This blogpost will be a part of a series, containing the English translation of 2 Whitebooks originally written in Dutch. Because Whitehorses believes ACM to become a very important feature in Oracle Fusion Middleware, it was decided to translate these Whitebooks into a series of blogposts. Enjoy!
With the arrival of patchset 6 of the Oracle Fusion Middleware (FMW) 11g Release Oracle introduces a new and important feature: Adaptive Case Management (ACM). ACM makes it easier to implement highly flexible business processes in a FMW environment. Information on ACM is still scarce. It is expected that in the next major FMW release ACM will be improved upon and that it will become as important a member of FMW as BPM and BPEL.
The centerpiece of ACM is the case itself. The first series (called ACM – an overview) will focus on the most important components of a case and it’s lifecycle. The common theme of this whitebook used to explain ACM, is a fictional case based on the Dutch law called WABO (to be explained later on). The theme is used in the examples and demos to better explain the concept.
Oracle FMW, or more specifically Oracle BPM, enables the support of structured processes. Combined with the Human Workflow (user interfaces) component it is also possible to support less structured processes. This allows you to create a large scale of semi-structured business processes. But what of the exceptions to that structured process? How easy is it to support these? When the flow of the process must be ad hoc, eg. when outside stakeholders influence the flow, it is very hard to support this with the standard components. BPM in itself does not provide anything out of the box you can use. So in order to support highly flexible, ad hoc processes you have to write custom processes and/or applications. This is a time-consuming process and the overall product delivered is often not quite what the business had in mind and can be a maintenance nightmare. You therefore need something that foremost offers flexibility out-of-the-box. This is where ACM is positioned.
A good example of a process that demands a highly flexible solution and would be ideal to create with the help of ACM, is the WABO case.
The WABO Case
To present you with a good view of the possibilities and applications of ACM, we’ll try to clarify the different ACM components by means of the WABO process. This will show you how ACM could be used for solving a real-life case and it shows you where it offers added business value when compared to a BPM-only solution.
The (Dutch) WABO law states that a local municipality has to gather as much of the information needed for eg. a building permit application at the beginning of the application process. This information furthermore has to be reused in all the consequent subprocesses of the application, relieving the applicant of the tedious task of supplying the same information over and over again, thus reducing a lot of unnecessary bureaucracy.
When a company eg. wants to build a new facility for storing toxic fluids, one has to apply for a complete set of permits (environmental, building, fire safety, etc.). Taking into account the complexity of the overall application, chances are that the applicant will deliver its information in phases and will add extra information as the case progresses. Furthermore it is possible that the applicant’s building plans will change in the course of the process or that additional information is required. A permit application therefore can be very ad hoc given it’s complexity. A traditional (BPM) process can not be easily applied here. Every exception will add more complexity (and custom configuration) to the solution and in the end will lead to a highly intransparent and unmaintainable system. A more flexible solution is called for, one that also supports document management in some form: Enter ACM!!