BPM tools come in all variety of shapes and formats but there’s always the same fundamental idea behind them which is to build a structured process model and take it further through automated workflow or capturing of controls and risk information. BP Logix didn’t start out this way though. Originally when launched in 1998 it was developing encryption and single sign on software before moving into content management solutions and embedding their solutions with the likes of Vignette and Documentum. It’s only been in the last 2 years that BP Logix has emerged as a true BPM player but we’re going to see that the journey has definitely been worthwhile.
In 2009 the solution moved to the ubiquitous .NET framework and is fully browser based, coming with either Oracle or SQL back end flavours. The interface a user receives is customisable based on their profile or role and can be embedded in existing client portals like Sharepoint. In fact, Scott Menter, VP at BP Logix pointed out that their roadmap includes Sharepoint 2010 integration to allow users to call or initiate Logix processes directly. Scott goes onto describe the Director suite (consisting of Process Director and Workflow Director) as being developed with the business user in mind without much IT need for deployment of process workflow.
From what I saw it was certainly all configuration based with no code in sight, even connectors to interfaces, web services and legacy systems are all done through configuration that a business user can handle. They do provide a full SDK with the solution which provides full control over all of the solution, so the code junkies aren’t left out after all.
The process modelling aspect of the suite (Workflow Director) is alike others I’ve seen so I’ll not dwell too much on this piece. What I want to concentrate on in this review is where they have something of a differentiator: Process Director
When they presented it I thought I was looking at Microsoft Project with a Gantt chart view but this was far more than that. With the hot topics at the moment encompassing rapid process discovery and capturing of unstructured processes BP Logix have, perhaps without knowing, created something unique because of the format. Processes are presented as a set of tasks (much like Project) with timescales and dependencies highlighted against other activities. Everything is drag and drop to create new tasks then it’s a case of completing who should conduct the activity, when it needs to be done, what other tasks are dependent and what conditions are attached. This format supports the ability to make rapid changes easily (even allowing some import/ export with Project itself at a basic level)
And mirroring a well organised and automated project plan, timescales and dependencies can be made fluid, allowing users to alter when activities are expected to run if they can be run quicker than the expected scheduled time for example. The system can also alert users earlier based on predictive analysis of previous task performance. Automated actions based on these analytics is something of which Scott said was on the product roadmap in coming releases.
This is certainly a different way to not only view and run a process but capture it as well, and the immediate thought in my mind was how quickly you could pull a process together based on this technique outside of the usual process modelling use case.
Whether by design or accident, BP Logix in the last 2 years of becoming a BPM player are very much in the right place at the right time with Process Director and Workflow Director, and it’s up to them to capitalise on the buzz being created around rapid process discovery and capturing unstructured processes with their solutions.