Business Management Case Management CMMN Presentations Process Management Process Modeling

Adapting to case management


"Adapting to Case Management" originally presented at meeting in April 2010.


Adapting to Case Management
Tom Shepherd
Director, Case Management
Co-author, “Mastering the Unpredictable”
15 Years in software focused on platform (rather than applications)
Advocate of practical solutions
Disorganized knowledge-worker without enough support staff
Believer that “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough” (thanks Einstein)
Of Backgrounds and Perception Biases
Business Process and Case Management
Rules / Configuration
Product Lifecycle Management
Enterprise Content Management
Adaptive Case Management Defined
“Adaptive Case Management enables non-technical business users in virtual organizations to seamlessly create/consolidate structured and unstructured processes from basic predefined business entities, content, social interactions, and business rules.”
“ACM differs from business process management (BPM) in that the case information is the focus and the thing around which the other artifacts are organized. And it is the case information that persists for the long term.”
A quote to start things off
“Science must not impose any philosophy, any more than the telephone must tell us what to say”
– G.K. Chesterton
Adaptive Case Management isn’t simply about enabling technology, it represents a fundamental shift in approaching knowledge work
Challenge #1
Predicting and predefining how knowledge work happens
Process Modeling Starts Here
Gets More Complex
And Ends Up Here
And that’s for a reasonably simple, well-defined process
“Does Unpredictable Work Exist?”
Can you really know all possible “states and transitions” associated with how work is done?
Is this a practical approach?
What would this look like?
Predictability and Practicality
Pre-defining all states and transitions
Real World Limitations
“We modeled the process as best as we could, but it seemed like there were about 1300 use cases possible.”
“Trying to model the process for the BPMS implementation so explicitly created a proliferation of tasks and UI implementations, most of which were run by the same participant.”
“We’ve now temporarily abandoned it…”
“There is growing consensus that our biggest miss was that we didn’t recognize … for the more complex use cases … a case management pattern/approach would have probably worked best.”
Challenge #1
Predicting and predefining how knowledge work happens
Challenge #1
Predicting and predefining how knowledge work happens
Adaptation #1
Predefine only what is necessary and repeatable and give users guidance when needed or wanted
From Predefined to Adaptive
Knowledge work doesn’t happen the same way every time
Don’t lay down iron track
Allow participants to use their judgment and experience
Define states and goals
Incorporate rules where appropriate
Enable ad-hoc addition of tasks and documents
Link in structured processes and services to eliminate repeatable steps
Coordination through Case Folder
Tools and Guidelines
Provide only the tools a user needs

Give participants control over user experience – personalization
Communications and mentoring are key
Incorporate rules to enforce task order or state changes
– Minimizes “not in good order” scenarios
Cases are by nature collaborative
Multiple people work on a case
The case folder should deal with the complexity of multi-access automatically
Who did what, when and why is auditable
Work may involve activities outside of the system, e.g. researchers, underwriters.
Individuals and groups can be assigned tasks or work within the case
Work from cases shows up in personal work queues as needed
Challenge #2
Dealing with constant change in business
Regulatory requirements
Market conditions
Competitive Pressures
Government mandated programs and service levels
The Only Constant is Change
Typical Process Lifecycle
Many variations of this model exist
Modeling is synonymous with creating process maps
Time between model and execute is often longer than desired
What happens when change is needed?
Challenge #2
Dealing with constant change in business
Challenge #2
Dealing with constant change in business
Adaptation #2
Give users tools to deal with ad-hoc work and empower them to adjust the solution in place
Tools for Dealing with Ad-hoc work
Configurable template that serves as the starting point or best practice
Expected elements of a case folder can be setup in advance
Dynamic creation and assignment of tasks or documents
Select from tasks previously used
Create new tasks on the go
Include placeholders for expected documents
Access to library of standard documents
Ability to incorporate snippets of work, processes and services
Modification of the template by authorized users while in production
Challenge #3
Force fitting business into a process model
Process Centric ApproachHuman Resources On-boarding
Job Applicants
Hiring Manager
HR Specialist
Business Process
Talent Acquisition
Job Description
I9 Form
Benefit Summary
Finding the process structure is hard
Some problems have a lot of variability
Temptation to force process change to simplify
Exception cases typically not well understood
Everything must be in the workitem
Cramming everything into one place makes it complex
Alters the designer’s conceptualization of the problem
The workitem is transient
The process updates a system of record
Loss in fidelity
Can’t mine history for process improvement ideas
Process Centric Challenges
Challenge #3
Force fitting business into a process model
Challenge #3
Force fitting business into a process model
Adaptation #3
Move beyond creating only process maps and start thinking about the business entities you deal with
Identify the business entities
Describe their relationships
Fill in the details
Specify tasks to be done
Create a template library
Data Centric Solution
People understand correspondence, contracts, employees and invoices and can easily describe these entities
Provides a foundation for other solutions through reusable “objects”
Potential for use of ACM platform as a system of record
How is this different?
So Where Does that Lead Us?
Adopting Adaptive Case Management strategies can be successful where because it centers on describing your business in your terms
You don’t have to change how you think about your business or agency, the tool adapts to fit what you do
Tom Shepherd
Director, Case Management
@TomShepherd on Twitter
Blogging at

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