Organizations not only want, but they need to embrace flexibility. Technology evolves, customers have increasing diverse expectations (User Experience) and competitors are eager to lead innovation, thus creating a flexible atmosphere where adaptable and yet resilient operations are imperative for organizations to cope with the demands of such ever-evolving markets. Internally, organizations’ operations are often supported by software systems and broken-down as sets of tasks that are conducted by individuals or algorithms. Those individuals, who can be domain experts, clerks, management, etc., are considered knowledge workers that act based on past-experiences, education level and tacit knowledge, indicating they also require a flexible and personalized work environment (Employee Experience), while algorithms are in charge of repetitive tasks performed by machines.

Nevertheless, businesses need to be accountable to comply with government regulations, predictable and efficient to meet shareholders and customers demands, and even transparent when embracing trends such as the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Movement. The interplay between flexibility, transparency, accountability, predictability and efficiency puts businesses in a challenging position where their operations, i.e., business processes (set of tasks), must be predictable but still flexible.

There exist several initiatives to help businesses and organizations coping with the competing forces of predictability and flexibility found in modern business processes. There are methods such as Safe and Nexus that help setting up an agile framework on how organizations should work; there are the Business Process Management discipline and the acclaimed Process Science that aim at promoting a set of standards, procedures, techniques and supporting computational infrastructure to streamlining business operations; there are Research Groups such as PADS, Tartu, Melbourne, and HPI taking process theory and practice to new levels and lastly, but not least important; there are tools vendors, including Appian, Apromore, Bonita, Camunda, and Celonis, that materialize most of the aforementioned initiatives.

We believe we can also contribute to help businesses and organizations coping with process forces by leveraging on our proven practical and academic expertise on dealing with flexibility and predictability in Agile Software Development Processes, as can be seen from RDL, CollabRDL, RDL Mining, SDP Mining, WIDE, Process Aware Jhipster, BPMNt, AgileQube, Mylyn & SDP, Curated Stackoverflow, Tacin, Critical Path, and RBAC. In a nutshell, we understand Agile Software Development Processes as extremely flexible Business Processes that are heavily dependent on individuals and have a distinct approach for mapping Process Models to Process Instances (executions). As a result, we are confident some techniques we have developed for Agile Software Development Processes such as assessing agility (AgileQube), discovering tasks experts and similar tasks (Tacin), as well as supporting model-to-instance reconciliation (SDP-Reconciliation), may likewise improve flexible Business Processes.

This Research & Development Agenda intends to contribute to the Business Process Management discipline exploring the convergence between Agile and Knowledge-Intensive Processes. The Agile principles defined in the Agile Manifesto, base of some of our previous contributions as AgileQube, SDP-Reconciliation, and Critical Path, bring commitment to continuously delivering business value, while embracing change and promoting collaboration. On the other hand, Knowledge-Intensive Processes (KIPs) expose the need to accommodate knowledge into processes, which become emergent and event-driven. Combining Agile and Knowledge-Intensive concepts to our techniques to model (SDP-Reconciliation, AgileQube, and BPMNt), execute (SDP-Reconciliation and Process Awate ChatBots), and assess (AgileQube, Tacin, and Critical Path) processes should allow defining processes that are flexible to accommodate changes, responsive to help process participants and traceable to facilitate accountability.

This R&D Agenda intends to investigate, develop and communicate state-of-the-art research and also create an ecosystem based on open-source tools to help practitioners navigating the Agile and Knowledge-Intensive Process Lifecycle.

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