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On April 8th 2008, Lombardi announced the Lombardi Blueprint Spring ’08 release. It is immediately available to current users, who number more than 2,400 companies across 88 countries.
Lombardi is probably best known for its BPMS product, Teamworks. Blueprint was first released in April 2007 for general use and is an ‘on-demand’ process documentation tool. When I was first briefed about the product, it was described to me as a brainstorming tool that helps the user produce discovery and document mapping. The initial screen looks like a set of stickies on a white-board that represent the high level processes of an organisation. Blueprint is delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS), which is hosted by a third party at an off-site certified secure facility in Austin, Texas.
At an analyst briefing prior to the release, Phil Gilbert, president of Lombardi said, “When we launched Blueprint a year ago, our goal was to make it easier for real business people to discuss, align and document their processes. We succeeded. Blueprint’s simple user interface helps people collect and organise powerful process information faster than any other product. In this release, we focused on simplifying how people draw detailed process diagrams. And again, I think we have succeeded. With this release, Blueprint is the best business-facing process diagramming tool anywhere, at any price.”
Lombardi Blueprint provides multiple views for representing processes. The process mapping view is targeted towards business users who need to describe activities and responsibilities and want to identify potential problems. Blueprint also supports detailed workflow modelling using BPMN for more technically oriented users. The documentation view provides wiki-like capabilities for documenting processes. Additionally, Blueprint serves as a central repository for all process information, automatically managing revision history, as well as rollback and audit trail information for every process.
The process models are built on Lombardi’s Shared Model technology, which means they can be transferred back and forth between Blueprint and Lombardi Teamworks. Based on the Object Management Group’s Business Process Definition Metamodel (BPDM) standards specification, exportable Blueprint models are fully portable and can be utilised with any BPDM-enabled tool or deployment environment.
By accessing Blueprint through either Mozilla Firefox 2.0 or Microsoft Internet Explorer versions 6.0 or higher, a 256-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology protects customer information using both server authentication and data encryption, ensuring that their data is safe, secure, and available only to the registered users on their account.
Key enhancements in the latest release include:
- Inline Editing for improved usability: replaces drag and drop palette
- Expandable and collapsible sub-processes: Sub-processes within Blueprint can be collapsed to simplify the diagram view, or expanded to show more detail. Users control the level of detail shown in the diagram view to that which is best suited for the particular audience involved.
- Reusable common linked processes: Blueprint supports the extraction of sub-processes from existing models into new reusable processes. In this manner, processes can be linked to enable reuse of common processes throughout an orgnaisation.
- Panning and zooming functionality: Blueprint now provides a zoom capability, enabling larger diagrams to be viewed and edited more easily. Users can zoom in or out as necessary to focus on a particular section of a process or to fit the entire process inside their screen at once.
- More powerful diagramming: There is BPMN link event support. Long flow lines can now be replaced by a pair of links.
- Importing Microsoft Visio process drawings: Blueprint now includes a Microsoft Visio importer capability. Professional Edition account users may now import any Visio process drawing easily into Blueprint.
Blueprint will appeal to a new set of customers who are looking to get their business processes in order and improved—the mid market. Personal accounts are free. The charge for professional accounts s $50 per user per month (this includes the Viso importer and Teamworks integration capabilities. Wayne Snell, Lomabrdi’s Senior Director of Marketing added, “Volume discounts are available for Professional Accounts”. With these sorts of charges, Blueprint very much fits the bill. The BPMS market in many sectors is reaching saturation point at the top end of the Enterprise clients, so companies have to look to the next level down for their new revenue. Lombardi, with their track record of innovation in the BPMS market, has taken another innovative step with this latest release of their SaaS Blueprint product. My recommendation is sign up for a free Personal account and have a try to see if it fits your needs. I would be interested in getting feedback from those of you who do!