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A question Lloyd Dugan brought up at the tail end of last week's BPM & Case Management Conference in Washington, DC: How do you accurately measure success with less structured processes?
Tuesday, June 24 2014, 09:43 AM
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    Tuesday, June 24 2014, 10:09 AM - #Permalink
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    Happy customers, Happy employees and a little margin? Just like any process?
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    Tuesday, June 24 2014, 10:13 AM - #Permalink
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    You actually measure it the same way that you do any process or any collection of activities. It is a mistake to think of case management as being "less structured." The work within cases is still structured, it is simply not structured in advance. The organization of the process happens at the same time that you do the work. I have proposed the term "late-structured" as a better way of thinking about this. They are not unplanned, they simply are planned at the same time that the work is going on. After the job is complete, you can still look back measure what was done and how long it took. Imagine the job of a fire department. When the alarm rings, they have no idea how big a job lies ahead, but after the fire is put out, they then know it was a fire of category "X" and it took "Y" amount of effort to put it out. Historically, you can measure effectiveness of cases in the regular way, you just can't predict a given case very well in advance. As Yogi Berra said "It is hard to make predictions, especially about the future."
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    Tuesday, June 24 2014, 10:48 AM - #Permalink
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    Allow me to provide some context. At the conference, there was an emerging consensus among the few of us that helped develop the BPSim spec for simulating BPMN that case management presents some challenges in hope to analyze it for improvement, which is at the heart of BPM's BPR/BPI aspirations. 1) Case management is a more declarative than procedural set of things, so concepts needed for something like simulation are difficult to see. While some things in CMMN, for example, could be parameterized (like tasks, with things like durations, costs, resources, etc.; or like events with things like intertriggers, probabilities, etc.), the largely unstructured nature of case management makes for a type of unpredictability that makes discrete simulation somewhat problematic. A BPMN model allows for an A PRIORI approach to analysis by predefining all possible paths, but a CMMN model doesn't predefine all possible paths and so is more cleanly addressable by an A POSTERORI approach to analysis. (This is not to say we have given up on making CM simulatable, but the way forward looks murky.) 2) For traditional BPM, processes have bee addressable thru BPMN, and the BPR/BPI orientation and other applicable business objectives have generally emphasized EFFICIENCY over EFFECTIVENESS, while case management situations would appear to reverse that bias, emphasizing EFFECTIVENESS over EFFECIENCY. This makes the focus on the outcomes of the case management sequences. (Interestingly, efficiency KPIs might back door their way in here by being framed as an outcome or outcome attribute.) 3) Case Mangement audit data was revealed at the conference to be very similar to process mining data, so mining tools that support performance analysis of the mined data may find a powerful use case in providing analytics to CM technologies. [[At BPM, Inc. (bpm.com) are working on a writeup of case management that will explore this concept, which we uncovered some months ago, in greater depth!]] Our recent conference clearly revealed case management to be an under-served topic, and the conceptual challenges are still being worked thru (while the technology vendors move on and test these waters). Thank you Peter, for launching this thread so that more of this topic can air out amongst our various communities!
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    Tuesday, June 24 2014, 11:05 AM - #Permalink
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    Case management is about driving work to optimal outcomes. There are as many possible "optimal outcomes" are there are case management applications, and the more domain-specific you get, the more diverse they become. For example, OCBC Bank uses dynamic case management to on-board customers. Heathrow Airport uses it to turn around airplanes, managing everything that must happen from the moment the plane enters UK airspace to the moment it takes off on its next journey. Generally speaking, cycle time is of course important for back-office work. For customer-facing work, net promoter score (NPS) and sales are common measures. OCBC uses NPS. Heathrow measures on-time departure rates. We usually structure case work into a handful of high-level stages that the case goes through from creation to resolution. You measure time to resolution and time spent in each stage, and drill down into the structured work inside the stages to get more detail into what's going on and discover sources of waste and variation. This is where you find measurable opportunities for improvement that can justify adding more structure and/or automation to the case management app.
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    Wednesday, June 25 2014, 03:25 AM - #Permalink
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    No need for a complaints department? All activity should be recording who did what and when and empowering people with real time "measurement". In today's environment this will also satisfy compliance, The unstructured m\ay only have time as the measure with of course the resultant outcome. Over time there will be patterns of resources needed which may reveal better ways to achieve the desired outcomes.
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    Wednesday, June 25 2014, 11:47 AM - #Permalink
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    I was hoping that this thread would generate more interest. What should be airing out here are the differing perspectives on how a "case" is pushed through as set of related activities and events in a way that is different from traditional BPM treatment. The question here is really about how one can analyze and measure the performance of a case management situation vs. how one does the same for more traditional BPM processes. In the latter, there are implicit biases in how this tends to get done, which are largely accepted. In the former, the situation is less clear from a theoretical standpoint (see my earlier post as well as Keith's). What this thread is mostly about is inviting comment on is what practitioners in the field are actually seeing or experiencing, though more theoretical perspectives are also welcomed.
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    Thursday, June 26 2014, 02:00 AM - #Permalink
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    There is one thing that needs to be 'aired out': Cases are not BPM where work is 'pushed'. There is a kind of grand fallacy in trying to manage case management like BPM just because people use BPM for knowledge work. But as the saying goes 'if all you have is a hammer' ... The question makes no sense for orthodox case management and if it is meant for ACM it shows a lack of understanding. Orthodox case management is not the same as Adaptive (or the less accurate dynamic) Case Management. In CM you do not build templates for future use by using things that actually worked. The case progress lies purely with the case worker. In ACM there is a case layout, data interfaces and a variety of reusable templates and components and reuse is supported by the system. The question of how to measure success is also related to the fallacy of taking ad-hoc BPM and calling it ACM. ACM should be goal-oriented (while most ACM solutions aren't ) so you are actually measuring success all the time. There is no need for external and late success measurement. A goal can be a milestone but a milestone is not a goal. A goal defines when it has been reached regardless if there is work to be done or not. A milestone is reached when all work underneath is done. A BPM process too is finished if it is needed or not or sucessful or not. It is overall inefficient as it is blind to outcome. That's why people need measure-to-manage. The point is that BPM is purely theoretical while ACM is pragmatic. You do what works and not what is designed. In BPM you finish and look later if you were successful while in ACM you do not finish until you are successful. You look at efficiency later. If BPM does the wrong thing efficiently it is still inefficient overall. ACM uses BPM functionality too but the main point is to automate the parts that can be and turn them into reusable components. But also the flow-like work can created by the expert and not just a technical designer. The main difference is that the responsibility of what needs to be done next lies with the performer and not with the ivory-tower designer. But yes, ACM case data can be analyzed and used to consider what to improve and it is absolutely natural while with BPM you have to go through the optimization cycle and bureaucracy to do so. In ACM the performers innovate and the analysts and process owners make suggestions, while in BPM the performers make suggestions and the analyst codes a process. In ACM simulations make little sense and if, they would have to be done using for example Monte Carlo simulation to capture the possible dynamic of knowledge work. That would not predict anything, but show which variations might exist and how the templates might be used. As all decisions are taken by knowledge workers at execution time and they can come up with completely new things and ways such simulations serve no purpose whatsoever. Past case patterns can be analyzed and performer actions can be mapped against case patterns. Our User-Trained Agent uses these to autonomously make suggestions as to what actions other performers took in similar situations. There are no analysts, data or process mining experts necessary. Suggestions are validated by performers accepting or rejecting them and not by disconnected 'experts'.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, June 26 2014, 06:39 AM - #Permalink
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    Some thoughts and I hope clarity on comments from Max and Lloyd. This is from a business perspective - which is what and how "BPM" needs to think.......AND deliver? First case management is an area that requires attention to compliance needs so it will require a clear and transparent structure which can include the "informal". A modern "BPM" tool can deliver as Max puts it "case data can be analyzed and used to consider what to improve and it is absolutely natural" Likewise it will deliver full “audit data” as Lloyd articulates On transparency the actual deployed application can now be represented in a graphical build designer allowing users to quickly understand the whole picture and be readily audited. I was slightly confused with Lloyds description BPMN v CMMN. We use a declarative technique much quicker and simpler. As Max puts it "..In ACM there is a case layout, data interfaces and a variety of reusable templates and components and reuse is supported by the system". By adopting this approach recognising all business logic you can have the generic capability to quickly "assemble" an ACM. This is lead by business analysts working direct with performers. Where there is a need and compliance permits you can allow workers to either enter an unstructured environment or allow them to make choices how to achieve the goals. Max is right in saying “As all decisions are taken by knowledge workers at execution time and they can come up with completely new things and ways such simulations serve no purpose whatsoever.” Support for change is vital and will result in a future proof investment. Whilst change for users can be built in policy changes or adopting new requirements are not a performer’s core job and best handled by the experienced analysts who can add thoughts and work direct with users for the required changes. All this is in my language adopting "BPM" and with the right supporting "adaptive" tool will deliver ACM.
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