The final frontier? – ACM, BPM, CPM, DMS, ECM


First we had CPM, then, somewhat in this order, DMS, BPM, ECM, and more recently, ACM.

What are these methodologies, what are their benefits, which ones do you need to manage your business, is there any overlap across the methodologies and how do you implement and integrate the methodologies?

  • CPM (Critical Path Method) dates back to the 1950’s and is the methodology of choice for Project Management. It is used to plan, monitor and control the timing of events and costs associated with projects.
  • DMS (Document Management Systems) have been around for approximately the same time and owned the imaging/storage/retrieval domain until ECM came along.
  • BPM (Business Process Management) is the preferred methodology for planning, monitoring and control of structured activity.
  • ECM (Enterprise Content Management) is an upgrade for DMS, at least for large scale document management initiatives.
  • ACM (Adaptive Case Management) is the new kid on the block and is the methodology of choice for management of unstructured work.

It’s obvious that any organization that has a mix of unstructured and structured work needs ACM/BPM and since both methodologies draw on scarce resource pools it seems that a common run time environment is the way to go.

Since ACM implementations have a strong focus on unstructured work, it’s obvious there is a need to accommodate random arrival of documents that support this work, unlike form templates that can be anticipated and progressed along BPM process instances.

So, in respect of integration, we might as well try to have ACM/BPM/ECM working together seamlessly.

Practical Considerations for Patient Care

In respect of methodologies of choice for healthcare, the core focus must be the “case” given that decisions relating to patients require consultation of prior interventions for decision-making regarding current and future interventions. A case is nothing but a meta record or “bucket” that accommodates pretty much any object and allows viewing of recordings in reverse chronological order.

The term “case” pre-dates Adaptive Case Management in healthcare. The old term for “case” was “the chart”.

Curiously, after 50 years of trying to go paperless, we still see row upon row of filing cabinets with colored file folders at clinics/hospitals and some of the more” advanced” healthcare facilities seem preoccupied with scanning of legacy documents as they struggle to escape from paper.

The nice feature of the chart (assuming you could find it when you needed it) was that you could open up the file and see the chronology of services rendered for a patient. The problem was worrying about whether anything important had been removed which could influence decision-making.

Electronic charts make the chart available everywhere and, usually, what is in the chart can be viewed but not changed. However, the presentation of the material in some implementations is a step backwards from the chart where you could see data, as it was, at the time it was collected, on the form versions that were in use at the time the data was collected.

Wait a minute !

This sounds exactly like a requirement for ECM, so why not expand e-charts to include not only forms that can be filled in, plus scanned material, plus, while we are at it, spreadsheets, MS Word documents, and audio/video recordings?

There are many ECM software systems/services on the market.  Having to navigate a separate database clearly gives rise to increased complexity and increased security risks compared to having documents IN a patient EMR so it looks like the combination of methodologies for run time workflow management in a mixed structured/unstructured work environment is precisely ACM+BPM+ECM.

Practical Considerations for Discrete Manufacturing

For work that is mostly structured, it would seem advisable to look for software that integrates BPM+CPM+ECM, particularly for discrete manufacturing applications where JIT inventory management is being practiced.

Now, what are the chances that the next new methodology will have an acronym that starts with an “F”?

About kwkeirstead@civerex.com

Management consultant and process control engineer (MSc EE) with a focus on bridging the gap between operations and strategy in critical infrastructure protection, healthcare, connect-the-dots law enforcement investigations, job shop manufacturing and b2b organizations. (C) 2010-2017 Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and are not connected with Jay-Kell Technologies Inc, Civerex Systems Inc. (Canada), Civerex Systems Inc. (USA) or CvX Productions.
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