At Cebit 2009 earlier this month, Software AG announced plans to create the largest social network of BPM (Business Process Management) professionals. Known as AlignSpace and available as a fully hosted software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering, the new product is a platform that offers collaboration between all project participants in a Business Process environment. Data, documents and services produced within this environment will be made available and reusable within or across company borders. In addition, leading social networks can also be easily plugged-in.
Once launched, AlignSpace will be the largest cross-company, process-centric community of professionals. The new product exploits proven web-based social networking technologies and provides a platform within enterprises to drive collaboration for accelerated business process discovery, modeling and management. The functionality of AlignSpace includes social networking, collaborative process discovery and modeling, and a marketplace for system integrators, consultants and application developers. It will feature common BPM formats using industry standards in order to enable easy export and import. As a SaaS offering, all functionality will be accessible via the browser.
AlignSpace’s functionality is in 4 key areas:
Cutting edge social networking techniques have been applied throughout the product. Users simply log in, register and create a profile. Members can then invite and connect with colleagues involved in process projects throughout their organization and beyond. Once connected, members can also keep tabs on process projects and colleagues by monitoring a tune-able event stream that highlights significant activities. Large groups can collaborate simultaneously and view group changes.
Collaborative process design
Members of AlignSpace can interactively and collaboratively discover, document and create process models that can be exported and run within BPM engines. Once any stage of a process has been documented, it can be modeled by simply dragging the stage to a process canvas. Members can simultaneously work on virtually every part of a process project.
Universal translation of BPM models
AlignSpace allows members to import and export all popular BPM formats, so they can import a process, work on it and then export it in other popular formats for execution.
Software AG supports a marketplace where members can share, or offer for sale, value added expertise and products that support individual and shared project goals. This includes a search for expertise in specific disciplines, in specific geographical regions and in specific products.
“The advantage of AlignSpace is in Business to Business and Business to IT alignment. True collaboration among virtual teams of experts will lead to smooth cooperation on BPM projects across Enterprise borders”, says Dr. Peter Kuerpick, chief product officer and Member of the Executive Board, Software AG.
As explained by Software AG, business process improvement is one of the single most important and effective organizational tools used to drive increased efficiency and competitiveness. However, it requires effective insight, collaboration and collective decision-making from stakeholders within the organization in order to inspire real process innovation and change. AlignSpace addresses this by combining social networking tools with intuitive tools for process design and modelling, thereby more effectively creating as well as improving processes.
According to Software AG, AlignSpace stands out firstly because there are no barriers to access and simply no boundaries. It is available to anyone, anytime and anywhere – all that is needed is access to the Internet. Since it is SaaS-based, no installation is required and there are also no technical barriers to access. Secondly, all process improvement products and formats are supported. Software AG says that AlignSpace has vastly improved the design phase of new processes. Previously, collaboration involved phone calls, meetings, exchanging PowerPoint slides and Excel spreadsheets that were never synchronized for all decision-makers,” explains Ivo Totev, chief marketing officer of Software AG. “AlignSpace now assures that a process represents a holistic view of the organization. Process improvement projects will now be faster to implement, more closely aligned with business visions, endorsed by all stakeholders and supported by the collective knowledge of the community.”
Hats off to Software AG for embracing the vibrancy and spirit of Web 2.0 and the social community. It will be interesting to see how AlignSpace moves forward within the BPM and SaaS community. The” idea to create an open platform that can interoperate equally well with tools from many vendors, keep the barriers to participation low, and drive interest and adoption virally" is to be applauded but whether the community will be a success remains to be seen. One of the major stumbling blocks it has to overcome is whether the BPM community is actually willing to share its secrets with one another. Software AG’s answer to this is that: “With AlighSpace, no one forces you to make your business processes publicly available. Only share them with the people that you want to participate. Typically these people will be your colleagues, your partners or external consultants. Maybe you also just want to share the parts of your process project that are relevant for the partner or consultant that you are working with? Just because AlignSpace enables collaboration does not mean that it forces you to put your assets in front of everybody.” Whatever it is, we can be sure that more concepts, possibilities and of course, the inevitable concerns will be aired over the next few months.
AlignSpace is currently available in beta version. More information and applications for the beta invitation are available at www.alignspace.com
By Shanti Anne Morais
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