Building business process applications is just the tip, a look at Iceberg BPM

As the Redux vendor list keeps on growing so does the number of new and smaller vendors appearing on the radar with something good to offer the enterprise. Iceberg (http://www.geticeberg.com) appears to be one of them. Taking the stance that building workflow enabled applications should be as easy as possible, Wayne Byrne, CEO of Iceberg, said they are targetting two groups in particular:

  • business users who want to build process applications easily without the need for heavy IT or consultant involvement and
  • developers who don’t fully understand BPM but want to build applications with workflow elements

Where some tools of a similar BPMS genre expect some level of technical coding and understanding I’m immediately presented with a Get Started Wizard to kick start the whole building process off and this strikes me as a really simple way of presenting a first step. As you complete the first stages of the wizard, Iceberg takes the objects and builds up a relational db in SQL Server in the background. Next steps ask you to define how these objects are related and then build a series of forms to interact with the objects. The form builder is again much in the same vein as others I’ve encountered, a drag and drop interface but without any coding involved.

Moving onto the Process Designer and Wayne describes the palette as hosting ‘business objects’, essentially Iceberg’s shape definitions for building a process model for the workflow. What’s apparent is that it’s a proprietary format and Wayne explains that their clients haven’t had a need for an expansive set like BPMN but recognises that in later releases this year they will have to adopt a standard as well to meet future market needs. The business objects are split into system based actions and human based actions and can describe it as a visual way of programming workflow into the application built with the wizard earlier, again without the need for code. They even have an expression builder for creating event triggers which is based on natural language interpretation which immediately impressed.

Obviously if you’re a code junky Iceberg allows you to extend it’s capabilities by creating custom .Net classes but using simple techniques again, drag, drop and reuse with ease. You can create objects to integrate with other existing systems either using the Iceberg web service calls or custom APIs. The tool also allows for full UI flexibility, something Wayne pointed out as a big hit for clients. Where other tools allow for rebranding by splashing a client logo in a corner, Iceberg is fully reskinnable and for different roles/ views too (so users can have one design, admin another). It’s fully CSS driven so every aspect can potentially be modified to suit.

Wayne says that apart from adopting the BPMN standard in future releases they’re also looking to incorporate AJAX without coding and create an ‘application marketplace’ for the community to share apps created using the Iceberg platform. Something which Wayne pointed out which attests to the ease of use was that a client was able to create a full vacation management system in 50 minutes using Iceberg and another large franchise client manages their entire supply chain using the platform.

Ease of use and the ability to handle complex processes and workflow seem to be a strength that Iceberg possesses, so whatever you intend to hit it with Wayne is confident you won’t sink.

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