ACM Questions and Answers

  • May 10, 2010
  • Scott
  • 5 Comments

Frank Michael Kraft has a good writeup of ACM questions and answers, that speaks well to people familiar with BPM :

Q: What is a specific example of the kind of knowledge work that might be supported?
A specific example is described in my chapter “Improving Knowledge Work” in the book “Mastering the Unpredictable”. There is Leona who works for a telecommunications company as an engineer and she needs to do phone support. The work she does in the support area is described with examples, as customer complaints need to be solved. Some tests need to be executed and some countermeasures need to be taken. The work is unpredictable, because the tests and the countermeasures depend on the situation. However the work can still be supported with Adaptive Case Management.

What I like best about his writeup is that he doesn’t set out to bash BPM before making his case in favor of ACM by first describing the problem, then describing the solution (ACM). He has a series of posts on the subject, all worth reading.

However, if I may be so bold, let’s look at the last statement.  “… However, the work an still be supported with [software package or knowledge work management approach]”  The part in brackets, Frank has filled in with the words “Adaptive Case Management.”  But the important thing isn’t the three letter acronym (or three word phrase) that describes the space.  If you are actually implementing your knowledge work emergent processes, the important thing is what the capabilities of that software (or management approach) are – and how well it supports your work.

Max J Pucher in a comment on Keith Swenson’s blog said that he didn’t care what label was applied to Papyrus by the industry or analysts – it solved problems and created real value for clients.  I guess I feel the same way.  If software that supports the use cases that Keith Swenson and Frank Kraft are describing ends up being called ACM, I guess I shouldn’t worry about it too much.  But I think some of the negative things said about BPM software packages reflect specific experience with specific software packages.  Another package that carries the same name (BPM) may have quite different capabilities (though quite a bit of overlap as well).

Pega, IBM, Oracle, and others are going to position hard that they handle Case Management (and ACM) – and if the vendors and thought leaders pushing the ACM label want to keep it differentiated they’ll have to get into the technical details as well as the philosophical (panned versus unplanned, is a philosophical distinction more than a technical one), to illustrate why customers should choose one product over another for the particular challenges they’re facing.

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