Creating the Agile and Strategic HR Department through Adaptive Case Management
Today’s post is from Bill Brantley, a member of the #HROS community, who has worked in state government, Federal government, five colleges, and two startups as a paralegal, IT developer, project manager, trainer, and adjunct professor. (whew!). He has an MBA in project management, Ph.D. in public policy and management, and various IT, HR, and project management certifications. Bill enjoys being at the intersection of IT, HR, and project management and you can connect with him on LinkedIn!
As many in the Open Source HR Community are aware, HR must change significantly to support the new agile and digitally-transformed organizations. The good news is that HR is becoming more strategic and innovative (according to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report). However, is the agile HR transformation moving in the right direction and is it happening fast enough? I argue that HR Departments should adopt adaptive case management as the best way to become agile and strategic. Adaptive case management (ACM) has been around for over twenty years and successfully transformed financial, healthcare, and governmental organizations. ACM is the right way forward for HR.
What is Adaptive Case Management?
In traditional business process management, a process model is created that directs how work should be performed. The process model is often created by expert opinion on how the work should be performed. There may be some observations of current work practices but, often, these observations are ignored for the ideal process model. Once the process model has been created, it is implemented, and workers are expected to conform to the new work process. Traditional business processes are hard to change and do not respond well to unusual events.
Adaptive case management (ACM) lets the users design and execute the process simultaneously. At the heart of ACM is the case surrounded and supported by processes, policies, decision rules, data analytics, and collaboration tools. Events and rules are used but, these act more like guardrails to help the user make good decisions in compliance with the rules and regulations. A key feature of ACM is the heavy use of collaborative technologies to help users collectively learn and create a body of knowledge.
Users start with a very simple process that is continually evolved and refined as new cases are processed. Unlike traditional business process, novel cases and exceptions help improve the processes used to manage cases. Users learn new ways to manage cases and then, share these new ways with each other so the entire organization can benefit. ACM is the agile way to create and reinvent business processes. In the next section, I will demonstrate how ACM can recreate the training and development process.
How to Reinvent an HR Process Using ACM
The current way that organizations plan for training and development can be lengthy and is not responsive to suddenly changing marketplace conditions. Most organizations start by determining the existing skills possessed by the workforce. Then, by examining the organization’s strategic goals, the HR department determines what new skills the workforce must support the strategic goals. Training courses are selected or developed, and the training is then disseminated to the workforce. By the time the skill gaps are addressed, it may be a case of “too little, too late” for the organization.
Under ACM, training and development can be more responsive and shift rapidly according to the organization’s strategic needs. While collecting the current skills profile for the workforce is underway, the HR office can use ACM to build templates and a simple reskilling process. As new information and requirements come in, ACM allows for rapid changes to the templates and training efforts to keep pace with the organization’s changing strategic needs. New training methods can be quickly developed with other HR functions (performance management, diversity, and labor relations) and even non-HR functions can assist in creating new training offerings. Strategic goals are being fulfilled while compliance with rules and regulations is maintained through the community library, templates, and collaborating through the ACM collaboration processes.
Open Source HR and ACM
ACM can also further the Open Source HR movement. ACM is based on using collaboration to create an evolving body of knowledge and best practices while the training and development of HR employees are built into the processes. ACM makes it easy to share knowledge among HR teams and create inter-organizational communities of practices. As the Deloitte report noted:
“[T]he HR function is taking on a new role as the steward and designer of . . . new people processes. The mission of the HR leader is evolving from that of ‘chief talent executive’ to ‘chief employee experience officer.’ HR is being asked to simplify its processes, help employees manage the flood of information at work, and build a culture of collaboration, empowerment, and innovation.”
ACM is a good way to recreate the HR function for better customer satisfaction while also becoming a vital strategic partner to the organization and the Open Source HR movement would benefit from adding ACM to its toolbox of methods.