Resolving Case Management Challenges with Dynamic BPM

Dermot McCauley of Singularity discussed case management and its need for dynamism. He’s one of the co-authors of Mastering the Unpredictable: How Adaptive Case Management Will Revolutionize The Way That Knowledge Workers Get Things Done, and started with a definition of case management:

Case management is the management of long-lived collaborative processes that require secure coordination of knowledge, content, correspondence and resources to achieve an objective or goal. The path of execution cannot be predefined. Human judgment is required in determining how to proceed, and the state of a case can be affected by external events.

As he pointed out, cases are inherently unpredictable, emerging and changing over time, and must allow case workers to chart their own course through the process of managing the case, deciding on the right tasks to do and the right information to include at the right time. He discussed 14 key characteristics of case management, including “goal driven”, “information complexity” and “fluid participants and roles”, and how a case management technology platform must include aspects of BPMS, ECM and collaboration technologies in order to effectively support the knowledge workers. He also discussed the criticality of the history of a case, even more so than with structured processes, since cases are typically long-running and might include several workers added in partway through the case timeline. Case workers need a flexible work environment, since that’s the nature of their work, which means that they need to be able to configure their own desktop environment via a mashup-like functionality in order to organize their work effectively.

He also covered off a bit of their own product; interesting to see that there is a process map underlying a case, with a “happy path” showing what the case should be doing, but providing the user at any point with the ability to skip forward or back in the process map, initiate other (pre-defined) tasks, reassign the task to another user, and change case characteristics such as priority and expected completion time. This is not purely unstructured process, where there is no predefined model, but dynamic BPM where the model is predefined but can be readily changed while in flight. They have implemented a solution with the UK Insolvency Service, dealing with individual bankruptcy; this was targeted at a new low-cost program that the Insolvency Service was putting in place to handle the large number of low-asset individual insolvency cases in the face of the recent economic crisis. They used an agile approach, moving the case files from paper to electronic and providing a more flexible and efficient case management process that was live within 12 months of the original government legislation that enacted the program.

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