Dynamic, Unstructured, Collaborative, Adaptive?
Like everyone else, I have a perception bias, and that leads me to see the world of BPM through the looking glass of Case Management. Maybe it’s because I’m a slightly unstructured sort of person and because I tend to do multiple tasks in parallel. Whatever the case (no pun intended), I see significant value in capturing many business processes through a CM style of BPM. Despite that bias, I can objectively say that there’s been a lot of interest in Case Management lately (see Connie Moore’s post here as one example).
But it hasn’t been limited to Case Management. There’s also been a lot of talk about Dynamic Business Applications and Unstructured Business Processes. And before all that there was Collaborative BPM. Clay Richardson makes some great points about the intersection of Social Media and BPM here. His example of Google Wave tied to a process instance is fantastic.
I believe we’re hitting a point where companies are becoming more interested in improving business processes that aren’t quite as straightforward and well defined. Further, I believe that whatever name you choose to describe those processes, dynamic, unstructured, collaborative, adaptive, etc., companies are looking for solutions that can solve those problems. I for one am excited, because it means that we’re getting to the “hard stuff”.
Think of all those meetings you’ve sat in arguing about how a process should behave. Did you have to compromise in the end, sacrificing everyone’s position to find a common ground? I’d bet in many cases you did. I’d argue that having to compromise like that just creates more problems. It forces people to find workarounds because the solution isn’t really a solution at all. And I’d say that in many cases, that compromise was unnecessary, because the right solution would have let you deal with the “art inside the science”. For some types of business problems, specifically those that involve human judgement, we need to trust in the people that do the work, more often than not they know what they’re doing. Provide them with guidelines and best practices, sure, and provide a mechanism to see how they’re doing (performance metrics, reports, etc). But give them the flexibility to adapt to the real world as it happens.
It’s an dynamic world out there, and life happens. Don’t you think we should accept that the same can be true of the processes our companies follow?