Making Workflow a Breeze
- By Patrick Marshall
- Apr 03, 2000
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 listed 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 from 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 major problem we have with 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 World Wide 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. However, e-mail users will not be able to pull up 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.