Business Process Management (BPM) has come to be viewed from several angles. The overwhelming force of IT and technology has led to the notion that BPM is merely a tool for automatic processing where human interaction is to be avoided at all cost and is at best regarded as a necessary evil. But the complexity of the underlying rigidity of this approach has by far outgrown its benefits. The processes set up on hard-coded models after lengthy upfront analysis have proven to be inadequate for real-world business cases and the inherent dependencies have proven prone to quick adaptation and smooth maintenance.
Yet initially business processes have been all about human activity and completely separate from technology. A business process is simply a sequence of activities followed by individuals in a business to achieve some business goal. This sort of business processes has been around as long as businesses have existed and long before computers or information technology were invented. The fundamental problem now is that most IT models are based on well-defined goals in rather static work settings. In reality, most business users have to deal with ill-defined problems and dynamic, if not to say, chaotic environments. They often have to improvise and to cope with shifting conditions and need to learn about the goals while going through the process.
Therefore it appears logical to shift process ownership back from IT to business to add true business value. Again, the approaches are manifold and the existing terminology adds more to confusion than to clarification. With this in mind the term “Adaptive Case Management” has been coined as a starting point for discussions about concepts of self-learning systems that can adapt to user input in real time. Some initial considerations can be found here and here. There will also be an exciting opportunity to hear more about “Adaptive Process and Empowerment” at this year’s ISIS Papyrus Open House and User Conference, where Chief Architect Max J. Pucher will elaborate more on this topic in one of his famously pronounced addresses.