Convergence of BPM and Case Management

7 12 2010

In the past weeks I have talked and tweeted quite a bit about bringing together silos to deliver better solutions and experiences to business. The big silos I have spoken about are ECM, CRM and BPM. However, some people have pointed out that I haven’t spoken about Case Management (our technical director is one of them), and he / they are quite correct. So why haven’t I?

Well it’s quite simple, number one, I simply forgot (takes a brave man to admit that doesn’t it) and number two, though I always state Case Management isn’t BPM, the two really should be seen as one from the business perspective…Which means my silos being brought together, should be ECM, CRM, BPM and Case Mgmt. Phew…

In the past I have banged on about Case Management not being BPM, and have had a good moan about those vendors and consultants that push case management as if it was / is. However, in my vision of the future (especially that of workFile), I believe business should see BPM and Case Management as the same thing…Oh, and if you’re not sure, case management is not just for law firms, rather case is just a term for a process / work that has to be done…

Case Management isn’t the same as BPM

Case Management isn’t the same as BPM, well not the same when you look at case management and BPM vendor solutions. BPM is far more structured, follows process maps (more often than not) and is used for clearly defined processes. Case Management is used for more ad-hoc and “loose” processes within an business. So they aren’t the same…

If you look at BPM as a practice, you will also find it doenst fit with Case Managemetn theory. Rather BPM as a practice is all about mapping and understanding flows of work, putting together processes etc etc. Case Management is more about just identifying work, and lumping it together in a case…

Case management and BPM are the same

Ok, here we go…Forgot vendors, forget lengthy definitions by technical or marketing people trying to sell you something. Case Management and BPM are the same thing. BPM is, Business Process Management. It’s all about managing business processes in a structured, more controlled fashion. So what is case management? Well it’s all about managing business processes in a structured fashion…So you see, they are the same thing, its just our “practices” and software interpretations that make them very very different.

Bringing BPM and Case Management together

There are many good points for both as individual silos. For example, BPMS works great for simplish, highly repetitive, medium-high volume business processes. It can raise efficiency and streamline work. However, thats only for a handful or processes within an orgasnisation, hardly enterprise wide is it (don’t let anyone tell you it is). So for those processes that are still high value, but not so simple or repetitive we have an issue…

On the other hand, case management has no real flow of work, no steps or structure for each step along the process, so it isn’t great for areas where BPM can excel. But, Case Management is great for ad-hoc type processes, or exception processing, which is exactly where we see many case management implementations (sometimes even tied to BPM implementations).

But what of those processes that are complex, highly collaborative, require an adaptive approach, still require some form of structure. These types of processes can be found right across the enterprise…Well that the big problem isn’t it…What do you use…

My vision is for a single silo approach (ECM, CRM, BPM and Case Management). If you take the best from BPM, and the best from Case Management, and ditch the areas that are restrictive (strict case and work definitions, BPM structured flowchart maps) then you are well on the way to a solution for the enterprise…

Case and BPM Evolution

Our own product, workFile, is to incorporate the good points of our BPM platform, and to remove the rigid restrictive areas (namely the flowchart map). In addition, build on the flexible components of Case Management, while removing the rigid definitions of a case and work that makes up a case.

Here you can see that our BPM is moving towards Case Management, and Case Management is moving towards BPM, it’s almost like evolution of the two bring them together as one, quite naturally. Though I aim to speed this evolution up at least within our own company, I don’t fancy waiting millions of years for this to happen. Even in IT evolution can take its time, simply because we have x number of vendors sticking to their definitions and solutions, x number of consultants doing the same and x number of businesses not understanding the benefits of something new…

With workFile Vision we aim to implement this evolution though. However, we will throw into the mix real adaptive capabilities. And by that I mean adaptive processing and process definitions, allowing agents to update the process, allowing agents to define and update the type of work that is done within processes and allowing agents to discover and create new ones. The only way of truly being this adaptive and flexible, is to bring Case Management and BPM together, and throw away anything rigid. Its almost a case of unlearning what we come to expect from BPM and Case Management solutions, vendors and consultants…

Finally, lets take things further and ensure our solution understands CCS (content, context, status) of all its components at any moment in time. To really ensure that, you need a single silo to incorporate your content (ECM), to incorporate your customer relationships (CRM) and your working processes (BPM and Case Management).

The benefit here is a solution that can be used for every process within an organisation, right across the enterprise. It’s a solution that gives staff some form of empowerment and say in how work is done. It’s a solution that provides structure, ensures process efficiency and ensure compliancy and accountability, all while delivering flexibility and agility to an organisation…

Conclusion

BPM is Case Management, and Case Management is BPM…Well it should be with a little evolution…With a little more evolution, you end up with a single silo for ECM, CRM, BPM and Case Management, and its not that hard to see why…

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4 responses

7 12 2010
Tweets that mention Convergence of BPM and Case Management « Andrew One Degree’s Blog -- Topsy.com

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrew Smith, Andrew Smith, Craig Rhinehart, Jan Schirmer, Adam Deane and others. Adam Deane said: "BPM is Case Management, and Case Management is BPM" (by @AndrewOneDegree) http://wp.me/ptU06-4y #BPM #CaseManagement [...]

11 12 2010
BPM Quotes of the week « Adam Deane

[...] BPM and Case Management – Andrew Smith In the past I have banged on about Case Management not being BPM, and have had [...]

16 12 2010
Jon Ryder

Ignoring the fact that I work for one of those “…vendors trying to sell you something”, I would suggest that often the individuals I meet with, speak to and dare I say sell to, often get lost in the jargon and the marketing hype and therefore lose site of the fact that as you say “…case Management and BPM are the same thing… It’s all about managing business processes in a structured, more controlled fashion”. Despite clearly being clearly in the ‘Vendor Camp’ my colleagues and I spend our lives trying to help clients bring together their different silos, to deliver better solutions and experiences for their business and their users.

Jon G Ryder
http://jongryder.blogspot.com/

17 12 2010
Andrew Smith @onedegree

Hi John,

Jargon is a big problem with Case Management and BPM, its a nightmare, and for many business focused individuals it turns them off of the idea of investing in these technologies. Essentially we are always talking about taking control of how work is done, ensuring it is done to a certain quality and within a time frame, thats it….

When I used to work for a VAR I also spent far too long trying to integrate different silos together, and the problem with that is, no matter how much integration work you do, you still find that there is information you dont quite have access too when you need it. In additions you often have “work arounds” for problems which are just that…Finally, when integrating data into UIs you find that you dont have the luxury to re-design the complete UI, so you have to work with what you have, and that often leads to clunkier interfaces and “data dumps” with too much information or content in a single place…I always think of CRM solutions that then have a “corres” tab, which has all documents associated with that customer…thats not of any use to an agent when they need to quickly access specific content found within one of those documents….

This is the big problem with very distinct silos, especially for silos that almost always need to be fitted together (ECM, BPM, CRM, Case Management).

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