The Next Step

Ultimus, Tibco aim to make BPM collaborative, predictive.

Updated offerings from Ultimus Inc. and TIBCO Software Inc. aim to make it easier for business analysts to plan the next steps in their business process workflows.

The software developers are taking differing approaches, with the former enabling more collaboration among workers and the latter offering a more predictive environment.

Ultimus, of Cary, N.C., this week will announce Version 6.0 of its namesake BPM (business process management) suite, which provides a collaborative process design environment enabling business and IT users to simultaneously check in and check out various process objects, officials said.

Enterprise application integration software maker TIBCO in the next few months will roll out new products that help companies receive process information that enables users to be more proactive than reactive.

"Even the best real-time [process] is reactive in nature," said Tommy Joseph, chief technology officer at TIBCO, of Palo Alto, Calif. "Weve shortened the time [users] can react, but information is still reactive. What people want to do next is anticipate—moving from real time and reactive to proactive. So we are making new investments to [have business processes be] more predictive in nature."

TIBCOs new EM Insight software, due next quarter, enables business analysts to understand what is going on in their IT environment at the system management level while letting system managers understand what is happening at the business level. This enables both to plan for business process events.

At the same time, TIBCO is upgrading existing software offerings: BusinessWorks and BusinessFactor. Essentially integration software, BusinessWorks includes a GUI for creating and defining integration scenarios; an engine that automates task sequences; and a Web-based interface for monitoring applications, resources and business processes.

Version 5.0 of BusinessWorks provides a life-cycle capability for business processes with the ability to model processes, assemble components for integration and workflow, analyze how a process is behaving, and make changes to that process.

TIBCOs BusinessFactor business activity monitoring software provides a dashboard for analyzing business operations. The upgrade, BusinessFactor Version 4.5, lets users see changes to processes as they happen and puts events into a conceptual framework, so users can riffle through data to get a sense of why an event occurred.

TIBCOs EEM (Enterprise Event Management), due in the first half of next year, is a key piece of how companies become more predictive, Joseph said. Designed to help capture seemingly meaningless events and put them into context, EEM watches for event patterns. When it discovers an anomaly—increased order volume or customer service demands, for example—EEM kicks off business processes and gets people involved sooner.

Separately, the new BPM Studio module in Ultimus 6.0 provides a collaborative design environment and repository that gives fine-grained access to controls to designate who has access to model, create, modify and publish processes or process components. This enables process designers, business managers and developers to share and reuse process designs, assign individuals the rights to modify specific processes or process parts, and make dynamic process changes.

An integrated Web services feature enables users to automatically deploy workflow processes that kick off a Web service when an event condition is reached. This capability is attractive to Ultimus user Maneesh Gupta.

"It will be very easy to develop processes," said Gupta, IS division chief for Prince William County, in Woodbridge, Va. "When we want to make a change in the process, it takes effect automatically, versus asking people to finish the current workflow.

"Right now, the way it works, when you make a change to the [workflow] process, it doesnt take effect right away. Whatever workflow is in the process, that workflow will not be affected. [This is] not a good thing. You want every workflow in the process to be affected. In the upgrade, any current workflow will be upgraded when there is a change," Gupta said.

In addition, Ultimus 6.0 gives users the ability to incorporate a number of forms into their BPM deployments, including Ultimus ActiveX, PDF and Microsoft Corp. InfoPath forms. Advanced administration capabilities help users trouble-shoot, fix and update process information during live incidents.