Eastman, Microsoft team on Exchange-based workflow

Eastman Software Inc. and Microsoft Corp. last week introduced a suite of workflow and document management tools designed to be used with Microsoft's Exchange e-mail platform.

The Work Management for Microsoft Exchange package marks Eastman's entry into the market for ''collaborative'' software used by small workgroups.

Eastman traditionally has concentrated on transaction-oriented applications, such as case processing, in which large numbers of documents, such as claim forms, are automatically routed through a predictable set of steps.

These new products are targeted toward users who share fewer, less uniform types of documents and want to keep track of the work different people perform on them.

Leveraging Infrastructure

David Lipstein, Eastman's director for market research, said the Work Management products let customers ''take their Exchange infrastructure further. The demand for leveraging the infrastructure for more things is growing dramatically.''

Work Management includes three modules: WorkFolder, Document Manager and a new version of Imaging for Windows Professional Edition.

WorkFolder, which Eastman shipped in January, provides electronic folders for tracking tasks and associated documents. Imaging for Windows, available next month, lets users convert paper documents to electronic form.

A new product, Document Manager, scheduled for release later this spring, lets users control access to documents and track changes that people make to them.

Work Management provides Microsoft with applications it could use to leapfrog Lotus Development Corp.'s Notes in the groupware market, said Connie Moore, vice president with Giga Information Group, a Norwell, Mass., research and consulting firm. ''I think [the suite] goes beyond Lotus Notes,'' she said, although Lotus could answer these products with enhanced workflow capabilities of its own.

In the federal market, Exchange has been gaining ground on Notes, industry observers said, although precise user numbers are unavailable. Large civilian agencies, including the Treasury Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department are Notes users.

But several Defense Department organizations have adopted Exchange as a standard platform for use with the Defense Message System, a global messaging system being developed by Lockheed Martin Corp.

To date, two other vendors, Keyfile Corp. and FileNet Corp., have introduced Exchange-based workflow products, but sales have been slow until recently, Moore said, as customers now have begun to deploy Exchange.

New Emphasis

A spokeswoman for FileNet said she did not believe the company had sold its Ensemble product to federal customers, and that the company recently has begun to emphasize a new integrated workflow and document management package called Panagon, which uses its own Microsoft Windows 95-based client or Microsoft Internet Explorer for a desktop interface.

Keyfile representatives could not be reached for comment last week.

So far, Work Management is available to federal users only through Tech Data Corp., Lipstein said, although Eastman is discussing adding the package to other vendors' General Services Administration schedule contracts and to the National Institutes of Health's ImageWorld contracts.

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