On July 15th there was an interesting Tweet Jam (on Twitter) related to managing unstructured processes with Adaptive Case Management (ACM). There was lot of discussion on the similarities and differences between ACM and business process management, and tweets related to why its important, best practices and more.

What follows is summary of that TweetJam (thanks to Jay Roberts at Global360).

What is Adaptive Case Management?

Adaptive Case Management (ACM) is a way provide enough structure to knowledge work to make it manageable, but not so much as to strangle it...It is the way to manage the intelligent anarchy that is knowledge work.

Business process management (BPM) and enterprise content management (ECM) suites alone are insufficient for dynamic case management, but the convergence of BPM, ECM, business analytics and event processing will breathe new life into case management and will provide new opportunities for businesses to benefit from the technology.

If you approach solving ACM from a BPM angle, you will fail. Start in the middle with the person working the case, then move outward. You can model the opening of a case and the completion of a case, but the working of a case needs fluidity. This fluidity must be captured and categorized to be leveraged as a resource for future cases. It’s a “people first” approach to processes.

Why all the buzz about ACM Now?

According to Forrester’s Connie Moore, “We think the nature of work is changing. Repetitive work is automated or off-shored. What’s left is really hard. (Keith) Knowledge work is not routine. Precise work depends upon the situation. Emergent, highly effected by how it unfolds.

It’s true that “case management” has been around for some time, but the buzz is growing these days because of the increasing importance of “knowledge work” on the “demand side’ and the availability/evolution of more effective adaptive case management solutions on the “supply side.”

There is an acknowledgment that knowledge work -- which can be defined as using your creative brain to achieve a goal -- and in fact many of the core business problems companies face, is generally non-repeatable and unpredictable.

ACM needs to enable the end user to adapt, to deal with work as it happens, and to generally exercise judgment and apply expertise. There is a groundswell of interest in the topic, not because of the vast benefits of the widget of the day, but because there exists a set of problems that either aren’t predictable enough to use existing solutions for, or are too complex and therefore impractical to try and “model” with any success.

ACM is credible and extends the capabilities of the BPM approach, but a clear methodology needs to be defined to make it work.

‘Intriguing Tweets’ (some captured in content above):

  • piewords: Knowledge work needs triggers, works best with others. Collaboration increases it. #bpm can keep it on track, but not solve it.
  • neilwd: Careful to avoid retrofitting “knowledge work” defn to fit to the #acm pattern. There’s a spectrum of work; blurred boundaries.
  • frijswijk: One important observation i made last 2 weeks. The Business User doesn´t care about models, it finds it way too complex.
  • piewords: If you approach solving ACM from a BPM angle, you will fail. Start in the middle with person working the Case, then move outward.
  • piewords: You can model the opening of a case & the completion of a case, but the working of a case needs fluidity.
  • cmooreforrester: knowledge work to me is when the worker has latitude to make lots of difference choices/decisions; process isn’t prescribed
  • tomshepherd: @frijswijk Goal driven, obviously important part of work. ACM not about creating “knowledge management free for all”
  • piewords: The fluidity in the working of a case must be captured & categorized to be leveraged as a resource for future cases.
  • JoshuaWaldman: @piewords so it’s a people first approach to processes. I dig it.

A lot of the conversation is related to a book called Mastering the Unpredictable: How Adaptive Case Management Will Revolutionize the Way That Knowledge Workers Get Things Done.