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As managing less structured processes becomes integral to a company's strategy, what is the key to being successful with adaptive/dynamic case management?
Wednesday, May 28 2014, 09:40 AM
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  • Accepted Answer

    Ian Gotts
    Ian Gotts
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    Wednesday, May 28 2014, 09:56 AM - #Permalink
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    There are two very different scenarios for case management. Each has its own challenges and BPM software requirements. They are: - highly structured where outcomes are known e.g. processing an insurance claim, a product query, a house purchase. - unstructured where participants vary and the process evolves e.g. a corporate lawsuit, M&A due diligence. The BPM vendor claims of "one size fits all" must be questioned. One BPM app may have all the functionality, but how it is implemented for the two different scenarios will differ. And that starts with the business having a clear idea about what they are trying to achieve, not the IT department implementing a Case Management application for anyone in the business to consume.
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    Wednesday, May 28 2014, 02:40 PM - #Permalink
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    I think the keyword in the question is “integral”. Consequently, AD-CM should be seamlessly integrated into existing proven business methodologies and practices. Thus, consider an enterprise as a system of processes ( http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.com/2014/03/enterprise-as-system-of-processes.html ) and understand in which area of this system you need to use coordination techniques from AD-CM ( http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.com/2012/07/coordination-techniques-in-bpm-social.html ). Thanks, AS
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    Wednesday, May 28 2014, 06:25 PM - #Permalink
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    As a sales person it would be so nice to enjoy true "follow-the-story" case-oriented software to help keep track of everything I'm working on. I'm not optimistic though, I guess I'll just have to keep relying on listening to customers, learning about needs, making a business case -- and charm.

    Clearly case-oriented business process technology is important. And less structured work is important too, as supported by the technology and demanded by business models. (In this context, it's worth underscoring Ian's comment that case can be sub-divided into work which is more structured and work which is less structured.)

    But this said, allow me to add two comments:

    1) MATHEMATICS OF ACM: We can all agree that case or ACM or DCM is important, but until the mathematics of solving what really are graphs is achieved, in a reasonable amount of time, we are at the mercy of programming. And sometimes today's software works really well, as in it gets you to the 80% or 90% of what you want to do. The only problem is that's the commoditized portion of your work, but a lot of your profit comes from being really good at the hard parts of your work -- the 10% of your work process that is not handled automatically by today's software.

    2) ECONOMICS OF ACM: We had a bit of this discussion when Mr. Swenson organized a little while ago a good definition of BPM. The discussion was around the question of "repeatability", where a minority of participants were of the view that BPM necessarily implied repeatability. Without getting into semantics too deeply (i.e. distinguishing between BPM-as-technology and BPM-as-management practice), the argument is that from an economic point of view, organizations exist at the size they do, to optimize transaction and coordination costs. This is the Coasean economic view of organizational size. And from this view (and even from common sense as well) an organization is built around doing things repeatedly, and getting very good at that. So along comes mass customization and all kinds of disruptive business models and the claim is made that we don't have mass production any more and that everything is now unstructured. But of course one of the disruptions is business process outsourcing -- which is predicated on specialization. And doing things repeatedly, really well.

    So, from the original question, business models for most economic entities will be mostly built around structured or semi-structured work, out of necessity. And insofar as there are other kinds of work, we're all in the same boat and not much can be done until the math is figured out. So the key to being successful is having a business model that makes sense, and doing your best with software that is not ideal.

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    Thursday, May 29 2014, 04:25 AM - #Permalink
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    The right information to the right person at the right time in a custom build with recognition that change is inevitable hence the need to use "adaptive" BPM supporting software. I would add real time reports / feed back which will aid empowerment in particular as the unstructured activity is recognised and undertaken. This applies to all the enterprise operational requirements CRM SCM HRM etc. The business vision is they are all seamlessly working together with one look and feel thus remove the silo mentality.
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    Thursday, May 29 2014, 06:58 AM - #Permalink
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    I like John's Coasean perspective (may be because I am also studying it intensely in order to implement it in an ACM SaaS start-up? :) ) Building on this, how do we optimize transaction costs in a case management environment? I'm tempted to believe (but am not so sure yet) that we may have to look at some of the onion layers that make up enterprise architecture and focus on really the only one worth optimizing in a sparse case management scenario: the data layer. I tend to become convinced that if you have a clear (and easy to use / populate) data model you can extract maximum value from freeform content. But this has to get really smart at software UX level, without getting into deep learning algorithms. We have debated this at length with our early adopters and what we know for sure is that optimizing for process (i.e. succession of activities) is the wrong way to go.
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    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Bravo Bogdan! Your data model is the secret. If you can discover the language of process as instantiated in the data model, then everything else is possible (with the exception of the algorithm to solve the graph, which is expected anyway). And with the strong data foundation, the UX will be easier too?
    • Bogdan Nafornita
      more than a month ago
      of course John, the UX flows naturally from a correct data concept. I presented today a first wireframe to some of my early adopters and they were thrilled.

      I am very unhappy with it because my data model is done 30%... but I'm on the right track...

      still doing problem interviews now... the product roadmap looks most promising...
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 29 2014, 10:57 AM - #Permalink
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    Highly predictable work can be scripted and programmed, but unpredictable and ad hoc work requires thinking and decision-making on the part of workers and other participants. Dealing with these two different facets of managing work is what Dynamic Case Management is all about. The key to being successful with this technology is acknowledging up front that its design and implementation are more a journey than an event. Agile methodology is essential. Begin with your customer’s high-level view of the work to be done, and focus on the outcomes that should be achieved. Choose an initial project which will yield significant improvement in how work gets done and deliver that benefit in a month or two. Not only will this give you a quick win that will build momentum for the Dynamic Case Management initiative, the system itself will give you the metrics you need to decide what to do next. Subsequent phased deliveries can focus on facilitating aspects of work (say, by bringing people information they need to make decisions), enhancing their collaboration, and using automation to speed things up and let people focus on things which truly require human judgment. The key, then, is to be very pragmatic about DCM. Let metrics be your guide, and continually optimize how work gets done. To the extent that the business environment continually changes, there really is no end to this.
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      Spot on on that last paragraph. +1
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    Thursday, May 29 2014, 02:51 PM - #Permalink
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    Still not sure what constitutes the distinction between "dynamic" and "adaptive" case management (guess it's a vendor terminology thing), but it - unstructured process - has always been there, along with structured as well of course. Most applications, solutions, have some of both. Some moreso of one than the other, some less. Back in the day this was usually addressed in the form of an application database. Then along came rules engines and we were, are, able to abstract the decisioning out of the work performer. Now, happening as we speak, is the ability to do that with in-flight processes, expand the map as we go. Agree with Bogdan's statements above on the data piece, but my concern here in the trenches is that economics aspect and organizations' desire to optimize transaction costs. That's never going to go away and, consequently, compromises will and do get made along the way whilst chasing the bottom line. Netting it all out at a holistic level I would say the key is flexibility. Don't go in with a predetermined mindset on structured or unstructured, case management versus traditional BPM, intent on proving out a conclusion that's desired. Conversely, all platforms' implementations are idiosyncratic and do certain things, certain ways well and other ways, not so much. That is, combining both views - top-down and bottoms-up - use the right widget for the job and don't impose a square peg on a round hole. Keep refining, look at the metrics coming off the system, measure the outcome, tweak, rinse, repeat. Just my tuppence.
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    Thursday, May 29 2014, 06:04 PM - #Permalink
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    Several replies here have highlighted the importance of methodology and pragmatism, and these in the face of what I like to call the "richness and variety of life". You could call it the "let's be real people" position. As of 2014 the reality of process and case technology is that it is still developing, whereas relational database technology is comparatively mature. But where does the "let's be real" argument leave us? This forum and website is very much about using technology to win. There are lots of schools and books and gurus of "management". But this site is distinguished from all those other fine resources; our focus is not really "management". Rather, this site has a focus on technology. And specifically business process technologies which are force multipliers for those charged with executing the work of business. Pragmatism is essential; but let's not stop with there. Because it will become an end in itself.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, May 30 2014, 05:38 AM - #Permalink
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    Case Management (especially when seen as technology) is not a goal, it’s a means. Ever heard a company who said ‘Let’s do some case management today’? I didn’t. Companies don’t want case management, they want to add some value for their customers, so it finally will also add some value to their own bank accounts. And for sure, this has much to do with processes; the ‘things’ that make an organization do what it promises (As a positive oriented person, I assume now that these processes are well designed and managed;-) And then you’ll come to the point that all processes are unique and that some are managed best as ‘case management style’, while others perform well when they are managed ‘workflow style’. So the key is understanding the needed characteristics (type of workflow, people, information, supporting tools, way of steering, etc) of your processes. Then case management stuff might be a proper solution to support your processes. Or not.
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    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Emiel, we are all familiar with industries that are very "case oriented", going back decades or more. These would included medical and legal practices and insurance underwriting, for example. The selection of the terms "case management" is not random, but fits the bill. And practitioners in these fields will think of their "case load", i.e. workload. Their employers will also think in these terms, insofar as there are work norms or quotas. (Heaven forfend we should apply Taylorism to white collar work, or any work for that matter!)

      As for the difference between means and ends, you are correct that "companies want outcomes, not processes" (my wording). But if you don't get "inside the black box" of your work process, you won't own the outcome. You can't add value if you aren't the master of your processes, your rules, your data models and your analytics.
    • Emiel Kelly
      more than a month ago
      John, absloutely agree. With 'characteristics of a process' I mean making the black box transparent.

      And talking about means; I only use google drive and excel to manage my cases...
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  • Accepted Answer

    Monday, June 16 2014, 11:55 PM - #Permalink
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    An intelligent Case Management application should create flexible processes to manage unstructured and ad-hoc actions. Case Management applications built on a BPM platform are adaptive, making handling of unstructured and unprecedented occurrences withing business activities easy. By Leveraging Case management applications organizations should be able to mitigate risks associated with such activities both in terms of cost and compliance.
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