Hyperion Solutions has introduced new process modelling and data management capabilities to its flagship System 9 platform which it says 'will take business performance management initiatives to the next level'.
System 9.3 is the first major upgrade to the System 9 platformthat Hyperion launched a year ago to unify its disparate BI tools and financial management applications.
The most significant new component in 9.3 is a visual modelling tool called BPM Architect for building and managing BPM workflows across disparate performance management processes and applications. The tool provides an aerial view of all the enterprise's various BPM components, providing companies with a common modeling environment and tools to connect disconnected and discrete plans and workflows and link associated data and metadata.
The visual design interface lets modellers view and model relationships between different plans, ensuring they are all aligned. Model testing, what-if analysis and prototyping tools are also provided. Modellers can also spin off subject-specific models geared around specific performance applications.
Srikant Gokulnatha, a senior director of product marketing at Santa Clara, California-based Hyperion, said the new BPM Architect component will help customers to scale departmentally-focused BPM implementations to an enterprise level. "The notion of a process is what differentiates a BPM tool from a BPM application. Our ability to model workflows across departmental BPM applications lets companies take a more strategic view of BPM of across the enterprise."
He explained that many companies have typically implemented BPM in piecemeal fashion, in effect creating several departmental planning applications that are interrelated but managed by different divisions and people. "These have been considered as distinct applications. But it one plan changes one of its key assumption you will invariably get inconsistency, like different versions of the same metric, across related plans." "Companies spend a great deal of time locked in meetings to resolve that."
"BPM Architect addresses this by providing a single and consistent set of performance management building block components to construct enterprise BPM applications."
System 9.3 also includes a new functionally-specific packaged BPM application aimed at capital expenditure planning. This is the second application of its type to be released on System 9 by Hyperion the first was focused on workforce planning. The applications, which are built and offered as optional modules on top of the core System 9 planning application, are part of a strategy by Hyperion to push BPM outside the traditional niche of finance and into other mainstream business operations.
Gokulnatha said the applications differed from other so-called 'packaged' BPM applications, such as Cognos' Performance Blueprints, in that they are separately licensed applications. "Other vendors' BPM applications are vapour-ware. They basically give you a piece of paper with a data model on it. Our BPM applications are fully supported software products that are packaged and priced separately."
Other enhancements in 9.3 centre on data management and ease of use.
Hyperion has pulled together its financial data quality and analytic master data management tools with an OEM partnership with Informatica to deliver an integrated set of data management services that are geared for BPM environments.
The move is not dissimilar to Business Objects SA's Enterprise Information Management strategy which also includes data quality, MDM, and data integration. Additionally Hyperion has also tightened up integration with IBM WebSphere and SAP NetWeaver portal systems. "We have created portlets for System 9 Workspaces [that provide a unified interface to Hyperion's BI and BPM tools and applications] for both WebSphere and NetWeaver."
System 9.3's Web analysis tool can now also report directly against Microsoft's also Analysis Services, an OLAP server bundled into SQL Server 2005. Hyperion has also addressed usability in System 9.3.
It has fully integrated its recently launched Google OneBox for Enterprise software that ties into a shared System 9 services layer to access BI information through a Google search bar. Hyperion has also extending the capabilities of SmartView Office integration to enrich Word and PowerPoint applications with more interactive reporting and analysis capabilities. For example, users can embed BPM data, graphs and charts in Word documents and PowerPoint presentations to create live and interactive briefing books.
"With things like Google integration we are making ease of use a much more prominent facet of System 9 to help BPM deployed more widely," Gokulnatha said. "Excel will always be the preferred interface for accessing financial data. But we are also making Word and PowerPoint more compelling as a BPM interface."
Hyperion claims around 400 customers are implementing System 9 today, with almost 100 systems already in production. Hyperion launched a minor point upgrade for System 9 this summer that broadened its localisation capabilities. But 9.3 is a much more significant release according to Gokulnatha. "This is a watershed release and a dramatic step forward for BPM. With 9.3 we will be the first vendor in market to take BPM processes to enterprise level.