Business Management Presentations Process Analysis Process Management Process Modeling

"What to do When Process Modeling Doesn’t Work" – a chapter from "Mastering the Unpredictable" by ActionBase


Unstructured, unpredictable human processes make up the bulk of processes in today’s organizations. This is the kind of work carried out by knowledge workers using email, documents and meetings.

Adaptive case management is an approach to managing these processes, and the book "Mastering the Unpredictable" brings together a number of thought leaders in this new emerging area.

This presentation is on the second chapter – "What to do When Modeling Doesn’t Work?"


What to do when process modeling doesn’t work?
Using adaptive case management (ACM) for ad-hoc, unpredictable human processes
Jacob Ukelson, D.Sc.
April 15, 2010

  • Most Business Processes are Ad-hoc and Unpredictable
    10-20% of processes
    80-90% of processes
    (aka Knowledge Worker Processes)
    Classification of Knowledge Intensive Processes
    Davenport, T. (2005)
    Thinking for a Living.
    Harvard Business Press
    Processes that can be modeled
    Processes that can’t (shouldn’t) be modeled
    When Shouldn’t a Process be Modeled?
    • Processes that consist mainly of interactions between human participantsCollaborationNegotiationContent (aka documents)is an integral part of the work, it is both consumed and produced as part of the processThe participantscontrol the process, and change it on a case-by-case basisFlow changesParticipant changesActivity changes
  • Knowledge Intensive Processes Today
    Group Collaboration
    RealTime communication
    Information Overload
    Ad-hoc, Unpredictable Process Scenarios
    Decisions and Reviews
    of Directors
    Ad-hoc, Unpredictable Process Scenarios
    Complex and Personalized Processes
    Ad-hoc, Unpredictable Process Scenarios
    Audits and Compliance
    >50 audit review documents
    ~3-4 versions per document
    Aggregating findings and recommendations
    Tracking ~5000 actions
    Compiling reports manually
    “Chasing” information and status updates
    MoreAd-hoc, Unpredictable Process Scenarios
    • Complex Project ManagementRegulatory Process HandlingException HandlingInvestigationsContract ManagementRFPRFI ManagementNew plant planning
  • Ignoring Ad-hoc, Unpredictable Processes is Expensive
    45% of knowledge workers spend over 4 hours a week on email follow-up!
    41% spend more than 4 hours each week on passing documents between decision makers to get approvals
    8 hours a week ~ 20% of working time ~ $10,000 – $15,000 wasted each year per employee
    An ACM system can cut that waste by about 50% (on average)

    $6000-$10,000 annual savings per knowledge worker
    Disciplined Autonomy, Resolving the tension between flexibility and control Laserfiche and the Economist Intelligence Unit Survey of 227 executives
    Ignoring Ad-hoc, Unpredictable Processes is Dangerous
    Operational Risk Factors
    Process Risk
    PéterFehér- BACEE-ISACA Conference on Operational Risk in the Financial Sector 2009
    What can Adaptive Case Management Do?
    • Ensure every process instance has an ownerEnsure every process instance has a goal, deadline and a defined work product a goal defines what must get done, not how the process is donemay also provide an associated guideline or best practice that gives a generic outline of the processProvide visibility within the context of the execution of a process instance, or after it is completedetails on both the emerging flow of the process (the hand-offs between participants) and the work done by each participant (either in summary or detail form)Failed handoffs are the most likely cause of process failureProvide management and control through tracking, deadlines and goalsprocess participants decide how to best achieve their goals,process owner can track the current process state and progress“Hawthrone effect” can change participant behavior
  • ACM and BPM are Complementary
    • Many important business processes are actually a mix of routine and unpredictable processes e.g. exception handling, environment changes, innovationACM can be used for “in-situ” process discovery and as process management quick startGartner – Design by doing, not Doing by designACM extends process management to new use casese.g. MeetingsDecision ManagementCase handlingOperational process warehouseand process system of record
  • This was an excerpt from the book:
    The new book on how
    Adaptive Case Management
    will revolutionize the way
    that knowledge workers
    get things done.

    Leave a Comment

  • Get the BPI Web Feed

    Using the HTML code below, you can display this Business Process Incubator page content with the current filter and sorting inside your web site for FREE.

    Copy/Paste this code in your website html code:

    <iframe src="" frameborder="0" scrolling="auto" width="100%" height="700">

    Customizing your BPI Web Feed

    You can click on the Get the BPI Web Feed link on any of our page to create the best possible feed for your site. Here are a few tips to customize your BPI Web Feed.

    Customizing the Content Filter
    On any page, you can add filter criteria using the MORE FILTERS interface:

    Customizing the Content Filter

    Customizing the Content Sorting
    Clicking on the sorting options will also change the way your BPI Web Feed will be ordered on your site:

    Get the BPI Web Feed

    Some integration examples