Well I started writing a post on Dynamic Case Management about a week ago and I have to admit after a bit of research I found some of the ideas were not strong enough for it to be published. However the research I did opened a few other avenues of interest. Not least prompted by an excellent series of articles written by Joe Shepley on his research into Adaptive Case Management.

The first question I had is around the definition of Adaptive Case Management, and specifically in relation to the Forrester Wave which has been published on Dynamic Case Management. There is quite a lot of interest and information on the web about ACM, most notably led by the likes of Sandy Kemsley and Max J. Pucher, so it is interesting that one of the leading Analyst firms have chosen a different term for their recent Wave report. Having said that one of the authors is quoted in the this article on ACM. Now I am not saying one term is more correct than the other but the differences highlight the immaturity in this space, something which I will come back to. We can also throw into the pot the term Advanced Case Management, but this is more of a product name for the IBM products. Interestingly I think there is an important difference to be made in the term Advanced compared to Adaptive and Dynamic, both of these suggest a strong element of change. Max also wrote an excellent article about the difference between ACM and DCM, however I wonder if the statement below from the Forrester report blurs the differences which Max identifies?

It was the Forrester Wave which prompted the interest in the first place, and more specifically the products which they had chosen to appear in the report. When you read through Joe’s posts, and I would recommend them as an excellent way to get an understanding of this space from an abstract perspective, you get a picture of a paradigm which does indeed allow for the user driven change in activities which achieve the business goal. Reading the Forrester report I got the same ideas, in fact one of the four tenets of DCM as suggested by Forrester is:

Accessible mechanisms that allow end users to handle variation

One of the reasons for my initial interest was my scepticism of the ability of products to handle this level of variation; how many of us have been part of a project that seeks to define the business process to the nth degree as part of the implementation of a solution only to find some time later that the process has changed and that change requires a technical change to the solution?

My scepticism remains and I know some of the products in the Forrester report would either require this change to be implemented as a technical solution or would require the level of flexibility to be built into the solution from the start (of course the main problem is no-one knew this flexibility would be required when the solution was built!). However there are products in the report who claim to contain the ability to handle variation. When I say claim I am not saying they do not, all I am saying is that I like to see how this feature has been implemented as I have seen it promised before and it has meant the end users having to use the process definition tools of the product which in turn requires a technical deployment.

I really need to dig deeper into these products to see how they would allow for this, and in fact I think it would be a natural extension for the posts from Joe. I am sure many of us who have implemented ECM/BPM/ACM/DCM solutions have set out to achieve this flexibility but when the crunch has come we have been disappointed with the detail in which this flexibility is achieved. Going back to Max’s post there is a very clear difference between Goal orientation and Process centric solutions, it seems a shame that the Forrester Report does not really help with this distinction.

Such an exercise may take some time and is, in all honesty, probably not something I am going to actually get done so if you have experience in delivering ACM solutions then I would love to hear your thoughts on how the products get going when the going gets tough. Any time I do get to spend looking at how products provide these features will be discussed.

5 thoughts on “ACM or DCM?

  1. Lee, even if you stick to the Forrester definition there is ample room for interpretation as to how exactly variation and exceptions are handled. To my mind the fundamental difference between an adaptive approach and the more traditional BPM approach with dynamic, advanced etc. addons and functionality is first a management issue and second only an IT issue. On the management side it is necessary to trust process owners with what they do and to provide them with transparent goals and the proper authority and means to execute. On the IT side it requires acceptance that you can’t reduce the complexity of decision-based business processes with simple Boolean logic. If BPM practitioners can’t see this fundamental shift then BPM as they define it stops just there, no matter how desperately they try to overcome these inherent limitations by adding all kinds of stuff like social because they just don’t match.
    Best, Michael

    • Michael,

      Thanks for taking time to read and respond. I agree that there are two sides to the issue and that primarily the business users need to be empowered to ‘adapt’ the working process to meet the ultimate goal. However once this has been achieved there is the need for the technology to provide this and you are right it is much more than simple Boolean logic.


  2. Lee, great post!

    Analyst firms do suffer from the NIH (not invented here) syndrome. I have queried both Craig LeClair and Derek Miers who authored the DCM Wave of they see ACM as the namesake and that say it is. I don’t agree because while they also discuss the ‘dynamic run-time modification’ they do not disucss the ‘adaptive’ capability. Adaptibe and dynamic is the same for them and it isn’t.

    ADAPTIVE is about not only creating or modifying processes but to implement an empowerment capability that enables business users to also modify process templates for future use. There are several ways of how to do that and how technology can support it. The key element of that has to be GOAL-orientation rather than FLOW-orientation. Users can coordinate and organize taks in relationsship to goals but who understands BPMN sub-processes. GOAL-fulfillment enables the business users to judge, which process variants produce the best outcome for the customer or best match business targets.

    ADAPTIVE can’t be achieved with BPM products or expanded social BPM products. It requires a different process creation style and concept and it must expose ALL elements of processes to the business user for adaptation. That includes inbound and outbound business content (with data!), business rules, user interface (more than just forms), goals (outcomes), and user authorization/delegation.

    I am really busy right now with our preparation for our upcoming OpenHouse, but afterwards I would spend any time you want to demo and disucss the ADAPTIVE capabilities of the Papyrus Platform. Thanks again, Max

    • Max,

      Thanks for reading and the compliments, delighted that you liked it. I’m very interested to see what Adaptive capability the Papyrus Platform has and I will contact you once the OpenHouse is out of the way.



  3. Pingback: Smart Process Apps | Observing Content Management

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