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.

Moving To Execution

Savvion BPM Studio is an Eclipse-based environment for executable process design. It extends models created in Process Modeler with implementation details such as integration adapter configurations, exception handling, business rules and business activity monitoring (BAM). The Studio supports all Modeler functionality, including simulation and process documentation, as well as its own enterprise repository for design artifacts. Any process component, from forms to integration adapters to management dashboards, can be reused in multiple processes across the enterprise.

The Studio layers configuration properties on top of the BPMN model, making executable design quite intuitive and IT's as-built implementation understandable to business users. In the past, graphical manipulation of process data elements was limited, and dealing with complex data objects required scripting or Java code. SBM 7.0 improves the tools for managing and using complex data objects, but Savvion still doesn't provide transformation tools for mapping process data objects to Web service parameters.

Version 7.0 reduces the need for Java code to manipulate data, but still relies heavily on scripting to handle exceptions and events. User-selected Advanced Workstep Properties define JavaScript that is executed at various lifecycle transitions of a workstep: when the task is created, opened by a user, completed, expired and so on. Workstep Properties can also direct the process to wait for a particular condition, supporting synchronization with external events or other process conditions.

Savvion provides a business-friendly form editor for building task user interfaces. Starting from a standard template, users can select from a palette of basic layouts and then drag textboxes, checkboxes, data grids and other graphical widgets onto the design canvas. These elements are then mapped to process variables or external data tables. Users can create multitabbed forms and add JavaScript for form validation and other custom-event scripting actions. Studio also lets process designers create task user interfaces that are multipage Web applications (or "screenflows") in which users can perform lookups or other actions. Pages are interconnected in a flow governed by buttons and links, but all within the context of a single process task. All of this can be done in BPM Studio or the Process Modeler, and SBM also supports Adobe and Microsoft InfoPath forms.

Automated worksteps are performed by adapters, integration middleware components that let the process engine execute API methods on external systems such as databases, file systems or enterprise apps. Savvion provides its own adapters for SQL, FTP, e-mail, Web services, Excel and QuickRules rule engine, and supports iWay's catalog of hundreds of adapters. SBM includes a UDDI browser that can search Web service registries and handle both .Net and Java-based services. Adapter worksteps are configured by introspecting the system or registry in the Studio, then mapping dataslots to the appropriate input and output parameters.

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