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Will case management eclipse BPM in importance this year?

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Do you think case management will eclipse BPM in importance this year?  Has it already?

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  • Good question to start the New Year!

    In interest / media attention - yes. Importance will follow with increased adoption.

  • First, I think we need to understand importance wrt what.

    If we mean importance with respect to the customer base, I think BPM still needs to keep up with the expectation, even before we introduce ACM.

    If we mean importance in terms of controversial aspects and evolution /innovation aspects, I see BPM as a rather consolidated field and I see the most innovative things moving towards ACM: I don't think ACM will necessarily supersede BPM, but for sure "unconventional" issues such as: social behavior or unexpected events will be the next crucial wave in BPM.
    That's why I'm into Social BPM for instance, which I see as a possible source for ACM.

  • The question indeed invites to get philosophical about the meaning of importance. In terms of business needs the urge for bringing adaptive processes (not just social and mobile and other hyped terms) under an enterprise umbrella will become ever more pressing.
    Happy new year everybody!

  • Case management (advanced, adaptive, dynamic, whatever) functionality will be subsumed into existing BPMS platforms by the big vendors, the smaller vendors will follow suit (or be acquired themselves later if they do something well enough) and that will be that, and then we'll be on to the next panacea buzzword.

  • As a discipline and management approach, no. Case management and BPM has co-existed for many years and are somewhat apples-to-oranges.

    When you consider adaptive and social aspects, I think top-down strategic thinking will still focus primarily on business capabilities and processes, with the dynamic nature of "how work gets done" still being a secondary aspect.

    In SOFTWARE, I do think ACM features will become a primary consideration and a mainstream requirement for adopters.

  • Short answer : no.

    More thoughtful answer : When people have trouble listing which products are ACM, and which are BPM, and which are both, the "ACM" tag has some work to do to eclipse BPM. Even as it grows, it is perceived as part of BPM, not separate.

    Of course, BPM took a decade or more to come into its own. I don't think it comes undone overnight.

  • Depends upon how you define importance.

    From a tactical sense, BPM is going strong, and remains a strong and important force in the industry. It is an accepted, proven approach, and there are still many routine processes (low hanging fruit) by automating will save companies tremendous amounts of money. ACM implementation will not match or exceed BPM implementation volume this year.

    However, from a strategic point of view, eventually BPM will automate all of the routine processes. It is inevitable that new support for work will shift more toward ACM. While the volume of implementation will not be as large as the more mainstream BPM, it however will be of greater strategic importance to those thinking a few years ahead to what they will need in the future.

    • Keith, you said "However, from a strategic point of view, eventually BPM will automate all of the routine processes." But this is like saying "eventually, people will code all the software we need"...

      The demand for BPM may wax and wane, rather than climb in a straight line upward and to the right, but with the degree of change that happens in our universe, it is unlikely that all routine processes will ever be captured on any particular day. It reminds me a bit of electrical engineering (chip design in particular) in the 90's. VLSI and CAD and various productivity tools resulted in a lot of EE majors looking for new work because the demand for fresh design talent wasn't there. One of my EE friends told me that with the latest software, what had previously taken 100 engineers would only take 4.

      His conclusion: EE and chip design were effectively dead areas. He also pronounced that the same fate would befall software.

      I was too young to see the possibilities for chip design back then - that a whole plethora of chips would come into being to support different computing scenarios - rather than one general purpose dominant chip market (ruled by Intel). But I already knew that his conclusions about software were wrong in the long term - people would always find a new mountain to climb, new requirements, new spaces to tackle that they might not have bothered to tackle without the productivity tools.

      So it is with process. There will always be new, evolving processes (even "routine" processes). Enhanced productivity just means that less valuable routine processes can also be addressed (lower I to get the lower R).

      I may be proven wrong, but I'm putting my money where my mouth is :)

  • We're seeing an increase in the demand for case management solutions to add more "workflow-like" features. That's a healthy development, one which recognizes that even a case management approach can benefit from a focus on the processes that may arise in response to the changing circumstances of a given case.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, 2012 looks like a great year for BPM. Case management, ad hoc processes, and actionable process intelligence will all be a part of the big BPM picture going forward.

  • I personally believe that you can't have case management without effective process management.

    Consindering that case management is about giving process performers at the cross-functional process level the opportunity to direct the work of the value stream in an ad-hoc fashion, case management depends on the clear articulation, management, and in many cases automation of the sub-processes that perform the work to close the case.

    So if anything, interest in case management will drag along process folks and cause them to focus more on the management of their stuff. They're sort of pulling in different directions, but expanding the field for intelligent, transparent, and effective management of organizations as a whole.

  • Using the term ACM looks like processes cannot be adaptive/flexible. Sometimes it’s necessary to have a straight through process, but of course processes can also be flexible (strange that these are often called exceptions)

    So I think you have both Adaptive process management and adaptive casemanagement.

    So suddenly it’s about process vs case.

    In process management you use a process to steer. The process has to deliver a result for your customer. Although the process might be flexible (the route), the result is quite clear. Otherwise it’s not possible to steer.

    In case management the case is your concern. A case doesn’t have a clear result upfront, because most of the time it is a customer with some kind of question (A patient with a headache, someone who wants to build a house, a family that wants to have a nice holiday)

    So, for a case several processes might be executed, but they might not be known at the start of the case. So information management is very important to handle cases. So the flexibility most of the time is not in one process, but in the set of processes you will execute for a case. So I agree with John that effective casemanagement is not possible without process management.

    So is casemanagement new? Not at all. Companies help their customers (as a case and by process) for hundreds of years. Why so much attention then?

    What happens now is that casemanagement gets attention because of all kinds of software that can support it. But how did they manage cases 100 years ago? Isn’t the windows explorer a useful casemanagement tool?

    Finally it’s al about helping your customer. And (I hope) that’s nothing new.

    A few weeks ago I heard a story about a guy from an energy company who has solar panels on his house. And he was very proud because he made a system (to save energy and produce no carbon) that automatically switches on the wash dryer when the sun shines. I told him this was very good engineering, but when the sun shines, I ‘ll just hang my laundry outside…..

  • Some great comments. I believe that ACM might be considered the less predictable cousin of BPM. Until the basic, everyday things are managed, the less predictable things aren't ready to be tackled in a meaningful way (unless they are high risk to the org). BPM has to come first as an organizational concept, then the follow-on work can be done to make the organization more ready to handle the less defined, less predictable part of work. Some of this can be done through a less structured BPM (outcome-based processes can be expressed through traditional process language as well) or through social layered on BPM (already up and running in many places).

    ACM is partly in response to the rigidity of traditional BPM but doesn't make this an either/or. I predict that it is like the lone rider out in front in the Tour de France...it causes the peloton to speed up and take the breakaway back into the pack.

  • This is all down to how you think of the definition of BPM. Reading the comments it feels to me that most people think of it as BPMS....If thats the case, then Case Management may well over take BPMS in terms of new projects this year.

    However, BPM is simply Business Process Management, and thats a big old bucket of a definition, which we can throw in terms such as case management, adaptive, ACM, APG etc etc. And thats because they all address the same fundamental problem, how does a business actually complete a peice of work. The difference between BPMS and Case Management is the actual implementation, not the business problem it is trying to solve

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