Editor's Note: In Part I of this special report, technology journalist Alan Earls examines whether document-centric BPM is morphing into case management. Here, in Part II, he describes the power-and the complexity-of case management BPM.

Case management BPM --also sometimes known as dynamic BPM, or, in IBM parlance, advanced case management-has been getting lots of attention lately.

With its roots in document-centric BPM, case management BPM can be a natural evolutionary direction for some organizations. But with its much greater complexity and higher ambitions in terms of what it seeks to accomplish, it's not for everyone.

One key driver for developing and adopting case management BPM: extremely high payroll costs for knowledge workers in developed countries, according to IDC analyst Maureen Fleming. Knowledge workers tend to work on lots of projects, with the concept of the "case" as an underlying core principal. As a result, organizations interested in understanding processes tied to this often highly unstructured work need to gain a better understanding of case management to better understand how to make their knowledge-centric work more efficient and systematic.

"Case management BPM is expensive from the larger vendors and relatively immature for lower-cost BPM suite vendors," Fleming warns. Furthermore, there are often skills gaps on the professional services side that present their own set of challenges. "Depending on who you talk to, case management is either huge or just a subset of the BPM software market. In other words, there is a lot of variation in how vendors view this as an opportunity," she notes.

Customers, of course, view it more in terms of the problem at hand. "Enterprises that view case management as a content-centric problem look for different types of solutions than companies that view this as a process problem," Fleming says.

In her view, case management is inherently an integration-or a mashup-of multiple content and data types driven by requirements. While that concept is straightforward, getting there isn't. "With a BPM suite, there is often a discovery phase that helps the process actors articulate linear workflow, but I'm not seeing the same level of sophistication for case management, which is highly process-centric but only partially linear," she adds.


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