The User-Trained Agent has an EYE on Goals

This is Papyrus Platform specific information related to ‘Adaptive Process and Goal Orientation‘.

Rather than the approach chosen by Social-BPM or other collaborative process design tools, Papyrus pushes for ‘Design by Doing’ where the users are empowered to create processes interactively without analysis and then can execute or change as required. Therefore the Papyrus ACM (Adaptive Case Management) implementation is especially suited for the knowledge workers who produce the high-value, innovation workload of a business – without which it will not survive or at least fall behind against the competition.

ISIS Papyrus Platform and Adaptive Case Management utilizes adaptive technology to provide business user access to data and content in structured and unstructured processes. Authorizes user can at any point in time add data entities, content, rules, or participants and assign work tasks to them. The tasks can be standalone or linked by dependencies or rules to other tasks. Because of the object-oriented models stored in the object-relational database, all elements of an executed process are available and can be archived. The process can even be ‘restarted’ and resimulated while watching it play out as it was executed along a timeline scale. A Gantt chart is used to display the process as a PLAN with activities and GOALS. But at any point in time it is possible to turn to the BPMN chart display, that will show all tasks, even the ones that were added by the UTA on the fly. This is how flexible the direct model execution is to man and machine.

Papyrus ACM – BPMN View in user Inbox

Papyrus uses the patented User-Trained Agent that will recommend next steps to the business users based on choices made by previous user roles. These choices are however not made in terms of which steps were followed in which sequence, but which data patterns were the repeated pattern for a follow-on action. The process is termed Transductive Training. Even without the User-Trained Agent, the process engine will expose to the user all the possible next steps in terms of fulfilled prerequisites and — if so defined — will select the fastest or lowest-cost step leading to the same goal outcome. Actor roles can be assigned to act based on shortest work queue or round-robin.

All aspects and information of the execution runtime is exposed within the system and therefore it is very easy to define charts displays to show process execution monitoring, activity monitoring or performance indicators from the real business data in real-time. Users can enter business rules at runtime to create additional goals and monitor their effectiveness immediately. Using sample data, processes can be simulated in a safe TEST sandbox environment.

User presentation of the processes, goals and outcomes is through the Papyrus EYE Widgets user interface that presents all data entities in a user-definable manner. The presentation is either through the Papyrus EYE Desktop or the Payprus EYE GUI in Flash. Other graphics engines are also being developed as is presentation to Mobile platforms such as the WebArchive support for the iPhone. Because all data entities are modeled in the repository it is simple to create GUIs, rules, content and validate them for correctness.

ACM Dashboard in Papyrus Platform

A key difference to all other BPM and Case Management products (adaptive, agile or dynamic) is the state-of-the art embedded content management capability of the Papyrus Platform. The inbound and outbound content software functions can be instantiated on any node and mostly any number of times. A complex network of automated and intelligent agents can be set up to execute in any kind of complexity required. Peer-to-peer node communication powers the Papyrus enterprise service bus with its long list of messaging (i.e. SOA) adapters and database type-managers. All changes to the process, including its content is fully change and version managed with automatic deployment and roll-back to any number of users. Depending on the setup, processes that are already being executed can be selectively updated with new functionality. All process execution elements are archived and remain fully auditable. Any process can at any time be reinstantiated and continued should the process concept allow for that.

The technology of the Papyrus Platform is unique with its object-relational database and distributed execution engine in a peer-to-peer kernel developed in platform portable C++. It was designed in 1997 and became first available in 2001 in major installations with up to 5000 users. As a unique niche player, ISIS focuses on complex and exceptional projects and needs rather than a let’s-do-it-all mass market.

The Papyrus Platform is unique in the sense that it is an application modeling and model execution infrastructure that supports the creation of standalone business applications, integrated GUI front-ends for desktop and portal, as well as a powerful goal oriented business process environment.  It is most likely that a mix of all three types of user interaction will be the norm in the future.

Is Papyrus ECM, BPM, CRM, EAI or a Mashup?

In my post ‘Redefining BPM? Who wants that?’ I discussed the problem of market fragment definitions by analysts. To shorten my posts and to seperate opinion from product related discussions, I want to add the following here.

Till today, if a product does not offer a flowcharting tool it is clearly not considered BPM. The Papyrus Platform has offered the state/event driven and tool/material controlled processes mostly focused on content with Papyrus since 2001: That’s not BPM I was told. It was not yet Design-by-Doing (adaptive in Jim Sinurs (Gartner Group) diction) then, but processes could be dynamically changed at runtime. We added to that user-definable business rules in 2003, but no, that was not BPM either, but clearly it was Design-by-Doing. In 2007 we introduced the User-Trained Agent that would kick off activities based on a machine learning principle and that is Design-by-Doing ALL THE WAY. Nope, we were told by analysts and customers – no flowcharts means it is not BPM. So now we do have the BPMN designer as one option to define structured processes as well, are we now suddenly BPM? Nothing else has changed. Is that now good or bad? Should we not provide the designer so that we can be ACM? Maybe someone will now consider us ‘Pure-Play-BPM’ as well? Oh my god, the implications of that. Seriously, that whole game is utterly senseless.

Question: As soon as you empower the process owner and his team to execute any way they feel works and you get the most efficient execution, does anyone care if they use a flowchart or if it is called workflow, BPM or collaboration? Absolutely not. BPM is mostly bureauracy today and linked to inhumane Measure-to-Manage management paradigmes such as SixSigma and Balanced Score Card. If you focus on errors and numbers that’s what you get. No more. By what means would that improve outcomes for people – employees and customers? Well, it doesn’t.

So why is everyone trying to expand BPM now? They do not want to admit that possibly BPM is not the final wisdom that it was proposed to be for so long. Now, that there is a movement that they know in their guts will kill old-style BPM, they at least want to retain the name because then they won’t have to admit to have been wrong. I see history repeating itself. When we were first to introduce printer-independent, graphical design, dynamic document formatting in 1994, a customer got up really upset: “Why are you doing this? Forms worked fine and as soon as our competitors will pick this up, we will have to do it as well!” The same thing is happening now. I actually had someone ask me at the process.gov conference in Washington: “Why are you rocking the BPM boat? Once someone starts to do Adaptive Processes, we will have to follow along and all the money we spent on BPM will be wasted.” Sorry, guys – I told you so for a long time. Now the time has come.

I for my part don’t really care whether the solutions we offer with the Papyrus Platform are considered BPM, ACM, ECM, CRM, EAI or Mashups. And in fact, it should not matter to our customers either. Analysts do not make our life easier, but there are those highlights that make my day. While being stuck in Washington due to the ash cloud over Europe last week, I used the time to give a two hour LIVE-DEMO of our Papyrus Platform to Mike Gilpin and John Rymer of Forrester Research. If you look them up you will note that they cover APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT and not BPM. While they do not endorse products this way, I still want to share what they said: “Max, you told us for two years that you have implemented what Forrester calls ‘Dynamic Business Applications‘ and finally this demo has convinced us that what you do is unique and very powerful and matches with our concept.’

So what do I do now? Dump all the other TLAs and jump onto that bandwagon? I guess not. We simply will continue to spend our money to develop what our customers need and not on advertizing or bandwagons. I am pretty sure that our customers will appreciate it in the long run. Yup, I am that naive …

Mastering The Unpredictable

Recently I co-authored a book on ACM Adaptive Case Management.

Many current implementations of process and case management solutions are at odds with modern management concepts. While that applies to all workers, it is especially relevant for highly skilled knowledge workers. Motivation is achieved by empowering people to be valuable team members rather than through command-and-control-oriented process implementations. Adaptive case management sits at the center of gravity for process, content, and customer relationship management and therefore plays a key role for effective execution toward business goals.

While ACM is about bringing the benefits of adaptability to existing knowledge workers, I propose to expand that into “Adaptive Process” that combined with an empowerment management paradigm turns more production workers into knowledge workers rather than just automating the production workers’ work.

There is an obvious need for dynamic processes that BPMS vendors are already addressing. The reality of BPM shows that it is very difficult to top-down analyze and simulate business processes and link them to KPIs in a continuous improvement cycle. Measure-to-manage optimization is counterproductive to improvement and innovation. Only empowered actors can use their intuition and experience for sensible action. The dynamics of economy require a self-organizing structure that is resilient to fast changes through its ability to adapt.

Agility cannot be enforced by methodology, and it is not a product feature. It can only be achieved through the agile mindset of management who will put the right technology in place that empowers agile employees. Process maturity is not about how well processes control employees, but how much process control is given to employees to achieve goals and outcomes.

Adaptive process technology exposes structured (business data) and unstructured (content) information to the members of structured (business) and unstructured (social) organizations to securely execute—and continuously adapt with knowledge interactively gathered during execution—structured (process) and unstructured (case) work in a transparent and auditable manner.

You can find all about it here: ‘Mastering The Unpredictable’