Comparison: ACM vs. BPM


What is the difference between Adaptive Case Management (ACM), and Business Process Management (BPM)?


coordinationboth used to help workers within organizations to coordinate better, to achieve goals more efficient, and to better meet the needs of their customers.



both involve data, process, roles, communications, integration and analytics.


logicthey take, however, very different approaches to doing this.



Differences in the approach

Business Process Management

Business process management approaches the problem of improving the work of an organization from a strongly process centric point of view.

The first thing you think about is the process. In a certain way, it is the process which defines whether two instances are similar or not.

Data flow into and out from the process. The process represents the goal of a particular sequence of actions, but that goal is not itself an information resource.

The process instance contains process relevant data, as well as application data, but it is generally assumed that that data is a copy of data that has its source elsewhere. This is the main point about “integration” of the process into other information resources.

BPM might be visualized as:

BPM visualized

Adaptive Case Management

Adaptive Case Management (also known as Advanced Case Management) also tries to improve the performance of an organization, but instead of considering the process primary, it is the case information that is primary. This information is an information resource, which will be accessed over the length of use, and in many situations will become the official record (system of record) for that work.

There can be processes, but the processes are brought to the case, and run in the context of the case, rather than the other way around.

An ACM system might be envisioned as this:

ACM visualized

Both approaches deal with

  • process relevant data,
  • allow for processes.
  • produce history information that can be analyzed to determine the efficiency of the group involved.
  • available to multiple people
  • people are notified of tasks
  • capture the results of tasks

At a technical level, they are similar or even identical. But at a methodological level – how you approach a given problem –  they are opposite ends of a spectrum.

In BPM, the process is primary, and so normally the process is predetermined and static, while the data flow through it. With ACM, it is the data that is primary, which tends to remain persistent for a long time, possibly forever, but it is processes that are brought to it. In many cases with ACM, the processes are not even fully predefined but can be defined on the fly.

The net result is that BMS and ACM are useful for different kinds of business situations.

  •  Highly predictable and highly repeatable business situations are best supported with BPM.
    • For example signing up for cell phone service: it happens thousands of times a day, and the process is essentially fixed.
  • Unpredictable and unrepeatable business situations are best handled with ACM.
    • For example investigation of a crime will require following up on various clues, down various paths, which are not predictable beforehand. The are various tests and procedures to use, but they will be called only when needed.
The above text borrowed heavily from The WORKFLOW MANAGEMENT COALITION site – Public Notes


Want to learn more?

Below is a selection of resources that I personally feel are relevant to this blog post, and will allow you to get more in-depth knowledge. I do earn a commission if you purchase any of these, and for that I am grateful. Thank you. (Important Disclosure)



    1. Jonas
      • Max J. Pucher
    2. Max J. Pucher

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