Product review: Lombardi Teamworks conquers BPM with superb tools, flexible execution
Lombardi Teamworks 6 Enterprise sets the curve with superior simulation and analysis tools, nicely integrated performance monitoring, and unmatched ease of development for IT and business users
The Activity Wizard made creating rules, and defining human- and system-side interactions, much easier tasks. Solid introspection across Java and Web services – including a new UDDI tool – helped hasten discovery and development. Transports are well represented with SOAP and HTTP/REST-style invocations, as well as JMS and others. Support for BPMN intermediate events helps you flag exceptions and initiate compensation rollback procedures in the absence of more ACID-grade transaction management.
SLA definitions – used at runtime to trigger corrective processes, e-mail alerts, or updates to a manager’s scoreboard – were easy to implement. Other capabilities, such as organizational routing (based on employee competencies) and built-in audit trails, round out an unusually rich feature set by today’s standards.
I did find minor nits in the process modeler. For example, you must manually reroute flows whenever you insert new steps into an existing process. But other time-savers – such as built-in dependency tracking, which is essential for change management and often overlooked by vendors – more than make up for the blemishes.
Lombardi's simulation tools rank among the best that I've ever used. They're also the easiest to implement, requiring neither a separate deployment process nor involved instrumentation, as is the more prevalent practice in the market today. I was able to launch into process validation, step-by-step debugging, and time-lapse simulation immediately, via the Process Inspector within the IDE.
I found it easy to tap historic playback via the Performance Server repository and to test process updates with quick-click changes; you can even switch perspectives on your data (say, average value vs. number of instances) without missing a beat.
Teamworks tracks historical trends, workload metrics, and overall efficiency – even across multiple processes. The Process Inspector and Optimizer views zero in on hot spots and make recommendations for removing bottlenecks and improving process performance. Because Teamworks manages the entire back end – schema definition, SQL, data transfer, etc. – using Performance Server is as easy as selecting which data to track while building your process definitions. We've come a long way from last decade’s OLAP hypercube manipulation.
Collaborative process discovery
To help business users jointly map out new processes, Lombardi offers a Web-hosted modeling tool called Blueprint. Since I explored the beta last February (see "Preview: SaaS meets BPM in Lombardi Blueprint"), Lombardi has made some marked improvements.