Put to the Test: Savvion BPM - InformationWeek

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12/8/2006
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Put to the Test: Savvion BPM

Once business users master Savvion's modeling tool, it's easy for IT to turn the designs into executable processes.

PROS
• Free downloadable modeling and simulation analysis tool; supporting Web site offers collaboration with growing process modeling community.
•Ease of development by nontechnical users, fostering business-IT collaboration on implementation..
CONS
• Rich human workflow support, including user-defined forms, rule-based task assignment, collaborative tasks and prebuilt reports.
• Exception handling is hidden in scripts that aren't surfaced in the model diagram.
• Lacks data transformation tools for mapping process data objects to adapter parameters.

Savvion BusinessManager breaks down the walls between process modeling and executable process design. Modeling and design use essentially the same tool, encouraging business-IT collaboration and ensuring that the model and executable process always stay in sync.

Business analysts using Savvion's modeling tool can define design components such as process data and task user interfaces, activities deemed "too technical for business users" by other business process management suite (BPMS) vendors. In addition, Savvion offers a version of Process Modeler, including simulation analysis, as a free download, and has established a ProcessXchange Web site through which modelers can post and share their creations. The site has successfully grown the community of process modelers, and after modeling their processes, they find themselves just a short step away from generating executable business processes.

Savvion's strategy of giving away the modeling tool reinforces the business-driven aspect of BPMS, and also tends to make human-centric processes the vendor's sweet spot. But this is by no means a low-end product. Savvion BusinessManager (SBM) runs as Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) on WebSphere or WebLogic application servers, leveraging J2EE integration standards such as Java Connector Architecture (JCA) and Java Messaging Service (JMS), and it's architected for high-volume scalability and enterprise-class "nonstop" operation. Moreover, SBM provides the production workflow features demanded by business process outsourcers (BPOs), such as complex rule-based task assignment, rich task user interfaces and out-of-the-box performance management reports supporting workload and group productivity analysis.

Building The Model

Savvion's Process Modeler is based on a subset of the OMG Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) standard, including tasks, subprocesses and gateways, with swimlanes mapped to participant roles. SBM 7.0 adds limited support for BPMN's intermediate events, which trigger exception flows. Support for the full BPMN notation is expected in version 7.5, around mid-2007.

Process Modeler includes a powerful simulation-analysis capabilities that let analysts estimate average task duration and cost, resource cost, and flow path probabilities. The tool projects backlogs, cycle times and costs for various configuration scenarios. Other vendors offer process diagramming tools for free, but Savvion is unique in providing free simulation analysis and reporting.

Process Asset Manager is an enterprise repository for process models that provides version control, access control and advanced search. The browser-accessible Process Asset Manager is also useful for sharing designs and best practices broadly across the organization.

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