Processes do not have objectives

Aside from the obvious (i.e. engaging a process and getting to the end of it), processes do not have objectives.

It’s easy to rationalize this in any environment that hosts a mix of unstructured work and structured work.

What becomes obvious, (once you break away from the notion that an end-to-end process is rarely made up of a flowgraph that has one entry point and one exit point), is that it is best to work with process fragments that either users or a software system “daisy-chain”  at run-time to meet an objective.  And, don’t forget to include ad hoc interventions in discussions because these really are ‘processes of one step each”.

If you cling to the notion of end-to-end processes, it becomes difficult to support the concept of “process owners” because your processes will often span multiple functional units.   With end-to-end processes, the members of your Board become the process owners. Processes now disrupt their golf games and they can easily find out where you live.

The other thing is any popular sequence that is the same across several end-to-end processes will need to be embedded in multiple processes.  As and when you need to do maintenance on these sequences, you not only have to do maintenance on each sequence, you then have to roll out all processes that use that sequence. Go for process fragments.

At the end of the day it’s Cases that have objectives, not processes.

So, how do we ensure that data collected along process instances gets to the Case Objective so that an assessment of progress toward reaching the Case Objective can be made?

The solution varies from one software system to the next.

Clearly, a BPMs that does not recognize “Case” is going to have problems finding a place to configure objectives.  It’s axiomatic that once you open a Case, the overall objective is to manage the Case and then, when you are done, close it.  So, the no brainer solution is the one where your BPMs has a Case foundation.

ACM (Adaptive Case Management) environments do not have this problem.  It’s hard to understand how you could carry out Case Management without a Case.

ACM/BPM is the same. The integration of ACM means we will have a Case in any ACM/BPM environment.

Now we get to the details.

The real life scenario is you rarely have ONE Case Objective if you venture from the edge of the forest to the trees. Usually we find multiple Objectives at Cases and, of course, it’s naïve to assume that all of these Objectives are equally important.  So, how do I consolidate data picked up at process steps and report progress toward multiple objectives?

This is where Figure of Merit matrices come in, or visual dashboards if an organization’s understanding of its Case activity does not lend itself to quantification.

See my “Adaptive Case Management Earned Value Matrix Model” at

OK, this is not exactly “bedside” reading material, but it does bridge the gap between run time data collection in ACM/BPM environments and Case Objectives. Take the time to check it out and ask questions.

If you’re not using Figure or Merit Matrices to manage your Cases, then you probably aren’t managing your Cases.

I look forward to your brickbats and tomatoes.

P.S. Figure of Merit Matrices are not my fault. They were invented by the Rand Corporation.


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, major crimes case management, healthcare services delivery, and b2b/b2c/b2d transactions. (C) 2010-2019 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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