Adaptive process guidance: Andrew Smith explains
By Peter Schooff, Contributing Editor, ebizQ
Editor's Note: In this Q & A, Peter Schooff speaks with Andrew Smith,
a developer, enterprise architect and managing director of One Degree Consulting
Ltd. Smith offers insights and tips about BPM, social BPM and adaptive process guidance (APG).
PS: In our first
podcast, we discussed taking a holistic companywide approach to BPM [in
general]. How do you think a holistic approach can help with social BPM?
AS: There are two areas when we talk about social. The first one is
obviously the social communications between the business and the customers themselves.
There are many ways we can communicate now, [such as] Twitter or Facebook. One
of the big challenges for BPM is to capture all those interactions, no matter
where they've come from. We've got to remember as well that that [information]
will probably be sitting in our customer relation management [(CRM)] system,
or it could be a part of a particular process that we're working on now, so
we need to make sure that we have the whole conversation. Because social is
very conversation-based, it's very easy to lose the context of particular conversations
or any work that has to be [done] from those conversations.
By being a lot more holistic, and having a single platform that covers customer
relationship management [and] that covers your business process management and
the enterprise content, you actually have all those conversations stored and
accessible from one place. As a customer agent picks up the phone to talk to
particular customers, they can read those social interactions, be they from
Facebook, Twitter or wherever, and actually make sense of them. That's a very
important point to make with the customer experience-and that includes from
a business process management point of view. As work moves along a particular
business process stream, we're going to need to look at a particular part of
a conversation, but we don't want to lose the whole context of it.
PS: And the second part of social that you mentioned?
AS: The second part is really talking about how social interactions at
work impact the particular business process stream. My colleague could say,
"When you pick out this particular piece of work, you need to add tasks
X, Y and Z to it." BPM needs to be able to understand that now, as a user,
I've got a real-time need to update the process or update my particular piece
of work and include those new tasks in a new task definition.
You can take that further. Obviously social interactions happen when we come
to actually design a particular process. It's good to actually capture those
and store those somewhere in a holistic fashion so that when we look back and
say, "Why does this thing happen in a particular process?" we understand
the decision-making and the interactions that led to that particular design.
PS: Now for this term "adaptive process guidance:" Why do you
think this is a better option for being a holistic approach to BPM?
AS: To feed into a holistic approach, we need the single silo, really.
The problem I have with business process management as it stands, or [with BPM
suites], is that I believe around only 20 to 25% of business processes really
suit a good BPM- type system. That's because the processes are highly structured,
they're medium-to-high volume throughput and they're relatively simple, yet
highly repetitive. That leaves us with 75 to 80% of processes outside the scope
of BPM. These are where we have good arguments for adaptive case management
[(ACM)], that particular paradigm that's relatively new. But what about the
solutions or the need or processes that fit in between BPM and ACM?
If we're having a holistic approach, we need to be able to deal with the structured
processes, so that's the 20 to 25% that BPM really handles, the ACM processes
and the gap in between. So the APG is providing business with the methodology
and the actual platform in the long term to tackle both these types of processes-structured,
unstructured and that gap between the two of them. APG already has been primarily
about being adaptive, so that's adaptive every single sense, that's adaptive
to the needs of the business so it's providing guidance to end users and empowering
them. But it's actually been adaptive to whatever the need is of that end user
and of the business.
So it could be the actually players in the process. It could be the process
definitions, the actual task of work that needs to be carried out, the content
that we're using, and even the ability to enforce strict business rules where
we need to--without the highly repetitive processes, and actually removing them
where we don't need them. Or it's actually having that flexibility to say, "Here,
we need to be adaptive; here, we don't need to be adaptive; here, we need to
be rigid; here we don't need to be rigid." I think APG, this concept of
guiding the user through particular processes, fits that a lot better.
Because of that, I can see APG penetrating more business processes across the
enterprise. If you've got one platform that penetrating more and more of your
processes, then that feeds into that whole holistic approach and that means
more of the processes across your business that are benefiting from…all
the things associated with BPM and ACM, such as greater efficiency, savings,
PS: Looking ahead, what do you see for APG in terms of its rolling out and
AS: APG is a very new concept. At the moment, I'd say it's at the concept
and ideology stage. One of the things we're working hard [on] is actually building
that platform that delivers APG--not the concept, but APG the implementation.
And then you knock down those silo walls and you include it with [enterprise
content management (ECM)] and CRM--even better if they are adaptive ECM and
adaptive CRM. So I think what we're seeing for APG is actually a move from more
of an acceptance as a concept than an ideology. People are saying, "Yes,
I can see how this makes sense and how it would help penetrate more business
processes." And [we expect] a movement from that acceptance to: "Let's
start building actual implementations that use the APG philosophy."
Some people will probably build those on top of BPM and ACM structures and
say, "Your company's already invested in BPM; here, we'll provide you with
an APG platform that sits on top of it,"...Or you'll see an emergence
of platforms that are pure APG in their own right. So I think it's quite an
exciting time-but it's the early days at the moment.
This Q & A was excerpted from a more in-depth ebizQ podcast.
It has been edited for length, clarity and editorial style.
About the Author
Peter Schooff is a former contributing editor for ebizQ, where he also managed the ebizQ Forum for several years. Previously, Peter managed the database operations for a major cigar company, served as writer/editor of an early Internet entertainment site and developed a computer accounting system for several retail stores. Peter can be reached at email@example.com.More by Peter Schooff
ebizQ is the insider’s guide to next-generation business process management. We offer a growing collection of independent editorial articles on BPM trends, issues, challenges and solutions, all targeted to business and IT BPM professionals.
We cover BPM standards, governance, technology and continuous process improvement, as well as process discovery, modeling, simulation and optimization, among many other areas. We follow case management, decision management, business rules management, operational intelligence, complex event processing and other related topics. We closely track important trends such as the rise of social BPM, mobile BPM and BPM in the cloud. We also explore BPM’s use in functional areas, such as supply chain and customer management, and in key verticals, such as financial services, health care, insurance and government.
ebizQ's other BPM-oriented content includes podcasts, webcasts, webinars, white papers, a variety of expert blogs, a lively online forum and much more.