Making workflow a breeze

JetForm Corp.'s InTempo has maximized its effectiveness within a targeted

niche: Microsoft Corp. Windows-based, forms-oriented work processes.

On the administration and process design side, InTempo is straightforward

and intuitive. A work process is developed in three operations:

* First, you create the forms — for example, an expense report, a budget

request or an e-mail template — required for the process. However, InTempo

does not come with any built-in forms creation capabilities. The program

is designed to integrate with JetForm's e-forms package, FormFlow 99. You

also can use HTML forms and forms designed in JetForm Filler Pro, an earlier

product in the FormFlow line.

* The next step is to use InTempo's Role Builder, a utility that makes

it a snap to create roles — such as manager, employee or financial officer — and assign individuals in the InTempo User Directory to each role. The

advantage of assigning roles is that when people change jobs, you don't

have to redesign the work process; you simply change Role Builder entries.

* The third step in creating a work process is to use InTempo's Process

Designer to create the steps in the workflow. Process Designer offers administrators

a simple-to-use graphical interface for defining processes. Each step or

task is assigned to a role and is linked to other tasks by a routing rule.

InTempo has a generous and flexible library of actions and routing rules.

You can point and click to set deadlines for action and to launch sequential

or parallel routing. InTempo also can route items based on user entries

in data fields. You can set the system up to route an item to a manager

if, for example, a user indicates that a purchase request is greater than

$5,000.

The only significant routing feature we found missing is voting, in which

the number of approvals by multiple respondents determines where an item

is routed. You can, however, set up a voting feature — or almost any other

sort of action — by writing a script. Unfortunately, the only supported

scripting language is BasicScript.

On the whole, InTempo's tools for designing workflow processes are easy

to learn and use. The only significant knock we have on InTempo's process

design and administration tools is that they are too dispersed. For example,

even if you have Process Designer on the screen to create or edit roles,

you must launch the role editor. If you want to add or modify users, you

must launch the InTempo Administrator. It would be handier if all the tools

were accessible from a single console.

What end users see in InTempo depends on how they are connecting: via

e-mail or Web browser. E-mail users will be able to initiate tasks through

JetForm Filler Pro forms, if available, and can respond to any received

tasks via the included forms. E-mail users will not be able to summon a

work list of all assigned tasks or check the status of tasks. To do that,

users must access InTempo via a Web browser.

InTempo's limitations are as obvious as its strengths. Although InTempo

lets users attach documents and other data files, such as spreadsheets,

to InTempo forms, the product is not a documentation manager. There are

no real collaboration tools in the product, such as check-in/check-out or

versioning control.

InTempo server software runs only on Windows NT and Windows 2000 and

is limited to running on top of a suite of Microsoft products. The product

only works with Microsoft Internet Information Server as a Web server, and

InTempo's administration module is a snap-in to Microsoft Management Console.

InTempo's database support is a bit broader. In addition to Microsoft

SQL Server and Access, you can run InTempo with Oracle Corp.'s Oracle7 or

Oracle8 as well as Sybase Corp.'s Adaptive Server Enterprise 11.9. The only

non-Microsoft e-mail client that is supported is Lotus Development Corp.'s

Notes, and the only non-Microsoft e-mail servers that are supported are

Lotus Notes, Isocor and Novell Inc.'s NetWare GroupWise 5.2 (via Simple

Mail Transfer Protocol/Post Office Protocol 3). The only non-Microsoft Web

browser that is supported is Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator.

Finally, InTempo lacks support for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol

directories and for distributed processing across multiple servers, limitations

that may exclude the product from consideration by larger organizations.

InTempo's greatest strengths are its modularity, its integration with

powerful forms applications and its strong reporting features. Departments

that are standardized on Windows and are looking for a Web-based workflow

solution will find InTempo to be a powerful product that is a breeze to

implement.

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