This posting is the second of a series about Oracle Adaptive Case Management. The first one can be found here. I discuss the different options to define an activity, and the setting you can use to configure when and how activities are started.
There are two ways to implement an activity in ACM. The first one is by creating a Human Task and then "promote" it (as it is called) to an activity. The other way is to create a business process and promote that as an activity. As far as I know there are also plans to use a BPEL process to implement an activity, but that option is not there yet.
When using a Human Task the limitations of it (obviously) are that of a human task, meaning that the means to do some to do some pre- or post-processing for the activity are very limited. There are only a few hooks for Java call outs and XPath expressions, but as processing of that happens on the Human Workflow Engine this won't show up in Enterprise Manager, and error handling will be hard if not impossible. So, when you for example need to call a service before or after a human task (like sending a notification email) you better use a process.
So unless you are sure that such pre- or post-processing will be not necessary, the safest option is to use a process with a human task instead. That will give you all the freedom you have with a BPMN process. The disadvantage is that you will not be able to expose the UI of the task on the Case tab in workspace. However, as for any case management application of a reasonable size you probably will have one or more human activities in a process anyway, and as from a user experience perspective it probably is confusing to have tasks on Task tab, and some of them also on the Case tab, I don't expect this to be a practical issue in most cases. Meaning that in practice you probably handle all tasks from the Task tab only and on the Case tab show only some overview screen.
In ACM activities can be Manually Activated or Automatically Activated. Furthermore you can specify if an activity is Required, Repeated, and/or Conditionally available.
The difference between manually and automatically activated is that in the first case the user explicitly starts an activity by choosing it from a list of available activities. Automatically activitated activites are for example used for some case pre- and post-processing, and for activities that always have to start at some point, and (optionally) given some specific conditions (like some milestone being reached or some other activity being completed). An example is that once a claim has been entered, it has to be reviewed before anything else can happen.
Required activities should be completed before a stage is completed. Be careful though, as nothing is preventing you from closing the stage even though a required activity has not yet finished. If the user has the proper rights, he/she can complete an activity event even when no actual work has been done. There is no option to prevent that. However, in case of an automatically activated activity you can use business rules to reschedule it. For example, if the Review Complaint activity is required, and by that the complaint must have been given a specific status by the Complaints Manager you can use a rule to reactivate the activity if the user tries to close it without having set the status.
Repeatable activities can be started by the user more than once. There is no point in checking automatically activated activities as being repeatable. An example of a repeatable activity can be one where the Complaints Manager invites some Expert to provide input for a complaint, and he/she may need to be able to involve any amount of experts.
Conditionally available activities are triggered by some rule. Both manually as well as automatically activated activities can be conditional. If automatically activated, the activity will start as soon as the rule conditions are satisfied. In case of manually activated activities the rule conditions will determine whether or not the user can choose to from the list of available activities.