Thursday, June 07, 2007

Microsoft worfklow gaining momentum

In a recent roundtable, sponsored by e-Sentio, the topic was mainly focused on workflow. While some of the firms were looking at a few different solutions, many were looking at (or already building) workflow using Microsoft's suite of Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) and SharePoint 2007.

The popularity of SharePoint 2007 has exceeded even Microsoft's expectations and related technologies are coming along for the ride, with workflow being one of them. Cost, flexibility and the development environment seem to be the main factors for firms looking to leverage their SharePoint investment by building workflow. I've attached the PowerPoints slides from e-Sentio's presentation (with Nestor's blessing) and also attached an article I wrote highlighting some of the issues surrounding workflow development and the merits of Microsoft workflow.

I think that there are many opportunities to gain a competitive edge with workflow, as clearly illustrated in the number of workflow options spelled out in both e-Sentio's presentation and the article. There are also some unique challenges to be aware of in developing workflow and most of them are not technical, if you get my drift.


Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right about the importance of workflow. The workflow approach to development builds more flexible and needs-responsive applications faster. And you're right that Microsoft Windows Workflow Foundation has changed the game. But developing directly on WWF is much harder than you're accounting for. Thus creating a market opportunity for companies like K2, whose newest workflow tool BlackPearl is built on WWF and provides tools for building applications very rapidly. MetaStorm is headed in the same direction: use WWF as the platform, add value on top.

Michael Mills

Anonymous said...

Development with WWF is certainly not anywhere near as turnkey as some of the off the shelf tools, but at the same time we were able to get a working prototype up and running within 4 weeks. So, at least at our firm, we didn't find it harder, per se, just more time consuming to do some things that aren't out of the box. Vendors adopting WWF are moving in the right direction and certainly firms should explore anything that will accelerate their workflow development.

Anonymous said...

Workflow is an integral component of Knowledge Management Initiatives. More often than not, I am approached to implement a Knowledge Management System (KMS) where the KMS is the perceived end-all to the information management problem and the process/workflow component is not on the radar. Without standardized (manual or electronic) processes, the KMS becomes a content conversion project that inevitably fails. Current content is converted and the processes for information inception to the end pristine knowledge artifact(s) are not addressed. Ultimately, adding another information silo and useless repository.

WF is code intense and free. It is not a BPM tool but a framework to code workflow processes. provides a GUI interface to model the workflow after significant coding is complete for each object. Note: I have viewed demos of the new k2 [blackpearl] version and have yet worked with it in production environment. AgilePoint provides out-of-the-box process activities, which need configuration but no code development. Of the three tools, AgilePoint is the only true BPM solution.

Research each tool for yourself and remember Gartner statistics show 85% of IT projects fail to meet objectives whereas 90% of ‘process’ projects succeed.

WF (100% Code: 0% Business Analysis)
K2 (80% Code: 20% Business Analysis)
AgilePoint (20% Code: 80% Business Analysis)

I left off MetaStorm since it wasn't a .NET code base when I trained on it.

Geoffrey Fillar
Sr. Knowledge Manager