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James Taylor has an interesting post on how optimization should not be constrained to a single process. I could not agree more. I would link this optimization to simulation needs for BPM. In response to Khan’s post, I had the post detailing how simulation can help for process optimization. The percieved benifit of simulation can be achieved only if the approach is based on a wholesome perspective than a single process.

If we look into the application of simulation in the market, though vendors talk about many “nice” features around simulation, there are not many BPM projects using these features. One reason could be the result from such a simulation is too narrow to be effective in an enterprise. Check out my post for details on what i term as “Balanced Scorecard Simulation”.

In this blog post, we will discuss when and where a case management solution fits in the spectrum of processes in an enterprise. The spectrum for process in an enterprise can be illustrated as below in diagram 1.

Diagram 1: Spectrum of process in enterprise

As illustrated in diagram 1, on one side of the spectrum, we have highly structured, well defined procedures for achieving a process objective, while on the other side, we have highly contextual, well defined results for achieving the objective. The conventional business processes (based on Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN)) can help to model these processes, while the other end can be catered to by case based processes.

The other distinction for implementing BPMN based processes or case based processes, is the level of empowerment needed for achieving the process objectives. This is illustrated in Diagram 2 below – adapted for the evaluation framework by Derek Miers.

Diagram 2: Empowerment for work force

As illustrated in Diagram2, the processes which require high empowerment on the part of work force are better implemented using case based processes as they allow the flexibility required to use the skills of the knowledge involved.

The next differentiating need for application of BPMN based processes against case based is the amount of collaboration required to achieve the process objectives. This is illustrated in Diagram 3 – adapted from a research paper by van der Aalst, W.M.P., Berens, P.J.S.

Diagram 3: Collaboration needs
As illustrated in Diagram3, Case based solutions are best suited in the process spectrum requiring semi structured in terms collaboration and flexibility. This is catered through the features like follow-ups and mandatory activities that need to worked on.

Jim Sinur has a interesting post on Gartner detailing the idea of goal directed processes. Certainly a combination of flow directed and goal directed processes help enterprise to be agile and yet be controlled for regulatory needs. My interest in this post is around the empowerment that can be provided to the process workers (or should I call them knowledge workers) more scope for taking decisions towards a goal. The declarative aspect of such modeling “empowers” the knowledge workers to have the flexibility needed to achieve the goal.


Rashid N. Khan has a post on the use of simulation in BPM here.  Khan raises valid concerns on the usage and results of simulation. I tend to agree with his views. But I would like to another dimension to the concept of simulation.  Assuming the points Khan is raising are taken care of, how does the result of the simulations be used. There could be two results

  • A resource bottleneck
  • A change in the process for optimal business results

How do these results get incorporated into the process? Is the resource bottleneck handled by increasing the number of people working on that particular step? How do we know the impact of this change for the other processes in the enterprise?
Secondly, for a change in the process, how do these changes be handled? Considering that there will be many processes in an enterprise and all of them are dependent on each other, changing one process certainly needs re-work on the other.
The point, I am trying to make is, for simulation to be effective, it should be possible to simulate the processes at a higher level than individual processes. The level could be

  • Group of processes dealing with a particular line of business or requiring specific skills from the participants etc
  • Value chains  which provide a value for the end customer

The simulations at this level of granularity help the enterprise optimize their processes from a balanced scorecard perspective.