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Cutting-Edge Business Process Management

Business process management software has helped Great Clips consolidate databases and eliminate hours of paper-based analysis each month.

For 25 years, Great Clips Inc. has been expanding its chain of hair salons, opening a grand total of 2,600 "no appointment" locations in the U.S. That's something like 100 new Great Clips salons each year. Disparate database systems and redundant business processes followed. In 2004 it took about 14 weeks and 120 different steps to open a new outlet.

"The data integration was just not there," says CIO Kathy Wetzel, who arrived at Great Clips about eight months ago, after the company had contracted with Jim Waldo of AVT Consulting LLC to streamline business operations.

Waldo chose Metastorm Inc.'s business process management (BPM) software from an initial field of about 12 vendors in Gartner Inc.'s Magic Quadrant. The software includes analytics, a simulation capability and an integration manager. Metastorm also beat out the competition because the BPM software can track projects over many months.

Today, Great Clips has consolidated 35 databases into four and eliminated 40 hours of paper-based analysis each month, Wetzel says. "What I hear people say now is that information is at their fingertips," she says. "Before now, it was in a database or Excel sheet, and it was hard to get to."

Wetzel and Waldo are still working on the $1.2-million, four-year project. So far, it has cut two weeks and 25 steps out of the process of opening new franchises and has freed staff members to focus on branding.

Problem solved.

Anne McCrory is editorial director of CIO Decisions and the CIO Decisions conference. Write to her at amccrory@ciodecisions.com.

Dig Deeper on Small-business IT strategy

Metastorm brings BPM modeling to Azure cloud computing platform Business process management (BPM) house Metastorm has joined the fledgling ''BPM in the cloud'' movement, releasing a cloud computing-based version of its BPM modeling tools. Metastorm joins Appian, Cordys and others testing the waters of cloud-hosted software for BPM. Notably, the Metastorm offering operate in the Microsoft Azure Cloud. Metastorm M3 comprises a popular subset of its modeling tools for business process building. Supported model types include process/workflow, activity, rule, project, requirement, location and other models. Business users employing the tools can chat, whiteboard and annotate models online. The subset of Metastorm models can share a subset of Metastorm objects. ''We are using Azure to host our M3 Modeler,'' said Greg Carter, CTO, MetaStorm. ''The host and repository you store models in are on the Azure platform.'' ''It's like a gigantic copy of Windows on the cloud,'' he said, noting that M3 modeling also supports private cloud and on-premise architectures. While the runtime deployment of the BPM software still resides 'off-cloud,' one can picture a hosted runtime as a next step. The software could help cut time-to-deployment, allowing business teams to forge their models and bring process re-engineering long before IT installs runtime software and hardware. At the same time it released M3, Metastorm also announced an enterprise mashup system that allows Metastorm's software and other applications to be accessed from a single user interface.

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