Metastorm: Stretched Thin?

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Metastorm delivers easy-to-use software, but some say the company comes up short on customer service.

Metastorm delivers malleable, easy-to-use software for quickly creating business-process workflows, customers say. But some also believe the company, with just 110 employees, has overextended its resources.

"They just don't have the depth of support they need," says Cherie Pardue, director of application development and support at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "Our staff knows more about the product than their staff do."

About two years ago, the hospital was running version 5.3 of the e-Work server. Over the span of two months the system regularly froze up, preventing access to it. Pardue says on-site Metastorm technicians couldn't determine the source of the problem, which "resolved itself" after a while. (Metastorm says it is "aware of some minor glitches" in version 5.3 that have been fixed in subsequent releases, including the most recent version, 6.5.) View the PDF -- Turn off pop-up blockers!

Meanwhile, Steve Lutter, director of financial systems at Cornell University, says Metastorm's consulting group "has some very sharp guys and gals, but they're a little overloaded."

A Metastorm spokesman takes issue with such accounts, claiming that "the large majority of our clients" is satisfied with its technical support and professional services.

One of those admirers is Bob Travatello, CIO of propane gas distributor Blue Rhino. "Even when we had bugs, they've jumped on them and been receptive to our needs," he says.

Another fan is Tom Parnelle, a systems analyst at Gaston Memorial Hospital in Gastonia, N.C. "They're very good at supporting us," he says. Initially, the hospital wanted to use Sun Microsystems' iPlanet Web portal software in conjunction with e-Work to automate several human-resources processes, such as posting job listings. Parnelle's team was unable to get iPlanet to work with the Metastorm software and eventually installed Microsoft's Web server, but, he says, "The point was that Metastorm stood by us and tried to help."

Moreover, Parnelle says, Metastorm's training is excellent: After a week of advanced workshops, "I came back and knew exactly what to do. Now I can make it do whatever I want." The product, he adds, is very simple to use. "The icons mean exactly what you think they mean," he says. "I don't know the language behind e-Work, but it lets me build complex formulas super-easily."

Business Process Management

8825 Stanford Blvd.,
Columbia, MD 21045
(410) 290-0101
Ticker: Privately held
Employees: 110

Bob Farrell
President, CEO
Hired in August 2002. He was previously in charge of the Americas division of Mercator Software, an application integration software vendor bought last year by Ascential Software.

Greg Carter
Joined Metastorm in 2000 when the company bought Software Systems Group, a technology consulting and services company he co-founded.

The e-Work software suite coordinates workflows in an organization. It includes a workflow designer that shows a graphical map of business processes, and can incorporate Web or Adobe PDF forms. The software runs on Windows and supports Microsoft's BizTalk Business Rules Engine. Employees access the system via e-mail folders or by using a Web browser.
Reference Checks

Cornell University
Steve Lutter
Dir., Financial Systems
Project: University's finance department uses e-Work to handle workflow for basic requests, such as signing up for direct deposit.

City of Winston-Salem
Dennis Newman
Project: North Carolina city government instituted a purchase-order approval process with e-Work, which is integrated with its Mitchell Humphries financial system.

Tetra U.S.
Charlie Lisanti
I.S. Consultant
Project: Fish-supplies distributor in Blacksburg, Va., rolled out e-Work three years ago to let the engineering department submit product-change notices and other forms.

Gaston memorial hospital
Tom Parnelle
Systems Analyst
Project: North Carolina hospital deployed e-Work in January 2003 to automate human-resources tasks (such as employee termination).

Children's National Medical Center
Cherie Pardue
Dir., Application Development and Support
(202) 884-5000
Project: Washington, D.C., pediatric hospital adopted e-Work in 2001 to automate administrative processes, including employee purchase requests.

Blue Rhino
Bob Travatello
Project: Propane gas distributor in Winston-Salem, N.C., uses e-Work to manage inventory at its 55 locations and for other processes.

Executives listed here are all users of Metastorm's products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

Key Customers Financial: ABN AMRO, CIT Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Wilmington Trust

Government: Deutsche Post, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Communications Commission, National Transportation Safety Board, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Education: Cornell University, DePaul University

Manufacturing: American Greetings, Cooper Tire & Rubber, Fiat

Revenue: $20M in 2003
Growth: 35% to 55% year-over-year for the past three years
Customers: 720 in 37 countries

Axiom Ventures, Ironside Ventures, Riggs Capital Partners, Sandler Capital Management, 3i Group, Wall Street Technology Partners, UBS Capital

Regional Offices
Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle

This article was originally published on 2004-11-01
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