My friends at InRule have an interesting announcement today – they are partnering with a SharePoint-based Business Process Management Solution called ShareVis. The combination of SharePoint with ShareVis and InRule will, I believe, help companies take SharePoint from document management to forms automation and ultimately to real process management. The combination, still in its early stages in terms of technical integration, offers a solution to real business issues and that builds on the SharePoint-based document management and collaboration tools that are already being used by many companies.
The combined solution is all .NET and both companies are focused on delivering solutions that require no custom coding and that put business people in the driving seat. Together, InRule and ShareVis extend SharePoint from a simple document lifecycle management tool to something with sophisticated process, form, and business logic automation.
SharePoint has only very simple rules and simple process control. ShareVis allows much more process control and allows more advanced rules to be written while giving users more control over who sees what. But these rules are still workflow based not real decisioning rules. InRule adds to the ShareVis/SharePoint solution the ability to manage complex logic. Externalizing decisions in InRule also allows the logic to be updated incrementally during long running processes, a key advantage of external rules management as I have discussed before.
As Jim Sinur of Gartner said, SharePoint starts many companies business process efforts but, as Scott Francis pointed out in response, there are challenges in using SharePoint. The addition of ShareVis and InRule to SharePoint projects could build on the positives and mitigate some of the negatives. I look forward to hearing how this combination works for people.