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The Unified Collaborative Work Environment

In the previous article we divided the collaborative work continuum into projects, processes, cases, document-oriented workflows and issues.

We also noted that it was made for analysis purposes only; in reality, they are interrelated. As an illustration, the PMBOK (Process Management Body of Knowledge) talks about processes more than about projects; similarly, the big part of BPM CBOK (Business Process Management Common Body of Knowledge) is devoted to processes improvement and process transformation projects.

This interrelation shows itself in the following:
  1. Interoperability: one form of collaborative work initiates or calls another.
Examples: a patient’s treatment at the hospital (a case) calls a series of tests and procedures (processes). A project is instantiated by the project initiation process according to PMBOK.

  1. Migration: changing the collaborative work classification over time.
Attributing a collaborative work as a project, process or case often is a matter of interpretation. The real world example: a pharmaceutical company considered a new drug development as a project, until one day they came to the idea of a standard project template. Soon after that they realized that this work should be better treated as a process.

Another common example is case-process migration. The popularity of case management is partly due to lower initial implementation and deployment costs in comparison with processes. Therefore, even if the activities flow is fully predictable and may be managed as a process end-to-end, an organization may choose to treat it as a case to save the process analysis, design and automation costs. The case management doesn’t require a process model or diagram – it starts from the given goal and assigning a performer who then defines and completes a series tasks, either by himself or by assigning them to others. After a while best practices can be collected, analyzed and implemented as a process – hence the migration.

  1. Common tasks management: every collaboration decomposes to tasks eventually. The task content remains the same whether it comes from a project, process or case. The “My tasks” portal should contain all tasks assigned to the performer wherever they come from.
  2. Common resources management: tasks coming from various collaboration channels usually require the same resources, i.e. people. A manager responsible for the efficient resources utilization should have the whole picture: what processes, cases and/or projects a particular employee participates in.

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