There were many lessons I learned whilst doing my MBA in the beginning of the century. Two of the topics we learned kept puzzling me for a long time:
(1) The importance of operational excellence by measuring and then optimizing the individual elements of a process
(2) The X and Y theory, can you trust your employees and should you give unlimited freedom or are employees per definition not to trust and should you therefore install fixed procedures to support and control them.
Working in the services industry, it seemed that creating operational excellence was not really applicable since it all depends on the knowledge of the individual, of course supported by frameworks and best practices. Would it be useful and possible to break up the processes in a consulting engagement and optimize them accordingly?
In the later case you would also apply more control to the consultant workforce. Would that bring the best value to the customer, or should one apply the X theory and give full trust and freedom to the individual consultant in the hope they will act on the best behalf of the customer with the highest impact and productivity?
After several years managing P&L’s within our organization, I became convinced that probably a combination of both theories should apply. On the one hand industrialize the way of working, meanwhile preserving the creativity of the individual. As once somebody told, each tailor uses the same procedures to create a suit, it is the fabric and the elegant touches which makes him/her unique.
For me the big question is how can you facilitate the decision process of the individual; making sure he or she has all the information required to make the best decision for the company.
Current technology has finally come to maturity to deal with these questions. Case Management allows you to gather information, industrialized or from creativity to guide knowledge workers in their decision-making. Not only in guiding but also allowing us to capture the Case in a structured way, making it possible to learn and adapt our decision making for future cases. In other words: to really make us a learning organization.
Case management is often too much seen as a toolset to allow document handling in the public space. Case management can bring so much more.
The authors demonstrates in this book that if you want to be leading the digital space, if you want to provide the best customer experience, you need to start with facilitating the decision making process. This is what Case management is all about. It is not about registering the transaction, it is to allow a better interaction with the end user.
With some great examples, this book will give you a better perspective of the art of the possible. How you can achieve a superior customer experience. How you can allow your employees to leverage their creativity to the max, based on thorough information and analysis. Yes, that can go hand in hand!
In other words, this book gave me the answer to the questions that puzzled me since the beginning of 2000. Can we further industrialize and optimize the services business whilst giving employees the maximum freedom to use their intellect? Yes we can, we call it Case Management.
CTO Application Services Continental Europe, Capgemini
In 1959 Peter Drucker, an American management consultant whose work contributed to the foundations of the modern business, coined the term “Knowledge Worker” as “Employees such as data analysts, product developers, planners, programmers and researchers who are engaged primarily in acquisition, analysis and manipulation of information as opposed to in production of goods or services.”
Fast-forward to todays modern IT landscapes, Case Management solutions aim to support the Knowledge Worker in his decision-making process and find the way into software vendor product portfolios. In fact, a Business Process Management (BPM) product is not considered complete without some support for Case Management. BPMN 2.0 very well addresses the requirements for structured and human centric business processes and has become quite successful for both process analysis and execution.
However, in situations with a large degree of process variance (number of channels to consider, product groups, regions etc.) and where new situations must be considered while the process is running it has turned out to be quite hard or even impossible to implement in BPMN. The combinatorial explosion considering all variants of a process typically ends in bloated process diagrams with many decision gateways and/or event sub-processes with the process engine in full control of the execution. For an optimal support of the Knowledge Worker, the user should be in the driver seat of the business process though.
The upcoming OMG standard for Case Management Model and Notation (CMMN) addresses those requirements by providing the ability to “plan” work and in general follows an event and condition (considering the case data) paradigm rather then a strict sequence flow model.
This book is a “must read” for people that want to learn more about the area of Case Management and how Case Management functionality is supported in various Oracle products including Oracle BPM Suite. It motivates with real world examples and goes into details all the way to concrete implementation. The Case Management Solution Framework (CMSF) carved out in the book is technology agnostic and applicable in general. The case diagrams of the CMSF are modeled in CMMN notation, which makes this book a good complement to the CMMN specification and thus is amongst the first books using CMMN.
In our roles of Oracle BPM Suite product development and as contributors to the OMG BPMN 2.0, CMMN 1.0 and DMN 1.0 standards we very welcome this book as it nicely introduces into the field of Case Management and then shows how Oracle BPM Suite with its comprehensive set of functionality from low-level service orchestration and mediation to business processes with BPMN 2.0 and Case Management components can be used to implement Adaptive Case Management solutions.
Vaishnavi Sashikanth (Vice President, Oracle Product Development)
Ralf Mueller (Architect, Oracle BPM Suite)
Presently, as machines and software are providing all the necessary means to automate routine work to their maximum possible extent, automation efficiency is receding in value as a competitive differentiator. Instead, a company’s ability to use its organizational knowledge and experience to solve customer problems effectively is becoming more and more a favored strategy for excellence and competitiveness. Knowledge workers, those who actually translate the organizational knowledge to problem solving tricks and techniques, need highly flexible work tools that traditional BPM, with rigid process models, do not provide; event-based Adaptive Case Management (ACM) approach fills this gap. Of course, the world is typically not black-and-white and, as we also see in my own company’s work, most solutions aimed at organizing business activities naturally demand that there be a combination of case management and traditional BPM to deliver the right balance of effectiveness and efficiency. This book calls this combination “Generalized BPM”.
Oracle provides a wide range of software tools to create generalized BPM solutions the most notable being the Oracle Unified BPM Suite that uses essential features of Service-Oriented Architecture Suite (SOA Suite) as its foundation. ACM, BPM and SOA are a natural match. Together they facilitate the next phase in the evolution of digitization and automation of the next generation business process management and derive higher value from SOA services including better reuse, composability and manageability. With this combined approach business process management will no longer be about hard coding functions in a rigid process model rather become an agile platform helping to cope with continuous business changes and operations improvements.
However, having only the tools does not help with the whole process of taking user requirements and building solutions–adequate and practical guidance on solution design philosophy as well as solution architecture and implementation best practices are necessary for realization of a quality solution. This book, the first of its kind, provides this guidance starting at high-level considerations through appropriate technology choices from Oracle’s big basket of products right up to solution design details, thus making the dream of creating business applications to manage structured and unstructured business activities an achievable one.
Geoffroy de Lamalle, CEO, eProseed
In the early years of Web services and Service-Oriented Architecture I had the pleasure to work in my role at Oracle with some key architects at leading System Integration Companies. Across companies we started to exchange information & best practices to deliver successful SOA customer projects, for example one of the first European Oracle Service Bus or one of the first Oracle BPEL projects. This group of experts became the “Masons of SOA”. Based on the mission to share knowledge, leading industry experts like Thomas Erl invited us to speak at conferences e.g. the SOA Symposium. We also contribute to the SOA Design Patterns or Next Generation SOA book and the SOA Magazine with Industrial SOA series.
From the early days of Web services we were part of the SOA journey to become more mature by the adoption of service bus technology, orchestration like BPEL, business activity monitoring, pattern matching, API management, etc. – all the solutions which became Oracle SOA Suite. The next step for Oracle was to adopt BPMN as an executable engine in the middleware portfolio. In 2013 it was obvious to extend BPM Suite with Adaptive Case Management (ACM) functionality. ACM benefits from the whole Oracle middleware technology stack including SOA, traditional BPM, document management, business Intelligence and identity management solutions.
In my Oracle role where I am responsible for Fusion Middleware partner adoption in Europe Middleware East and Africa, I have the privilege to talk to industry experts as well to Oracle product management and product development teams. It is wonderful to see that many of them contributed to this book. Oracle is organized by key product areas like database, middleware and applications. Since more than 10 years I have focused on the middleware technology set and this book is an eye opener for me to leverage this technology set as well as a few other Oracle application products for different case management solutions. It defines the starting point of an ACM journey. The solutions framework helps customers to design and classify your project. Based on the solution characteristics and the functional design the technology capabilities are determined. The CORA framework is an excellent tool to determine an ACM solution that fit the use case. Customers benefit from selecting the right case management solution based on their need from the broad Oracle portfolio.
Like SOA we can see that ACM continues to evolve. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) the amount of information explodes. Big data makes this information available. Knowledge workers can leverage ACM systems to make better decision. My daily work and the huge success of the Oracle Middleware Partner Community is an excellent example for knowledge workers working on cases – I would like to congratulate all the writers of this book to have achieved another milestone in our case.
Jürgen Kress, Fusion Middleware Partner Adoption, Oracle EMEA