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.

Papyrus ACM embeds goal-oriented BPM methdology

On the subject of Papyrus ACM versus BPM, there are a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions and some intentional misinformation. When businesses ask about ACM, everyone wants to be ACM, but when I try to define what it actually is, no one wants to truly participate to not be suddenly left out in the feature checklist. A similar thing happens when we try to distinguish what ACM is in difference to other TLA’s and most commonly to BPM. No one wants to alienate the BPM crowd, analysts, consultants and IT architects alike. Everyone chickens out, and is to afraid to have an opinion. We are all buddies, it is all good and we sell it all because obviously customers need it all. ‘We convince others with our passion and ideas.’ Wishy-washy nonsense. You are not standing up for anything. I admire Adam Dean, because he had the guts to say: ‘This is what I think about ACM compared to BPM.’ Great! Stand up and fight! Let’s have a discussion, but let’s not get personal. People attack other people directly as a matter of last resort. They have no other arguments left. Just like in a political campaign. And there is a lot of politics in the ACM versus BPM debate as well.

Yes, I am passionate about my ideas too and my idea is that BPMS-flowcharting (note the ‘S’ for suite or software) is a flawed concept applied to anything more but the most simple, banal process needs. Why should I not say that? I would have to say: ‘While flowcharts are good we developed something else anyway.’ Absolutely not. Why not compare? Where would Apple be today without the hilarious adverts of two guys posing as Macs and Windows PCs? Where would Oracle be without its blunt, full-page adds with checklist comparisons to its competitors? Get a grip on life people, its competitive! All experts who blog are selling themselves too as experts in their fields. For scientists too its either publish or perish! Others post on LinkedIn to find a better job. Let’s stop this pretense and simply be openly and honestly competitive.

It is no secret that I am the Chief Architect and co-owner of a successful, established enterprise software business. There is full disclosure. I don’t sell what I have, but I develop what I propose to be the best solution for my prospective enterprise customers. Like Apple, I don’t develop according to market research. Customers always just ask for more features in a product, but they won’t ask for a new solution they can’t imagine. Nevertheless we are extremely customer-oriented, because there are no hard-coded applications that we deliver. All our out-of-the-box capability is modelled and can be configured and changed without programming!

We are in many ways like Apple, just that we aren’t in a mass market. Apple owns the complete stack of functionality and can control it. The ISIS Papyrus Platform owns the complete stack and can control it too. But then you are not OPEN and STANDARD I am told, but neither is Apple! You can buy BMWs and Superyachts as accessories to the proprietary iPod/iPhone plug! Openness must not be about providing open technology interfaces, but about opening solution functionality to the business users. We use SOA or anything else that will provide data. We can read or create any XML file, but so what? Standards must not be about some XML files that users could not care less about, but giving a standard user interaction to all business users for a consolidated customer experience in the organization. Give them the ability to create processes on the fly without going through a technical and management bureaucracy.

But we aren’t even talking about product features. The subject is a very principal question. Do you want to put your people and business into a flow-charted straightjacket or not? Yes, go for BPMS flowcharts. No? You need something that empowers the business user for goals and outcomes, but not just in theoretical Balanced Scorecards and Powerpoints and then monitor some disconnected KPIs. Real-world, real-time, real product! Maybe some BPMS can do that too? Great, show me!

As an example, here is a segment of a ‘Purchase to Pay’ end-to-end process created in just a few hours by a non-technical person using the ACM capabilites and goal-oriented processes. (To watch the video in high-resolution, don’t forget to press HD in the right upper corner and then switch to full-screen in the right lower corner.)

Let me close by saying that Papyrus ACM is certainly not anti-BPM, because my solution proposal clearly focuses on PROCESS OUTCOMES. We also have a BPMN compliant flowchart editor, but I am also clearly saying that one cannot guarantee outcomes in customer interaction with rigid processes. You can certainly put a lot of BPM governance bureaucracy in place to manage the analysis and design BEFORE execution and the monitoring and optimization AFTER execution, but what it really needs is that both are moved INTO execution. And that is the key difference between ACM and BPM, while ACM also follows the BPM principles. What I am personally opposed to is to try and map how your business works into low-level, step-by-step flowcharts. But if that’s what you  really want to do, you can do that with our Papyrus platform too and you have all the master data, content, event and rule handling included for free. You don’t like that? Well, enjoy your integration projects!

The final point to make is that we are just talking about silly acronyms. I wish we would not need to, but it is the market fragmentation by analysts that causes it. There is also the wish of some businesses to be given simplistic choices so they don’t have to understand what they are buying. I suggest to focus on real-world business needs and not the assumed scope of an acronym. There are thousands of BPM methodology messiahs who have a serious problem with how BPMS technology is used. I am no different. I just propose a technology solution to the problems and that’s where the conflict with other vendors comes in. So its really just a storm in a waterglass.

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’