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March 28, 2011

For those of you keeping score, I’m in the middle of a series of posts on advanced (or adaptive) case management (ACM). And in all of them, I’ve kind of assumed that there’s a domain called ACM that is distinct from other domains out there, particularly business process management (BPM).

But somewhere deep down in my heart of hearts, I find myself thinking that maybe we don’t need a new term for what ACM describes, that maybe, just maybe, we could expand how we view other domains to more explicitly encompass what ACM does, i.e., dynamic, less predictable, knowledge worker activities.

It was in this state of mind that I stumbled upon a suggestive post by Sandy Kemsley, It’s Not About BPM vs. ACM, It’s About A Spectrum Of Process Functionality. She’s a real thought leader in the BPM space and someone I’ve been following on Twitter, etc., for some time now (along with Adam Deane, Patrick Lujan, and others) to keep abreast of developments in BPM—and this post, albeit short, did not disappoint. When you’ve got Max J. Pucher and Jacob Ukelson posting multiple 250+ word comments in praise of your 150 word post, you’re doing something right, after all!

Anyway, enough BPM name dropping, here’s the heart of Kemsley’s position:

I think that the whole “BPM versus ACM” debate has completely blown out of all sensible proportion, when we’re really talking about a spectrum of functionality that ranges from structured process management (or what some people think of as BPM) to completely dynamic process management.

She provides a nice figure to illustrate what she’s talking about:

It’s definitely worth reading the extended conversation(s) that follow the post, but one thing I didn’t see there was a consideration of the following $64 questions:

  • Do we even need ACM as a domain, or can an expanded/evolved understanding of BPM do just fine?
  • Will using an existing domain like BPM make it difficult to approach ACM properly, because we’ll be viewing it through overly-BPM-centric categories and assumptions?
  • Should we step back and create a third domain that encompasses both, e.g., the tongue-in-cheek suggestion in my title of Advanced Case and Business Process Management (ACABPM)…or is this going too far in the other direction?

As usual, no answers here, but would love to hear what folks out there think.

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