Good thought provoking article on the distinction between Case Management and BPM here. I don’t entirely agree with the conclusion (see the comments there to understand why) but it’s good to see more and more CM discussions happening.
Like everyone else, I have a perception bias, and that leads me to see the world of BPM through the looking glass of Case Management. Maybe it’s because I’m a slightly unstructured sort of person and because I tend to do multiple tasks in parallel. Whatever the case (no pun intended), I see significant value in capturing many business processes through a CM style of BPM. Despite that bias, I can objectively say that there’s been a lot of interest in Case Management lately (see Connie Moore’s post here as one example).
But it hasn’t been limited to Case Management. There’s also been a lot of talk about Dynamic Business Applications and Unstructured Business Processes. And before all that there was Collaborative BPM. Clay Richardson makes some great points about the intersection of Social Media and BPM here. His example of Google Wave tied to a process instance is fantastic.
I believe we’re hitting a point where companies are becoming more interested in improving business processes that aren’t quite as straightforward and well defined. Further, I believe that whatever name you choose to describe those processes, dynamic, unstructured, collaborative, adaptive, etc., companies are looking for solutions that can solve those problems. I for one am excited, because it means that we’re getting to the “hard stuff”.
Think of all those meetings you’ve sat in arguing about how a process should behave. Did you have to compromise in the end, sacrificing everyone’s position to find a common ground? I’d bet in many cases you did. I’d argue that having to compromise like that just creates more problems. It forces people to find workarounds because the solution isn’t really a solution at all. And I’d say that in many cases, that compromise was unnecessary, because the right solution would have let you deal with the “art inside the science”. For some types of business problems, specifically those that involve human judgement, we need to trust in the people that do the work, more often than not they know what they’re doing. Provide them with guidelines and best practices, sure, and provide a mechanism to see how they’re doing (performance metrics, reports, etc). But give them the flexibility to adapt to the real world as it happens.
It’s an dynamic world out there, and life happens. Don’t you think we should accept that the same can be true of the processes our companies follow?
In all seriousness though, Connie does a great job of providing a clear, one paragraph description of what defines case management, one that I agree with, as does Bruce Silver. I also like the tie back to Lean, I think she’s onto something there.
Connie makes a point that I’ve struggled with throughout my tenure here at Global 360, which is the name “Case Management”. It really doesn’t do the discipline any justice and certainly confuses companies who would otherwise benefit from the application of a case management soluton. Maybe we should start by changing the name?
And LOVE the photo of Clay Richardson of Forrester as well!
Big news this week (for me at least) is the release of a whitepaper on Case Management by Bruce Silver. You can find his brief blog post about it here and you can download a copy of the whitepaper here.
What’s exciting about the paper is that it really crystallizes the definition of Case Management (as a style of BPM), and talks about several key things to look for in a Case Management solution. It also has a review of Case360 from Global 360 and compares the product against the definition in the paper. I’d be interested in feedback on the content either here or via email.
Great article here on Case Management: http://www.communities.hp.com/online/blogs/nextbigthingeds/archive/2009/07/07/case-management-the-missing-link-in-bpm.aspx
Fred raises some interesting points (especially towards the end of the post about the ad-hoc nature of case management). Good start on some of the business benefits as well.
As those of you I’ve worked with know, the concept of Case Management is of particular interest to me. I believe it solves some very real, challenging business problems that conventional model-driven BPM isn’t well suited to handle. As companies get more sophisticated and begin to run out of “low hanging fruit”, the more complex and less structured processes are the ones they need to get under control. The challenge many companies face is not being able to describe those problems accurately, much less to implement a system to manage and monitor them.
At the June meeting of the Object Management Group, the possibility of a Case Management extension for BPMN 2.0 was a hot topic and one that resulted in a number of very passionate (ok, as passionate as software gets) posts on various blogs. The buzz around Case Management has been increasing steadily over the past year, and folks like Bruce Silver of BPMSWatch, Henk De Man of BPTrends, and Jon Pyke of Cordys have been talking and writing more about the benefits and challenges of Case Management in general.
One of the more interesting developments to come out of these discussions and the OMG meeting is Bruce Silver’s decision to start a community site dedicated to Case Management and BPMN. You can find it here or in my links to the right side of this page. Bruce has invited me to contribute to the site, which I’m excited to do.
More to come on this topic soon!