With the increase in business process application development on SharePoint expected over the next year, an interesting partner solution worth taking a closer look at is K2.
The K2 platform offers the ability to quickly design and develop process driven applications using tools you are already familar with and with no code required.
Taking SharePoint Beyond File Sharing
We've been talking about it for awhile and a recent survey by IDG confirms it: organizations are planning to use SharePoint for much more than file sharing. According to the survey, 63% surveyed said that they want to use SharePoint for business process management in the next year.
Does SharePoint offer everything needed to develop processes and applications like this? With customized development -- yes. An alternative? An integrated solution from K2 Software that offers a visual approach to development.
The K2 Platform
K2 Software was founded in 2000. Today, they have over 1500 customers (of which 15% are top Fortune 100 companies) in 40 countries world-wide. What they offer is a way to develop business process driven applications that doesn't require an expert developer background.
Their two solutions: K2 blackpoint and K2 backpearl, provide a means to either create and manage business processes or bring together existing business processes, people, systems and other tools to create an end-to-end application.
K2 blackpoint is a visual, no code required, workflow generation tool for SharePoint. It consists of the K2 Studio, a Silverlight-based K2 Web Designer and a collection of web parts.
Microsoft based, it works for both SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) and Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0. K2 with MOSS offers more functionality than with WSS, including integration with InfoPath Forms and Content Management.
Build and Manage Workflow Processes
You can use K2 to create workflows for documents, lists, forms, content management and SharePoint lifecycle management.
As a result, this tool is suitable for everyone from the basic SharePoint user, to the power user, to the SharePoint administrator.
Additional tools for the Power User include:
- Data Event: Map data from one source to another
- Smart Object Event: Use SharePoint list data as data entities
- References Event: Query and update data exposed through web services or a .Net API
For the SharePoint administrator, K2 blackpoint can be used to automate business processes for provisioning and managing SharePoint sites and collections, as well as other administrative tasks.
K2 blackpoint is a subset of the functionality available in K2 blackpearl, the company's flagship product.
K2 blackpearl is just not a standalone product, but rather a set of designers built for some of Microsoft's existing systems, including:
- K2 Web Designer for SharePoint:
- K2 Designer for Visio:
- K2 Studio:
- SmartObject Designer:
There are a number of wizards and templates that can be used to quickly create workflows, forms, reports and complete process driven applications.
The Science of blackpearl
Applications that you develop using blackpearl can be made available not only in SharePoint, but directly in the browser, MS Office applications or custom thick client applications.
Taking SharePoint to the Next Level
The list of functionality available within K2 blackpearl is extensive and you can easily see why this solution would be chosen over SharePoint Designer. In fact there doesn't appear to be much you can't do with K2.
If you are one of those organization's planning on implementing SharePoint for business process management, take a closer look at what K2 offers.