Process Application Platforms 2016: OpenText
This report assesses the capabilities of OpenText’s Process Application Platform, and also examines the partners and intellectual property that OpenText can offer customers exploring associated technology implementations. This assessment report forms part of a series of reports from MWD Advisors which assesses business process application technology offerings – technology-related capabilities which support organisations wanting to design, develop, deploy, monitor and optimise partially- or wholly-automated business processes.
We strongly encourage you to read this report in conjunction with our accompanying Assessment Framework report at https://www.mwdadvisors.com/2016/10/25/process-application-platforms/
Over the years following its acquisition of Cordys in 2013, OpenText has made a marked shift in its BPM approach – and this has shifted again (in a positive way) with the release of OpenText Process Suite 16.1. Three improvements on our 2014 assessment particularly stand out. Firstly, OpenText’s new Simplified Application Development experience hides much of the complexity exposed in the core design and development tools, and the unique approach taken here really supports iterative, collaborative design. Secondly, the company’s acquisition of Actuate in 2015 means a more tightly integrated Process Intelligence offering (though there are still gaps); and thirdly, an optional Extended ECM module specifically designed for use with the Process Platform creates very close synergy with the OpenText Content Server (for those that want to use the two platforms together).
Support for different types of work
Automated work: A rich set of integration capabilities within the OpenText Process Platform – including an integral Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) and Master Data Management (MDM) technology – is combined with a very flexible event-driven engine to create very good support for the straight-through orchestration of automated systems.
Transactional work: Support for transactional work scenarios is very good. Rich organisational modeling and support for ad hoc task creation and assignment mean you can create flexible workflows and manage work distribution at scale. Sophisticated monitoring facilities can leverage the MDM features of the platform, meaning you can create context-rich reports and dashboards.
Exploratory work: Support for exploratory work scenarios is excellent. The Simplified Application Development experience is particularly suited to case management application creation, and the result can be very sophisticated; in addition, there are three optional Case Management Accelerators you can use.
Rapid prototyping / quick-start
OpenText’s new Simplified Application Development experience offers an unique composition-based approach to application design, based around entity modelling that enables you to create simple applications quickly, and evolve them iteratively by adding highly configurable ‘building blocks’.
Your ability to manage change in the OpenText Process Suite will be largely a function of the degree to which your team is comfortable with more technical developer-focused tools. The tools on offer will be very familiar to mainstream software developers, but features to enable less technical people to manage change comfortably are lacking. Still, as long as you’re comfortable with developer-led change efforts, there are some good tools in the box that help automate application validation, packaging and deployment.
User experience options
As well as the standard option of a responsive HTML5 application user experience, OpenText offers a generic mobile task management app, and a particularly rich set of server APIs that enable you to build completely custom front-end applications on top of a Process Platform installation.
OpenText offers its Process Suite as an on-premise licensed product, but also offers hosting in the OpenText Cloud – and there’s the option to add Managed Services on top to create more of a fully-managed PaaS proposition. Great support for application multi-tenancy is a particularly strong point in deployment.
Inside OpenText’s platform
OpenText’s Process Application Platform offering revolves around the OpenText Process Suite, which provides a very rich set of design-time and runtime capabilities for creating and deploying sophisticated process applications. The Process Suite is available for deployment both on-premises and via OpenText’s Managed Hosting Services. The OpenText Process Suite is currently at version 16.1.
In addition OpenText offers a set of optional add-ons (see below) and Process Suite Applications. A range of professional services for process application implementation projects is also offered.
Key tools and capabilities
The main elements of the OpenText Process Suite are as follows:
- Process Platform. The OpenText Process Platform comprises multiple layers of capability that deliver ‘traditional’ business process application capabilities across design, operations and monitoring, along with case management application capabilities, an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), a Master Data Management (MDM) capability, and Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) functionality. Release 16.1 has seen extensive redevelopment of the platform around its Cordys technology foundation, with specific focus on a new, simplified yet innovative, ‘information-first’ application development toolset; and richer integration with the OpenText Extended ECM Platform.
- Process Intelligence. Now based on OpenText iHub technology (acquired with Actuate Corp.), this option provides interactive dashboarding, reporting and visualisation features – as well as alerting and escalation features – on top of the core BAM features provided by the OpenText Process Platform.
- Case Management Accelerators. As well as the case management application delivery capabilities in the core Process Platform, OpenText also provides a set of three complete application frameworks designed to accelerate the delivery of incident management, service management or investigative case management applications. Each framework bundles together a set of prebuilt design elements that provide a fully-functioning but generic application, which you can quickly customise with high-level visual configuration tools.
In addition, clients can purchase any of the following add-ons:
- ProVision. A well-established Enterprise Architecture and business process modeling tool.
- Capture Center. A document capture platform providing document classification, OCR, ICR and IDR functionality that integrates readily with OpenText’s Content Suite and Microsoft SharePoint.
- There’s also an expanding list of Process Suite Applications, pre-built on the Process Suite Platform. At the time of publication the principal applications available focus on Cloud Services Brokerage, Procurement Performance Management and Contract Management.
- Lastly, clients may want to take advantage of AppWorks Gateway. This is a set of RESTful APIs and developer resources across the broader OpenText Enterprise Information Management (EIM) product portfolio, to allow developers to easily create solutions that span the breadth of the portfolio.
User experience options
OpenText offers a fair degree of flexibility in how you deliver user experiences for process applications built using the OpenText Process Platform.
The default user interface is a responsive HTML5-based web application that can be very dynamically controlled by sophisticated role-based access control rules (if you choose to employ those). Depending on the elements you choose to build into your application, the user interface may present not only tasks and forms, but also team conversations relating to processes and cases, and embedded Content Server user interface widgets. Every application you build has its own web application user interface. In addition, if you choose, your application can use email to distribute process and case tasks (and where addressees have the required permissions, they can instigate application actions directly from those emails).
In addition there’s a generic mobile app that acts primarily as a task inbox and form container, built using Adobe’s Phonegap technology. Lastly, there’s a very comprehensive set of server APIs that expose almost every function of the server – making it possible to build very sophisticated, highly customised applications around a core Process Platform server.
The OpenText Process Platform is available as an on-premise licensed product, as well as via a hosted model. Customers can work with the Process Platform hosted on the public OpenText Cloud or via a private hosted service platform, and can elect to engage additional support services via an OpenText Managed Services contract.
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