ACM Workshop at EDOC 2014 Calls for Paradigm Shift in Company Management Towards Empowered Knowledge Workers
The Adaptive Case Management (ACM) Workshop at EDOC, which took place September 1, 2014, in Ulm, Germany, provided a platform for researchers and practitioners to discuss ACM and other non-workflow approaches to BPM. A list of top-class participants, an audience that was even larger then at last year’s ACM Workshop, and inspiring discussions showed the growing need for and acceptance of systems that support flexibility and guidance.
ACM across systems
In his keynote, Keith Swenson, one of the conference organizers, talked about ACM as the key to enable innovation in organizations and reviewed its evolution and relation to BPM and CM. What he sees as one of the major turning points is the way that ACM goes far beyond the IT core systems and enables emergent processes by bringing in experts and people with a specific knowledge, even from different organizations, just as the current situation demands for.
This means that bridges across systems, systems thinking, organizational mindsets, and terminology are going to become more important, where Keith Swenson claims that XBRL plays a vital role for a unified data exchange between different systems. Swenson has a future in mind of “personal assistants” who help knowledge workers from organizations to communicate and share available information. While he thinks that ontologies will be needed, he did not consider them to be part of the ACM configuration by business administrators or users.
In the research sessions, PhD students and their professors presented the current scientific ACM research topics with focus on ACM guidance for knowledge workers, a solid ACM definition and underlying theory, and on knowledge extraction from existing cases, as is for example the case with User-Trained Agent (UTA) developed by ISIS Papyrus.
Other interesting aspects are so-called “case health monitors”, which deliver indicators to case owners if something goes against goals, and algorithms which produce a clear quality measure from arbitrary event logs to whether they contain predictable processes. With an “event log trace diversity value” like this you could conclude whether process-mining is reasonable or whether an adaptive case management approach is appropriate.
Researching efforts also concentrate on collaboration templates used for creating instances of specific situations and on applying analytics to retrieve knowledge from archived instances for future use. Tagging of these instances is essential for reutilization, which is still weak because of a lack of appropriate analysis tools. Here the ISIS Papyrus UTA can also step up to play an important role.
Practical sessions show different aspects in ACM approaches
In the practical sessions, three leading companies in the field of business process management gave insight into their ACM approaches.
UTA for supporting knowledge workers
ISIS Papyrus proposes an approach that supports knowledge workers based on the knowledge previously applied by others in the form of a User-Trained Agent. The UTA learns from ad hoc actions taken by knowledge workers to suggest best next actions for the current situation.
The UTA was acknowledged as an important ACM component for enabling knowledge sharing and collaboration between teams. Business Ontologies would be developed to guarantee proper context definitions. The calculation of confidence ratings for Task proposals should include not only how often users decided for a certain proposal but also how much the Task contributed to a certain goal. Apart from objective quality information, also “subjective” information such as user ratings could be included.
Visualization of dependencies
IT University of Copenhagen together with Exformatics A/S presented a UI Web application that uses DCR Graph notation model (Dynamic Condition Response Graphs), a tool to visualize dependencies between Tasks and simulate what ad-hoc changes will cause to the live system before they are being deployed. The UI is using card-based items, which also includes an execution log showing the user all events that happened.
While flow chart based guidance is more intuitive than BPM style graphs, it is still quite complex for normal users and might be suited for application administrators.
Computas AS from Norway delivers preconfigured ACM solutions to the Norwegian public sector and use the blackboard metaphor to enrich collaborative ACM Systems.
Use Adaptive Case Management to empower your employees
The brainstorming session brought up the importance of communicating the value of innovation enabled by ACM systems, although another term would eventually be needed because “innovation” will not be well accepted by all managers.
What became obvious in the discussion is that the company management paradigms must change first: People should be encouraged to work self-responsibly towards goals without being controlled and micro-managed. When you stop looking only at cost efficiency and start focusing on customer satisfaction and effectiveness, ACM paves the way to empower your employees to achieve this goal.