Bluespring's Suite 4.5 whets appetite for BPM
Innovative Microsoft-centric suite wades into shallow waters of business process management
Optimizing document-centric processes can be a profitable, if tricky, cost-cutting endeavor. It takes a particularly rare breed of BPM suite to simultaneously integrate your applications, your employees' work habits, and the multitude of documents and customers your organization juggles.
Bluespring Software is one company considering all of this and factoring in the significance of Microsoft applications vis-à-vis midtier corporate workflows.
Recently released Bluespring BPM Suite 4.5 sports a process development IDE, Web portal, and .Net services-based process engine that takes advantage of the new Microsoft Office Open XML document format. In addition to performing dynamic Word and Excel document generation, the system can monitor and extract data from within docs to guide enterprise workflow and power external business apps.
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Furthermore, with this release Bluespring now extends the reach and capability of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, supplying process triggers and object updates as well as real-time monitoring for the platform. Bluespring easily corrals other Microsoft favorites, including Active Directory, InfoPath, Live Meeting, and CRM 3.0. Another new addition I like is support for Adobe PDF forms.
If yours is not a Microsoft shop, Bluespring's strengths may be overshadowed by the fact that its entire platform demands MS-branded servers, databases, and IE for its Web portal (although Firefox 2 worked fine).
My biggest disappointment was found in its debugging feature set. Unlike Lombardi TeamWorks, Bluespring offers no design-time simulation, impact analysis, or closed-loop feedback features. As a result, iterative process optimization, the ultimate ambition of BPM, becomes a less-than-intuitive endeavor.
There's also limited compatibility with real-world execution and modeling standards such as BPEL/XPDL (Business Process Execution Language/XML Processing Description Language), or the BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation) support found in Appian Enterprise. I suppose this is less of an issue if you plan never to do business with anyone off an MS platform.
Although the visual process design tools are good, they have yet to evolve to more collaborative ideals that can help collapse the design cycle and encourage team input, such as those seen shaping up in Lombardi Blueprint.