What Organizations Want From Case Management

There was an AIIM webinar today on supporting the information worker with case management, featuring Craig Le Clair from Forrester.

Le Clair introduced the concept of information workers, a term that they use instead of knowledge worker, defined as “everyone between 18 and 88 with a job in which they use a computer or other connected device”, which I find to be a sufficiently broad definition as to be completely useless but allows them to use the cute abbreviation iWorker. Today, however, he’s just focused on those iWorkers who are involved with case management, in other words, what the rest of us would call knowledge workers. Whatever.

Forrester uses the term dynamic case management – others use advanced or adaptive case management, but we’re talking about the same thing – to mean “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.” Le Clair provided a quick summary of dynamic case management, with the document-centric case file as the focus, surrounded by processes/tasks, data, events and other aspects that make up the entire history of a case. There are some business challenges now that are driving the adoption of case management, including cost and risk management for servicing customer requests, enforcing compliance in less structured processes, and support for ad hoc knowledge work. He spoke specifically about transparency in regulatory compliance situations, where case management provides a way to handle regulatory processes for maximum flexibility while still enforcing necessary rules and capturing a complete history of a case, although most customers are more focused on case management specifically for improving customer service.

He described case management as a convergence of a number of technologies, primarily ECM, BPM, analytics and user experience, although I would argue that events and rules are equally important. Dynamic allocation of work is key: a case can select which tasks that should be applied to a case, and even who should be involved, in order to reach the specified states/goals of the case. Some paths will include structured processes, others will be completely ad hoc, others may involved a task checklist. Different paths selected may trigger rules and events, or offer guidance on completion. Different views of the case may be available to different roles. In other words, case management tries to capture the flexible experience of working on a case manually, but provides a guided experience where regulations demand it, and captures a complete audit trail as well as analytics of what happened to the case.

Forrester predicts that three categories of case management will emerge – investigative, service requests and incident management (can you sense three separate Forrester Waves coming?) – focused on different aspects of customer experience, cost control and risk mitigation. Key to making these work will be integration of core customer data directly into the case management environment, both for display to a case worker as well as allowing for automated rules to be triggered based on customer data. There are some challenges ahead: IT is still leading the configuration of case management applications, and it just takes too long to make changes to the rules, process models and reporting.

He was followed by Ken Bisconti from IBM’s ECM software products group, since IBM sponsored the webinar, talking about their new Case Manager product; I wrote about what Ken and many others said about this at the IOD conference last month, and just had an in-depth briefing on the product that I will be writing about, so won’t cover his part of the presentation today.

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