The ISIS Papyrus ACM Vision Statement

The subject of an enhanced form of case management is gaining momentum. So the effort of Keith Swenson and all contributors put into our book ‘Mastering the Unpredictable’ about Adaptive Case Management seems to be paying off.

Forrester Research has produced: ‘Dynamic Case Management- An old-idea catches fire.’ He does teleconferences with AIIM on ‘Support Your Information Workers by Understanding and Implementing Case Management’ or Forresters own TCs as well. Forrester lists ActionBase, Appian, Cordys, EMC, Global 360, IBM, Pallas Athena, Pegasystems, Singularity and … whoa … even CRM maven Sword Ciboodle as their entrants for the next DCM Wave. The likes of Fujitsu, HandySoft, Ideate, OpenText, and Oracle (!!!) will only make it into the ‘Ripple’. Us and Whitestein Technologies are also listed in that second group, but we are the only ones who actually provide GOAL-oriented processes! There are vendors with products that have to be integrated, others who are simple application tools, email-collaborators, but hardly anyone who does embedded content. But then OpenText is jumping now on the ACM bandwagon and promotes ECM as case management. Virtually every BPM vendor now wants a piece of this DCM market especially as the frustration about hyped-up benefits claims of BPM sets in. Read about Dr. Rashid Khan’s assessment of BPM Simulation and Optimization that is a perfect add-on to my own perspective on the problems with flowcharts.

Gartner Group has another, long-term view to offer that includes Social Media and how work will change in the next ten years. I covered it in this post about ‘The De-routinization of Work.’ Makes you wonder why anyone still bothers with BPM in the first place.

So BPM claims to be agile and now case management claims to be dynamic, goal-oriented, adaptive and more! How can a normal IT person figure out what to do? The best way is to actually do a proof of concept installation. The focus must be on how flexible a system is in terms of integration into your environment and how the business users can work with the solution to create proceses and case work with all resources (data, content, rules, tasks, GUI) themselves! That is the whole trick!

I need to point out that what Forrester defines as DYNAMIC case management is by far not yet ADAPTIVE. Forrester  defines dynamic case management to be semi-structured and collaborative, dynamic, human-centered, information-intensive processes undertaken around a given context, while being driven by events, requiring incremental and progressive responses. So what is different about ADAPTIVE Case Management? The key point is not just runtime dynamic changes, but Just-In-Time creation of the process and resources WITH embedded learning, which means that knowledge of a previous case can be autmatically used by people in a later case or process! As a further point Forrester does not use the term knowledge worker but rather (information-) I-worker, which is anyone who uses a computer at his job. I see ACM mostly for knowledge workers who apply their specific skill for case resolution or process execution. Craig also now points to the link between business architecture, strategic objectives and operational metrics that I have been talking about for some time.

Maybe the follwoing video will make the difference between dynamic and ADAPTIVE clearer:

I also propose that ACM has to deal not only with goals but with complex, captured content, dynamic embedded content, user definable business rules and is mostly event driven, but these are  Complex Business Events. I recently posted my view on how BPMN and rules relate to CBE.

Verify if BPM or case management product supports unpredictable  (semi-structured) processes with complex events in an ADAPTIVE manner by means of the following:

  • Does the system enable the definition or reuse of a business and process architecture to provide the base infrastructure for business driven process creation based on strategic objectives and operational metrics?
  • Does the modeling capability allow direct linkage of objectives, metrics to the process goals and business data in the process/case and therefore embedded verification of goal fulfillement?
  • Can properly authorized business users assemble the process/case from data objects, inbound and outbound business (with mapped data) content, user-defined rules, and GUI components (widgets?) without needing to be BPMN or flowchart experts and execute and modify at will?
  • Can unexpected events or data be handled by means of new tasks, rules, performers and goals being added to the existing process to handle them without causing disruptive exceptions ?
  • Can the signatures of unexpected events be auto-discovered and linked to the context patterns?
  • Does the CBE capability identify fuzzy patterns of similarity between events and suggests goals, tasks or actions to handle them?
  • Are business user decisions related to events fed back into the CBE pattern matching mechanism?
  • Can new performers be added into the case/process at any time and existing or newly defined tasks with associated resources be assigned to them in a social media like, but fully secure collaboration?
  • Can ‘expert’ case participants be selected manually from a skills profile or will the system recommend exeperts based on an automatic match between case and skill or due to past selection by other participants?
  • Can goals, milestones, SLA values and rules be embedded by the business user to verify compliance, efficiency and cost and take direct influence on the execution/routing/modification of the process?
  • Can the business user created processes, goals or milestones be saved at the end of the execution as new templates into the repository (with all resource templates)?
  • Can business users write rules in natural language (no technical syntax) with automatic verification of rule syntax and validity by data object and content mapping based on the business architecture?
  • Are all resources for content (capture and creation), process, rule and GUI are version controlled through a single dev/test/deploy/suspend mechanism? Does this ensure that the maintenance meta-processes for resource templates are decoupled from execution?

If you want to know how ACM can put your organization on the track to business innovation then contact us for a demonstration in which we will build the processes that are relevant to you as we demo.

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Mike Gualtieri on ‘Horses for Courses’

In his Application Development blog, Forrester’s Mike Gualtieri posted on the phrase ‘horses for courses’ relating to the need of many different software products for CEP and business rules. Here is my response:

“Mike, I too had not heard the phrase before. I am however not in agreement with the comparison. Why? Horses have evolved naturally and did develop certain special abilities based on their environment. While software evolves too it is however not tracing a typical fitness landscape. Rational thought is used to form a product that has certain abilities. Strangely enough, we are right in the middle of the different faiths about natural evolution or intelligent design. Yes, if software was developed for a special use and change was driven by the user demand of that group then it evolves accordingly and you will have ‘horses for courses’. Things take a long time but the solution fits the – usually special – needs well. This is how I believe nature works too.

In difference to nature, we do take the role of the Great Architect of the Software Universe and software can be a good fit for most uses if designed accordingly. Especially if we look at ‘Business Technology’ rather than ‘Information Technology’. Business does not want five different horses that can not even be ridden by the same rider. The business landscape changes much faster than the software can evolve. We have to design software that is so flexible that it can be shaped by the business user on a day to day basis. Isn’t that what CEP and BR is mostly meant for?

Complex Event Processing and Business Rules should be right at the heart of any business technology and thus not be hard coded for special uses. Following my own faith in the above, I am pretty sure that with Papyrus we have designed a horse that can be trained in a few days by the people in the know to perform as good as the limited ‘horses for courses.’ It does that by using CEP and BR.”