Nobilis brings BPM to desktop

Nobilis on Monday is looking to simplify process automation with software designed to let typical business users create process-centric applications at their desktop -- without involving IT.

The idea behind Nobilis Ci is to give users to ability to "self-serve" or automate everyday workflow and other processes by leveraging XML, Web services, and existing desktop productivity tools, said Jim Maniscalco, CEO of Boston-based Nobilis, a pure-play BPM (business process management) company whose flagship Nobilis Enterprise provides a higher grade server-based solution.

"You don't use [Nobilis Ci] for your general ledger or payroll; it's aimed at peripheral applications," Maniscalco said. "But there are a lot of people in corporate America today who still do their forecasting, order requisition, and new hires in traditional productivity tools."

Once installed, Java-based Nobilis Ci is presented as a button in any of Microsoft's ubiquitous desktop products, such as Excel, Project, or Visual Basic. Via drag-and-drop, Nobilis Ci users can design such applications as sales forecasting or expense reporting from within an Excel spreadsheet, automatically integrating them with the rest of the enterprise through underlying business processes. Users can apply rules, actions, and exceptions to the processes, such as specifying which manager gets notified via e-mail when an employee expense report exceeds a spending threshold, officials said.

Based on XML and SOAP, Nobilis Ci can, for example, call a Web service to populate an expense report sheet. Or in another scenario, the tool can be used to create an application out of a set of business rules, which can then be published to a private directory for other employees to access as a Web service.

The automated integration component eliminates the need for users to manually cut and paste the applications and data to jettison them around the office, officials claimed.

And because business users can make changes on the fly, they no longer have to funnel every single business process request to their IT department and rely on them to build the application, Maniscalco said.

Nobilis Ci is priced at US$399 for one designer and 10 users. Each additional user is priced at $99.

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