BPM (Business Process Management) has recently been taking on a new look as a result of recognition that whereas a lot of time and effort is spent discovering, mapping and improving processes, the real benefit of BPM, as the name has always implied, lies in the ongoing management of business processes.
Critics of BPM as being rigid and not accommodating variances from mapped processes miss the mark in that today’s BPMs, more and more, are incorporating run-time facilities for workflow/workload management.
The terms “workflow” and “workload” sound similar so no wonder they are used in various contexts, some of which are not appropriate.
“Workflow” implies structure and could trip up workers who need to skip steps, perform steps out of sequence, add steps not in a workflow template, visit already completed steps and visit forward steps that are not yet current.
“Workload” in the context of BPM, relates to pending steps, specifically in the prioritization of these steps by individual workers and in the leveling and balancing of pending steps across workers.
It’s hard to argue against the merging of ACM (Adaptive Case Management) and BPM where a mix of unstructured work and structured work can be accommodated. The mix can go from 5% unstructured/95% structured to 95%/5% and there is no point putting out “solutions” that fail to accommodate a mix of unstructured and structured work.
It’s important to recognize that “managing” knowledge work really involves managing time gaps between steps or interventions as opposed to managing the steps themselves, contrasted with managing steps performed largely by machines/robots. Knowledge workers are usually quite capable of managing their own work without following “best practice” protocols at a low level.
Regardless of how process steps/ad hoc interventions are managed, there needs to be a means of assessing progress toward goals/objectives (i.e. if you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know if or when you get there).
Personally, I favor the use of Figure of Merit matrices to gain an overall assessment of past progress and current progress with some predictive indicators of future progress.
In order to carry out assessments/predictions relating to the present /future, a repository is necessary for recording activity against a Case.
And, it seems obvious that the core component of any run-time workflow/workload management system should be a “Case” that documents accomplishments in reverse chronological order and provides at-a-glance viewing of current activity at the Case.