As repeatable production work is more and more on the decrease in advanced economies there is an increased focus on the needs of business users who perform emergent or unstructured knowledge work. This requires technological empowerment rather than a new management methodology. While the business strategy is a top-down definition targeting cost, process innovation that targets quality is most likely more effective bottom-up.
Technology has to support both targets. Most process management solutions need a substantial amount of software implementation for data interfaces, user front-ends, rule engine integration, and back-end orchestration. But they don’t do much for the business user at all. In difference to conventional IT wisdom, the use of – out of principle well defined and thus rigid – process methodology to make better use of technology becomes a hindrance for innovation. Modularization and standardization create fragmentation and additional complexity of integration. The new concept of moving the process knowledge gathering in the life cycle from the template analysis phase into process execution is referred to as Adaptive Case Management or ACM. The ACM system collects ‘actionable knowledge’ based on process patterns created by business users. Actionable knowledge is not just data, information or descriptive text but knowing which action will lead from the current situation A to a desired situation B. As a first step the solution has to make the user aware of the current situation and what the desired outcome for the customer is. Transparency is also needed up the hierarchy to report process outcomes. Bidirectional transparency includes partners and customers into the virtual process organization for managed collaboration.
Regardless of how processes are implemented and ultimately executed, the team owning the process must be in charge of additions, improvements, and corrections. Business users are enabled by the technology to implement many small low-cost improvements that follow the business architecture and can be verified for benefits within days. Technology is not just relevant in terms of functional capability but more in terms of manageability and adaptability. We must not underestimate the relevance of content. Inbound and Outbound business content must be maintained by business users and transparently integrated into the ACM platform. Transparency mandates embedded security on the object and function level. Each access and function of any item has to be authorized. All objects, data and content have to be controlled. All actors have to be authenticated (ideally biometric) and authorized in role/policy models. All changes to templates and definitions must be audited. Adaptive Process combined with an empowerment management paradigm turns more production workers into knowledge workers. In reality it is quite difficult to use BPM for top-down analysis and simulation of business processes and linking key performance indicators to achieve a continuous improvement cycle. ‘Measure to Manage’ optimization is counterproductive to improvement and innovation. Only empowered actors can use their intuition and experience for sensible action. The dynamics of the economy require a self-organizing structure that is resilient to fast changes through its ability to adapt.