Friday Sep 27, 2013

Oracle Open World Session: Managing Knowledge Worker Processes

Case Management as an approach to managing unstructured processes has been gaining of lot of interest. Drivers for this increased interest stems from the desire to improve knowledge worker productivity  by providing a 360-degree view of a case while providing automation where possible without constraining the knowledge workers by using predefined process flows. This type of work has typically been left out of BPMN-based implementations and therefore has not been able to leverage the benefits such as audit trails, management and monitoring and governance and control.

With the addition of support for Adaptive Case Management to their Oracle BPM Suite, Oracle has added full support for building comprehensive case-based applications for managing unstructured processes.


I, along with Danilo Schmiedel from Opitz Consutling in Germany, presented a session  on Managing Knowledge Worker Processes at the Oracle Open World 2013  on Thursday, Spetember 26. I gave a brief overview of case management and compared it with traditional structured processes to explain when traditional process modeling may not suffice. I also presented Oracle's ACM features and how this new addition to the Oracle BPM Suite addresses unstructured processes.

Danilo Schmiedel, presented a customer case study where they used Oracle's BPM Suite with ACM to implement an Insurance Claims Management application that provides a fair degree of flexibility to the claims processors without losing control of the overall process.  Danilo explained the methodology and approach they used in analyzing and designing an adaptive case management application. He also showed how they were able to reuse the existing user interface of the legacy system and integrate it with the new ACM application thereby avoiding the need to retrain the end-users on using a completely new user interface.

Thursday Sep 26, 2013

Open World Session: Ensure BPM Success with the Right Methodology

Today morning (10/26/2012 between 11:00-12:00 pm PST), Monique Albrechet, Accenture BPM Practice Lead, Manas Deb, Senior Director and I (Meera Srinivasan) will be delivering an Open World session on how to ensure BPM Success with Oracle BPM Methodology. A key goal of BPM is to align processes with business strategy and objectives, identify ways to improve those processes and then enable tracking and monitoring performance for continuous improvement and optimization. The traditional water fall model of development does not work well for BPM which is all about iterative and agile development. Over the past several years, Oracle has gathered lot of experience helping customers implement BPM solutions. With this experience we have seen a pattern emerge of an ecosystem for building and deploying enterprise-wide BPM solutions.

Those patterns and lifecycle have been captured in Oracle BPM Method and mapped to the Oracle BPM Suite platform. The Oracle BPM Method is a customisable framework containing detailed procedures for practical use of the Oracle BPM platform to analyse, design, deploy, monitor and improve business processes. The presentation will cover these 5 distinct phases eac of which can be iterative:

  1. Process Selection – Identify process candidates that produce the maximum ROI for business process automation and optimization
  2. Definition and Refinement - The initial definition is the one-time adjustment needed to introduce the selected business process into the continuous improvement cycle; the refinement portion is the part that needs to be repeated for iterations.
  3. Technical Design and Composition – This is where BPM meets SOA and process requirements drive the generation and design of Business Services. It I also the phase where the different BPM Application artifacts such as process, UI and dashboards are wired together to produce a complete and ready to deploy BPM Application
  4. Testing, Deployment and Approval – This is similar to the traditional development lifecycle and covers aspects such as functional testing, integration testing and usability testing.
  5. Monitoring and Optimization – BPM is all about continuous process improvement and this phase covers identifying improvement opportunities for the next iteration.


We hope that you are able to join us for this session, and please do try to attend Prasen Palvankar’s session on dynamic case management:
Managing Knowledge Worker Processes, Moscone West 2020, Thu 3:30-4:30 PM

Wednesday Jul 24, 2013

Empower Knowledge Workers to Manage Unstructured Processes

More and more business users are taking the driver’s seat in business process management (BPM) initiatives. To ensure flexibility, productivity, and success, their BPM suites must make it easy to design, manage, improve, and control business processes—even unstructured ones.

In this webcast, leading industry analyst Bruce Silver will discuss what the term business-driven means and how case management and support for unstructured processes help organizations better serve their customers.

Join this webcast and learn about:

  • Oracle Business Process Management Suite and how it enables business managers and analysts to easily design and manage process
  • The capabilities that make Oracle’s BPM solution more business-driven, flexible, and agile
  • The addition of adaptive case management and how it now enables users to manage unstructured processes, covering all possible process usage patterns and scenarios

Register Here

Friday May 24, 2013

Part III - Managing the Unstructured, the Flexible and the Adaptive

In business, they say only predictable thing is unpredictability and the only thing certain is uncertainty. In the earlier parts of this series I wrote about “Adaptive” and “Case” part of Adaptive Case Management. In this part, I will discuss the “Management” part.

In situations where we need flexible handling of work, Adaptive Case Management capabilities in Oracle BPM Suite lets case workers or knowledge workers do that.

So what are some of these management capabilities? These include processing of case, monitoring the case progression and adding the work or stakeholders when needed, without any design changes. Let’s look into some of the management features on case overview screen.

  1. Monitoring milestones – To determine which guided process activities are in progress or are completed
  2. Case Stakeholders – View all the case stakeholders, their role and ability to add stakeholders at runtime as and when required
  3. Activity Streams – History of all the milestones and activities that have been completed or updated etc.
  4. Case Artifacts – View all the data, documents or collaborative discussions related to the case. You can integrate with any document management system and route documents along with the case.
  5. Activity Ratings -. Unlike structured and repeatable processes, in adaptive case management the relative importance and priority of activities can vary from case to case. For this purpose Oracle BPM Suite lets you rate activities at runtime.

Adaptive Case Management is a built-in feature in the new release of Oracle BPM Suite 11g (Check out the webcast to learn more about the new release. ) If you need to undertake flexible work, you do not need a separate product, the BPM suite can do it for you. Moreover, ACM and BPM work together, any process fragment can be included as a part of the case and processes. One of the things that make Oracle BPM Suite a complete suite.

Thursday May 09, 2013

Part II - Perry Mason and the Case of the Unstructured Process

Can we create a system that can solve mysteries, as Perry Mason would do? Can there be a single method that can solve all mysteries that Perry Mason solved? No, we cannot design such a process because each case is different, participants are different, evidence is different, and conditions are different. If we cannot design a process for just 82 mysteries, how can we hope design a process that can solve, let’s say, 1000 new mysteries every week or each day!

We need Perry Mason for that. That is what knowledge workers are; Perry Masons of claims management, health care or fraud management departments.
In the first part of blog I discussed the “Adaptive” part of Adaptive Case Management. Here, I’ll talk about “Case”.


Well, not this brief ”case” but maybe related to it. So if, this were briefcase of Perry Mason, what would it include? It might contain notes on some clues, interviews of witnesses, a bullet shell, photo of blood stained shirt, and may be a magnifying glass(ok no magnifying glass, that is Sherlock Holmes). The “Case Folder” is similar. It contains all the information collected while the case is being processed and required to solve a case. It may contain documents, pictures, notes, history and data.

Once the case is created it is routed to the person with best skills to solve that case. There may be collaboration required at each stage of the case. The knowledge worker may determine what should be the next step in case, he may start related cases or initiate other necessary processes to resolve the case. There may also be certain service level agreements (SLA) or metrics associated with the cases.

There are also rules and policies associated with cases and case types that determine the constraints or actions in certain conditions. For instance, if a customer is VVIP, claims agent cannot see the personal information and has to settle the case within 1 hour, or escalate it.

The cases can be of different types, they can be investigative like insurance claims, they can be service requests like employee calling helpdesk reporting slow running server or can be incident reporting like when a citizen may report a suspicious activity to local police station.

So we use this concept of case when there is no pre-determined path that can be followed to get to the resolution, or permutations and combinations of paths from start to finish are so numurous that it is impractical to create a process diagram for it.

 Now that we have seen what “Adaptive” is and what a “Case” refers to, in the next part we’ll bring these together and discuss management aspect of adaptive case management.

Oracle BPM Suite added Adaptive Case Management capability in the new release. Check out the webcast to learn more about new release.

Wednesday May 01, 2013

Part I - Manage Processes, the way Octopus does

 

Octopus is one of the smartest beings under the water. After all, it has been picking soccer winning teams better than some pros outside water. That is not the only reason they are smart. They are remarkably adept at adjusting to their surroundings, and that may be one of the reasons that they have been on earth for many thousands of years.

Mimic octopus, for example, can move its arms to take the shape of other sea creatures, can camouflage when sense danger, release ink when threatened and even capable of autotomy – self amputation of tentacle (don’t worry it grows back again). This is one creature that can certainly adapt to its environment and use that skill to thwart threats or to exploit it to capture a prey.

This intelligence and adaptiveness make it a real impressive invertebrate.

Is this not particularly close to what we want in our business processes? We want them to adapt to ever-changing business environment and manage opportunities and threat in an intelligent way.

In this 3 part series, I am going to talk about how adaptive case management ensures success for your business and may be a factor in long term success of your business.

First let’s tackle the word “ADAPTIVE”. Why adapt? How a process adapts? What does adapting provide? Let’s quickly list down each of these.

Why Adapt?

Political, Economic, Social and Technological (PEST) changes to our business warrant the business and processes that form the backbone of the business, to adapt. This may include new product introduction, new competition or new government regulations. These changes can be long term that reflect the design changes to the processes, others can be more dynamic and need to be done in real time.

Situations where processes need to adapt in real-time, that is where dynamic or adaptive case management helps. The reasons could be:

  • Sequence of steps cannot be pre-defined and process needs to be built as it progresses
  • Too many rules, case types, or decision points to include in a single process design
  • Difference in types of process stakeholders that need different treatment

Like octopus, business needs to detect these variables and adapt accordingly.

How a process adapts?

The adaptation can be at various levels. You may need to change following in the process to adapt to certain business situation:

  • Process flow – add, remove activities in different situations
  • Adjust Business rules or include different set of rules for different instances
  • User Interface that changes dynamically and in context

What does adapting provide?

Dynamically adapting to changing business situation provides:

  • More contextual and personalized customer experience
  • Managing unforeseen activities in the process
  • Flexibility to knowledge worker to work on special-case scenarios
  • Responding to changing regulations quickly to avoid fines, penalties
  • Improving the bottom line by responding to opportunities and threats in changing market

In the next part of the blog, we’ll tackle the “Case” component of adaptive case management.

Oracle BPM Suite added Adaptive Case Management capability in the new release. Check out the webcast to learn more.

Friday Apr 12, 2013

Just in ‘Case’…

Just in case you have processes that cannot be easily defined at the design time….

Just in case you need to add ad-hoc activities or performers to your process.…

Just in case you want to monitor processes milestones and not individual activities….

Just in case you want provide guided path to your knowledge workers….

For all such cases, Oracle BPM Suite has added Case Management capabilities in the new release.

Just in case you are wondering what Case Management is all about, Mark Foster describes it here.

Just in case you want to know what people are saying about new Oracle BPM Suite and Case Management check the links below:

An Introduction to Oracle Case Management - Leon Simers

BPM 11g PS6 the support for Adaptive Case Management that Oracle has added to Oracle BPM Suite in this latest release means a breakthrough – Lucas Jellema, Amis

New Case Management Functionality - By Danilo Schmiedel  Opitz Consulting

Oracle BPM 11g Release, blog by Manoj Das capturing feedback from early adopters

Just in case you want to know more about new capabilities of Oracle BPM Suite, including case management, join us for the webinar on April 17.

BPM Webcast

Monday Feb 11, 2013

Do You Know the Risk of Shadow Processes?

In order to do business, companies need to buy and develop many applications. These applications help companies perform various functions. Usually, employees may need to access multiple applications to perform an end-to-end function or what we call a business process.

Take, for example, Order Management. In order to take and complete an order, you may need to access CRM system, Inventory Management, Fulfillment, Shipping and Accounting systems. Most of the times these applications are standalone or at best have point-to-point integration. There may be many activities that you need to perform while processing an order that may not be covered with any of these applications. These activities are called process whitespaces, the steps that are not covered with any of your applications. Usually such activities are performed using emails, phone calls, memos, exchanging spreadsheets etc. These are the shadow processes in your organization - the undocumented, unaudited, non-traceable activities. So where is the problem, you may ask. Problem is that these manual activities cause inefficiency in the organization. In the example above, you may not have visibility into the status of an order at any given point in time, and you’ll tend to run business using dated reports. If a customer calls in to check order status, your employees have to access multiple systems to provide that information to the customer. This leads to waste as well as leads to employees taking decisions based on outdated or incomplete information.

In some cases, your company may also be exposed to compliance risks for not having traceability for all required activities. Using manual procedures means that your compliance and audit costs go high, hitting your bottom line and exposing your company and employees to fines or penalties.

One of the key values of BPM is to fill these process whitespaces and make your business more efficient. The idea is not to replace your existing systems or applications. The idea is to leverage your applications (CRM, ERP, SCM) and define an end-to-end efficient process that fills the whitespaces. Let the applications do what they are best at. Do not make unnatural customizations to COTS applications to fit your processes. Use BPM to bring application together and create custom processes. Any activity that is performed in BPM based application is auditable, efficient and enhances visibility across your business. Check out this demo that talks about using BPM to create efficient processes on top of your applications.

Friday Oct 05, 2012

Case Management Patterns with Oracle Unified Business Process Management Suite

Contributed by Heidi Buelow, Oracle Product Management

Case Management was a hot topic all week at Oracle OpenWorld so I was excited to share our current features and upcoming plans at the session Thursday morning on Case Management Patterns with Oracle Unified Business Process Management Suite.  My colleague, Ravi Rangaswamy, the Case Management Development Manager, and I, Heidi Buelow, the Case Management Product Manager, discussed case management use case patterns with an interested audience.  We also talked about the current BPM Suite offering for Case Managment and showed a demo of our upcoming release where Case Management becomes a first class component in a BPM composite application.

Case Management use case patterns cover a wide range of horizontal applications such as Accounts Payable, Dispute Resolution, Call Center, Employee OnBoarding, and many vertical applications in domains and industries such as Public Sector services, Insurance claims, and Healthcare.  Really, it is any use case where the resolution of a request may require a knowledge worker making decisions using experienced judgement in the current situation.  This allows for expidited care and customer satisfaction, both being highly valued for consumer loyalty, regulatory compliance, and efficient resolution.

Today, BPM Suite provides the tools for creating Case Management applications using BPMN 2.0, Business Rules, and rich BAM and Case Analytics.  The Process Composer provides the agility to change rules and processes by the business users.  The case manager and case workers have the flexibilty they need.  With integrated content management and the concept of a BPM Process Spaces instance (case) space, the current release enables case management use case applications.

In the next release, Case Management becomes a first class component. By this, we mean, Case is a separate component in the composite.  We are adding case attributes such as milestones, case events, case stakeholders, and more, providing a rich toolset for the use cases that require a flexible Case Management approach.  Activites become available according to the conditions that you specify and information can be protected by permissions indicated.  In BPM Studio, you design a Case and associate all of the attributes and activities that are needed, yet, at runtime you have the flexibility to add and change these as needed.

We enjoyed sharing Case Management and it was well received by the audience.  The presentation is available online and we have viewlets of the demo that will be available at release time.

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