Innovator for Business Analysts is a German product but is distributed and supported in the UK by Aptero Solutions, a company with a strong provenance (many of its key personal come from the well-respected Select development tools company). It is a BPMN modelling tool that addresses the needs of the Business Analyst role as a whole rather than just enabling BPMN modelling and is part of a larger Innovator tool-set supporting other roles (such as Software and Database Architects), with all these tools sharing a common model.
This tool supports the transition between business roles and software models; and helps to keep them in step. It fits into the New Development space because it provides innovative features such as "process animation" (an animated representation of complex paths through a process) and a "whiteboard" (which allows different models and even teams to be active in the one diagram), which can facilitate user buy-in and collaborative modelling. A free "Personal Edition" of the tool is available for training and "proofs of concept" and this could be particularly useful in inculcating a collaborative modelling culture across organisational silos - which is what would distinguish this solution from older CASE environments.
MID is committed to supporting the OMG's BPMN standard and Innovator supports most of the current standard and will be updated as the standard develops.
Innovator is designed as a customisable tool that can be extended with "plug-ins"; for example:
- The SAP Solution Manager Plug-In lets you compare both SAP-standard and customer-specific processes using BPMN models; this facilitates the customization of SAP standard solutions to customer-specific needs. It also helps you visualise how the SAP Solution Manager workflows can support your own business processes.
- Innovator Office Integration lets you create, update and maintain "requirements" from within Innovator models, using Word, the de-facto business office-suite standard.
MID is largely a European/UK solution in practice, although it is marketed outside Europe. All versions can be downloaded from the MID website. Aptero Solutions is MID's world-wide distributor and partner.
It has a strong partnership with SAP.
MID targets business-level developers , working at the business process level - "business-driven IT".
- The Personal Edition targets trainees, students and modelling evangelists building a "proof of concept".
- The Professional Edition targets single-user professionals.
- The Enterprise Edition larger organisations, running collaborative development teams.
Its integration with SAP makes organisations struggling to develop in SAP environments a particular target.
Typical customers include:
- An international banking group improving its modelling and development processes. Using the public APIs of Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Word and Innovator for Business Analysts, Aptero Solutions has been able to build a Visio-to-BPMN migration utility which translates pictures of process models in Visio to be valid Innovator BPMN models, thus reducing maintenance overheads going forward and increasing the practical use of the models.
- The Computer Science department of a large German insurance company engaged on a 2 year project analysing IT process in the interests of better governance and seeking to produce structured, maintainable, process documentation.
Innovator for Business Analysts runs on Windows 7 (the earliest version supported is Windows XP SP3) and uses its own database. It requires Microsoft .NET 4. The Personal Edition can be installed from a USB drive onto an average netbook (and this works well-enough for training), although a powerful PC and (in particular) a large screen is recommended. It comes in several Editions:
- The Personal Edition doesn't support the UML features (Class Diagrams, State Diagrams for analysing business objects, Use Case diagrams); mask flow diagrams (a BPMN extension for requirements modelling), requirements, the collaboration features (multi user access, real-time collaboration, user and rights management); and has no hotline support. Its models can't be imported into the full-featured Enterprise Edition. It has an unlimited license.
- The Professional Edition adds the features omitted from the Personal Edition, with the exception multi-user collaboration support.
- The Enterprise Edition supports all the Innovator for Business Analysts features, including collaboration and more complete integration with Microsoft Office.
Innovator integrates strongly with the Microsoft Office environment (an Innovator Office Integration add-on to Microsoft Word, which needs its own license, and Word2007 or higher, is available for the Enterprise Edition), which seems to be a significant part of MID's marketing strategy. Generally, even with the Personal and Professional editions, Innovator works just like any other Office-based tool for editing, copy & paste, printing and so on.
MID can provide repository-hosting services.
The MID Academy offers an extensive training program, as well as in-house qualification courses tailored to a particular company's needs. MID's User Group has been recently reorganised as an independent and self sufficient user community, supported by, but not controlled by MID.
Aptero Solutions is MID's world-wide distributor and partner. It works at the business level with customers, to solve their business issues. Intellectually, Aptero Solutions is an informal child of that well-respected UK producer of software-automated business solutions, Select. Many of its key personnel are ex-Select employees