By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2005-02-21 Print this article Print

The Ultimus BPM suite includes seven components for managing user-driven workflow. Designing and managing workflow is handled through BPM Studio, BPM Server, Reports, Administrator and Org Chart applications. In addition, Ultimus addresses application integration through Clients and FloStation components.

We built and managed our workflow and processes through Org Chart and BPM Studio applications. Because of Ultimus focus on human execution of workflow, creating an organizational structure and understanding roles is a prerequisite to defining processes. The Org Chart tool gave us an easy way to define roles by dragging and dropping from elements in Internet Explorer. Org Chart ties into LDAP and Microsoft Active Directory, so we could leverage existing directory information to easily build out the chart.

As with the Org Chart application, we found it easy to map workflows using Studio by dragging and dropping elements of the flow into a work space. We could also build Web forms using a drag-and-drop Web form creation tool in the Studio application or by associating the application to forms built in Adobe Systems Inc.s Acrobat or ASP.Net.

BPM Suite gives business analysts handy tools that do a good portion of the work, even if the analysts lack programming skills. This ease of use is due in large part to Studios use of a spreadsheetlike interface that lets analysts designate environmental variables.

Integrating with other applications requires running Ultimus Flobots, middleware applications running on application and database server systems for managing connections with those applications. Ultimus doesnt offer a broad range of preconfigured Flobots for enterprise applications, but it does have Flobots for integrating through XML, Web services databases and .Net applications.

Ultimus also has preconfigured Flobots for Microsofts Exchange server and has particularly strong integration points with client-side applications such as Microsofts Outlook and Excel. Although Ultimus is a member of the BPMI (Business Process Management Interface) standards body, Studio doesnt directly export data in standard formats. However, Ultimus does generate XML code.

We found it easy to establish rules that govern the event conditions that trigger steps in a process. This gives companies a way to set up conditions to activate steps or define what actions to take when a step fails to complete on time or is resubmitted.

Studio has good development controls. For example, we could check in and check out individual steps in a process, which means team members can work on different steps in parallel to speed development. We found Studios test capabilities work very well, not only ensuring that branching happens properly but also giving us the ability to check that forms work well.

Click here to read Labs review of iBolt Business Integration Suite 2.0. Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.

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