The list of business process management methodologies has expanded over time but many of us have not paid much attention because we have been practicing most of these for some time, in some cases, before their acronyms were invented.
First we had CPM, then BPM, then ACM. Then along came ECM.
“Intelligent Processes” seem to be scratching at the door. I suspect there is no ‘M’ needed here, the idea probably is they will be able to manage themselves. We shall see.
CPM (Critical Path Method) goes way back. My take on BPM is that it grew out of CPM. There was a short term circling of the wagons when ACM came on the horizon. Some ACM aficionados felt BPM was too restrictive, some BPM aficionados felt ACM lacked structure (they were right, but wrong).
We’re at the stage today where we recognize that Case is what most of us do, every day, all day long, so it seems obvious that a methodology called Adaptive Case Management would be about right for managing cases.
There’s not much that is restrictive about BPM if you are able to follow the flow or not follow the flow and end up with the same result.
Since BPM flow graphs capture what people do, Dr. Spock would point out it’s not logical to say that in the absence of BPM, people did not know what to do, how, why, where or when. What was missing was the ability to make consistent use of templates.
Given a set of templates, anyone who studied statistics can imagine the number of permutations and combinations from a flow graph that accommodates branching to sub-pathways. You cannot expect to anticipate all eventualities, so the “models” are not “best” all of the time.
If the run time environment you choose accommodates skipping over steps, performing steps out of sequence, re-visiting already committed steps and recording (because we don’t like to wait) data at steps that are not yet current and, finally, inserting ad hoc steps that are not in templates, it’s difficult to say that BPM is restrictive.
ACM is a lot less troublesome in terms of picking a run time environment in which to practice this methodology. The core concept in ACM is that much of the work that ACM is used to manage is knowledge work and the reason we hire knowledge workers is that they know what to do, how, why. They do need some help with where and when so we need to augment our run time environment with RALB (resource allocation, leveling and balancing), given that resources are typically in short supply.
You can get a lot of resistance introducing RALB if you fail to point out that, with minor exceptions, tasks that automatically post to the InTray of a user can be micro-scheduled by that user. So there is no difference between tasks that users themselves posts to their InTrays and auto-posted tasks. Micro-scheduling tasks like “Breakfast meds” is a no-no.
A good RALB posts tasks to skill categories, not individuals. The way it works is like an office phone system where several phones light up and the first person who is available and willing to take the call “takes” it. The task now belongs to that person and they either complete it or put it back into the resource pool if, for instance, they are going off shift and have not yet completed the task.
Once you are practicing ACM with background BPM providing orchestration (governance comes from global rule sets that are part of the environment), you have the wherewithal to increase staff efficiency, increase throughput, decrease errors and improve compliance, all of which, of course, contribute to improved outcomes.
What’s in your corporate tool bag?