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
Backed by a chat facility that supports close collaboration, Blueprint's browser-based interface helps nontechnical workers build text-based, hierarchical outlines of process information. From this outline, Blueprint creates a graphical BPMN map that can be synced back to Teamworks and integrated into the process engine.
Blueprint could use a few enhancements. It doesn't yet directly import BPMN graphical notation, or BPDM meta-models, and I would like to see more insight (early variable association, duration expectations, etc.) captured here. Access to live data, such as org charts, would be helpful. Also, traversing large models in a browser can be cumbersome without a zoom thumbnail. But Blueprint's ability to capture goals and key information (process ownership, I/O points, support docs) at the start of the planning process is invaluable.
Blueprint does provide export to PDF and PowerPoint. Nice improvements since my look at beta include an undo command, revision histories with quick rollback to previous versions, and process goal analysis.
Although the price for Blueprint is a bit steep on a per-user basis, Lombardi deserves kudos for this effort. No one else is offering such an easy way for business users to embark on the important, exploratory first steps into BPM.
The human touch
Teamworks offers multiple entry points for human-centric processing, including a Web-based portal and a plug-in for Outlook 2003. The portal interface offers fast and easy deployment, giving users quick, browser views into awaiting tasks and drill-down into process performance with Flash-based dashboards. I liked being able to view individual performance and workloads, along with comparisons to overall team metrics.
Authorized users can be granted autonomous access to make changes – like shifting due dates and priorities on in-flight processes – as well as initiate ad hoc processes when required. The result is extreme flexibility in adapting processes to new and sudden requirements, without the technology locking you into a regimented workflow redesign.
Although Teamworks portal users cannot create new reports on-the-fly, reporting options are good, with a number of canned standards to start you off. A report wizard helps authorized users write new reports as required.
Teamworks offers an add-on that is sure to satisfy Microsoft Office users. Teamworks for Office 2003 – Office 2007 is not yet supported – provides support for InfoPath forms and allows users to manage tasks, as well as view scoreboard charts from inside Outlook. Although all InfoPath development is accomplished outside the Teamworks IDE and imported for linkage, benefits such as offline synchronization and the familiar Office interface are sure to be a boon to user adoption and efficiency.
Monitoring and management
Lombardi's administration tools for process engines and the performance server are slightly light on ability and heads-up insight, but they cover the necessities.
I had access to calendar definitions, user-access security, and metrics on process queues – but not a direct means of implementing performance tweaks. The Performance Server console reveals details on load queues and runtime stats, as well as cache performance, transfer rates, and historic resource metrics; these are displayed in text, suitable for auditing, but not in runtime, graphical dashboards.
Finally, Lombardi would do well to add industry-specific process templates to guide best practices, as vendors such as TIBCO do. Lombardi does offer professional services, at additional cost, wherein you gain access to rapid onboarding tools, process patterns, and other benefits.
However, not much of significance is missing or amiss in this exceptional, soup-to-nuts BPM solution. Teamworks is rich in features and strong on tools, with additional perks such as a SharePoint add-on to build Web parts portlets, good subprocess exposure via Web services, a connector for Progress Sonic ESB (with hooks to Teamworks from Progress Actional in the works), and SAML support (one of the few BPM solutions to make the claim).
All said, I am a huge fan of the innovation I’m seeing from Lombardi. I highly recommend Lombardi Teamworks 6 Enterprise to any organization looking for flexible, scalable, soup-to-nuts BPM.