Process Models, Process Warehouse and Adaptive Case Management

I was reading an article in the Economist (Data, data everywhere) about the growing abudance of digital data, and the problems caused by the need (desire?) to analyze all that data and extract usable information. That got me thinking about why the capture of the data in digital format (the data existed before, just no one was capturing it – sort of as the same issue as with the email filter problem) is causing so much angst. Then it hit me – the capture of this data is missing something- the context of the process involved in creating the data. The data captured after the fact is a jumble of direct information, symptoms and side-effects caused by the process of interest. So looking just at the data is the equivalent of doing forensic analysis of the aftermath of an unknown process – and trying to piece together the process (this is very hard to do, and what makes CSI such a compelling show to watch). If there was someone watching the actual events as they unfold (or the actual “murder” process) they could just say – this mess was caused by A shooting B and then running away – and understanding the resulting data (e.g. blood splats on the wall, shell casings on the floor) would be much simpler (and CSI would be a very boring show).

Of course, we can’t track the process for many kinds of data (e.g. a star exploding in astrophysics, or customer buying patterns in a physical store) – so we have no choice but looking at after the fact data and doing forensic analysis. But for any process that you can directly watch and provide the eyewitness view – the amount of data analysis needed goes down drastically, since the context is known.

Bottom line,  if we know the context – understanding the process becomes much easier, in many cases almost trivial. Not having an actual birds eye view of the existing process one of the key issues in trying to model actual business processes in any organization (especially since most interesting business processes involve human participants). Modeling a business process is similar to forensic analysis – finding the participants, interviewing them, looking for clues and artifacts, creating tentative models, simulation.  Hard, interesting work. Maybe we could create a show “Business Process Investigation”…

This is where adaptive case management (ACM)  tools can be invaluable – since they can start managing a process without a-priori modeling. But how do you get people to start using an ACM tool – since they would need change the way they do the process first – not something they would embrace. This is where doing ACM in existing email and document environments can really make a difference – users can remain in their regular environment – with the underlying process system-of-record proving the “eye-witness”  birds eye view of what actually takes place. Then if is there is still the need to model the process – it becomes much, much easier.

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One Response to “Process Models, Process Warehouse and Adaptive Case Management”

  1. Max Pucher Says:

    Jakob, you are absolutely right. The main problem of the data flood is not its statistical processing. It is lacking context. I blogged about it two years ago – http://isismjpucher.wordpress.com/2008/12/17/the-death-of-process/

    Imagine trying to collect all data about all murders solved on CSI and then doing statistical processing on it. Would that improve in any way the ability how to solve the next case? It certainly doesn’t. On the sillyness of Predictive Analysis I posted here – http://isismjpucher.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/predictive-analysis-and-causality/

    Good post! Thanks. Max

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