Nobody Raises Their Hand

I have been doing an experiment lately. Whenever I talk to a group of people about Adaptive Case Management (or Human Process Management) with knowedge workers that are familiar with BPM  – I ask “How many people present use BPM or a system built on BPM for their everyday work?”. Everyone at these meetings is a knowledge worker and (some of them even develop BPM tools and systems) . Never has more than one person raised their hand. Then I ask who uses email and documents every day, and of course everyone raises their hand. If you ask them how many of them do structured, repeatable, routine work eveyday – then the usual answer is that is always a part of their job, but not what they are paid for.

I know this is kind of a stupid experiment, but it does point out (at least for me) the current state of tooling for most knowledge workers. They consider their work (at least the important part of it) as “Design by Doing” as Jim Sinur so nicely worded it in his blog. BPM as they understand it (and I’m sure that everyone understands it a bit differently – but I’ll guess the ability to model a process, most probably in BPMN, is part of what they think is involved in BPM) has nothing to do with their everday jobs.

Sure we could try and extend BPMS (the tool) to include the kind of work they do, perhaps even extend it enough to have it include email and document management systems (or is it that document management systems include BPMS, I get confused). But why should we? Most BPM systems have hooks that let the system invoke email (and so do document management systems) – but I would doubt most people would consider email as part of BPM. BPM and email are two separate systems which are sometime used in unison to solve a business problem – there is no need to pull them both under the same umbrella. I think the same is true of Wikis and other social technologies – they are useful tools – and there is no benefit pulling them under the BPM umbrella. So in the on going debate on ACM as part of BPM – I’m going to have to side with Keith and Max.

BPMS (the tool, not the approach) is for routine, predictable, structured work where people and documents may play a part – but are not central. ACM is for unpredictable, unstructured, ad-hoc work – where people and documents are central. The two are complementary, but not equivalent. To prove my point, I’ll go back to my old post – no one is building social BPMS tools using BPMS – not even the BPMS vendors.

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2 Responses to “Nobody Raises Their Hand”

  1. BPM Quotes of the week « Adam Deane Says:

    […] ACM – Jacob Ukelson no one is building social BPMS tools using BPMS – not even the BPMS […]

  2. Dave Duggal Says:

    While there were a lot of good presentations and exchanges at the conference – I thought that was an ‘aha’ moment for attendees. Your simple question put knowledge work in sharp focus.

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