Case management is a term for several areas where cases, which are typically linked to an individual, need to be coordinated and optimized. Case management is always collaborative.
The precise meaning of case management depends on the context in which it us used: information management, mental health (and healthcare overall), legal work, insurance and any other domain where cases take center stage. In other words: case management really can mean many things which aren’t always related.
In this article we look at case management from the (business) process and information management perspective, revolving around the digitization and optimization of processes, information (from multiple sources and across multiple stages in the handling of the case), the actions taken across various possible cases and a key role for knowledge workers.
In this sense, case management has been evolving since software vendors started offering solutions with an increasing emphasis on dynamic, advanced, adaptive or “no-adjective” case management (all terms are used interchangeably) for several reasons.
These reasons include customer-centricity, agility, the advent of the knowledge economy, the changing face of work, mobility, the need for a more holistic case approach, the limits of traditional information-related and process-related systems, changed customer and stakeholder demands, the need for efficiency, autonomy, productivity and collaboration of knowledge workers and even digital transformation.
Advanced case management definition and rationale
The rationale behind advanced case management, mainly used in an information management context, as such is pretty straightforward if we look at the definition of case management.
Case management (or advanced, dynamic or adaptive case management) is the management of all information, events and work with regards to a case whereby the case itself is at the center and workflows, collaboration, analytics, processes, activity/content history and other information-related case aspects are organized around the case.
A case could be anything here and we cover some examples below. It could be a customer-related case such as a customer service request or a loan application but also a more internal case such as (all information regarding) a complex, collaborative and longer process like the development of a new service, treated as a case.
Advanced case management is a vision, a way of working and a technological reality with advanced or dynamic case management solutions. Let’s take a look at case management solutions first.
Case management solutions: a hybrid mix of technologies, centred around cases
Case management solutions can include ECM (Enterprise Content Management) or modern BPM (Business Process Management) applications but there is a range of adaptive case management solutions on the market, which include but go beyond traditional ECM and BPM functions.
Under the hood of adaptive case management solutions we typically find several technologies from other applications such as ECM, BPM, analytics platforms, collaboration tools and so on, enriched with other technologies but most of all different in the way they are used. In other words: advanced case management solutions look differently at the usage of these technologies and partially repurpose them around cases, just as advanced case management looks differently at how we deal with complex processes which need a combination of human work, interventions and decisions on one hand and workflow, automation and information digitization on the other.
Both ECM and BPM platforms are beginning to become somewhat of commodities as, certainly in BPM, we move more to advanced case management. Do note that, depending on the type of case other systems tend to be involved. In a customer-facing case this could be CRM, for example.
Gartner defines case management solutions as follows: “Case management solutions are applications designed to support a complex process that requires a combination of human tasks and electronic workflow, such as an incoming application, a submitted claim, a complaint, or a claim that is moving to litigation. These solutions support the workflow, management collaboration, storage of images and content, decisioning, and processing of electronic files or cases”.
The scope and benefits of case management
Case management is all about making sure that people get access to the right information at the right time in the right place.
Wait a minute: isn’t that the same mantra we hear over and over in information management and more information-related areas? And isn’t it like in logistics and supply chain management where the right information, right time and place goes hand in hand with the right product, right customer and so on?
It sure does but here is the difference: advanced case management is for caseworkers, knowledge workers and people who have to – collaboratively – deal with complex and unpredictable processes/projects, cases and decisions and tasks within the scope of these cases.
As the terms adaptive and dynamic case management indicate the content and information within the scope of a case can (often) change, come with quite some exceptions which are harder to manage in a ‘traditional’ approach and are typically more unpredictable from the knowledge, decision and management process perspective.
Advanced case management is also typically used to manage collaborative processes that require a great deal of content, resources and knowledge with the mentioned degree of unpredictability also present in the exact order in which everything will enter or happen.
Although the case takes center stage, it’s really the content and case-related information processes that are de facto needed for the knowledge workers in order to take the next decision in the often vast complexity of cases, that matter most but always in the scope of the case and thus combined content.
Advanced case management and the customer
Advanced case management isn’t just gaining popularity because of its focus on decisions and knowledge workers or caseworkers, automation capabilities, the inherent limits of traditional BPM, workflows and ECM approaches, the evolution towards a knowledge economy, the diversity of types and sources of information which can take so many digital and non-digital shapes (where digitization comes in) and its focus on making the complexity and unpredictability of managing specific types of cases far easier.
Dynamic case management also simply makes good business sense, not in the least from the customer (in the broadest sense, including citizens, patients, etc.) and other stakeholder’s perspective.
Consider a few typical cases such as a loan application, an insurance claim, a customer service request, a complaint, a medical case or a legal case, to name a few. How do customers and/or other stakeholders typically look at your company across their interactions and transactions with it and across these several scenarios we summed up? As a bunch of information and processes? As the person who is responsible to deal with their claim, application, complaint, request and so forth (whereby this person is often not known as it’s really a collaborative process and in this digital age information and context in the scope of the application, claim, complaint and others can increasingly come via digital sources, social media, in the form of pictures, videos, mails or scanned documents and so on)?
No, customers think in terms of tasks and claims and complaints and all these kind of cases which they want to see solved – and rapidly.
So, case management correlates far more with the reality of the customer and indeed fits in a scope of customer-centricity and the importance of speed in customer experience and an increasingly real-time economy. So, it won’t come as a surprise that the focus on advanced case management is also related with changing customer demands, efficiency of the knowledge worker, faster outcomes, having an end-to-end holistic vision on a case and ultimately digital transformation strategy in areas where customer experience and optimization are of the utmost importance and speed has become a competitive differentiator.
Where highly predictable routine tasks of workers are prone for automation, for now case management which requires knowledge workers, collaboration, dealing with the unpredictable and decisions, is far less. This doesn’t mean that case management solutions don’t come with automation, on the contrary. The implementation of case management solutions for any given case often also comes with pre-defined templates which are pre-customized for the type of case to be managed.
Another benefit of case management and its inherent 360-degree case view that goes far beyond single documents or isolated tasks and that it offers knowledge about your business and how it performs in various areas.
Analytics and insights help you in finetuning strategies around your decision-making processes, better planning and resource allocation to make the management of cases more efficient, you name it.
Case management, complex projects/processes and the knowledge worker – innovating in unpredictability
Advanced case management isn’t just used for customer-facing or customer-related cases. With a focus on often vast, changing, unforeseeable and very diverse forms of case-related information (which can include chat logs, files, mails, digitized content, social data, video, documents task and history logs, externally sourced information, connected data such as even IoT data, the list goes on) and a focus on unpredictable projects and processes with a lot of collaboration and decision-making going on, case management is used for myriad other cases, projects and processes, certainly complex and longer ones with a lot of changes.
Some examples show how far knowledge workers can go with advanced case management, beyond the customer-oriented scope and in various types of cases, projects and industries, even far beyond the traditional pure information management context in which case management is often looked at (although information of course is always key):
Agile problem solving in digital workplaces
Solving problems in unpredictable projects requiring a lot of information and collaboration is often used by agile leaders. In a digitalization project, the Information Manager at the Port of Antwerp worked with agile, design thinking and collaborative digital workplace approaches whereby each problem solving process, regardless of size, was supported by a case as its single point of information: advanced case management in action indeed.
Incident management in ample industries and applications
Incident management is often handled from the case perspective (the incident as a case) so you often encounter advanced case management in environments where incidents can happen. You can imagine a lot of such environments obviously across a range of industries and areas: building management and maintenance, critical power environments and utilities, logistics, manufacturing, oil and gas, mining, you can go on.
Advanced case management and the Internet of Things
With the latter in mind, a particularly interesting evolution that is poised to become more important is what happens with incident management, case management and so on as data volumes from the Internet of Things increase, also in a maintenance context. This goes for many industries and integration of IoT with BPM, case management and other business systems is an obvious evolution.
Just take manufacturing where incident management is well-known but where the Internet of Things is also growing fastest and where the Industrial IoT has a lot to do with information-based services regarding manufacturing operations, maintenance, incidents, continuity of production, etc. In the earliest stages of Industry 4.0 these types of optimizations are even the main drivers.
The key role of the knowledge worker and more cases for advanced case management
In fact, any case and project where decisions are involved and information about the case or project requires all the earlier mentioned benefits can use advanced case management.
The role of the knowledge worker is key here. As the Information Manager of the Port of Antwerp put it in our interview on the above mentioned example, information is the sole source of the knowledge worker. And a typical characteristic of knowledge workers is that they want to take decisions themselves based upon real-time case and project information.
Knowledge workers solve, collaborate, investigate, want to understand and need action-ability. In any of the mentioned and other cases with high unpredictability, lots of information, and certainly in agile teams, case management comes to mind, whether the case is customer-facing, more internal or a project on the longer run such as innovation, the development of new services, product development, far-reaching transformations or complex projects, whether it concerns large-scale IT project cases or more business-oriented digital transformation cases . It’s a different way of working that is finding more and more applications.
If you’re serious about a compliance process and strategic you could use case management to enable the realization of your process with the additional benefit of audit trails. We’re indeed thinking about a GDPR strategy as an example. Speaking about the GDPR and thus government, legislative processes and the EU: advanced case management is used within many EU and other government bodies for decision and legislative processes as well.
The holistic overview that is provided by advanced case management doesn’t just offer strategic decision-making benefits or an end-to-end case/project insight, it also enables a better support of inspecting and controlling projects in many possible areas. And that brings us to many more cases in which the case for case management can be made, from fraud detection to the information-related and process-related aspects of disease outbreak management.
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