People Ready Process with BPM and BizTalk


"People-Ready Process Through Business Process Management (BPM)." That's our just-articulated vision for BPM using
Microsoft technologies. We see BPM not as just a technology solution, but something Gartner calls a "management discipline." However,
we're claiming that the Microsoft stack can get you through the four main phases of BPM (model/design --> develop/deploy --> manage/interact -->
analyze/optimize).

Now I'm not here to regurgitate a press release. What is this REALLY? This is NOT a product launch announcement with regards to BizTalk
functionality. We're pretty much turning the spotlight on the ways to build flexible, dynamic processes using Microsoft
software like Office (Office Business Applications), SharePoint, BizTalk, WinFx and partner software.

So, first check out our new BPM site, and register for the BPM webcast
(
Enabling "People-Ready Processes" Using Microsoft Business Process Management Solutions and Technologies
).

So what do I care about here personally? I think that of the 4 phases above, that at this moment, our software does 3 of them quite
well. Our development toolset is unparalleled (IMHO), our management options are increasingly solid, and our analysis story
is top-notch (especially with the ProClarity acquisition). I think our process modeling toolset and business rule design isn't quite
complete, so what I care about is the slew of integrated partner offerings we highlighted today. A few of them
are remarkably promising. These solutions from 3rd parties integrate tightly with BizTalk and the Rules Engine to fill in the gaps
of the current Microsoft stack. I summarize each here ...



Rules Engine Enhancements

  • InRule. Nice offering. Has check in/out capabilities. Also allows you to label and
    version your rule sets. Capabilities like decision tables, currently missing from the MS BRE. You've got testing and flow
    visualization abilities, reports for difference checking. I ALWAYS get asked about that in the MS BRE!
  • RuleBurst. I'm VERY impressed by this software. Allows you to optionally write
    your rules in the Office environment (Excel, Word, Visio) and then analyze them in their development studio. Lots of reports
    available and visual representations of the rule set. You've got regression testing (HUGE!) and test case generation. You
    can then export your rules to the BRE's BRL format, and them import them into the MS Rules Engine.



Process Modeling

  • itp commerce. I know this software has been used on BizTalk projects in the past, so
    it's got a track record with us. You've got a BPMN supported modeler and designer, documentation generation to Word,
    process simulation, BPEL import/export and lots more. Good stuff.
  • ProActivity. This is another solution previously used on BizTalk projects. You can
    build your logical designs and export them to BizTalk (and vice versa). You've also got some simulation, analysis and reporting here.
  • Proforma. Here you can model in an MS Outlook-style environment. These cats also
    offer reference model specific to industries like supply-chain and financial services. You've also got BPMN, BPEL and UML support.

In my opinion, these solutions nicely fill in existing shortcomings in the current edition of BizTalk. Rule management is something I hear
about all the time, and now there are some legit solutions to make the BRE easier to commit to. If you don't think the currently-offered
Orchestration Designer for Business Analysts (ODBA) is a full featured modeling tool (which probably no one does), then these
process modeling solutions are a great choice if you're doing large scale modeling using BizTalk Server 2006. Very complimentary stuff.

I'm looking to get my hands on some of the software highlighted above, and if I'm successful, will write up reviews and highlights.

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