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BPM: making the case for case management software

About five years ago, a new term emerged within the business process management (BPM) software market. This term, case management, refers to a specific approach for getting complex, information-intensive work done, as well as providing the name for a new category of BPM software. Case management, or adaptive case management as the WfMC calls it, is different from the more structured/orchestration BPM category because case focuses on information, in addition to flow. (More on that idea in a minute.) As Craig Le Clair and I predicted at the time, the case management approach for automating work and business processes caught fire and eventually became a dominant segment of the BPM software market. In fact, some would argue–myself included–that the case management product category will eventually overtake the more structured BPM (or as Forrester now calls it, the digital process automation) market, or the two will merge into one category.

I bring case management up now for several reasons—1) we’ve been talking about case management all week while here at opentext Enterprise World; 2) it’s a significant technology for automating information-intensive, collaborative processes; and 3), the Annual Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC) Case Management Awards will be presented online on Wednesday, July 19, at 11.30 EDT. I’m always keen to hear which companies win the awards because they truly are the best of the best, and you can learn a lot just by getting to know what they did, how they did it, and what the results were. But this year I’m even more excited because I will co-present the awards with Keith Swenson, (Chairman of the WfMC, and Vice President of Research and Development at Fujitsu North America) and also provide insights about case management trends.

If you are considering BPM software, it’s imperative to understand how case management works and how processes are automated somewhat differently from an orchestration approach. Two simple diagrams shown below illustrate the overriding difference between structured/orchestration BPM and case management BPM.

Figure 1 is a hand drawn depiction of how a process might eventually be diagrammed using a typical business process modeling tool. The core idea behind such a structured process is that work flows from place to place in a fairly predictable manner, that exceptions are accounted for, and throughout this the work is integrated with data, content, analytics and applications as it flows through the organization. When designing these types of more structured processes, the emphasis is on FLOW and INTEGRATION.

Figure 1

In contrast, a case management process starts with a folder concept. The case worker is largely responsible for coordinating all actions related to completing the case, and those actions are often quite complex and time consuming. As the diagram depicts, all types of information objects go into (and out of) the case. The software helps the case manager keep track of any information that may need to be collected, approved, collaborated upon, authored or sent to other workers. While the work still flows, the process is not sequential and neither the flow nor sequencing of work is predictable. As a result, flow (while still important) is not the primary concept driving the process design. Instead, the use of CONTENT and DATA within the process are core to the process automation approach.

Figure 2

We invite you to join us to learn more. To register for the webinar, see 2017 Winners to be Announced in WfMC Global Awards for Excellence in Case Management

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