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Vendor Capability Assessment
BPM technology: Global 360
Premium Advisory Report September 2010
This report assesses the capabilities of Global 360’s Process360 product offerings, along with other complementary Global 360 products, and also examines the partners, professional services, advice and other intellectual property that Global 360 can offer customers exploring Business Process Management (BPM) implementations.
This Vendor Capability Assessment (VCA) report forms part of a series of reports from MWD which assess vendor offerings in the area of BPM technology – that is, technology-related capabilities which support organisations adopting BPM to design, develop, deploy, monitor and optimise
partially- or wholly-automated business processes. For background on the analysis contained in this report, please refer to the accompanying Explanatory Notes document which is freely available on
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Global 360 is a vendor with a long heritage in the management of business processes, being able to trace its roots to the 1980s as a document management technology provider. After being
reincorporated in 2000 as Global 360, the company now focuses most of its attention on two technology product groups: one (Process360) is focused on a wide set of BPM scenarios, and the other (Case360) is focused more specifically on case management scenarios. In 2008, on the arrival of current CEO David Mitchell (ex webMethods and Software AG) the company launched a new wave of product investment aimed at targeting Microsoft’s technology platform and tools much more explicitly. Shortly after this the company developed its SharePoint interface for Process360 and also introduced a process simulation tool, analystView, specifically aimed at taking advantage of Microsoft Visio’s strong presence in industry as a process documentation tool. Now, the company makes a strong point of the way in which its tools and platform work around Microsoft SharePoint as the container for process application user experiences. SharePoint’s broad use in industry, together with its customisability, make it a smart choice for the foundation of what Global 360 calls its ‘Persona-based’ BPM approach – that is, its focus on delivering comprehensive user experiences that are optimised for the needs of different roles in a BPM implementation.
The combination of analystView, Process360 and managerView (a process analytics platform based on SQL Server Analysis Services or Oracle’s data warehouse) has some really compelling capabilities, most notably in monitoring and optimisation. The very strong showing here is largely thanks to a
combination of an advanced use of KPIs and goals to colour process performance monitoring and analytics, with the ability to take the outputs directly from operational measurement back into the runtime environment (to drive automated actions) or alternatively to administrators to have them optimise work management configurations and rules. The flexibility of the dashboarding environment and the ability to pull information and events from a wide variety of sources is also a key enabler for building reports and views that are truly useful to business stakeholders.
The Global 360 offering should be particularly interesting to you if you’re looking to build on existing investments in Microsoft platform technologies like SharePoint and BizTalk. It’s particularly strong in supporting sequential workflow and document management-focused process scenarios, due to a combination of very flexible work management features and easy integration with various document and information capture technologies.
In the medium term Global 360 is planning to pull many of the case management features from the Java-based Case360 offering over into Process360, and this will undoubtedly improve what today is only a foundation level of support for case management scenarios in Process360.
Overview of offering
Global 360’s BPM offering encompasses a set of process lifecycle management tools, together with a process management platform and a case management platform, as well as related consulting and education services and pre-built “solutionView” solution frameworks. These frameworks address a set of vertical industry-specific implementation scenarios in Financial Services, Insurance, Healthcare, Government, as well as some ‘horizontal’ scenarios focused on supply chain management and human resources management.
The Global 360 offering spans two main lines of related technology: Process360 is based on Microsoft platform technology and focuses on a broad set of process scenario types; Case360, by contrast, is Java-based and (as the name suggests) focuses squarely on enabling case management scenarios. Over time the company plans to implement more and more of the Case360 case management capabilities in Process360.
Products and capabilities
In this assessment we focus primarily on the Process360 platform and the tools that work around it. The main elements of this offering are as follows:
analystView. This is a plug-in for Microsoft’s Visio Premium 2010 which is aimed at business process analysts, and provides process simulation capabilities on top of Visio’s BPMN modelling capabilities. It’s offered as a standalone product or can be used alongside Process360.
designerView. This is the technical design tool shipped with Process360, focused on designing process behaviour at a detailed implementation level. High-level models can be imported from analystView and elaborated here. Process models and other related application configuration information are stored in the Process360 repository.
Process360 Agents. These form the execution platform for processes designed in
designerView, taking their configuration information from the Process360 repository. They work hand-in-hand with Microsoft SharePoint to deliver the Global 360 application runtime
adminView. This is the web-based administration portal element of Process360. It’s used to configure process applications, including configuration of work distribution and management and configuration of task user interfaces.
managerView. This is a process analytics engine, based on SQL Server Analyst Services or Oracle, which delivers in-depth historical process analytics capabilities. You use managerView to define KPIs and then monitor performance against them; KPIs can be based on process
performance, but they can also be based on performance of organisational teams or individuals. In addition to these core elements of Global 360’s process management offering, the company also offers Corticon’s rules engine as an integrated part of the offering (though this is a separately licensable component).
Coverage of the BPM activity cycleCapability Analy st Vi ew D es ig ne rVi ew Pro ces s360 ag ent s A dm in Vi ew M ana ge rVi ew
Key Product has partial coverage of this capability
Product has full coverage of this capability Discovery & analysis Design & development
Integration & execution
Monitoring & optimisation
Using the product(s)
Here we provide a narrative which explains, at a high level, how customers are likely to use the tools in the offering (together, if there are multiple) in order to deliver a BPM implementation. Discovery
Global 360’s process management environment doesn’t offer dedicated process discovery and analysis tools, but there is some limited support in the offering nevertheless. Specifically, you can use features from Microsoft Visio and analystView, combined with the capabilities of Visio Services for SharePoint 2010, to enable groups of analysts to work together on high-level process models. Analysts upload and share process models from Visio into a specialised SharePoint library, and from there they can use discussion and document management features of SharePoint to work as a team on those process model documents.
Design and development
Support for the BPM activity cycle in the Global 360 offering really starts in design and development. Here, responsibilities are likely to be split between a number of tools – specifically Microsoft Visio 2010, analystView (delivered as a plug-in for Visio), designerView, SharePoint Designer and adminView. In Global 360’s offering, the role of Visio 2010 is to provide an abstract modelling environment for non-technical business analysts. It provides native support for BPMN 1.2 diagramming. It allows you to model all the usual BPMN process constructs (swimlanes, activities, gateways, timers, events, exceptions, and so on) and as a bonus provides a nice context-sensitive modelling feature which helps ensure that models are semantically correct in BPMN terms. analystView doesn’t contribute to design per se from a functional point of view – it’s primarily focused on providing simulation
functionality on top of Visio BPMN models – but it is what enables export of models from Visio to designerView via XPDL.
designerView picks up where Visio leaves off, and takes responsibility for the design and development of executable process models along with associated business rules, work assignment definitions, and process data schemas. It has a Microsoft Office-like look-and-feel, and is aimed at more technical developers. Models are saved to a shared Process360 repository.
Exchange of models between Visio and designerView is currently one-way; there’s no way to propagate work back from designerView into the Visio/analystView environment. BPMN models from Visio import with fair fidelity, but there’s no support for swimlanes or pools within designerView because in the Global 360 product approach, organisational models and work management logic are separated explicitly from process models – there’s no way to express work assignment in a process model (tasks are assigned to worklists, which are first-class objects in Process360; how worklists are associated with participants is defined in adminView). Any additional information you specify against BPMN models in analystView (see Simulation below) – for example to specify KPIs, organisational model aspects, or decision rules – is specific to simulation activity and is not transferable into the designerView environment.
designerView’s approach to elaboration of process models to create executable specifications is through the addition of explicit technical tasks into process definitions, rather than through scripting or specification of properties against activities. designerView provides a good array of predefined technical task types, largely concerned with integration tasks (see Integration below) as well as process modelling semantics that are largely consistent with BPMN 1.2.
As well as designing process models and worklists in designerView, you also use the tool to specify process variables. All the usual simple datatypes are supported, and you can group variable definitions together to create ‘templates’ that you can then associate with data entry forms for simple data extraction. At the moment, though, there’s no straightforward support in the tools for managing complex/structured types – which means you are a little restricted in how process instances can manage data in some circumstances.
One particularly strong feature of the models you can define in designerView is the sophistication with which you can specify dynamic optimisation behaviour. Specifically, routing rules in designerView can reference KPIs you define in managerView (see Monitoring and optimisation below) and thereby use current process performance to drive reallocation of work, escalation, re-prioritisation of work, and so on. Given that KPIs can be defined based on trending measures this potentially brings
sophisticated predictive work and process optimisation capabilities to the table.
When it comes to specification of user interfaces for process participants, the default choice is to use SharePoint web parts – Process360 ships with a prebuilt set of parts that display data entry forms, document attachments, performance reports, and so on. You use SharePoint Designer to pull
collections of web parts together into role-specific ‘userViews’; you then use adminView to define participant roles, associating them with worklists (or filtered views of worklists, in more
sophisticated scenarios) and userView definitions. For applications where sophisticated input forms are required, you can use Microsoft’s InfoPath – native support for integration with InfoPath is provided.
As highlighted above, analystView (which is delivered as a plug-in for Microsoft Visio) is dedicated to providing process simulation functionality. analystView allows you to specify a rich set of simulation configuration parameters for BPMN process models you define in Visio; what’s more, it’s easy to import real historical data from managerView (process instance data, invocation timings, and so on) to drive simulations when your task is less about understanding a potential solution, and more about driving continued improvement. When simulating process decision path choices, you can either use a statistical approach – or, hand-in-hand with an approach based on importing real historical data – you can specify actual decision rules so that the simulated process behaves exactly like the ‘real’ process.
There’s also a lot of sophistication to hand in terms of setting up performance goals for simulations. You can choose to define SLAs against individual tasks, an entire process, and/or any number of ‘timed sequences’ (arbitrarily-scoped sequences of tasks in a process) and see how your simulated process delivers against those SLAs. Data from completed simulation runs can be imported into managerView for detailed analysis, and there it’s simple to compare the results of multiple simulation runs side by side. The only significant capability missing currently is the ability to carry out multi-process simulation, which is useful in situations where multiple multi-processes depend on the same human resources; you’re currently limited to what can be expressed within one Visio document. However there is one caveat: in setting up sophisticated simulations with analystView you may well end up specifying a lot of process behaviours (decision rules, participant roles and resources, process variables and so on) that mirror the configuration of your ‘real’ process in Process360 – but there’s no way of ensuring consistency between these models beyond simple export of the process structure from analystView to designerView.
There are two routes you can take when defining rules for use in Process360. First, you can use the built-in rules syntax (which follows a standard if-then-else approach) within process decision tasks to determine process routing; second, you can use Corticon Technologies’ BRMS (which Global 360 resells). Process360’s rules can drive some sophisticated process behaviour by virtue of their being able to reference a wide range of system data (including performance goals defined in managerView, for example) as well as process instance data, as highlighted in Design and development above; but if you want to build sophisticated rulesets that are also externalised with the capability for them to be optimised at runtime by non-developers, you’ll want to use the Corticon BRMS.
If you choose to use the Corticon BRMS, you specify the use of rules through a specific Corticon invocation task. By drilling into one of these tasks placed on the designerView modelling canvas you specify the variables to be passed to the specific ruleset you want to invoke, together with the return variables. You can launch the Corticon rule definition tool directly from within designerView, too. At runtime, Corticon rules are invoked through a web services API.
You carry out integration activity within designerView by inserting specialised integration tasks into your process models. Global 360 provides a decent range of pre-built tasks for integration, with an emphasis on integration with document capture technologies (which is not surprising, given its document management workflow heritage). In addition pre-built integration tasks are provided for integration with Microsoft Message Queueing (MSMQ) and the BizTalk integration server, InfoPath, Microsoft’s Office applications, and SharePoint. Generic web services and DBMS connectivity is also provided through these tasks.
For scenarios where integration with existing applications, systems and resources requires more than what’s provided out-of-the-box, Global 360 recommends the use of Process360 alongside Microsoft’s BizTalk Server. BizTalk provides good capabilities for integration with a wide range of resources at both the technical connectivity level and the semantic (message structure and content) level.
Deployment and execution
The Process360 runtime platform has two main components: Process360 Agents that do the ‘heavy lifting’ of reading configuration information from the runtime repository, managing process state and delivering and managing work, and SharePoint, which provides the default ‘container’ for participant user interfaces in the form of userViews.
Deploying processes from designerView to a runtime environment is a straightforward ‘one click’ operation. Models can be validated for completeness and correctness inside designerView before deployment, but there’s no explicit support for testing or debugging.
The Process360 runtime can manage multiple versions of running processes, and facilities are
provided to help you migrate running process instances from one version to another if required. The central runtime administration environment, adminView, provides this capability alongside a rich set of other process and systems configuration and administration capabilities through a web-based console.
Due to the very distinct separation between process management and work management in Process360, standard practice is that detailed configuration of work allocation based on worklists is an operational administration task rather than an upfront design task. In adminView you define worklists (work queues) that can be reused across multiple processes; they’re designed to be associated with business function areas. Then you define filtered views that present work from one or more worklists, and associate these with participant roles. In adminView you can also define ‘to-do lists’ associated with individual task types that help guide participants as they carry out task work. Monitoring and optimisation
Monitoring and optimisation, through managerView’s capabilities, is the strongest functionality for Global 360 across the BPM activity cycle. There are two particular stand-out areas.
The first is the sophistication with which you can define and monitor KPIs, and the ease of taking optimising administrative actions such as work rebalancing or reprioritisation based on those measurements. managerView comes preconfigured with around 100 different performance measures, focused not only on process performance but also on team and individual performance. Measures can be based on predictive heuristics, and can measure and aggregate process data as well as system metrics. Real-time actions based on KPI measurements or trends can be either automated or carried out by an administrator. The second stand-out area is the openness of the analysis server schema and associated web-based dashboards, which make it straightforward to integrate views of historical process performance, current in-flight monitoring and contextual data from external sources and also expose those integrated views to process participants as well as managers and administrators.
Supporting and managing change
The Global 360 process management offering does a solid job of helping you minimise the costs associated with development, administration and change in your business process implementations. The main strong point is the manageability of implementations, which is assisted by virtue of all configuration information being managed in one place as well as good support for high-availability / scalability requirements at runtime.
Change management within design and development is solid, but there are features other vendors provide that are missing that Global 360 will need to address if it really wants to support customers manage change with confidence in highly dynamic environments – namely version control of assets, impact analysis and change auditing. SharePoint can provide some of these capabilities when you use Visio and analystView for business-level modelling, but in core design and development Global 360’s own tools don’t do the same.
The other weaker spot in the Global 360 offering is the large number of tools you need to employ to complete design and development of a process application. While administration and management capabilities are well-integrated, design and development capabilities are spread across many tools – some developed by Global 360 and some by Microsoft. Keeping track of the overall set of assets in a finished application, and the dependencies between them, could be a lot easier.
Partners, templates and practices
Global 360’s key strategic partner is Microsoft; it’s one of the founder members of Microsoft’s Business Process Alliance, and has made a deep commitment to Microsoft platform technology.
Other technology partnerships include KnowledgeLake (which provides document imaging and capture technology designed specifically for use with Microsoft SharePoint), Corticon Technologies, and Tableau Software (Tableau Server forms the foundation visualisation tool for managerView). The company also has an established consulting and implementation services partner programme. It works with large players like CACI International, Patni and Mahindra Satyam, together with smaller local players like Zarion, Princeton Blue, and iDoxSolutions.
Specialised templates and practices
Global 360’s solutionViews are bundles of technology and IP designed to help customers get started quickly in particular scenarios. Specifically solutionViews combine pre-built userView definitions for particular participant roles, designerView process models, preconfigured business rules, and
preconfigured KPI definitions, dashboards and reports. The company advocates use of a solutionView with a mentoring services engagement to tailor the preconfigured content to specific customer requirements.
Typically today solutionViews are not charged for, but as a customer you’ll be likely to need to complement a solutionView with some services resources which will be charged for.
Global 360 offers a range of professional services that complement its BPM products. As you would expect, the company offers a range of support options (including 24x7), and training courses that can be taken on-premise, online or at the vendor’s offices. When it comes to consulting services Global 360 has packaged these up into four engagement types:
Viewpoint assessment. This is a short (two- to three-week) project designed to help
customers carry out initial requirements analysis and programme strategy work, with the goal of ensuring a successful implementation and securing the right senior-level executive sponsorship.
Mentoring and implementation. This type of engagement is designed to provide you with a dedicated team of technical specialists to augment your own team and get your project started faster and headed in the right direction. Global 360 doesn’t implement your project for you here, but provides experts to assist you with project planning, technology architecture, application usability, and change management.
Continuous improvement. This type of engagement is designed to help you optimise your investment in Global 360 technology and in BPM more generally. Global 360 specialists can carry out detailed audits of your current implementations and highlight areas for improvement, assist with accelerated technology upgrades, and carry out ROI assessments aimed at helping you find areas for further returns.
Platforms and standards
Unlike many other BPM technology vendors, Global 360’s process management offering is designed to take full advantage of the Microsoft technology platform, so it’s not surprising that the offering is only available on Windows – at both development time (designerView is a Windows application) and runtime (Process360 agents run on Windows and integrate with Microsoft SharePoint).
However Process360 and Manager360 can work not only with Microsoft’s own SQL Server database, but also with Oracle’s DBMS.
which supports some elements of BPMN (though swimlanes and pools, for example, aren’t supported). analystView supports XPDL 2.0 for model import.
Integration of the Process360 runtime and the Corticon rules engine is via web services standard protocols. When it comes to integrating Process360 with other existing applications, systems and data sources, Global 360 supports web services protocols and popular DBMSs (via ODBC and SQL). Beyond that, it largely devolves responsibility to Microsoft’s BizTalk application integration platform. The Process360 runtime system does not have a dedicated interface to system management tools through SNMP or similar standards.
When it comes to delivering participant user interfaces for process applications, the approach favoured by Global 360 is to use SharePoint as the “container”. However user interfaces can be delivered within any website built using Microsoft’s ASPX.
Global 360 licenses its products in a variety of ways, to meet the needs of particular customers and scenarios. It can license its technology on a per user (named or concurrent) basis, or per process. It also bundles technology licenses and services together for customers as ‘kick start’ engagements. Global 360 currently offers a 60-day free trial of analystView.
analystView localisation support is currently being developed. The current version only supports English. designerView does have a localisation kit; typically localisation work is carried out by Global 360’s partners.
When it comes to supporting multiple languages in running applications, both Process360 and Case360 have internal support for Unicode Character Sets. Any string data held within an executing instance of a process can hold character data in any language supported by Unicode. However there are no dedicated tools to help customers implement multi-language applications.