Metastorm acquires Proforma

Metastorm announced today that they’ve acquired Proforma. Strangely, the Proforma URL already remaps directly to the Metastorm site and the products are already relabelled as “Metastorm ProVision”; most acquired companies keep their own site and brand visible for a while so as to not freak out customers who haven’t heard about the acquisition yet.

I covered the Proforma user conference last year; I’ve always been impressed with their modelling tool since it goes beyond process modelling to full enterprise architecture modelling, and they seem to be moving in the right direction with increasing their browser-based modelling capabilities to allow this to be rolled out to a greater user base within an organization. They’re currently leaders in both the BPA space and the EA modelling space.

There’s still the round-tripping problem, however: I haven’t been briefed on this by either party, but based on my past conversations with Proforma, I’m suspecting that it’s a one-way trip from Proforma’s modelling environment to Metastorm’s process execution environment, since you likely have to tweak the modelled process significantly in order to make it run, and they likely aren’t supporting an extensible interchange format that would allow those changes to stay with the model if it were moved back to the modelling environment. I’m just guessing on this, of course, and would love to hear different. And, although Metastorm was one of the first vendors to offer a free downloadable process modelling tool, I can’t find that on their site any more, so they may be putting all of their process modelling eggs in the ProVision basket.

Metastorm bought CommerceQuest in late 2005 to improve their integration-centric BPM capabilities, and this acquisition rounds out the front end of their product suite — Forrester gave them a black mark in last year’s report for relying too much on third-party software, and this directly addresses that concern. The trick, as with any acquisition, will be how seamlessly that they’re able to integrate Proforma’s products.

14 thoughts on “Metastorm acquires Proforma

  1. I’ve known ARIS from IDS Sheer and it seems a tool competing with Proforma.
    In a recent project to find, evaluate and select a modelling/simulation tool for a client of my company, we chose ARIS and we got impressed by its capabilities.

    In your opinion, is Proforma a best/worst/comparable tool with ARIS?

    Thanks

  2. I’ve never done a head-to-head comparison of ARIS and ProVision, although I attended both of their user conferences in the past year and have been exposed to quite a bit of their product functionality.

    Both Gartner and Forrester put ARIS ahead of ProVision for business process modelling in their 2006 reports, although they also put them both in the “leaders” category so they’re both strong products. The difference is that ProVision provides more than just process modelling, it allows for full enterprise architecture modelling, such as a complete Zachman framework or equivalent, whereas ARIS focusses only on process modelling. If you have modelling needs beyond processes, then ARIS may not cover all the ground that you need.

  3. Thanks Sandy, I don’t know Provision at all (because in our project we discarded all the tools with no direct presence in Spain requested by our client) but as I remember ARIS had EA modelling, maybe less sophisticated but it had.

    I have another opportunity for a similar project with another client without such geographical restrictions so maybe I will have the opportunity to make the benchmark.

    Thanks again and congrats for your interesting blog

  4. Actually, ARIS does support the modeling of different views – it is split into Process, Data, Organization, Function, and Service/Output perspective and supports a variety of different model types within each perspective.

    Many people equate the event-driven process chain (EPC) modeling notation with ARIS, but there are really three components: The modeling notation, the architectural framework surrounding the notation, and the tool itself. The framework assumes that you can separate data models (ERDs), function decomposition diagrams, organization models (org charts), and service/output models, that are then integrated in the process view through the ERD. This framework, and the EPC actually predate the software tool itself.

    I’ve grown up with ARIS, and it is not at all intuitive to use. Our students typically experience a surface shock, as they are used to the intuitive “open it and paint” mode of Visio, Powerpoint or Omnigraffle. In ARIS you have to decide what perspective you want to model, and which notation you want to use within that perspective. However, it does offer very deep functionality to manage the repository of objects, including the reuse of model elements across views. As for the method, the perspectives are as normative as the columns in the Zachman model. There is not much support for spatial/geographic models in ARIS, but the process view nicely ties the other perspectives together (that is, if you have a process-centric mindset).

    I don’t know ProVision or Casewise in enough detail to offer a substantial comparison, but just wanted to clarify…

  5. Alan, thanks for the link to their free downloadable process modeller. I did look on the site for it myself and didn’t find it in the first minute — maybe they need a more obvious route to it on the site.

  6. “There’s still the round-tripping problem, however: I haven’t been briefed on this by either party,”

    -> We are happy to brief you on our strategy here. Just contact us and we’ll set up a meeting.

    “but based on my past conversations with Proforma, I’m suspecting that it’s a one-way trip from Proforma’s modelling environment to Metastorm’s process execution environment, since you likely have to tweak the modelled process significantly in order to make it run, and they likely aren’t supporting an extensible interchange format that would allow those changes to stay with the model if it were moved back to the modelling environment.”

    -> Today customers are sharing models between ProVisionEA/BPA and Metastorm BPM. The exchange is based on an extensible interface bus that will allow the details required by the respective personas (architect, process analysts, model driven developer) to be stored and passed along, unadulterated, but available to be used as needed. For example, we may capture budgeting data in an organizational model in EA or BPA that has no immediate use in the BPM model. This data will be stored, preserved, and passed back to the EA/BPA tools from the execution platform.

    -> Of course when you move from a process modelling platform focused on Enterprise Architecture and Process Analysis to a model driven development platform you do add detail to the model but the amount of information re-use is still amazing. It is not only the process model that is shared but organizational structures, information & business data models, resource assignments, etc. Using metadata from the ProVision model there are even user interfaces automatically created and attached to the appropriate steps in the executable process. Once a ProVision model is opened in the BPM platform the model is enriched – integration components are configured for example.

    -> Moving forward this exchange of models will move from being interface driven to metamodel driven. We are currently moving all of our EA, BPA, and BPM tools to a common metamodel and repository. This will make model exchange, reuse, and linkage of architecture, process analysis, and execution data even more fluid.

    “I’m just guessing on this, of course, and would love to hear different. And, although Metastorm was one of the first vendors to offer a free downloadable process modelling tool, I can’t find that on their site any more, so they may be putting all of their process modelling eggs in the ProVision basket.”

    –> Our free modeler is still available as a download. All downloads can now be found in the new Library section of our website. The direct link to the Business Analyst Process Designer download is: http://www.metastorm.com/library/Prodesig.asp

  7. Greg, thanks for the feedback.

    If you’re doing full round-tripping, that’s great — very few vendors that use a separate modeling tool are able to do this, and I feel that it’s critical functionality. Your comments are a bit ambiguous, however: it’s clear that you can move models from ProVision to Metastorm, but once they have been enriched (e.g., adding web services calls) in Metastorm, can they be moved back to ProVision for further model changes without requiring that the enrichment be re-done when the changed model comes back to Metastorm?

    Thanks for the link to the modeler. Maybe the fact that I looked around for a minute and couldn’t find it on your site should be feedback to your web designers — if I didn’t find it, then others may be missing it as well. You might consider following the lead of your competitors, Savvion and TIBCO, both of whom put a prominent graphic and link to the free modeler download right on their home page.

  8. I have just tried to convert a ProVision workflow model to a Metastorm BPM (e-work). I cannot see how it could produce a proper process in e-work. The concepts of the two packages do not map well.

    Can anyone actually show me a design in ProVision that has been converted to Metastorm BPM using the provided Exchange tool? Nothing I have ever come up with in e-work could be properly represented in ProVision as the elements do not really match. There is no concept of ‘Stage’ in ProVision, and the use of Map Segments for sub-workflows makes the result very difficult to change (which is after all the whol point of e-work).

    can anyone show us a real example?

  9. Jerome, I haven’t tried this myself, and I think you raise an excellent point. I’m going to call out your question as a separate blog post to see if anyone else has experience with this.

  10. Regarding Jerome’s comments on converting ProVision workflows into Metastorm BPM maps:

    Let say right up front, my company, iOctane, has been a distributor for ProVision and Metastorm in Australia/NZ for some years – we also created the current conversion tool for ProVision to BPM.

    The problem of conversion is challenging because of the differing focuses in the products – ProVision captures workflow information and produces documentation. It’s proscriptive in nature. While the Metastorm Designer allows the user to express workflow implementation details. It’s far more rigorous in nature.

    At a technical level there are some real intersting problems. For a start, in ProVision “boxes” (Activities) on a workflow represent work and links between Activities represent deliverables.

    In the Metastorm maps, User/Group Stages represent periods of inactivity (waiting on someone’s T0-Do list) while the links represent Activity.

    At iOctane we’ve seen some pretty interesting workflow models, many of which are incomplete and lacking in detail – but this is fine for documenting processes.

    The challenge was to create a conversion tool that would take into consideration how people actually use the products.

    Of course once Metastorm Corp complete the stated strategy of bringing the tools together using a common repository, the problem will largely go away.

    Happy to field any specific technical questions.

  11. David,

    I agree whith what you say, but I think that supports the observation that the two concepts do not map well.

    A common repository may well help, in that it will at least force the two notations to be considered together. I would be very interested to see how the Stage concept will be handled in any common notation or repository, as it is the clear differentiator between Metastorm e-work and any other tool or notation. It is not handled in BPMN either.

    I would still very much like to see a real world example to support the assertion that “Today customers are sharing models between ProVisionEA/BPA and Metastorm BPM” as we are interested in seeing this happen ourselves.

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