Dynamic Case Management In the Public Sector

There was nothing that could have entice me to attend the Lean Six Sigma presentation this late in the afternoon, so instead I opted for the public sector track (which is not really my area of interest) for a discussion on dynamic case management (which is my area of interest) by Craig LeClair.

Government workers have low levels of empowerment and resourcefulness, for both cultural reasons and lack of technology to support such activities. So why is dynamic case management important in the government? He lists several reasons, including the increased need to manage the costs and risks of servicing higher numbers of citizen requests, the less structured nature of government jobs, demographic trends that will see many experience government workers retiring soon, and new regulations that impact their work.

Forrester defines dynamic case management as “a semistructured but also collaborative, dynamic, human and information-intensive process that is driven by outside events and requires incremental and progressive responses from the business domain handling the case”. A case folder at the center of the case is surrounded by people, content, collaboration, reporting, events, policies, process and everything else that might impact that case or be consumed during the working of the case. It’s a combination of BPM, ECM and analytics, plus new collaborative user interface paradigms. Forrester is just wrapping up a wave report on dynamic case management (or adaptive case management, as it is also known), and we’re seeing a bit of the research that’s going into it.

Le Clair discussed the three case management categories – service requests, incident management and investigative – and showed several government process examples that fit into each type as well as some case studies. He moved on to more generic Forrester BPM advice that I heard earlier in sessions today, such as leveraging centers of excellence, but included some specific to case management such as using it as a Lean approach for automating processes.

39 minutes into a 45-minute presentation, he turned it over to his co-presenter, Christine Johnson from Iron Data, although he assured her that she still had 15-20 minutes. 🙂 She walked through a case lifecycle for a government agencies dealing with unemployment and disability claims through retraining and other activities: this includes processes for referral/intake, needs assessment and service plan, appeals, and so on. Some portions, such as intake, had more of a structured workflow, whereas others were less structured cases where the case worker determined the order and inclusion of activities. There were some shockingly detailed diagrams, not even considering the time of day, but she redeemed herself with a good list of best practices for case management implementations (including, ironically, “clutter-free screens”), covering technology, design and process improvement practices.

Interestingly, Johnson’s key case study on a federal agency handling disability claims started as an electronic case file project – how many of those have we all seen? – and grew into a case management project as the client figured out that it was possible to actually do stuff with that case file in addition to just pushing documents into it. The results: paperless cases, and reduced case processing times and backlogs.

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