Software lets business users write the rules

Nobilis Software Inc. this week unveiled process automation software that puts application development tools in the hands of business users.

With Nobilis' new US$400 design tool, Nobilis Ci, business users can build workflow sequences to automate their chores and launch them as Web services. They can program functions for areas such as financial reporting, sales forecasting, budgeting, new-hire approvals, and expense reporting, Nobilis says.

For example, a user could write a business rule that triggers an automated action if a particular value matches a key threshold. A sales professional might create a program that automatically assigns sales leads by associating zip codes with members of the sales force. Or a finance professional could write a business rule that automatically routes expense reports which exceed a certain dollar amount to a manager for approval.

The self-service application development platform is aimed at business users, not IT personnel, because it is these users who are most qualified to understand their own business requirements, Nobilis says. It allows business users to serve themselves, rather than ask an IT specialist to create custom coding, says Jim Maniscalco, CEO of Nobilis.

"There's a steady march to self-service," Maniscalco says. "It's a flawed concept to think that programmers should build every application for business users. It just doesn't make sense."

To keep things simple and familiar, Nobilis Ci leverages Microsoft Corp. Office products. Users create and configure workflow sequences from within Microsoft desktop applications, such as Excel. A menu item for Nobilis' ProcessWriter shows up in Microsoft Office toolbars.

Boston-based Nobilis has a history in business process management technology. The company's Nobilis Enterprise product is a full-scale Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) process engine used by software developers to model and automate complex processes.

Nobilis Ci is backed by the Nobilis Enterprise engine. Enterprise can manage the automation process and store components and Web Services that Nobilis Ci users can access to create desktop-built applications or processes.

Nobilis Ci, available now, costs $400 for one designer and 10 users. For full-scale deployments, Nobilis Enterprise starts at $15,000.

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