The big BPM analyst reports are a funny thing. They can elevate vendors to lofty heights in the blink of an eye but only if they are prepared to meet criteria, which means many are never heard of despite having products which are similar or better than those ‘awarded’ every year. Take BusinessPort for example. Heard of them ? Neither had I until last week but they’re a Microsoft Partner, been around for a few years, have some large clients (nice list of Oil and Gas implementations) and a 50,000 user base.
Still not ringing any bells ? Then let’s take a dive into their Agility Management System and learn a bit more.
The Agility platform is built on .Net technology and integrates with Sharepoint so sharing of information across an organisation becomes simpler. Peter Shields, CEO of BusinessPort describes it as a blend of document management and process management, allowing process information to be associated with all aspects of the process itself such as org charts, compliance and risk management, people. It’s nothing new by any accounts but Peter points out that they have had risk and compliance built into the solution similar to Nimbus Partners and their clients have been enjoying this for a good number of years. What BusinessPort specialise in is the 75% of the enterprise which is still run as a manual operation, leaving the automation part out of the equation (although they are working on integrating automated workflow in future versions to come).
The immediate thing that struck me about the presentation layer was that it was unlike most I’ve come across before. Coming from mostly a Financial Services background I know the focus is on glossy graphs and dashboards (the finance functions especially love this crayola approach) whereas BusinessPort takes a functional approach to process map depiction. But it’s the business-like perspective coupled with the ease of which the information seems accessible which seems to hit the sweet spot with clients. As stated above whilst nothing revolutionary all the process documentation, risk and compliance rules and regulation, roles and responsibilities can all be accessed from this portal. Peter states that “the process map is the facilitator of other information.” There’s a major upgrade planned in July and one of the components is a revamp of the mapping engine which will give a user a number of choices in how the process is modelled and visualised, so perhaps the times are catching up with BusinessPort or they’re taking into account more industry sector .
Taking a peek into the engine room of the product, the back end administration of Agility is where all the real information is contained and run from. It’s laid out simply and it’s easy to see where everything should be, again perhaps the functional format works better here too. Cross-referencing regulatory information to the process for example takes place from the admin console, audit trail (change control) and sign off. A direct comparison is that BusinessPort have had process ‘subscriptions’ in place in their product for a number of years similar to which Nimbus have had in place since v3 of Control.
Personally what I’d like to see is a revamp of the UI to lose the NT/ XP look and feel (which they say is coming) and capture more markets outside of the O&G sector.
This is an interesting situation because here we have two vendors with two successful products in their own right but only one has the financial clout to get the attention of Gartner et al. Is it time the (many) lesser known BPM vendors get some limelight ?
Given the clients and user base that BusinessPort can boast I’d say it was…..