Traditionally, processes are designed for rigid “straight-through processing” without human intervention, unless there is a major exception of deviation from predictable workflows between known job roles and process participants. In a world where things can be predicted, modeled, and carved in stone, this might be appropriate. But the world is changing fast and this can no longer be the norm for the foreseeable future. Processes and business process management (BPM) will have to evolve to deal with a faster pace of change. We see this in agent-oriented business process management (aoBPM) and adaptive case management, where events play a bigger role in the processes.
Today, volatility is introduced because of extreme competition, customer demands for satisfaction, geopolitical and economic, and the desire for better business outcomes. We live in an unpredictable world where real-time information, and data represented by events and event patterns, can make a big difference in business outcomes; as business increases its speed, it becomes more important to recognize those events and the ways in which we deal with them. The faster we go, the more opportunity for events to emerge that requires response. We are in a faster paced world, so processes need to take a new approach, or new processes will need to be created.
Anyone who has driven at speeds greater than 70 mph in traffic can attest to the number of events that are presented to a driver.—tire pieces, weather issues, and other obstacles. There is no end of events and event combinations that face drivers as their speed increases. In addition, drivers have to respond faster or face dire consequences. In the same way, processes increase volatility, condition, and speed. It is important for processes to change the way they are constructed, and what they “see” and the way they react.
Process Models Change
Processes will need to become more granular in nature. Inclusive process models, process snippets (reusable portions of flow), or adaptive case management approaches will allow real-time events to interrupt, reroute, and reconfigure processes efficiently in flight. We will be moving from static processes, with goals evolving to responsive and goal-driven processes. However, there will be structured snippets (min-flows) that will stay intact and leveraged in various sequences, depending on events and rules. This change could make some existing processes out of date.
Responses to Pattern Change
Processes need to respond to expected events and event patterns at the most basic level, and identify events of interest for further analysis at a more complex level. Historically, processes have not included events as first-class objects until the emergence of the intelligent process and the iBPMS technology platform to support intelligent processes. It is important for processes to identify important events, as processes often are the first responders to what appears to be a business exception. Setting up complex events as a first line receptor of patterns allows processes to continue with as many process instances as possible.
Process intelligence will continue to grow with the addition of new features and functionality. Complex events processing is one of these key new features. Take a look at this graphic for a deeper explanation of intelligence in processes. In the next generations of BPM, both aoBPM and adaptive case management will be heavily reliant on events
Processes need to take advantage of real-time event data and it may require a difference in the way processes listen, analyze, and respond to these events. The very nature of processes and the technologies that they employ may also have to change to keep up with the need for speed.