From Business Strategy to Business Process Management - Metastorm Enterprise

Simon Holloway

Written By:
Published: 19th November, 2007
Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

The BPM market is in a process of consolidation, so the key thing for vendors operating in this space is to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Metastorm were one of the early pioneers of the BPM market, being founded in 1996. In July 2007, Metastorm announced the acquisition of Proforma Corporation. The combined company provides an integrated enterprise solution that unifies business strategy and architecture with process discovery and optimization, managed process execution and process monitoring and analysis. Then, in November 2007, Metastorm announced the acquisition of Process Competence, who are an SI (a certified Metastorm partner and a licensed distributor for the Metastorm ProVision). This acquisition will extend Metastorm's direct sales and professional services presence in Europe and other regions.

At the beginning of October I met Neil Hudspeth, Metastorm International's Director of Product Management, at their Wimbledon offices to find out what the merger has meant to Metastorm. The two Proforma products and Metastorm's own BPM products have been merged into a market brand of Metastorm Enterprise. The Enterprise products can be purchased individually, as well as together under the Enterprise sku:

  • Metastorm ProVisionEA: solution for Enterprise Architecture and Business Process Analysis;
  • Metastorm ProVisionBPA: solution for Business Process Analysis;
  • Metastorm BPM: A Business Process Management Suite for process life-cycle management.

The merger with ProVision is part of the way Metastorm can broaden their coverage as the BPM market reaches its first plateau of consolidation. Metastorm have developed a marketing strategy based on the theme "Mind The Gap". The first Gap is between those involved in carrying out Strategy & Enterprise Architectures and Process Analysis & Optimisation, which Metastrom sees resulting in understanding a business without improving it. The second Gap is between Process Analysis & Optimisation and Process Execution & Management, which results in a blueprint without any realised value. The final gap completes the circle and is between Process Execution and Management and Strategy and Enterprise Architectures, which leads to change without visibility into the impacted areas and thus sub-optimal results. For the more cynical inclined of you, you might notice that this strategy reflects exactly the task facing Metastrom to integrate the Enterprise product set together!

So what about the products?

Metastorm ProVisionEA provides an integrated view of all dimensions of the enterprise, from business strategy, organization, process, information, communication and technology dimensions. It acts like the central repository of numerous corporate models describing an enterprise. There are 34 Modellers covering: Strategy, Organization, Process, Information, Communication and Technology. These models can be linked with existing pieces of intellectual capital that can be browsed within the tool.

Metastorm ProVisionBPA is the Business Process Analysis Suite providing support for Process Documentation, Process Simulation, Six Sigma and Process Optimization.

There are 14 Modellers covering: Process Motivation, Process Participants, Process Definition and Process Analysis. In fact this is a subset of the capabilities in the EA tool with the addition of tools for Process Analysis.

Metastorm BPM is based upon a XML architecture. It uses a .NET Process Engine to provide a scaleable platform for managing the authorization, role management, work assignment, and system integration of on line users. Metastorm BPM provides users with a number of different options including Browser, Microsoft Office client, Process portal clients, and Custom. Metastorm BPM has a number of ways to assist processes where different application interface are required, and many enterprises and associated firewalls are involved. For key platforms such as Microsoft BizTalk Server, IBM WebSphere Message Queuing, Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ) and Java Messaging Services (JMS), there are pre-build adapters and tools.

Scripts may be associated with Metastorm BPM events through the Designer to provide syntax-sensitive editors for JavaScript, VBScript, and jScript.NET. Scripts may be used to drive any .NET or COM-enabled solution. All process functions are available as Microsoft Workflow Foundation1(WWF) Activities, allowing any WWF-enabled product to integrate with Metastorm BPM processes. Integration to 3rd party products is supported through ODBC, OLEDB or LDAP to access external databases or directories and to legacy system integration tools such as Web Logic Integrator, Software AG's EntireX, and the entire suite of iWay adapters.

The Process Engine is everything that you expect from a BPMS product with an IT background. So support for session management, access controls and content management functions are all there. Also included with the Process Engine is Metastorm Envision which provides simulation and analysis of Metastorm BPM processes. Process performance can be simulated; adjustments made, and detailed comparisons performed. Once a process is deployed and an organization has accumulated process performance data, Metastorm Envision can be used to analyze this performance. New simulations may be run using actual performance data.

In summary, Metastorm is a well-established BPM player. The purchase of Proforma seems to be allowing Metastorm to strengthen their Process support back to the strategy level. Metastorm Enterprise provides an integrated environment for the control of business processes in an organisation. The differentiation is around the support at a real business and strategy level. The BPM product has a strong Microsoft pedigree, but has been sold on its merits as a BPM tool rather than on its platform. Bloor would advise users to take a close look at the complete product set even if their need is just for BPM support. And certainly Metastrom should be on your list of products to review if you are contemplating a BPMS selection exercise, even if you are not a Microsoft site!


[1]
One of the core capabilities in the .NET 3.0 Framework, Microsoft Windows Workflow Foundation is the programming model, engine, and tools for building workflow-enabled applications on Windows. It provides an in-process workflow engine, a designer for Visual Studio 2005 to enable both developers and non-developers to define custom workflow processes graphically, and a new Workflow namespace to integrate these within code.

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