This a copy of my reply to a ebizQ‘s discussion titled Is ACM a new paradigm or a BPM feature?
Last year it has been much discussion about the true meaning of BPM acronyms. Something that reminds me of the cons of information retrieval unsupervised learning or clustering methods when a certain concept eg like Star is associated with astronomy, marine animals or celebrities.
The ACM is a paradigm not a system’s feature. Information technologies are just one resource, such as capital or people that have to be aligned with business strategy. I believe that system vendors do not like this approach because it somehow undermines their sales efforts.
Managers are responsible for identifying the type of work people perform and provide the tools for achieving results. Imagine that you are responsible for investment decisions such as roads, railways and airports. The aim is to take a decision on the size, location and when it should be in operation to serve its intended purpose.
This is an example of the most chaotic and unstructured process I know. There is a high responsibility (if the choice is poorly made, there may be no return on investment or not serve the purpose). This case is a typical one where it is not worth mapping the process. Until the decision is made it will be created thousands of studies, technical drawings, opinions, all mixed with no apparent logical sequence. In this situation managers have to realize they need to create conditions for the information gathering, sharing, ideas, making decisions etc.
A system that supports ACM is a good idea, a wiki, a forum for exchanging ideas with the community, gather information through facebook or twitter equally (even negative feedback like the case with the runway construction at Heathrow Airport). The networked knowledge worker requires hardware that allows to access information outside the office and managers need to identify these needs. Surely there is a deadline for that decision is made. After construction, investment will be evaluated if the return was in line with initial estimates (city rail investments that took place in Spain are a good example, doomed by real estate bubble).
Now reflect for a moment:
In the above example work is nor performed? Is this is a process? The fact that the activities are not structured does not mean that they are uncoordinated. Maybe Process definition as we know it needs to be updated, because it has to include the possibility activities performed can be structured or unstructured.
There is no management? Of course there is! Control mechanisms are seeking to know that we will complete work on time, which the interim results that were achieved?
There is no control? There is. Estimated ROI was achieved?
Results were reached? Stakeholders are pleased?
Is there improvement taking place? What did we learned from the experience?
Wait a moment… All of these aren’t the foundation of Business Process Management?