On a final email check before packing up the PC, I spotted that Bruce's BPMS Watch discussion on 'What is Case Management?' is still going strong. It shows how industry specific the term seems to be, with valuable insights and opinions coming from all round (mine included, maybe!?). Since I'm not going to blog in a while, here's my view of the different focuses on case management:
In government, where repeatability and strict policy adherence is required, process is typically well defined up front, while allowing case managers the flexibility to ‘case manage’ within that structure. For this reason, many case management applications seem to resemble high level state or status tracking applications than BPM tools. For them, the beauty is in a UI structure that is familiar and usable by the end-user.
In commercial environments I’ve seen case management applications fit into any repeatable business process that requires some human intervention and real knowledge based decision making. A large amount of process state is based on the requirement and receipt of external documents and information, and the effective matching of this to current cases. Much of a granular BPM(N) process model could be overwhelmed with ‘rendezvous’, exeptions and representing collaboration as parallel processes, hence case management tools carry their own individual methodologies to abstract the common requirements to something repeatable and configurable.
To handle ad-hoc and collaborative process definition within structured process definitions, an easy to use approach is to present users with ‘task management’ (dislaimer: the Global 360 Case Manager application I product manage takes this approach). This is effectively a mini project plan that guides users down paths based on their decisions, tracking the tasks as they and their colleagues perform them (perhaps a little of Rafael’s project manager approach). It allows task templates to be used based on user or application control, or users to create new tasks to meet their needs on an ad-hoc basis. This way you get tracking of processes, control over tasks performed if necessary, and complete ad-hoc operation if required.
I think that dependent on industry, we’ll all have a different definition of ‘case management’. It is less of a technology definition than BPM, instead being something that seems to be borne out of real business requirements by users that focus less on technology and more on the business goals.
Have a great week everyone.