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What Grade is Your Network?

Infrastructure software maker webMethods rolled out two value-add components to its business activity monitoring (BAM) application Monday.

Officials at the Fairfax, Va.-based integration company are positioning the BAM Workshops, a best-practice session, and its Business Process Report Card, as a path to polish a customer's six-to nine-week return on investment (ROI).

BAM applications are best known as dashboards that collect real-time information on a business process -- such as taking an online order from a customer and processing it through the back-end functions that keep the data -- and determining where the system might be inefficient. Once identified, administrators can improve those inefficient processes.

webMethod's BAM offering falls under two core software components, Optimize and Dashboard. Optimize collects and analyzes the data while Dashboard provides the visual-based reports and alerts on performance metrics. The software is integrated with the company's business integration infrastructure software suite, which rolls up BAM into business process management and composite application development.

According to Debbie Rosen, webMethods worldwide marketing executive vice president, the report card application is an ongoing effort to improve on their original BAM software, which collects data on business processes and alert administrators when they pass a pre-determined threshold.

"It's a formalization of some of the base capabilities we do have, and are unique in its capabilities," she said. "If you look at the as-is state of a process, as you start monitoring a process, you can within a week understand where the bottlenecks in a process are."

The initial report card, she went on, takes a snapshot of network performance metrics such as cycle times and errors. About a week to a month later it starts showing some of the root causes by looking for patterns. The longer the report card and BAM software collects information, the more patterns that develop, or one critical pattern.

The second offering involves training for webMethods customers. Rosen said that every industry has certain processes that don't change -- distribution, new account management, services, warranties and repairs.

"Over the last six to nine months we've had a ton of interest in pilot projects, but it seems as though some companies really needed some more formal set of guidance," Rosen said of the workshop program. Customers can either partake of a free initial workshop assessment, Rosen continued, or a two-to-four-week engagement.