Business Process Management Suites

We put nine suites through rigorous testing. Our Editor's Choice got the winning bid for satisfying the needs of both business analysts and IT staff with its simulation capabilities and

July 1, 2005

29 Min Read
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Order Entry and Fulfillment ProcessClick to Enlarge

This scenario let us evaluate a variety of feature sets and functionality across what appeared to be disparate technologies (see "How We Tested," for more details).

During our evaluation, we acted as both IT staffer and business analyst: For you IT pros, we evaluated features such as platform support, architecture, administrative capabilities, and integration with application infrastructure and identity-management systems. For you business analysts, we examined reporting and analysis features and the ease with which process owners might model and simulate processes. We collaborated with our sister publication Intelligent Enterprise on each product tested. For a more business-analyst focus on the BPM offerings, watch for the review of these products in Intelligent Enterprise's August issue (see www.intelligententerprise.com).

BPM Vendors At A GlanceClick to Enlarge

We noted similarities to both workflow and EAI (enterprise application integration), but make no mistake: BPM is neither glorified EAI nor workflow on steroids. Although it takes advantage of both, a winning BPM strategy requires features and functionality not found in either. Simulation, reporting and analysis, process management, modeling and rules administration are among the differentiators.

Cross-Functional Strategies

You can't win at BPM unless you integrate with your enterprise applications and leverage existing infrastructure investments. Our deployments were standalone, but we took note of architectural choices that might limit enterprise options.

Business processes are governed by a plethora of rules, which determine how tasks are routed, which task will be executed next, and how long the process can wait for a response from another system or human being. Rules make decisions, such as applying discounts to orders or approving a loan application. BREs (business rule engines) are designed for use by business analysts and generally are deployed as standalone servers. The BRE accepts input, runs it through the appropriate rule set and spits out a response.

Web services is the primary mechanism for integrating with BREs. CA, Pegasystems and Bluespring ship their own BREs. Tibco includes its Corticon-partnered offering, and Oracle's JSR 94-based BRE should be available soon. The other products don't implement business rules separately and instead use simple conditional logic or code to implement nearly all business-rule functionality natively. CA's Aion BRE presents itself as Web services. We were most impressed with this BRE, which was the only one targeted for--and, in our opinion, usable by--business analysts. The architecture used by CA embodies the notion of an SOA (service-oriented architecture) and let us easily and dynamically modify business rules without redeploying business processes using those rules. This let our analyst persona change even in-flight processes without ever calling up our IT persona. Sweet.The methods for implementing business-rule logic among participants that don't use a BRE vary greatly. CA and Oracle use XPath for their versions of inline business rules, while Lombardi and Savvion depend on JavaScript. Ultimus uses an Excel metaphor, and we wrote macros to implement rules. Tibco's implementation is mainly Java. Fuego uses a proprietary language, but we could "skin" the rules in Java or Visual Basic--underlying rules remain the same, but developers can implement rules in whichever view is most comfortable.

We implemented our process in all products using their business rule mechanisms. However, by not using an external BRE, we couldn't alter business rules, besides making simple value changes, without also modifying and redeploying the process definition. We could at least externalize threshold variables (like a customer's historical order total) such that our business user could change the values, saving us the trouble of redeploying the process in every situation. But, except with the products from CA, Pegasystems, Bluespring and Tibco, we were unable to provide a means by which our analysts could modify rules without involving IT, short of buying and deploying a separate BRE.

Managing Your Moves

BPM requires two types of management: operational process management and BAM (business activity monitoring). The former provides a mechanism for dealing with exceptions, understanding the current state of processes and dealing with in-flight as well as long-running asynchronous processes; the latter provides the means by which both business and process efficiency can be managed, optimized and better understood.

Process management gives administrators and, we hope, business process owners visibility into what's going on. Every product we tested provides a Web-enabled visual view of the process that includes the current status, down to which step is executing. All the products offered at least a minimal view of the variable data attached to the process, but Oracle took this to an astounding level, providing a complete audit trail with copious detail on the data and transactions accompanying each step.All the products provided a mechanism for deploying new versions of processes without interrupting in-flight processes. Working processes continued to execute based on the version deployed when they were launched, while new processes executed based on the new version. Savvion, Lombardi and Fuego went a step further, providing the means to migrate in-flight processes to new versions, with little manual intervention for minor changes.

BAM lets you monitor processes from a business perspective and in operational terms. All the products tested provide operational metrics, such as process execution times, number of times a process has executed, and which user executed how many tasks, as well as the means to track more business-centric stats, such as the value of a process as determined by the process data. Major product differences became clear, however, when we tried to use business data to create reports and analyze the efficiency of our process. By vendors' reactions when we asked about reporting on real-time data, you'd have thought we'd asked for the moon. Bottom line, real-time BAM requires development and integration work, so let's hope your developers have dashboard-building expertise. The data is all there, but being able to see it without development is not as advanced as we'd hoped. Oracle came closest to delivering it, with CA, Lombardi and Savvion just behind.

All participants, excluding CA, let us integrate KPI (key performance indicator) results back into the process. This is one way business decisions can be made in real time based on operating and business conditions. Given the lack of round-trip simulation capabilities, this feature was a pleasant surprise.

However, only Savvion, Lombardi and Fuego provide simulation features that are useful in closing the process-optimization loop. All three offer a wide variety of variables for simulating a process, with Savvion and Fuego letting you run multiple scenarios--and processes--simultaneously. Other products offer limited simulation, with some assigning costs to specific sets of resources and others allowing random distribution of task durations. Simulation helps business process owners--and IT--find bottlenecks.

Ending the GameFuego's product proved the master of our BPM game and earned our NWC Inc. seal of approval, with the suites from Savvion, Oracle and CA close on its heels. FuegoBPM's simulation and process-management capabilities are extensive, its system integration and manual task features are broad and embody reuse as a default, and its BAM capabilities are open to third-party tools as well as its included toolset. Savvion BusinessManager was hampered by a weaker BAM implementation and fewer human integration options, while Oracle BPEL Process Manager was held back by its simulation and narrower process-management capabilities. CA's not-so-clever CleverPath integration and simulation kept it from the top.

Lombardi TeamWorks and Ultimus BPM Suite were strong contenders, but simulation, integration and a broad set of process listeners hindered Lombardi's performance. Ultimus' unique Excel metaphor couldn't compete with the more elegant rule implementations of our review leaders, and its mediocre BAM and reporting options kept tripping it up. Pegasystems PegaRules' unique rule-oriented view of the world gave us enough rope to hang ourselves with. Bluespring has a great vision, but its BPM Suite is difficult to navigate. For pricing information, see "Paying the Price".

Roots: Pure-play
FuegoBPM should make both IT and business process owners happy. Its outstanding simulation capabilities are second to none; only Savvion's product came close to its level of control and available options. And, Fuego's attention to presentation was not limited to its autogeneration of forms--the ability to present rules in Java, Visual Basic or Fuego's proprietary language is a huge plus in terms of using existing skill sets. Our two biggest complaints

concern its price and the lack of a separate BRE. Still, even at $150,000 for our scenario, FuegoBPM was not the most expensive entry, and Fuego wisely integrates the product with existing BREs to support truly externalized business rules.

Fuego's Swim Lane set-upClick to Enlarge

Like most of the products we tested, FuegoBPM comprises multiple applications: the Fuego Server, a Work Portal, BPM Studio, and a designer targeted for business process creators that eliminates the IT focus in BPM Studio but produces models that can be shared with IT through BPM Studio and vice versa. Fuego, like Lombardi, relies on third-party source-control systems such as CVS and Visual Source Safe, while Savvion, Ultimus and Tibco provide a proprietary mechanism to manage process versioning. Because we don't have a source-control system in NWC Inc., we had to export the model from BPM Studio and deploy the resulting .zip file using the Fuego administrative console, similar to the way we'd deploy an EAR (enterprise archive) to a WebSphere application server.

FuegoBPM, like Ultimus BPM Suite and Pegasystems' PegaRules, relies heavily on the concept of organizational structure. FuegoPBM and Ultimus both can be integrated with an existing directory, but because both extend the existing schema, we used the database option and deployed organizational data into NWC Inc.'s Oracle9i database. We could still query and pull existing user data from our Microsoft ADS directory, which gave Fuego a leg up on Ultimus, but it required us to redefine users and groups to handle complex routing of human tasks. We were impressed with FuegoBPM's use of swim lanes as both visual representations of responsibility and as a mechanism for automatically assigning human tasks to designated participants. We defined a customer service representative swim lane as well as a customer swim lane in BPM Studio, Fuego's model-and-implementation application, then dragged human assignment tasks to the appropriate lane without specifying further details such as assignment, routing and escalation.

We also were pleased with Fuego's support of standards, with the default model generated using XPDL (XML Process Definition Language). BPEL (Business Process Execution Language), BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation) and UML (Unified Modeling Language) also are supported, and it was a simple task to import a BPEL definition generated by Oracle's BPEL Process Manager into Fuego. BPM Studio is based on NetBeans, which is similar to Eclipse and other Java IDEs.

We defined variable data, such as widgets sold and total PO value, for reporting and analysis by inserting a measurement-point step into the process. This data is eventually compiled into an OLAP cube (star topology) that is open to third-party tools or can be analyzed using the included O3 OLAP browser.

FuegoBPM Suite 5.5. Fuego, (800) 355-7602, (972) 801-4200. www.fuego.com

Roots: Platform vendor

Oracle's BPEL Process Manager (BPELPM) offers a rich set of BAM functionality and myriad options for alerts and notifications. If your prime motivator for implementing BPM is to gain audit capabilities, put Oracle on your shortlist. What BPELPM lacks in simulation and modeling capabilities, it more than makes up for with its BAM and detailed process logging.BPELPM illustrates a key differentiator between pure-play, EAI and platform-vendor views of BPM in that it's heavily developer-oriented on the modeling and implementation sides. Oracle partners with several modeling-only vendors, such as Popkin (acquired by Telelogic) and IDS Scheer for modeling and simulation, but these are separate purchases.

Because BPELPM is a native BPEL engine, BPEL can be exported by any modeling tool supporting the standard, and developers can import it and begin process implementation. This also means that any Oracle process definition can be used in any BPEL-compliant engine. This, coupled with its open BAM data schema, SOA and support for a wide variety of J2EE application servers and RDBMSs, made BPELPM the most standards-based and open BPM suite we tested.

All the products provide support for notification and alerts, but none are as thorough as BPELPM. E-mail alerts are supported across the board, but only Fuego came close to matching Oracle's wide array of notification mechanisms, including SMS, SNMP and JMS.

Building our process in JDeveloper was quick and painless. One feature we liked was the automatic marking of incomplete and/or misconfigured steps in the process. Other products required us to run the process through a simulation to determine whether it was correctly defined, but Oracle's product was quick to point out problems.

Oracle BPEL Process Manager 10.1.2. Oracle, (800) ORACLE1, (650) 506-7000. www.oracle.com

Roots: Pure-play
BusinessManager 6.0 was the only product to include a mechanism for building a balanced scorecard from process metrics. Savvion's offering, like CA's, has a useful focus on Six Sigma reports; we were disappointed with other entries' lack of canned business metric reports. BusinessManager's simulation, like FuegoBPM's, is extensive and what we had hoped from all participants. Its price, however, scared us--with its $467,000 price tag, we're still working on a scenario in which the product would pay for itself before we retire.

Savvion's prcoess managementClick to Enlarge

Savvion's WYSIWYG form generation for human interactive tasks was easy to use, and we liked the option to use a generated form, a form of our design, a default flow (think Amazon.com checkout process) based on our process, or a flow of our design, as well as the ability to integrate a custom JSP form. Human interaction from a portal view was common across all the products tested, and all but those from Pegasystems, Bluespring and CA offer WYSIWYG form designers; only CA bases its forms on the XFORM standard. Each product includes the notion of an inbox in its portal, where process participants can kick off or interact with processes as tasks are assigned.

Once we'd developed and deployed our order entry and fulfillment process using BPM Studio (yes, they're almost all inventively named "BPM Studio"), we kicked off instances of the process using the workflow portal, then examined the process in detail. This was a common capability among all products with the exception of Pegasystems, which used textual audit trails, and CA, which required the use of its CA Workflow product to perform process management.

BusinessManager, like all products we evaluated except Oracle's and Fuego's, uses a shared model repository approach to enable collaboration between business analysts and model implementors. A separate business modeler supporting BPMN can be used by the analyst to create the initial model, then be opened from the repository within BPM Studio by the developer. This collaboration provides a clear demarcation of responsibility and makes process changes simpler to implement, because they're automatically propagated in the shared repository. IT intervention is still required to implement changes, but the time to deploy new changes can be reduced by this collaborative, coordinated hands-off approach.

Savvion BusinessManager 6.0, Savvion. (408) 330-3400. www.savvion.com

Roots: Platform vendor
Of the BRE implementations we evaluated, we were most impressed with CA's. Wholly built on Web services standards, its BRE is decoupled from the process implementation and is geared toward business analysts. The business rules we implemented and tested were easily integrated in our business process definition without requiring that we understand anything about Web services.CA was hobbled by Aion's lack of out-of-the-box integration capabilities, with most integration work requiring Java code. Even integration with our Oracle9i database required us to hunker down and develop code. And, unlike Tibco, Oracle and Lombardi, CA doesn't offer the ability to integrate with message queues (JMS, MQ Series), nor can a process be initiated using an e-mail or a database trigger, as with most other products we tested. Even Tibco limited its queue support by not integrating with Microsoft MQ. Integration with message queues is a popular mechanism for subscribing to events and for providing a real-time, or at least near-time, view of current business activity. The lack of this feature makes gaining a real-time view of business data nearly impossible except via an open database schema, which means an application is constantly pounding on the database, or through automated processing of OLAP cubes, which is notoriously slow and is unlikely to produce the two-to-10-second update rate demanded by business process owners. Like those from Oracle, Bluespring and Tibco, CA's simulation features were more of the warm-fuzzy variety than the truly configurable and broader offerings from Lombardi, Savvion and Ultimus.

Aion's process-management capabilities are integrated with CA's process design and management client, CA Workflow. An available visual representation implements a tabbed window model for viewing process variables and invocation details. Although we liked the integration from a design standpoint--we could easily view all aspects of a process definition in addition to process run-time data--we were disappointed that there was no other simple mechanism to let business process owners locate and manage in-flight instances.

CleverPath Aion Business Process Manager 10. Computer Associates International, (888) 423-1000, (631) 342-6000. www.ca.com

Roots: Pure-play
TeamWorks is a zero-code BPM suite with some impressive human-interaction components. Its shared repository enables collaboration between business process owners and IT, and its library encourages reuse of components and services created for process implementations.

Lombardi, like Tibco, uses a services model for implementing processes. These services aren't directly comparable to those in an SOA paradigm, but they're close. Services take input, implement business logic (rules) and return output to be used by the process in subsequent steps. After modeling our business process in Lombardi's Process Modeler, a BPMN-compliant Eclipse environment, we developed services in its Service Modeler and easily associated each step in the model with the appropriate service. Service Modeler is a Java Swing client but will be implemented as an Eclipse plug-in come its next release. This was similar to the mechanism we used in Oracle's product to develop our process implementation.

Lombardi is unique in its decision to bundle BEA WebLogic 8.1 as its app server in a standalone deployment. Although all products but those from Bluespring and Ultimus support deployment into BEA WebLogic as an implementation option, most products bundled Tomcat or JBoss as a J2EE container. Oracle doesn't offer such a configuration, but does include a JBoss embedded server with its development environment for testing. Lombardi offers no integration with RDBMSs except through JNDI data sources configured in the app server, but its out-of-the-box integration was still impressive, supporting flat files, POP, IMAP, SMTP, SAP/R3, SOAP and XML.

Lombardi uses JavaScript as its primary mechanism for manipulating variables and building rules, with XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) also used as a method of transforming data. Oracle also relies heavily on XLST but provides a slick visual editor that should make the process simple even for XLST neophytes, and we prefer Oracle's XSLT editor over Lombardi's requirement of manual construction for XSLT. It was easy to write the JavaScript rules implementing our business logic, but a more complex business logic would be difficult to implement in JavaScript and fraught with additional opportunities to introduce logic errors.TeamWorks 5.02. Lombardi Software, (877) 582-3450, (512) 382-8200. www.lombardisoftware.com

Roots: Pure-play
Ultimus BPM was one of the stars of our review in terms of human integration. Like FuegoBPM, it relies heavily on an organizational hierarchy and can do some awesome dynamic routing for human tasks. Ultimus also is no slouch in the application integration arena, and its attention to security is top-notch.

We liked Ultimus' flexibility in managing its shared repository. It not only let us define and use multiple repositories, in different RDBMSs, it also let us limit access to repositories by user or group. Ultimus took its security further by letting us define management rights on individual processes, including which users/groups could restart, assign, reassign and cancel processes. We were impressed with this level of control and hope other BPM vendors will follow Ultimus' lead in this area.

Ultimus BPM Suite uses an Excel metaphor for much of its process implementation. This may feel strange but makes it relatively easy to manipulate variables. We were pleased with Ultimus' ability to coercively cast variables--we easily translated string input to numerical values and vice versa without explicitly converting the data, which was necessary to deal with NWC Inc.'s custom database schema. This was a pleasant change from FuegoBPM and PegaRules, which are both sensitive to data types and require transformation of variables to match exact types.

Unfortunately, Ultimus fell behind the leaders in its BAM and reporting capabilities as well as in standards support because of limited reporting and heavy reliance on its proprietary ESI (Events Subscription Interface) for reporting via third-party business intelligence tools. Ultimus' stance is that standards such as BPEL and BPMN are too limiting in terms of human interaction and are vendor- rather than customer-driven. Point taken, but we still prefer standards-based implementations.

Ultimus BPM Suite 7.0. Ultimus, (919) 678-0900. www.ultimus.comRoots: EAI vendor, workflow
Tibco acquired Staffworks' workflow product about a year ago and is still in the process of fully integrating it. Tibco Staffware is a conglomeration of many, many products, and the installation is still a blur in our minds. Its core BPM functionality is provided by iPE (Independent Process Engine), part of its acquired Staffware product set, and Tibco includes Corticon's BRE and IDS Scheer's PPM for BAM and reporting. Implementation of services is accomplished through Web services and therefore doesn't require Tibco BusinessWorks for implementation.

This lack of smooth integration between products offers some interesting possibilities in terms of building a best-of-breed BPM system, but the downside is that this single-vendor suite requires just as much work as building a true best-of-breed system--don't get us started on the numerous components we had to cobble together to gain the desired functionality.

Tibco's Web services support in BusinessWorks is behind the rest of the market. It requires more heavy lifting than one would expect from an integration vendor, and we were disappointed with the requirement that we install additional plug-in products in order for iPE and the Process Definer to support Web services. All the other products we tested support Web services natively. Tibco's requirement that a JMS store be configured made sense in terms of ensuring message reliability and openness (any JMS store can be used, Tibco doesn't require its own stack), but we weren't pleased with the number of applications we had to install to get where we wanted to be.

Tibco Staffware Process Suite with Tibco iProcess Engine 10.2. Tibco Software, (800) 420-8450, (650) 846-1000. www.tibco.com

4.2 Roots: BRE, Workflow

Pegasystems' PegaRules is unique, with a completely rules-based view of the world. Its powerful BRE natively provides a great deal of security that's not entirely obvious at first glance, and its handling of workflow is excellent, with plenty of options for attachments and notes to document decisions as processes flow through the engine.

Pegasystems runs entirely off its rules engine; everything in the system--including the system--is nothing more than a collection of rules. This approach is markedly different from rivals, which use BREs only to make decisions based on a specific set of variables. Pegasystems' unique implementation allowed us to customize rules for individual users and groups. In some ways, its implementation is similar to that of an object-oriented language: Rules and applications can be derived from generic counterparts and then customized based on user or group.

The power here is also dangerous. It's easy to shoot yourself in the foot with the rules because of the security native to the rule engine. For example, we implemented our process, then discovered that certain users didn't have access to that ruleset because we hadn't configured the app quite right, derived it from the wrong base class and completely screwed up. If there was a way to change the access, we couldn't find it and trying only seemed to break other parts of our application. Learning the rules by which Pegasystems plays the BPM game is no simple matter and will require that you learn "PegaSpeak."Running a process clearly showed Pegasystems' roots in the workflow world. Its PegaRules is geared toward workflow with deep content-management capabilities. This was detrimental to the product's process-management capabilities, as it was impossible to drill down into a process instance and understand which step an in-flight process was executing.

Pegasystems' simulation capabilities are in a separate, recently introduced product that the company declined to submit for review.

PegaRules Process Commander 4.2. Pegasystems, (617) 374-9600. www.pega.com

Roots: Pure-play
Bluespring is a relatively young competitor in a field of powerhouses. Its .Net-based Designer is full of eye candy and is easy to use for modeling and process management. There's a compelling vision here--if you're willing to wait for a more solid product and wider standards support.

Even ignoring Bluespring's lengthy installation, which requires no fewer than four reboots of the server and a strange USB-fob licensing requirement, the software had problems during testing that we just couldn't ignore. Functionally, it worked and offered process design and management capabilities similar to the other suites we evaluated, but we just can't give a high grade to a product that crashed and locked up when it encountered invalid key combinations or mouse clicks. Fixes issued by Bluespring helped one problem but seemed to create more.The .Net-based BPM Designer has some quirks that are undoubtedly the result of its SOA paradigm. We created a user and attempted to edit the profile, then discovered no Save or OK options--in fact, there were no buttons of any kind. Data was saved on a field-by-field basis and required that the field lose focus for the data to be submitted automatically. We needed several attempts at creating a user to figure this out. We were not amused.

Although we had no problem integrating the suite with a Microsoft SQL Server database, it took hours to integrate it with Oracle. Once we'd gotten our connection working on the client, we had to figure out why it wasn't working similarly on the server. We eventually implemented our process using only our SQL Server instance. Bluespring is heavily Microsoft-focused, and given its lack of support for industry standards, such as BPEL and BPMN, we'd suggest the product only for homogeneous Windows environments.

BPM Suite 4.2. Bluespring Software, (877) 794-1764, (513) 794-1724. www.bluespringsoftware.com

Doug Henschen is editor of Intelligent Enterprise, a sister publication to Network Computing.

Lori MacVittie is a Network Computing senior technology editor working in our Green Bay, Wis., labs. She has been a software developer, a network administrator and a member of the technical architecture team for a global transportation and logistics organization. Write to them at [email protected].Putting together a winning team is a costly proposition, especially when the players demand the best tools for the job. Pricing of BPM suites is by no means an easy task, with models based on users, steps processed, processes running and CPUs.

Beware of pricing based on users or steps. Although the total cost of acquisition may be lower than conventionally higher-priced CPU licenses, the outlay can skyrocket if you eventually automate your entire enterprise. Achieving a satisfactory ROI in your lifetime would be unlikely.

We priced products in our review based on our NWC Inc. scenario: two-CPU server; 50 daily users; 25 occasional users; one process; and 1,000 steps per day.

Paying The PriceClick to Enlarge

Both CA and Pegasystems would require licensing of customers to let them interact with deployed processes through their respective portals. Keep this in mind if you plan on integrating business partners or consumers into the process--you'll need to budget for some development work to access the systems through Web services or another integration point to keep the total cost of ownership at a reasonable level.Several offerings should carry "batteries sold separately" tags because their vendors--including Fuego, Pegasystems and Tibco--offer strategic pieces of their products as separate line items. Our favorite, of course, is CA, with its "starts at" pricing. This always frightens us, as we're sure there's a gotcha somewhere that will drive the price up into the six-figure range.

Bottom line, despite the sometimes higher cost of acquisition, we prefer CPU pricing models. Not only are they simple, they don't keep you from expanding to larger deployments and don't penalize growing deployments.

BPM suites automate business processes and provide collaboration between human beings and machines. To fully explore the capabilities of our nine participants, we defined a specific business process culled from NWC Inc.

Each product was installed on a Dell 2650 dual Xeon 2.2-GHz server with 1 GB of RAM running Windows 2000 SP4 or Windows 2003, depending on specific requirements. Products had to integrate with NWC Inc.'s existing databases, Oracle9i (9.2.0.1 on Windows) and Microsoft SQL Server 2000, which contain customer, order and shipping data. Each product also was required to implement a specific process scenario in order for us to evaluate its BPM-specific capabilities, including reporting and analysis, modeling environment, simulation capabilities and collaborative features.

The scenario was a simple order entry and fulfillment process comprising both internal (customer service representative) and external (customer) human interaction as well as application and enterprise database integration. The process included business rule execution to determine where to route a specific order, as well as the requirement to use both Microsoft Exchange for e-mail interaction and Active Directory for authentication purposes.The process:

1. An order is received.

2. If the order value is less than $1,000, route to the order-fulfillment process (step #4).

3. If the order value is more than $1,000, consult historical data to determine whether the customer has ordered more than $1,000 in the past fiscal year.

a. If the customer has ordered more than $1,000 in the past fiscal year, route to the order-fulfillment process.b. If the customer has not ordered more than $1,000 in the past fiscal year, route to a customer service rep for a manual decision.

i. If the CSR approves, route the order to the order-fulfillment process.

ii. If the CSR rejects the order, send e-mail notification to the customer.

4. Order fulfillment: Consult the inventory database to determine whether widgets are available to ship.

a. If widgets are available to ship, send e-mail confirmation to the customer.b. If widgets are not available to ship, send e-mail notification to the customer and wait for a response.

i. If the customer indicates he'd like to proceed, wait a specified amount of time and restart the order-fulfillment process.

ii. If the customer indicates he'd like to cancel the order, cancel it and send e-mail confirmation to the customer.

We also examined each product's ability to integrate with Web services, as well as capabilities to expose workflow items and processes as services themselves. We evaluated the modeling environment from both implementation and design points of view, determining the level of technical knowledge required to participate in the design process. Because business process owners must share their expertise in defining corporate processes, ease-of-use is paramount.

All Network Computing product reviews are conducted by current or former IT professionals in our own Real-World Labs®, according to our own test criteria. Vendor involvement is limited to assistance in configuration and troubleshooting. Network Computing schedules reviews based solely on our editorial judgment of reader needs, and we conduct tests and publish results without vendor influence.

R E V I E W

BPM Suites



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