Who’s on First? What’s on Second?


Abbott and Costello, back in 1945, got it about right.

In any business, you need to take control over WHAT, WHY, WHO, WHERE and WHEN. If you are able to manage these variables there is very little left to fall between the cracks.

When we talk about these variables, the order is important.

If you don’t know WHAT you want/need to do, then you are likely to spend time and money for no useful purpose.  Following policy/procedure/practice blindly can take you down the same pathway, so no harm asking questions (WHY).

WHO gets work done – it can be a person or a machine. This is a late run-time variable.  When you are mapping a process the actor should be a skill category or a class of machine, not an actual person/machine. This allows work to be auto-scheduled such that it gets performed by people who have the requisite skill sets and who are available or by specific machines that are available.

WHERE is interesting. It used to be we would go to visit prospective customers and customers. Today, an increasing amount of business is done at a distance.  The place to be, if you want to be customer-centric, is at points of service (i.e. tasks) where you can reach out to a customer or where a customer can take an active role in the performance/outcome of such tasks.

WHEN is somewhat interesting. We have known how to handle “when” from way back, except that traditional work management control approaches such as Line of Balance, Critical Path and, still to some extent, BPM, presume that work is structured.

Now that we have Adaptive Case Management (ACM), things work differently.

On the one hand we have BPM, orchestrating structured work based on process steps and their logic connections.  Tasks post automatically to User Orders InTrays, workers attend to these tasks, and then, as and when they declare tasks to be complete, software posts the next-in-line task(s) to the attention of others.

But, workers also independently post ad hoc tasks to their own InTrays and then micro-schedule all of their work.  Supervisors exercise oversight by leveling and balancing workload across workers and by re-setting priorities on the basis of changing customer requirements. Adaptability and governance is the domain of ACM.

When BPM and ACM are practiced within a Case environment, decision support is simplified, rule sets are easier to build and maintain, and problems of interoperability are reduced.

ACM + BPM + Case is where you need to be.

About kwkeirstead@civerex.com

Management consultant and process control engineer (MSc EE) with a focus on bridging the gap between operations and strategy in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, connect-the-dots law enforcement investigations, healthcare services delivery, job shop manufacturing and b2b/b2c/b2d transactions. (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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