The Forrester Research Wave on DCM 2014

Forrester Reseach DCM Wave 1Q 2014

Forrester Reseach DCM Wave 1Q 2014

ISIS Papyrus Process and Communication Platform has been recently evaluated both for its content and its process capability in two independent reports by Forrester Research about Customer Communications Management (DOCCM) and Dynamic Case Management (DCM). These acronyms are unfortunately quite confusing. I do prefer CCM and ACM after all.

ISIS Papyrus was rated a leader and strong performer in various categories in both reports. Our platform was rated as having the strongest current offering by far in Dynamic Case Management (see the above graph), despite participating in the wave for the very first time. Three years ago we were classified as not being a ‘vendor of interest’ in the prospects eyes. Well, to see something you first need to look.

In its second time in the Customer Communications – DOCCM evaluation, ISIS Papyrus Software has been named

“a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Document Output For Customer Communications Management, Q1 2014”. Calling Papyrus “an adaptive platform with exacting results,” the 2014 Wave report for DOCCM cited ISIS Papyrus for its:

    • Full application lifecycle platform and framework
    • Great flexibility
    • “Framework” solutions to reduce implementation
    • Sweet spot where language complexity and exact rendering of content is essential
    • Consolidated data model across CRM, ECM, DCM and CCM in a core repository”

So all in all I should really be happy and yes, I am proud about the — even so quite late — recognition. We have after all been innovating the CCM market for twenty years and in DCM for five. Therefore working with analysts isn’t always easy for me. The main reason is that each individual has his/her own way to evaluate and judge whatever they see … if they see it. Until you figured out what an analyst is looking for, you have been ‚evaluated’ and need to live with whatever they come up with. Analyst like categories, as they call boxes. You are either in or out. Once you are in the box you are supposed to stay there. You can move about a bit as they see you fit, but you CANNOT jump out. We were told that we are a customer communications vendor and that was it. How could we suddenly want to compete in the BPM domain without acquiring another leading BPM vendor? No Sir, it is simply not done.

Don’t get me wrong because I am not negative about analysts per se, just realistic. After having worked with them for some time, I truly think that being an analyst is not a fun job and I would not want it even for a lot of money. Imagine that they have to deal with people like me all the time! They have to listen to vendor pitches all day and discuss the oh-so-obvious IT strategy questions with people who should really know. It must be tough to find a way to cut through the clutter and do it without upsetting the vendors who pay them a lot of money. Clearly, analysts are adamant that the amount of money a vendor spends has no influence on vendor ratings, but that is simply not true. I am not saying that the fees paid are payoffs, but it is related to the various ways that a vendor can be present or important in the eyes of the analysts. Dedicated analyst relationship staff, analysts conferences, joint market studies and pay-to-play research do make a difference. It all costs top dollars to put you in front of their eyes and make a vendor look relevant. Size and market penetration are additionally always the most important aspects in rating a vendor. 

On the other hand I can vouch that money had no influence on our rating at Forrester. We cancelled our advisory contract with Forrester Research two years ago. Being far ahead of the curve, we did not see the benefits. We did have conversations with them about users looking for more ‚pre-baked‘ user interfaces, but Forrester had no suggestion how to balance that with flexibility. We did in the end solve it through pre-defined solution frameworks. Ready-to-use vertical solutions are a great sales tool too, but in the end each and every buyer has a long list of things they consider special and will want to have implemented. So our flexibility as rated top by Forrester is after all essential.

Now both reports on Customer Communications Management and Dynamic Case Management are very good reports and not just because we came out top. The main reason is that the lead analysts are both excellent. Craig LeClair, with whom I had my disagreements at times, is THE leading authority on CCM and Derek Miers, with whom I always get into deep, deep stuff in terms of technology, really gets what ACM/DCM is all about. Not just a few ad-hoc tasks here and there, but true user empowerment from the rock-bottom grass roots. Both really know the markets they cover.

Being rated a ‚LEADER’ in a ‚Wave’ only means that the points as weighted by Forrester added up to that overall. Buyers MUST make the effort read the small print too. But I am in tune with our ratings as we are not a mega vendor or a US vendor. Analysts have certain expectations of a typical go-to-market strategy and we just work differently. So, that alone takes the two points off our rating that would have made us the overall leader in DCM too. I am fine with that. And prospective buyers need to do their homework anyway. One vendor who was rated a leader in the DCM Wave and to have a better market position and strategy than ISIS Papyrus in the DCM market was in bankruptcy by the time the report came out and had to be rescued by a customer and management buyout with the help of an investment firm. Not a fault on Forrester’s part as they do not look at a vendors financial statements. Caveat Emptor!

Here some more information from the reports. We are limited in what we are allowed to say so I simply use a direct QUOTE: “ISIS Papyrus drives adaptive innovation in the DCM market. It is a Strong Performer overall but a standout Leader in the runtime tool weighting.

ISIS Papyrus Software has been named a Strong Performer in “The Forrester Wave™: Dynamic Case Management, Q1 2014”, published March 28 to help enterprise architects select the right solution to support launching and scaling enterprise-wide DCM.
Overall, Forrester found that advancing DCM products offer more to businesses, implementers and end users. Highlighting two new emerging adaptive features that will help enterprises tackle increasing volumes of varied and unstructured work, Forrester Research, Inc. evaluated 13 software vendors across 38 criteria. Forrester identifies and defines the two adaptive capabilities as key differentiators in the DCM market as:

    • Design Time case management emphasizes control over highly repeatable processes
    • Runtime case management supports use cases where the ultimate paths are highly variable”

In the evaluation of DCM vendors, ISIS Papyrus received a Strong Performer positioning in each of three Wave evaluations for Overall Capabilities, Design Time Capabilities and Runtime Capabilities, based on its scores in Current Offering and Strategy. Profiling Papyrus as

“a powerful development platform that can be targeted at a number of process problems,” the 2014 Wave report for DCM cited ISIS Papyrus for:

    • Flexibility of its platform for runtime behavior
    • Emphasis on business terminology and goal orientation
    • Patent for a user-trained agent (UTA)
    • Provides recommendations and training based on the latest knowledge gained in case handling

So how valuable are analyst reports such as the Forrester Wave? I think they are a valuable additional resource when selecting vendors. Forrester also has a great tool on their website that allows you to set your own weightings for all product categories and therefore identify your own ‘leaders’. But NOTHING can replace the results one gets from a proof of concept installation. Would you buy a car without a test drive just because it had a good rating in a car magazine? Describe your business case as well as you can and ask the vendor to show you all essential functionality. While we can install our vertical solution frameworks in one day, ‘out-of-the-box’ products just reduce the IT effort on installation. What you really need is SIMPLICITY for the business users. To achieve the business benefits content, user interface and processes must be adaptable using business terminology, user stories and goals rather than flows.

The Forrester Wave report will be available to registered users from our website.

Posted in ACM, ECM, ISIS Papyrus, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Flowcharts and Goal-Orientation

Goals can represent a desirable future state or situation, a trend value or a set of rules or constraints. Therefore one needs a powerful data mapping capability and rules embedded in the process engine and not external. For business, goals can represent strategic objectives (often quite intangible), customer outcomes (pure perception), operational targets (must be measurable) or process goals (ideally tangible). While process goals should in principle be tangible, that does not mean that the actions needed to arrive at that goal are equally tangible or predictable. That is the whole point. A process flowchart assumes all-out predictability, while goal-orientation is about guidance under uncertainty. As certainty is not achievable because any event can happen at any time in any process context, goal-orientation is the only real world approach to process management. The ‘outcome’ (can be output, handover or result) of a process is achieving goals that are causally connected to business strategy and capability. A causally linked set of goals represents the Strategy Map of a Balanced Scorecard.

Flowcharts Can’t Model Goal-orientation.

Goal-oriented process behavior can be seen as an internal guide to a process that helps to clarify why we do the process and verify if we achieve it. There is no external, additional monitoring necessary. The BPEL ‘standard’, for example, is not only unable to fully map BPMN, it is further utterly unable to handle goal-oriented models. In a typical BPMS flowchart there is no need for goals, because the path to the endpoint is strictly conditional, even if the user can ‘dynamically’ switch the execution path (manually set gateways) like the tracks on a railroad yard.

Executable process goals linked to operational targets and strategic objectives are different. The top-level goal of an end-to-end process (i.e. customer outcome) has dependent and optional process-goals with linked optional activities. Some process goals may have dependencies with operational targets or required service levels. Service levels are not monitored overall but related to goal-achievement. The activities necessary to reach them can change at any point in time due to unpredictable events. There is no overall pre-defined flow and possible happy-path from end-to-end. Goal-orientation requries the ability to add new goals, activities, resources, rules, constraints and performers when required. There is no sense in having goals and then restrict the performers in achieving them. Adaptive technology allows to reuse this new ‘knowledge’ for future executions without needing a BPM bureaucracy for redesigning flowcharts.

Because in reality most processes have to deal with unpredictable complex business events, neither predictive analytics nor business rules will be able to realistically deal with them. Statistical analytics lack the ability to identify the hidden, time-correlated, data-pattern context of an event. That’s why I chose pattern matching agents who work in real-time during process execution and learn from human actions.

Complex Business Events Require Goal-Orientation

While agent technology can perform constraints-based optimization, that does not mean that it can deal with unexpected events – rather the opposite. That has been one of the real challenges in artificial intelligence. Plan optimization requires at least a library of plan fragments and goes awry when things aren’t as expected in the plans. Self-healing processes for BPEL were a research subject, but never reached real-world usability lacking goal-orientation. Self-healing strategies with rules could handle known execptions but are quite useless for unpredictable processes. Encoding rules that trigger on incoming data is very complex because one has to know beforehand what the trigger conditions and context might be. It is not longer a complex event! The ability to define at problem time (not a-priori design time) necessary constraints and rules for a new situation that the unexpected event caused, must not be a special case but NORMAL. This can only work by enabling humans to add actionable knowledge to the process definitions (training by doing) without needing IT guys to encode it. I am not proposing that all performers will define rules and activities. To empower the business and give performers explicit goals for a coherent business exercise, processes must be defined in business terms and not IT terms.

Because the million dollar question for goal-orientation is: ‘What are the right goals for an outcome and the right actions to achieve them considering the current situation?’ And: ‘How can goals be sensibly expressed, understood by business people and defined to follow company strategy?’ The Outside-In methodology considers customer outcomes and is thus one-dimensionally goal-oriented but doesn’t encode them, thus loosing the promised agility. To leverage social concepts for efficient and effective processes, goals must be expressed in an understandable AND executable way, using rules in natural language. That again needs a business language ontology that is used to express the customer outcomes, strategic objectives, operational targets, the resulting process goals and finally business rules and constraints – hence a Business Architecture.

Goal-oriented Requirements Language

Researchers at the University of Toronto defined the so-called GRL Goal-oriented Requirements Language that can be used to specify goals, soft-goals, beliefs, tasks, resources, actors and agents as elements for goal achievement with special relationships such as means-ends, decomposition, contribution, correlation and dependency. The ISIS Papyrus Platform uses a simplified version of GRL concepts as input to process goal RULES for BPMN. The goal rules represent the organizing and controlling element of the case.

The real world practically of goal-orientation as a human concept brings process management that much closer to the business than BPMN ever could. It is normal human behavior that different people choose from multiple optional plans that all have the opportunity to fulfill a particular goal. When we are in problem mode we might reconsider our approach by means of optimizing for minimal constraints, sometimes intuitively. Typically we follow our patterns of experience until something goes wrong or changes, meaning an unexpected event happened and then we adapt the plan as needed. It can be that something is out of sequence, in the wrong state, does not fulfill some parameters or an external dependency is not being satisfied. Think of your normal working day! And then it can be any combination of the above or something totally different. Once I can simply identify a new event and how I want handle it, it is no longer a problem to my process execution.

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Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure

(This is a short version of the full post: The Value of Failure)

After centuries of Tayloristic command and control management approaches, adaptive concepts are finally being considered in the business world. Tim Harford wrote in ‘Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure’ that we can’t rely on expert advice, command economies, and top-down organizational structures when human endeavors exceed a certain complexity. It is an illusion to expect to be able to anticipate and plan for all consequences of decisions taken. Complexity doesn’t allow predictability and therefore hinders planned improvements. Innovation is only found in environments that support variation through experimentation on a small scale in randomized trials. Selection of successes is achieved through competition and diverse feedback.

Enter Adaptive Case Management

My own life experiences are the reason that I turned a scientific perspective into the business and software concept that is today at the core of our software solutions. Today I can use the example of the Apple Appstore social network as a vivid and verifiable proof of the success-through-failure approach. It provides an ecosystem of autonomous innovators who thrive through the power of evolution. The best apps will succeed, while many won’t. Steve Jobs himself failed multiple times until he succeeded. Thomas Edison invented 6000 failures to finally discover a usable light bulb. Both are well documented history. While a guiding vision is certainly essential, one has to be willing to admit failure, learn from it and try again, and again, and again …

Quite obviously, wanting innovation is not just inventing new successful things, but much rather a focus on customer value. Innovation does and must happen continuously on all levels, in the small and in the large, while not all innovations will succeed. Tom Watson Jr. supposedly said, “If you want to succeed faster, double your failure rate.” As an executive you have to allow and even promote the opportunity to fail, which is diametrically opposed to perfect business processes as demanded by BPM or SixSigma.

James March pointed to the importance of exploration and exploitation of knowledge in organizations in 1991. But how do you fail fast and ensure that the newly gained knowledge isn’t lost? Nobody likes to share his failures, right? That is why the concept of Adaptive Case Management offers a radical departure from the perfectly-optimized-process illusions. ACM enables large organizations to fail and innovate faster by ensuring that gained knowledge becomes transparent and reusable without needing a bureaucracy. The ability to ADAPT (change future process execution through learning by doing) is very different to Ad-Hoc or Dynamic processes.

A process optimization bureaucracy of any kind (i.e. BPM, Six Sigma or Lean) might ensure cost cutting but it will not support, promote or provide true knowledge-from-failure innovation. Perfect and cheap processes designed by an outside consultant are stale and dead. Yes, code-freeze kills the germs of infectious innovation! Giving the process owner authority to pursue assigned goals any way he wants as long as he achieves outcomes, operational targets and handovers is the kind of social empowerment needed for success.

Autonomy is further a key element in employee (and thus customer) satisfation. Allow for a variety of processes and tasks to fail or succeed until the best ones sustain. For effectiveness you need to allow processes to be improved by the people who perform them. That is additionally the most natural and efficient approach to optimization. Governance should at most define the high-level Business Architecture and ontology to reduce ambiguity but not nail down low-level processes. As I posted recently: “Let’s face it, orthodox process flowcharting won’t survive the social and mobile revolution.” I am going to stick with that prediction.

Outside manufacturing, we deal with a business complexity and speed of change that makes it near impossible to tell others exactly what to do. It is ridiculous that predictive analytics promote statistical correlation as causal decision points for processes. Knowledge workers improve outcomes through emotional inspiration and not Boolean if/then/else logic. We need to trust their skill. They listen to customers, translate goals into needed activities, and then execute based on their intuition and experience.

Yes, many people in large organizations don’t care about outcomes because they are jaded by bureaucracy. And now we punish and mistrust them for our failure as executives to empower them? How will a rigid flowchart allow for innovation and make them less jaded? Yes, your people need understandable and documented objectives, targets and goals, but then authority, autonomy and means will be the only thing that takes them from careless to caring. ACM is therefore not about cost cutting but about empowering people to deliver value to their customers and make doing so transparent to management.

Soichiro Honda said: “Success represents the ONE percent of your work that results from the 99 percent that is called failure.”

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Dynamic Exception Handling or Adaptive Goals?

The last few months have been a hotbed of discussions on Social Media about the market fragmentation of the BPM world. We now have in the BPM domain the definitions of Dynamic BPM, which has been pushed by Gartner Group and Dynamic Case Management promoted by Forrester Research. In the midst of this all is ACM in the  zone of the WfMC and unfortunately there has been no agreement reached to create a clear definition of it, to avoid the general fate BPM. I tried to create some noise by proposing that ACM is dying and it was mostly ignored. That is fine too …

Vendors have not been quiet either with Oracle, IBM, and TIBCO promoting their own versions of ‘Dynamic’ BPM. Jim Sinur of Gartner has been talking about Dynamic BPM since the end of 2009, which is the time when we had the meeting on ACM with the WfMC. Jim Sinur held a session in 2009 in which he said that Dynamic BPM was ‘The Competitive Differentiator’ to the usual AGILE governance approach, mostly because BPM is becoming a program within the organization rather than a project. Forrester came in with a Dynamic Case Management Wave promoting the encumbent BPM vendors and their dynamic add-ons. So it seems that ACM will remain a kind of esoteric definition.

I posted about the differences between the various BPM adjectives and approaches one year ago. That analysis is still as valid an nothing has changed since then. Gartner Group also had a shot at predictions on the future of process management and here is my take on it.

Sandra Kemsely posted on ‘Dynamic’ BPM at the time: “Gartner’s definition of dynamic BPM is the ability to support process change by any role, at any time, with very low latency. Change agents include everyone from customers and business people through business and process analysts, and on to architects and developers. … This isn’t just about each individual’s personal preferences for how they work, however: if knowledge workers can make changes to their processes, they will tend to make them more efficient and effective, which has enterprise benefits. … A significant part of this is the inclusion of explicit rules within processes, so that scenario-driven rule sets can detect and respond to conditions … services composition environments and CEP I felt didn’t really belong in a presentation on dynamic BPM …”

Much of it is also present in ACM and Derek Miers of Forrester said in the LinkedIN ACM group that he saw Adaptive and Dynamic as identical. He also said that empowerent was an important part of it. Good. But there is a grain of salt in all this.  What do you empower people to do and how? Twitter and Facebook are a joke and will be blocked in businesses pretty soon anyway because they cause billions in wasted time. Change is not just driven by allowing users to write rules for unexpected exceptions in processes. The point is rather that processes should not even experience exceptions, but be so flexible that goals and outcomes drive the process change and allow the knowledge owning business experts perform them as they see fit.

Enabling rules within processes requires an exposed Business Architecture with data entities that these rules can link into! That leads straight to the question what causes these exceptions? Actually there is no such thing as an exception in knowledge work! A process exception is only a mismatch with expectations! An exception is nothing more than a ‘Complex Business Event’ and the principle concept of ‘complex’ means that it is difficult to impossible to predefine those with rules. Most probably a business expert may be capable of recognizing such an event but not be able to encode the rule set that would identify this exception/event logically and accurately. Such a function must be supported by the software. So CEP is an important element of an ADAPTIVE approach as is SOCIAL and MOBILE BPM and not to forget that all of this has to be linked to a Business Architecture as  recently discussed on ‘Architecture and Process are about People!’

While it would be desirable to make this all much clearer that wish has not materialized. But as we discuss this the business needs for an adaptive business process environment have at least become a lot clearer:

1) It makes no sense to define processes without a Business Architecture.

2) The knowledge workers should also be the process owners and empowered.

3) All elements of the processes must be ADAPTIVE.

4) Processes/cases should not suffer from execeptions but support them.

5) Social and Mobile capabilities must empower people to ADAPT processes.

Posted in ACM, BPM

The Difference between DYNAMIC and ADAPTIVE.

The effort all contributors put into our book ‘Mastering the Unpredictable’ about Adaptive Case Management seems to be paying off. My good friend (I hope he is despite ME being always a pain in his neck) Craig LeClair of Forrester Research is making the rounds. Coming from the content management arena, he is one of the few analysts who understands the overall complexity of the subject. I met Craig first when he did the CCM Customer Communications Management Wave a couple of years back.

In terms of case management  Craig has produced some great research like: ‘Dynamic Case Management- An old-idea catches fire.’ He does teleconferences with AIIM on ‘Support Your Information Workers by Understanding and Implementing Case Management’ or Forresters own TCs as well. Forrester lists ActionBase, Appian, Cordys, EMC, Global 360, IBM, Pallas Athena, Pegasystems, Singularity and … whoa … even CRM maven Sword Ciboodle as their entrants for the next DCM Wave. The likes of Fujitsu, HandySoft, Ideate, OpenText, and Oracle (!!!) will only make it into the ‘Ripple’. Us and Whitestein Technologies are also listed in that second group, but we are the only ones who actually provide GOAL-oriented processes!

Gartner Group has another, long-term view to offer that includes Social Media and how work will change in the next ten years. I covered it in this post about ‘The De-routinization of Work.’ Makes you wonder why anyone still bothers with BPM in the first place.

I need to point out that what Forrester defines as DYNAMIC case management is by far not yet ADAPTIVE. Forrester  defines dynamic case management to be semi-structured and collaborative, dynamic, human-centered, information-intensive processes undertaken around a given context, while being driven by events, requiring incremental and progressive responses. So what is different about ADAPTIVE Case Management? The key point is not just runtime dynamic changes, but Just-In-Time creation of the process and resources WITH embedded learning, which means that knowledge of a previous case can be autmatically used by people in a later case or process! As a further point Forrester does not use the term knowledge worker but rather (information-) I-worker, which is anyone who uses a computer at his job. I see ACM mostly for knowledge workers who apply their specific skill for case resolution or process execution. Craig also now points to the link between business architecture, strategic objectives and operational metrics that I have been talking about for some time.

Maybe the follwoing video will make the difference between dynamic and ADAPTIVE clearer:

I also propose that ACM has to deal not only with goals but with complex, captured content, dynamic embedded content, user definable business rules and is mostly event driven, but these are  Complex Business Events. I recently posted my view on how BPMN and rules relate to CBE.

What do you need to verify if BPM or case management product supports unpredictable  (semi-structured) processes with complex events in an ADAPTIVE manner:

  • Does the system enable the definition or reuse of a business and process architecture to provide the base infrastructure for business driven process creation based on strategic objectives and operational metrics?
  • Does the modeling capability allow direct linkage of objectives, metrics to the process goals and business data in the process/case and therefore embedded verification of goal fulfillement?
  • Can properly authorized business users assemble the process/case from data objects, inbound and outbound business (with mapped data) content, user-defined rules, and GUI components (widgets?) without needing to be BPMN or flowchart experts and execute and modify at will?
  • Can unexpected events or data be handled by means of new tasks, rules, performers and goals being added to the existing process to handle them without causing disruptive exceptions ?
  • Can the signatures of unexpected events be auto-discovered and linked to the context patterns?
  • Does the CBE capability identify fuzzy patterns of similarity between events and suggests goals, tasks or actions to handle them?
  • Are business user decisions related to events fed back into the CBE pattern matching mechanism?
  • Can new performers be added into the case/process at any time and existing or newly defined tasks with associated resources be assigned to them in a social media like, but fully secure collaboration?
  • Can ‘expert’ case participants be selected manually from a skills profile or will the system recommend exeperts based on an automatic match between case and skill or due to past selection by other participants?
  • Can goals, milestones, SLA values and rules be embedded by the business user to verify compliance, efficiency and cost and take direct influence on the execution/routing/modification of the process?
  • Can the business user created processes, goals or milestones be saved at the end of the execution as new templates into the repository (with all resource templates)?
  • Can business users write rules in natural language (no technical syntax) with automatic verification of rule syntax and validity by data object and content mapping based on the business architecture?
  • Are all resources for content (capture and creation), process, rule and GUI are version controlled through a single dev/test/deploy/suspend mechanism? Does this ensure that the maintenance meta-processes for resource templates are decoupled from execution?
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Filling the Void between BPM and Social Media

In this post I will shed light on many of the fuzzy areas of ACM that have come up again over the last few weeks. Some of it relates to similarities and overlap with both BPMS products on the one end and Social Media and Enterprise 2.0 products on the other. I see ACM filling the huge gap between BPMS and Social Media. ACM uses elements of both and links to both as required. Yes, my kind of ACM can also replace a BPMS in a cinch and provide a customer focused, homogenous Information Workplace.

In relationship to BPMS the core subject is a very principal question. Do you want to put your people and business into a flowcharted straightjacket or not? Yes, go for BPMS flowcharts. No? You need something that empowers the business user for goals and outcomes, but not just in theoretical Balanced Scorecards and Powerpoints and then monitor some disconnected KPIs. Real-world, real-time, real product!


ACM is not just about allowing tasks to be rerouted to anyone else on a whim. That is completely irrelevant. In ACM the authority to reroute tasks can be assigned based on the needs of the business organization. You want to nail it down, do so. In most cases work tasks should anyway be assigned to USER ROLES and not a particular person. Reviewing someone’s work should not happen by rerouting the same work task, but it must be a distinct review task to keep track of it. In other situations should the business user have the authority to pull-in such a review task on the fly without breaking the flow. He might be authorized to skip a task. If goals are fulfilled, other waiting tasks become irrelevant. Business rules might cancel or change task status. A user might also have the authority to create a delegation task for some aspects of his work item. Delegation is not just work reassignment, but asking someone to perform other work in addition to my own. Some BPMS support Ad-Hoc task creation and work delegation, but it is not a key difference anyway.

One of the key distinctions to BPMS: ‘Process Design and Process Execution are separate entities.’ In ACM however, you DESIGN while you EXECUTE and it is not the same as Social BPM design that is also before execution. The principal concept of ADAPTIVE is that knowledge from execution can be fed back into the templates. In ACM you also optimize during execution as you look at goals and metrics in real-time. AGILE BPM needs the governance bureaucracy to manage design before and optimization after execution.

‘Reporting, Simulation, Forms GUI, Emails, Documents, Roll-back …’ aren’t considered in BPMN during design. Correct! And that is the next ACM distinction to BPMS. In a BPMS, all those elements require substantial additional effort often including programming to make them usable. So when you are done with your wonderful BPMN flowchart, you have at most 20% of the final process functionality. Those  missing 80% need BPM governance to manage. Even Human-BPMS that are very agile and dynamic do not enable users to make all those changes to the process during execution. And why not, for some organizations that may be just what they want! Please, buy a BPMS if you see no other need at all. You will still end up needing adaptive processes as well.

Adaptive Case Management is also about CONTENT AND PROCESS! Once again, there is no process without content and content without process is irrelevant. Most ACM ‘wannabees’ have however no content features. A first opportunity for confusion, but a clear distinction to BPMS that also have no inbound and outbound content features. Some ECM systems can combine content and workflow features but most need Eclipse to integrate them.

What is the relationship to Social Media and Enterprise 2.0?

First, ACM offers chats, blogs, wikis and dynamic user groups. My kind of ACM is a lot more Social already than any BPMS ever can be. I have stated clearly how I see Social Media and how we use it. I disagree that simple Social Media are anywhere close to ADAPTIVE, while AGILE BPM bureaucracy is exactly the opposite. Social Media is CHAOTIC and only if there is a learning capability it could be emergent to new knowledge. BPM is not learning because the governance is totalitarian. That is the weird thing about Social BPM. On the one hand they want to control everything, but in the middle of it they are going social during design and execution? If you add Social you break the governance and/or you break the process flow. So it is suddenly not needed? Why then bother with it in first place?

Do Social Media solve the same problems that ACM solves? Absolutely not. They create new ones! I wrote a blog post on Activity Streams to explain just that.  A social interaction that is not tightly linked into a process (as it is in ACM) does not produce value. Social interaction implies unstructuredness and unpredictable behavior so it would be a lot worse than the email mess we already have. ACM can embed Social because it has no restrictive flow! How would you embed a social interaction into a process flowchart and control it? How do you pass data, content and so on? Yes, as hyperlinks in the message, but then what happens in that link? You open up the process GUI or you loose control. But how is that now related to the predesigned flow, because who will know who answered or changed what in a Tweet response? Maybe Social has a little tweeting birdy in its cage? No, it is again pure hype and social lipstick on the BPM pig. Empowerment is not about Social media, but about authority, goals and means.

Some points more: ACM is in difference to BPMS a natural with events, rules and goals. BPMS miss the capability to deal with random events. Therefore, Michael zur Mühlen cuts BPMN back to simple ACM-like task management. Event listeners in BPMN mostly break the flow and it is very difficult to resume normal execution. Flowcharts virutally can’t deal with exceptions or with unknown events, like one more message or document that no one thought of? What if a fraud pattern is detected (i.e. by the UTA*)? How do you deal with all the complex interactions between a large set of processes if not with events? How do you keep business rules and the related data in a BRM engine in sync? How do you trigger rules from events and vice-versa? Can the business users write rules?  How do they map them to business data, content or tasks? How do process owners define goals and link them to objectives and metrics? How are meta-data models linked dynamically to all of the above? Find the answers in your favorite BPMS and you will know why I propose ACM.

Papyrus ACM is certainly not anti-BPM, because my solution proposal clearly focuses on PROCESS OUTCOMES. We also have a BPMN compliant flowchart editor, but I am also clearly saying that one cannot guarantee outcomes in customer interaction with rigid processes. You can certainly put a lot of BPM governance bureaucracy in place to manage the analysis and design BEFORE execution and the monitoring and optimization AFTER execution, but what it really needs is that BOTH are moved INTO EXECUTION. And that is the key difference between ACM and BPM, while ACM also follows the BPM principles. What I am personally opposed to is to try and map how your business works into low-level, step-by-step flowcharts. But if that’s what you  really want to do, you can do that with our Papyrus platform too and you have all the master data, content, event and rule handling included for free. You don’t like that? Well, enjoy your integration projects!

The final point to make is that we are just talking about silly acronyms. and a solution space that is interpreted into them. I wish we would not need to, but it is the market fragmentation by analysts that causes it. There is also the wish of some businesses to be given simplistic choices so they don’t have to understand what they are buying. I suggest to focus on real-world business needs and not the assumed scope of an acronym. There are thousands of BPM methodology messiahs who have a serious problem with how BPMS technology is used. I am no different. 

Posted in ACM, BPM, Enterprise 2.0 | 3 Comments

Consolidated Customer Service: CRM, BPM and ECM

Things take time! We at ISIS Papyrus propose a consolidated ECM, CRM, BPM solution since 2001! Since then we do full process support with state/event driven models and since 2009 we even do BPMN. There is however no process without content and content (=communication) without process you don’t need. There is also no customer relationship without communication (=process). Therefore Adaptive Case Management (ACM) as the consolidation (NOT integration) of ECM, BPM and CRM to create a singular, holistic view of the customer, is not as radically new as it seems to be!

Forrester Analyst Kate Leggett researched customer service problems caused by a lack of a singular customer view. Lauren McKay produced a short summary. I largely agree with the problems faced, but I do not see that orthodox BPM can provide a satisfatory solution. BPM might make the problem worse.

The fragmentation into ECM, CRM, and BPM silos causes the inability to improve customer service business processes. Customer service process need to gather customer information, business data, a complete history of previous interactions, and – mostly forgotten – all the related inbound and outbound CONTENT usually spread around the business. A customer service process also needs to interactively CREATE content and thus needs the ECM functionality that analysts describe in the Customer Communications Management (CCM) market.

Today most firms do not integrate their inbound and outbound customer communication channels: phone, email, chat, CONTENT and Web. Customer information is completely out of context and therefore service agents use multiple applications to resolve each customer issue. Sometimes processes are enforced and standardized through CRM tools and while apparently these are executed correctly, they MIGHT NOT SATISFY the customer. Also some apprearing problems cannot be resolved because of exceptions that can’t be handled in rigid processes.

  • BPMS do need substantial analysis, implementation IT support and governance to run and  are not at all AGILE. Therefore to support customers in a sensible way one has to provide ADAPTIVE PROCESSES.
  • ADAPTIVE means that the service representitive can perform the process as needed for each individual customer and not just as it has been designed.
  • ACTORS can actually change and shape the process. They are EMPOWERED to create, modify, cancel, reset, reuse or delete task and activity items in a process.

If a customer service process is not strictly defined how will it ensure satisfaction?

  • What directs the process towards completion? Simple, GOALS defined in the process!
  • What makes the process efficient? Goal rules that measure SLA values.
  • What makes an adaptive process compliant? Boundary rules!
  • What ensures customer satisfaction? Including the customer into the process.

SO? Is it really Business Process Management that can come to the rescue of CRM? Actually, NO! BPM makes the problem worse. Customer service and problem resolution are knowledge work and not automated, standardized procedures. It is those procedures that cause the dissatisfaction. BPM DISABLES and binds the customer service decision-makers who need to IMPROVE the service experience from a customer satisfaction perspective. Knowledge work cannot be encoded into business rules and process steps to govern a customer interaction. Customers are individuals and their problems are as individual as they are and they do not want a pseudo-automated service robot on the other end of the phone!

CUSTOMER-FOCUSED, PERSONAL SERVICE requires that the user drives that interaction and not the process. The process must only provide guidance, collaborative information sharing and free-flow execution between many possible service and resolution tasks. That cannot be performed even by the most dynamic and ad-hoc BPM solutions, but only by an adaptive process environment that empowers the actor to take any action and include any resource (man or machine) to resolve the problem.



Consolidated View of the Customer - ECM, CRM and BPM


GOALS must not be just defined OUTSIDE the process!

The key to create processes that are unstructured and unpredictable and can still be guided towards effective and efficient resolution is GOAL-ORIENTATION. Goal orientation is not just an external definition, but it becomes the driving and guiding element for all processes and process milestones. Goals can link processes together and have simple or complex goal fulfillment rules.

What benefits do goal-oriented, adaptive processes provide to customer service:

  1. A completely consolidated user interface that must include access to all historic and current content. With the Papyrus Platform there is neither deeper integration nor GUI front-end coding necessary.
  2. Provide the customer web-access to the service case or query customer perception: Rather than a long improvement cycle it is essential that the customer is linked into the process and can immediately SHARE IS PERCEPTION about the quality of the service.
  3. No need to standardize processes, because a library of service GOALS with alternative resolution options us made available to the service agent. Standardization reduces the service quality and is only a cost reduction approach.
  4. Capture agent knowledge without analysis by letting them perform the processes AS-IS and then improve them. The Papyrus User-Trained Agent will perform recommendations to the actors based on previously executed processes. There is no formal learning or knowledge program necessary as it is embedded into the actual process execution!  The software is able to distinguish between different channel, product and service classes and perform the various goals and their activities in the ideal sequence.
  5. Process-embedded RULE support in natural language: As I already documented in the book ‘Mastering The Unpredictable’, it is essential to provide a consolidated RULE CAPABILITY inside the process engine. These are mostly needed for data validation, boundary rules for compliance and for goal rules. Rules compiled into the process do not satisfy those needs.

Adaptive Case Management is ’empowerment technology‘ that focuses on the WHY and WHO and not on HOW, because that knowledge is ‘between two ears only’. (Peter Drucker)
ACM is about communication and process as ONE! ACM provides the platform for the high-value, unique and skill or knowledge intensive customer service processes. That is where customer loyalty is being created and maintained.

Posted in ACM, BPM, CRM, ECM | 2 Comments