You know you’re in for a great demo when those on the call start changing their job titles on the slide deck whilst they wait for the “fashionably late analyst” to dial in; the “Major Propeller Spinner”, the “Chief Keyboard Slayer”, the “Website Lackey” and the “Social Media Genius”. Sounds like Reservoir Dogs for BPM geeks, and Active Endpoints prove that adhering to standards across the entire suite can be cool too.
The ActiveVOS Designer modeling environment is built on the Eclipse IDE and is BPMN 2.0 compliant. Manipulating the process in the designer is much like other drag and drop tools that follow BPMN but ActiveVOS throw in ‘self healing connectors’ (like those displayed in the new Visio 2010), horizontal and vertical views and some further intelligence in where you place symbols and how the other process artifacts respond to the changes (creating repeatable loops for example). I’ll be honest in that design environments tend to blur into the same thing between each tool as there’s little you can really improve on making the modeling process simpler but adhering to BPMN is something which is gaining a lot of momentum now so it’s good to see the 2.0 standard being met here.
What strengthens the ActiveVOS proposition is that as you model you are also simultaneously creating an executable process built on BPEL 2.0 and BPEL4People standards, which in my mind removes the complexity of having to learn or deploy anything proprietary on top of a modelling environment. Workflow is handled via the WS-HumanTask Standard and users interact directly with the process via forms built with a drag and drop form designer using AJAX and HTML which can be presented as a web service.
You can simulate from the Designer view too which takes into account the usual variables to test the scenario out before deployment; inputs, resource allocation, time, cost et al. Deploying the executable is simple enough via the range of existing connectors to enterprise legacy platforms.
Business users invoke the process via ActiveVOS Central which present role based information like outstanding task lists and reports. End users see exactly where they are in the process and is presented in a more visual format than those responsible for process administration. This takes place in the ActiveVOS Console where normally those in IT functions can monitor and report on the execution, perform roll backs, skip steps where bottlenecks occur, pause the process, perform fault resolution.
Again, there is far more to what the suite can do which cannot be given coverage in a lite touch review for example ActiveVOS now supports Visio and XPDL importing of existing models, another standard met in my opinion.
Everything appears more consistent because of the fully standards based approach Active Endpoints have adopted and they have chosen wisely which ones to adopt and apply.
There was a tremendous buzz from the Endpoints team during the demo which really shines through in the product development and roadmap. For a young company they have approached BPMS with an attitude free of legacy which is their strength where others have yet to break out of constraints they’ve created for themselves. Hat’s off to Michael the “Major Propeller Spinner”, Sonal the “Chief Keyboard Slayer”, Alex the “Website Lackey” and Pat the “Social Media Genius” for doing it.