“Mastering the Unpredictable” launch

April 12th, 2010 No comments

This week we launch “Mastering the Unpredictable” at the Process.gov event in Reston, VA. The official site for the book is live at www.masteringtheunpredictable.com, and you should be able to order the book on Amazon shortly. A full description of the book can be found on the site, but here’s a snippet:

The facilitation of knowledge work or what is increasingly known as “Case Management” represents the next imperative in office automation. The desire to fully support knowledge workers within the workplace is not new. What’s new is that recent advances in Information Technology now make the management of unpredictable circumstances a practical reality. There’s now a groundswell of interest in a more flexible, dynamic approach to supporting knowledge work.

The collection of authors represents a broad cross section of industry experts in the fields of Adaptive Case Management and Business Process Management. The foreword for the book was written by Connie Moore, Research Vice President, of Forrester, who states that “I think a sea change is coming in the process world.”

The chapter I wrote is titled “Moving from Anticipation to Adaptation” and discusses the fundamental shift from predefined business process models required by conventional model-centric BPM to a new world of adapting to business in real time. Here’s the official description of the chapter:

Using examples of work from an insurance company, the qualities of emergent processes are examined to find that they are constantly changing. To handle this, tasks should not be rigidly fixed in an immutable process definition, but instead should be planned as the work proceeds. The planned tasks act as a guardrail to keep you from going off the road accidentally but can be changed as necessary during the work itself. This is the essence of “adaptability,” which guides work and allows the plan to be modified at any time, but it does not enforce a particular pattern.

My colleague Dana Khoyi, Vice President of Development at Global 360, also contributed to the book, writing a chapter “Data Orientation” as well as co-authoring a chapter “Templates, not Programs.”

A special thanks to Keith Swenson who singlehandedly shepherded this project through to completion. Without Keith, none of this would have been happened!

Stop by the launch event in Reston on April 14th and say hi!

Categories: Case Management

It feels like I’m driving a Toyota

March 31st, 2010 2 comments

It feels like the Case Management / BPM world has the accelerator stuck in the “go” position. Now before you jump on me for my poor taste in jokes, let me say that I’m a happy owner of two Toyotas, so I say this in jest. Truth be told, life is getting busier and busier, and it’s a struggle to keep up at times.

First, I’m really excited to announce that the launch of “Mastering the Unpredictable”, a book on Adaptive Case Management that I contributed to, will be at the Process.Gov event in Reston, VA on April 14th. I’ll be attending the event so if you’re there, stop by and say hello.

Second, if you haven’t heard, I was interviewed by Theo Priestly of BPM Redux. We cover a range of topics from the convergence of BPM and CRM to the future of BPM and Case Management. You can read the post here. Thanks to Theo for that, he’s a great resource for all things process-related and someone I highly suggest you look in on (@ProcessTheory on Twitter).

Finally, lot’s of discussions going on about the definition and future of case management. Take a look at blogs from Keith Swenson of Fujitsu, Andrew Smith of One Degree, and Max Pucher of ISIS-Papyrus. My reading list just keeps getting longer!

Categories: BPM, Case Management

Convergence and Case Management

March 16th, 2010 6 comments

Consolidation is a fact of life in the software industry. Large companies buy small companies to round out their capabilities, medium companies merge with other medium companies to provide a more financially stable combined entity, and small players, well, they either get acquired or go out of business. So it comes as no surprise to the business process management (BPM) world that companies like Lombardi and Savvion were acquired by IBM and Progress Software respectively, regardless of whether the suitors were expected or not.

The same could be said of the most recent acquisition in the space, that of Chordiant by Pegasystems. Pega is a powerhouse player who has traditionally been very strong in the Customer Service arena. In hindsight, Chordiant is a very natural extension of that experience and presents a very compelling combined platform for customer experience.

Fascinating times in the BPM market for sure. But the title of this post references convergence, not consolidation, and while the two concepts are related, I’m not talking about acquisitions here. I’m more interested in how several previously distinct markets are coming together around a single new (old) concept called Case Management. Theo Priestly of BPM Redux tweeted today about the blurring of the lines between customer relationship management (CRM), BPM, master data model (MDM) and case management (CM). I’d personally add enterprise content management (ECM), knowledge management (KM) and an emerging category called business process guidance (BPG) to that list as well.

The venn diagram-ish graphic is one that Dana Khoyi of Global 360 and I used during our presentation to the WfMC Case Management Summit in November 2009. The premise is that CM encompasses capabilities from many other traditionally separate disciplines. The relative size of the outer boxes indicates the importance of each of those to our definition of case management. For example, ECM plays a more central role to CM than Rules, although both are critically important. The examples outside the case management box represents aspects of the other disciplines that are either not important or simply less critical to case management.

Case Management Ecosystem

Case Management Ecosystem

While attending the Gartner Portal Content and Collaboration conference (#gartnerpcc on Twitter) last week, I witnessed the “life mimics art” of this diagram coming to life. No matter whether you call it collaboration, knowledge management, social networking, or case management, the ultimate topic of many of the sessions last week revolved around the central tenet of enabling knowledge work and workers. The fascinating aspect of this was that the messages were coming not just from the analysts in attendance but from the vendors, most of whom were in enterprise content management, companies like EMC Documentum, Autonomy and Microsoft (Sharepoint). These are the same concepts we’re hearing from the business process management and customer relationship management communities as well. Combine this vendor side with what we’re seeing from analysts like Toby Bell of Gartner (long time supporter of CEVAs and Composite Content Applications) and Craig LeClair of Forrester (recently writing a paper titled “Case Management – An old idea catches fire”, and it feels like we’re going to see a collision of many different software segments (ECM, CRM, BPM, KM) in the space referred to as Adaptive Case Management (or Dynamic Case Management by Forrester).

I think it’s a great time to be part of this industry. It feels like a new generation of solutions will drive huge value for companies that recognize that they need to embrace the chaos that is knowledge work and provide their employees to help sort through it all. What are your thoughts?

It’s been too long

March 12th, 2010 No comments

My apologies, the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 were such busy times that I let my poor blog wither on the vine. I’ve got a few pieces cooking and hope to get those up in the near future. Thanks for your patience

Categories: Miscellaneous

WfMC Case Management Summit

October 24th, 2009 No comments

I’m coming to believe that Case Management is going to be the “next big thing” in the BPM world. The momentum around it continues to build. Analysts are talking more about unstructured, dynamic and adaptive process, more software vendors are investing, and as of late, the standards bodies are getting in the game.

I’ll be attending the WfMC Case Management summit in London the first week in November (mentioned here). It’s sure to be an interesting session with no shortage of opinions given the list of attendees. Dana Khoyi and I are collaborating on the Global 360 presentation on what Case Management should be, which includes not only a definition of the requirements of Case Management, but also concepts on modeling, reference architectures, and naming (since Case Management isn’t the most appropriate of names for what we’re all trying to do). I think we’ll have some great material, but I’m equally excited to hear what everyone else has to say. My sense so far is that while we’ll be talking about similar concepts, we’re all going to be coming at it from different points of view.

Categories: Case Management

Is Case Management the same as BPM?

September 16th, 2009 No comments

Good thought provoking article on the distinction between Case Management and BPM here. I don’t entirely agree with the conclusion (see the comments there to understand why) but it’s good to see more and more CM discussions happening.

Categories: BPM, Case Management

Dynamic, Unstructured, Collaborative, Adaptive?

September 4th, 2009 No comments

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.

So what?

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?

Categories: Case Management

The reality of “Private Clouds”

August 31st, 2009 No comments

Great article here by Andre Yee. I happen to agree, at least as of now, that the concept of a Private Cloud sort of defeats the purpose of Cloud Computing in general.

Categories: Miscellaneous

Connie Moore on Case Management

August 20th, 2009 No comments

Ok, I’m biased, I love Case Management. I think that’s why I’m able to overlook that Connie Moore of Forrester was writing for EMC in this post on Case Management. :)

In all seriousness though, Connie does a great job of providing a clear, one paragraph description of what defines case management, one that I agree with, as does Bruce Silver. I also like the tie back to Lean, I think she’s onto something there.

Connie makes a point that I’ve struggled with throughout my tenure here at Global 360, which is the name “Case Management”. It really doesn’t do the discipline any justice and certainly confuses companies who would otherwise benefit from the application of a case management soluton. Maybe we should start by changing the name?

And LOVE the photo of Clay Richardson of Forrester as well!

Categories: Case Management

Bruce Silver Case Management Whitepaper

August 7th, 2009 No comments

Big news this week (for me at least) is the release of a whitepaper on Case Management by Bruce Silver. You can find his brief blog post about it here and you can download a copy of the whitepaper here.

What’s exciting about the paper is that it really crystallizes the definition of Case Management (as a style of BPM), and talks about several key things to look for in a Case Management solution. It also has a review of Case360 from Global 360 and compares the product against the definition in the paper. I’d be interested in feedback on the content either here or via email.

Categories: Case Management