TIBCO is releasing a free process modelling tool as the same time as it releases the latest version of its product suite,TIBCO iProcess Suite, version 10.5.

Business Studio version 1.1 has been made available as a free to download, entry level business process design and simulation tool for non-technical users based on the open source integrated development platform, Eclipse.

The business process management (BPM) vendor said that to date, commercially available process modelling environments have been too cost-prohibitive for most companies to invest in for non-technical users. And the few made available for free are generally not standards compliant, have limited functionality, or do not fit into the current IT infrastructure.

Experts largely welcomed the move, but called the ability of business-user based modellers to produce meaningful simulations into question, without added work of specialised analysts with heavier duty toolsets.

Allan Cook, director of BPM consultancy Akubra told CIO: “Business users, whilst experts in their subject matter, generally do not have the process analysis skills to model an efficient re-engineered process that a professional business analyst possesses.

“In my experience, the processes modelled by business users still require a significant amount of re-work to mode them suitable for going live into a production environment (ignoring the usual integrations to back-end systems).”

Jim Sinur, Gartner vice president and distinguished BPM analyst added: “The stronger modelling tools should have no fear so far.”

Neil Ward-Dutton of specialist IT advisory firm, Macheiter Ward Dutton said the move, if well executed, could be a good one. “It gives them a chance to build a broad community with some TIBCO skills and familiarity – and therefore a new market,” he said.

Catherine Lynch, TIBCO senior product marketing manager confirmed the vendor had an aggressive development plan for the tool with a commercial release of Business Studio 2.0 next year, and that it hoped the free release of version 1.1 would help establish a user community around it. “We see this as a window of opportunity,” she said.

In addition to improvements in performance and scalability, TIBCO’s latest business process management (BPM) offering, iProcess Suite, introduces real-time Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) capabilities and real-time dashboard and wizard functionality to enable proactive decision making.