Can your BPMs improve operational effectiveness and efficiency?

Apparently not, based on Wikipedia’s definition – “a BPMS is a technological suite of tools designed to help the BPM professionals accomplish their goals

businessman hand point on virtual business network in board room

The conclusion is easily explained. . .

Operational efficiency, for sure, can be achieved by automating business processes but to achieve effectiveness it is Case goals, not the goals of BPM professionals, that need to receive the focus.

If the Wikipedia definition is right, corporations need a run-time Case Management System that is capable of hosting background BPM compiled process maps as templates in addition to a BPMs.

And, the Case “goals” reasonably come from ROIs requesting funds to undertake the initiative(s) that is/are the focus of each Case.

Clearly, not all Cases need ROIs – options are 1) annual functional department budgets for small initiatives typically confined within one functional department and 2) collaborative low-cost initiatives that span two or more functional departments.

Need more proof?

Consider a knowledge worker in a large corporation – unless this person is totally focused on some large initiative i.e. one Case, chances are they will be working on multiple Cases – this takes Case Management of each process template instance out of the hands of BPM.

The worker will typically see multiple tasks relating to multiple Cases posting to his/her InTray and the worker will want to micro-schedule his/her work across some or all assigned Cases.

On top of this, the worker’s supervisor will, from time to time, receive re-prioritization requests and may impose deadlines on the worker for certain tasks/Cases. The supervisor may also offload tasks/Cases from the worker.

The micro-scheduling/re-prioritization activity is called RALB (resource allocation, leveling, and balancing) and is not part of what most folks consider to be part of BPM.

Next, we have the need for automated data exchange between Case Management Systems and local and remote 3rd party systems and applications.  Without this, your Case becomes an island. As we connect more and more to the IoT, we need ways and means of exporting/importing data and, for both efficiency and effectiveness, much of this data flow needs to be automated

Example: You have a workflow that is expecting receipt of a supplier notice of shipment.  The notice can come in the form of an edi message but you certainly don’t want this to come to you as an e-mail attachment. The happy scenario is your supplier uploads the message to a generic data exchanger and your Case Management environment polls the data exchanger at set time intervals, looking for the shipment confirmation. Pathway rules then allow the processing to move forward.

Lastly, if your Case is the least bit complex, it will have several goals and you will not want to rely on subjective assessments by Case Managers re whether a set of goals has/has not been reached.  Left on their own, it is important to remember that “Case Managers close Cases”.   Their power at Cases is pretty much absolute.  Figure Of Merit Matrices (FOMM) make the decision-making less arbitrary.

Bottom line, here is the scorecard . . . .


Performance Requirement BPMs Case
Efficiency Y Y
Effectiveness N Y
Business Goal Focus N Y
Data Exchange N Y



BPMs                                necessary, not sufficient

Case/BPM                        necessary, not sufficient (1)

 RBV/Case/BPM            necessary, sufficient(2)


The reason Case/BPM gets a “not sufficient” tag is that Case/BPM are operational tools – we don’t get 360-degree coverage unless/until the organization subscribes to RBV (Resource-Based view), or equivalent, for strategy development.

Absent RBV, the organization lacks an orderly means of allocating scarce resources to Cases so any goals defined at Cases are not likely to be met.



Theories of the Firm – Expanding RBV using 3D free-form search Kbases




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) 2010-2020 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. Number of accessing countries 2010-2020/2/15 : 154
This entry was posted in Adaptive Case Management, Business Process Management, Case Management, Data Interoperability, Decision Making, FOMM, R.A.L.B.. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Can your BPMs improve operational effectiveness and efficiency?

  1. An end-to-end workflow CAN put a focus on Business Goals – except that most of the workflow/workload activity supervised by Case Managers is a mix of structured and unstructured work.

    Some say BPM cannot handle unstructured work.

    In a wide sense, perhaps not, but there is little difference between a linked set of process steps and the same steps performed as an unlinked (except to the performer) number of individual ad hoc steps.

    I say BPM can “handle” unstructured work the same way BPM handles process fragments with the proviso that it really is the run-time Case Management environment where users, software and machines thread together end-to-end processes, process fragments and individual ad hoc “processes of one step each”.

    You don’t need multiple sets of management protocols/multiple environments for dealing with end-to-end processes, process fragments and ad hoc steps.


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