If a ghost, a werewolf and a vampire can appreciate how difficult it is Being Human, so can a BPM practitioner” -- Anonymous  

How important is the human factor in driving meaningful process improvements for your business?

I believe it is THE most important, and arguably the most difficult, aspect of any effort to improve performance.

I recently participated in an educational virtual summit aptly titled ACMLive that considers what it takes to properly support human knowledge work. I share some of the ideas discussed at that summit in this installment of my ACM article series, and take a look at ways that Adaptive Case Management is helping Business Process Management (BPM) practitioners succeed with the complex task of involving people in process improvement.

Dealing with the Complexities of Knowledge Work

Let’s face it, Being Human** can be very complex, and knowledge work can be a difficult place for a BPM practitioner to try to apply automation for process improvement. I have had any number of discussions about automating manual processes to remove people from the workflow.

Great idea, I always say, and a perfect fit when the work is structured, well-defined and highly repetitive. A BPM practitioner’s responsibility though is to provide the environment, technology and information to enable the full continuum of work. Adaptive Case Management can help us deal with complex knowledge work -- work that is unstructured, driven by external events, responsive to exception handling and dependent on human judgment to meet business objectives.

One of my colleagues and an expert BPM practitioner Dan Crow delivered a case management demonstration at ACMLive with the theme of “Building a 360 Degree View for Signature Customer Experiences” and spoke to the issues of knowledge worker performance. As is true in our everyday lives, the ability to deal with complexity can make all the difference in our performance.

Dan explains how providing autonomy for the knowledge worker to accomplish their goals using their best judgment is a central tenant of adaptive case management, and his demo shows how ACM can be used to create an effective environment to deal with the complexities of opening and managing a customer account for Financial Services institutions.

As Dan emphasizes, the result is that ACM can allow customer representatives to perform their work in a timely and accurate manner with contextual information, enabling them to make better decisions on behalf of their company and their customers.

Transforming How Knowledge Work Gets Done

Tom Koulopoulos (@TKspeaks), our ACMLive host and the Chairman and Founder of Delphi, maintains that ACM represents a radical new approach for managing digital work -- as revolutionary today for the way we work as the Internet was to the way we share and connect.

We know that case management concepts and tools have been around for quite some time and certainly the notion of an electronic case folder as a means for organizing documents and related work is not new.

What is new and quite interesting to me is the way the latest generation of adaptive case management solutions can transform how work gets done by incorporating current technologies and capabilities for goal-directed knowledge workers. As ACMLive describes it, “where cloud, big data, mobile and social computing intersect with dynamic process and knowledge management.”

ACM can be a transformative model for enterprise architecture as well. Our ACMLive keynoter Nathaniel Palmer (@nathanielpalmer), noted author and practitioner for process improvement, BPM and adaptive case management, sees ACM at the heart of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) transformation.

As the Chief Architect for some of industry's largest BPM and SOA projects, Nathaniel shared his first hand experiences and vision for the "Futurprise Architecture" -- the evolution of enterprise architecture into an event-driven, goal-seeking and capability-focused delivery model for modern ICT.

Unleashing the Power of Knowledge Worker Collaboration

At the end of the day, technology plays a powerful role in process improvement. We just need to keep in mind that the scenario is not always automating humans out of the process but rather may often be making humans more effective in the process.

My colleague Steve Russell talks about this at ACMLive, making the point that driving effective human interaction -- by enabling “smarter workers” to collaborate -- has an enormous ability to positively affect business outcomes, including “Using Case Management to Deliver Signature Customer Experiences.”

ACM and “social” collaboration capabilities combined can help transform customer facing knowledge worker intensive processes like insurance claims adjusting, customer on-boarding, credit claims disputes and more. Steve has also written on this subject and the intersection of social technologies and knowledge worker collaboration.

Summarizing his chapter in the book "Social BPM: Work, Planning and Collaboration under the Impact of Social Technology," Steve says,

Social technologies exist to accelerate social conventions that people already participate in. When evaluating how participants work within a process, how they collaborate and access information should be a part of that analysis. ”

Providing knowledge workers with a network of easily accessible experts and consultants creates a framework for sharing and learning from their peers. By integrating collaborative capabilities into case management applications, these collaborations can be contextual for better decision making, transaction specific information can be shared, and the collaboration itself can be captured for future audits.

And speaking of learning from a network of experts, ACMLive was a great opportunity for me to hear about how case management can help with the complexities of “being human” for today’s business process improvements, and also spend some time considering where it might lead in the future. I’ll share more on this subject in my next article installment, so stay tuned.

** Being Human is the name of a popular SyFy series, a re-imagining of the acclaimed BBC original series, that shows three 20-something roommates -- a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf -- struggling with their “personas” while also helping each other navigate the complexities of the world.

Editor's Note: To read more of Deb Miller's writings: