iWork Helps Manufacturers Integrate Workflow, Systems

By Doug Bartholomew Adjusting brick-and-mortar business practices to the emerging Internet-based economy isn't easy, but a new software package from iWork Software, expected to be available in October, promises to ease the transition. The iWork Business Integration Suite integrates information from all kinds of systems across the entire manufacturing supply chain. From customers to production lines, in and out of enterprise systems and across the supplier network, transactions are transformed to standard documents integrated within a single workflow. "Manufacturers racing to deploy e-business strategies are finding that conditions are different, and their bricks and mortar processes may not be adequate for the Internet economy," says Julie Fraser, analyst at Industry Directions Inc., an IT research firm in Cummaquid, Mass. "The iWork Business Integration Suite is the only integration product we've seen that combines real-time integration among all kinds of applications and visual workflow mapping, allowing for on-the-fly creation of business models as complex and dynamic as the manufacturing process itself." An important new feature of the software from iWork, based in Greensboro, N.C., is its ability to model workflow involving parallel processes. This feature allows a single business transaction to be processed in multiple ways simultaneously rather than via a standard serial workflow process. For example, although a customer order must go through multiple steps in the company before going to production, with iWork's parallel processing capability, all of those steps can be reflected in a single workflow process, which can be modified as needed.

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