Adaptive case management (ACM) is surely the shining star at the moment in the area of business process management. It has the potential to open up entirely new ways to deal with complex business processes. ACM offers a flexible and adaptive approach to work management as opposed to fully structured and rigid business process modeling. Knowledge workers form a crucial part of any organization. These are the people who need to be properly supported to make skilled evaluations using available information for effective decision-making and issue resolution.
ACM focuses on unstructured or ad-hoc processes. These processes require extensive participation by knowledge workers to achieve the best results. The execution path for these processes is not always clear and hence can’t be completely predefined. It may need to be adapted taking into account the specific requirements of a concrete case.
Explaining the concept of ACM in a nutshell, it is a user-centric approach where the user in the center of a business process has the right expertise to decide at what time a particular activity makes sense. ACM gives more control to experts to manage and orchestrate large quantities of unstructured processes and data in a context-based structure.
This sounds very reasonable and a great thing to do. But what does it actually mean to implement ACM in a company?
Implementing ACM for a business area (one or more business processes) demands thorough and detailed understanding of the current processes. It is important to know how people are currently working, which systems they use and how, when and to what extent interaction takes place among the various company departments. This can be done via conducting interviews with the business users, by careful observations of employee activities and by studying the existing process documentation.
As a next step the case and its component parts need to be defined. A case consists of tasks, documents, processes, data and business rules. As for business process modeling, commencing with the “happy path” is an excellent starting point: the “happy path” is the workflow scenario that deals with the “normal” progression of events without considering errors or exceptions. Once the “happy path” is defined and designed, the next step is to work out possible exception paths. Since it is an adaptive approach, it is not necessary to aim for the perfect solution in the first place. An efficient methodology involves starting small, exploring in different directions and finally drawing conclusions from these experiences and integrating them immediately into the case model.
Because ACM is a user-centric paradigm, people are crucial for success! Therefore, affected employees need to be involved in the whole design process. When implementing an integrated end-to-end ACM solution, different teams in the company should be involved in the process, helping to eliminate potential boundaries between organizational units and raising efficiency and passion at work.
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