are enjoying a bit of a successful run recently, having released their iPhone app for Nimbus Control and now being recognised by Gartner in the latest BPA Magic Quadrant as ‘visionaries’. Last week I was invited to review their soon-to-be-released v8 of Nimbus Control which is being rolled out soon.
Nimbus take a different approach to BPM which they describe as ‘people-centric’; by which they mean there is very little IT involvement in how business processes should be documented and run and that the ownership and control should firmly reside with the business end user community. Their view is that process context should be easy to define, the process easy to follow and the risks and controls transparent and understood.
Indeed, Antony Bream, Head of the UK Financial Services area of Nimbus Partners, cited a strong case study during the demo which not only speaks volumes about the implementation but also to the power of BPM which few people actually realise outside of process improvement activities.
A large telecom provider who have Nimbus implemented on an enterprise scale currently has around 24,000 users internally of the Control application to access process related documentation. Whilst this is not revelatory perhaps what is, is that the company have extended the access to this information to third party suppliers via their extranet. With obvious restrictions and security in place, suppliers can access supply chain processes and understand how the company operates internally thereby aligning their own processes to integrate with the telco.
Why there are not more examples of this in the BPM world being sought and brought to the fore I’m not sure because it’s a powerful example of how BPM can improve and align not only internal processes but those in other companies around it.
Back to Nimbus and after talking to clients and receiving feedback they have enhanced the Nimbus Control 2007 product – which will be called simply “Nimbus Control” (version 8).
Automated BAM/ KPI information
Antony stated that this new version, which is not scheduled for release until April, will provide the following new features:
- Revamped Action Management module – which brings together various compliance monitoring and enforcement capabilities into a consolidated work queue personalised for each user. Clients will use this to help verify adoption of new or changed processes, as well as automate the task management associated with content reviews, risk control certifications and audit / remediation actions.
- Improved process diagram comparison capability, including the ability to look at draft and master versions side-by-side.
- The ability to more easily promote multiple process maps from draft to master, saving time for content administrators.
- Easier to target content to particular users/groups – to achieve personalised delivery.
- Deeper integration with SAP and new integration with Salesforce.com.
- Improved support for multi-lingual clients with utilities and reports to support content translators – making it easier to roll-out consistent best practice processes across multiple countries.
- New optional Storyboard player (which seems to have ‘borrowed’ a few ideas from iTunes…), as well as backend support for the newly released iPhone player app.
Antony gave me a demonstration of how these features operate which I’m going to concentrate on for the review.
The Action Management area is where some of the enhancements have been made, now automating actions which are based on what Nimbus terms a “Statement Link”.
Capturing Statement Link information
A Statement Link is in essence a regulatory statement derived from bodies of work such as CMMI, Basel II, MCOB, ICOB, ISO900x which a user can assign to a particular activity and automate compliance monitoring from it. Nimbus Control also allows you to attach items to the Statement Link and associate metadata to it to further support compliance requirements.
User view with overlaid statements
I see this as particularly useful given today’s emphasis on regulatory compliance and risk management in the Financial Services sector (and others). So should any regulatory body come knocking to conduct an audit this functionality should provide all the evidence required to comply with the requirements.
Other enhancements in v8 are linked to the Storyboard feature.
Storyboards can best be considered as process tutorials – delivered through the browser, providing step-by-step guidance which similar to eLearning or CBT. Whilst this capability has been in the product for several years said Antony, the new capabilities include support for off-line viewing, either using a Windows compatible player, or the new iPhone player. The Windows player allows you to ‘thumb through’ a Storyboard, just like turning the pages in a book. It’s a little gimmicky but I’m sure the user community will love it. Overall, if you’re trying to make processes more ‘engaging’ so users will actually read them the new user interface is a welcome step ahead of the usual static web published maps.
It’s worth pointing out some of the standard features of Control for those unfamiliar with them:
• Change control automation allowing a lifecycle audit trail of process changes. A user can also ‘subscribe’ to a process, receiving notifications of any change whether they’re involved in the sign off or not, useful for those with a downstream interest
• Personalised user screens based on role profile through a portal
• Real-time external data feeds can be overlaid onto the process maps and displayed as metrics, allowing a user to proactively monitor the process in context
• Memos can be attached to the process to allow users to record their own thoughts and suggestions but not necessarily tied to any particular change request
• Integration with Outlook and SharePoint and other tools via LDAP
• Importing from ARIS models
This is a business user’s BPM tool, something which is being called for and echoed by the likes of Forrester this year. Much in the same vein as Process Master and Lombardi’s Blueprint, Nimbus Control is focusing on ease of use and hitting the ‘sweet spot’ and hot topics of the business community with it’s range of functions rather than producing a solution which is overburdened with unwanted features as part of the package.
For further information on the current version of Control and their new iPhone app, visit www.nimbuspartners.com
For an exclusive first review of the Control iPhone app, look under the Hands-On section
For an exclusive interview with Ian Gotts and Antony Bream of Nimbus, visit the An Audience With….