Epitome Systems, a company spun out of commercial mortgage brokerage GMAC Commercial Holding, announced March 20 mEPM, its midmarket-slated on-demand platform for business process management.
The platform, dubbed Enterprise Productivity Management, or mEPM for the midmarket, was initially developed at GMAC to help the company outsource some of its financial analysis workload. Because GMAC often develops software with commercialization in mind, the technology, in its more generic form, is the basis for EPM.
The mEPM platform provides a set of pre-integrated components for process automation that can be delivered over the Internet, according to Vince Rogusky, Epitomes CEO.
"This is the first suite ever to bring together process management, content management, and application integration in a combined suite," said Rogusky, in Wayne, Pa. "Think of what Salesforce.com is doing with AppExchange (a marketplace for software). Ours is AppExchange for the back office. It can be accounts payable, treasury, claims processing— users are able to automate that process with an on-demand delivery model."
The platform, built on Microsoft .Net and SQL Server, has three distinct layers. A content acquisition layer manages just about any form of content. From paper-based, streaming and Word documents to e-mail and XML formats, the content layer converts and manages data, according to Rogusky. Sitting above that is an integrated process layer that applies business rules and process management capabilities. Finally a business visibility layer enables reporting.
"When we apply that [platform] to processes, you only need to apply what you need—managing content or structured workflow," said Rogusky. "But its all delivered through the Web."
In addition to building its platform on Microsofts technology, Epitome is partnering with the company on a number of different offerings. For example, as users are working in Word they can move from there directly into mEPM. "Theres a seamless transition from core Microsoft applications into our system," said Rogusky.
Microsoft, which positions itself as a midmarket business applications company, is also marketing mEPM.
For GMAC in its early EPM development days, the idea really was to outsource some of its financial analysis transactions to its IT shops in India and Ireland.
"We shifted a lot of our workload in a unique manner, so it was about how we could get the best work done by transaction, not body count," said Niraj Patel, CIO and executive vice president at GMAC, in Horsham, Pa. "We looked at what it cost in the U.S. to do a transaction and what we wanted it to cost us in Ireland or India. We wanted a platform that could move the work around, to anywhere in the world."
Patels team started off the project with two goals in mind: to develop capabilities for a specific process on the one hand, with the ability to standardize workflows across the company on the other hand, so someone doing a human resources request and another person doing a wire request were using the same platform and processes.
The first generation of the platform focused on a way to move the company from paper transactions to PDF format. "We were able to get 95 percent of the company to stop using paper and use PDF, and then use PDF to drive processes," said Patel.
Now that GMAC is utilizing the commercial EPM platform from Epitome, the next step is to drive XML in the PDF documents. Currently, someone using a PDF document needs to cut and paste data to move it to another location. With XML, users will be able to take data directly from a document and syndicate that out, "focusing people on what they need, versus a 100-page mortgage document," said Patel. "Its giving people exactly what they need."
The platform, however, is not one size fits all. There is the "rule of three" to consider, according to Patel: Really sophisticated, somewhat generic and very generic.
"There is a level of service to everything in the market," said Patel. "Not everyone needs to be in first class. There are some in business class, some in coach. The requirements are different for each."
There is no difference from the enterprise perspective. Applied to Epitome, users will find EPM, the companys enterprise platform, covers business class and first class.
"On demand [mEPM] covers coach," said Patel.