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.


About Max J. Pucher

I am the founder and Chief Technology Officer of ISIS Papyrus Software, a medium size software company specializing in communications and process management. I wrote several books and hold a number of patents. My quest is to bring common sense to IT, mostly by focusing in human quality issues rather than cost saving, outsourcing and automation. I am also Chief Architect at VIPorbit software which provides mobile relationship management.
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