and wiki- and HTML-based system and process documents. We liked that the wiki-based documents work in the context of a defined system knowledge base, which allowed us to easily search them for process-relevant content. The HTML editor affords some richer text options without requiring that users know how to format a wiki document. Teamlines does a good job of managing document permissions and versions.

This document-centric approach puts Teamlines closer to Contextwares Contextware and Microsofts SharePoint Server than to a forms-centric application such as Nsites namesake service.

Users see the assignment of work either within the system or through notifications sent via e-mail. Managers can see performance through the graphical process flow view.

One area Itensil will need to improve is reporting, as Teamlines doesnt allow users to create customized reports. Instead, Itensil creates them for the customer.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.


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