Case Happens

I have really enjoyed Bruce Silver's blog on the relationship between case management and BPM in reply to the OMG event down in Costa Rica. Apparently there was some heated debate.  

In the past week I was also privileged to sit in on my colleague Setrag Khoshafian's briefings on the critical relationship between complex event processing, the importance of a business rules approach to help do a kind of dynamic and some might say  "declarative" case management that allows for intent-led and rules-driven guidance and triage. (When Setrag comes back from his trip I am sure he will join in the discussion.) Bruce is of course a respected champion for BPMN and wants to see this standard incorporate a case management aspect, and while this would be a good thing, my suspicion is, based on the way the world works, it would also have to encompass complex events and business rules as well since these are what generate the exceptions which become the "case" in the first place. Without these, the 'case' entity is going to be somewhat artificial. Part of the problem is that it is hard to procedurally (which is how most BPM is modeled) accomodate the unexpected and plan for the unplanned. This notion of "declarative modeling" used by Gartner in the last BPMS MQ is I think worth pursuing since it describe a way that people can use  BPM  and business rules at the same time. Case happens. You can't plan for it, but the work world is familiar with ad hoc, unstructured, chaotic flows (take AML/Fraud for example or even managing a distributed enterprise-wide composite application) that intersect intensely with human-to-human collaboration, as well as business and system events that routinely, insistently and rudely disrupt and fracture our hermetically sealed process models of procedural work flow. I think we need to look at business rules and complex event management and dynamic case management as essential pre-requisites for a BPM that works the way people do.