Case management to replace BPM?

Read time 3min 30sec

Advanced case management (ACM) is still far from maturity in the international arena while in SA, the solution is closer to non-existent.

ACM is an umbrella term for a range of end-to-end software capabilities, offering an integrated selection of services designed to help firms improve the management of specific business activities, such as investigations or incidents management.

Drawing parallels with business process management (BPM), Craig Leppan, principal consultant at Ovations, noted that many case management solutions traditionally have had their start in BPM or enterprise content management roots.

Speaking at an IBM-Ovations Roundtable in Sandton last week, he said: “BPM offers organisations the ability to automate and optimise many types of processes; adding dynamism to growing business networks comprised of tightly and loosely coupled business partners around the globe.”

On the other hand, ACM combines processes, content, analytics, business rules and people - through collaboration - to optimise the business outcome for every business case, he added.

BPM focuses on optimisation of a process with a key goal to increase the volume of throughput or work completed for an individual process, Leppan explained.

“Case management has a different 'design goal' and focuses on optimisation of outcomes for individual cases by providing an integrated set of information and services for the case worker.

“However, case management leverages BPM capabilities to address the different types of processes that could be called upon to drive case outcomes. These could involve complex structured processes, dynamically assembled sets of services, or ad hoc exchanges among those related to the case, including the customer.”

BPM evolution

Emile Pepermans, a director at Ovations, said as BPM evolved, it has addressed linear processes and unplanned processes, providing organisations the flexibility to change their business rules and processes to meet ever-changing market conditions.

“However, neither every process nor every situation can be automated. In many instances, a person is still required to make a decision. And, increasingly, those decisions have become dependent upon retrieving and understanding pertinent information, consulting with subject matter experts, and conducting current and historic analysis of supporting data and content,” said Pepermans.

Supporting the ACM structure, Leppan noted that every process is unpredictable before it is carried out for the first time. Processes may be repeated in a similar way because the outcome was good. If it can't sustain repeatable flow, then the process remains unstructured, he explained.

It is Leppan's view that the creation, modification and innovation of the process must not require analysts, flow charts and IT.

He also noted that different types of 'cases' exist across industries and organisations. The notion and definition of 'case' differs with each industry,” he explained.

Leppan added that a case folder combines all the required resources at every stage of the case's lifecycle and is managed as a related set of information.

Ad hoc processes

Describing the challenges of BPM, Leppan also singled out ad hoc process, which he said are instantly created activities by the business user. “With case management, there are no fixed processes, for it is goal-oriented and collaborative.

Richard Collard, IBM's senior industry lead, said ACM allows for knowledge worker productivity, which is the biggest of the 21stcentury management solutions.

He quoted management consultant, Peter Drucker: “In developed countries, knowledge worker productivity is the first survival requirement. In no other way can the developed countries hope to maintain themselves, let alone maintain their leadership and standards of living.”

Collard also explained that case workers are charged with making critical decisions or taking actions in situations that are unplanned or are unsuited to automation.

Further, he explained, it may be ideal to provide knowledge workers with the right environment from the start that provides a unified view of the information, activities, analytics and growing history associated with key business objects such as a customer, product, claim, account, loan, and the like.

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