Case management isn’t new. After all, healthcare organizations, lawyers and social workers have dealt with cases, and case files, for many years.

But businesses in many other industries are just beginning to adopt the approach. Fortunately, nobody has to start from scratch. Whether you are just beginning your foray into dynamic case management (DCM)or are looking to refine your activities, considering the following four pieces of expert advice can help ensure better results:

1. Take a 1,000-foot view. Businesses should think broadly about the technology “bits and pieces” that need to come together for case management, says Neil Ward-Dutton, research director and analyst with MWD Advisors. No single piece of technology will address all your case management needs, and businesses need good architectural oversight spanning different technologies.

“If you’re really serious about transforming the way that work gets done, it’s not sufficient to look at just one piece of technology, whether that’s a case management product or a business rules engine or document management system or an analytics platform or an event-processing platform,” says Ward-Dutton. “Those things are all ingredients and to get the best out of this stuff long term, you need an architectural view of how those things will work together in the long term.”

2. Pick the right participants. Bringing the right people together at the start of a case management project is essential to its success. “This isn’t the type of thing where you build requirements and throw them over the wall to IT,” warns Ward-Dutton. Typically, the IT organization owns and manages the systems used by a company’s lines of business. However, the IT team doesn’t necessarily understand process, and the processes it defines may well be unacceptable to the people who have to use them.

“Don’t have the protocols or best practices developed by people who aren’t in charge of those best practices,” says Karl Walter Keirstead, managing director of Civerex Systems Inc., which provides workflow-management and compliance-control software to healthcare organizations and other industries. “The people who know the most about best practices are the ones who have to live with them day by day.”

Ward-Dutton recommends that the team created to build a case management solution should include participants from across the business, including IT staffers, architects, analysts, sponsors who can provide an overview of the business and people who can provide subject-matter expertise. If, for example, you’re looking at case management in customer-facing processes, you’d probably include people from the call center—-a manager or even a couple of service representatives.

Initially, in many cases, “you don’t really know what the solution is going to look like,” says Ward-Dutton. “If you look at more structured approaches with a process, you have an advantage because there’s a history of understanding of how to improve processes. People understand how to use models to make changes and suggest changes. But when you take that away and say, ‘We have some work that needs to be done and a goal that we kind of understand,’ it requires a lot of bravery, a lot of skill and a lot of input from the people at the front line who are doing the work day to day. You can’t do it removed from them.”

It also helps to have someone on the team who’s had previous success with case management. “If you take a whole team of people who have never done case management before, they’ll probably think about it wrong,” says Keith Swenson, vice president of research and development for Fujitsu (and a frequent contributor to the ebizQ Forum). “If you have someone who has done it before, that person can say, ‘Just do this. Believe it will work. Start pedaling; the bicycle will keep you up.’”

3. Focus on continuous improvement. Once case you’ve implemented case management and seen measurable improvements, it may be tempting to just walk away. But experts advise businesses to revisit and analyze performance on an ongoing basis. “If you’re going to get the best out of case management, you have to be prepared to not view this as a project, but as an ongoing program of continuous improvement and change,” Ward-Dutton says.

Keirstead agrees. “Best practices, when encouraged and used consistently, result in improved outcomes. A best practice is better than no practice, and it’s better than a worst practice,” he says. “But it only remains a best practice until you find a better way of doing it. Then it becomes the previous best practice, and the new one is the current best practice.”

Once you’ve established case management, you’ll need to focus on encouraging a cultural shift to support it. “You have to change the way people think and work so that they’re always thinking, ‘How can I improve what I’m doing?’, then capture that and feed it into an ongoing review cycle,” says Ward-Dutton.

All the while, says Swenson, you should track metrics, including who is using the case management solution and who is not. “Reward people who are using it. Highlight the success cases and publicize those. Let people know it works,” he says.

4. Finally, think beyond the technology. Ward-Dutton reminds businesses that case management is about more than technology. “A tool by itself doesn’t do anything. Don’t buy it and think it’s going to solve your problems, because it isn’t. The technology will just sit there,” he says.

Instead, he recommends, take a holistic approach. “Think about the skills of your people. Think about regulatory constraints and policies. Think about the maturity of your customers. Think about knowledge management issues. Think about ownership of resources. Think about who has head count. Think about who has budget,” he says. “Think about all of these things together, and know which knobs to turn and buttons to press in the organization to get the best out of this—because it’s not just about buying a tool and developing some code.”

READER FEEDBACK: Let's continue the conversation. What steps have you taken, or what best practices have you developed, to achieve your desired case management outcomes? Share your success stories--and your tips--with ebizQ's staff. Please e-mail Site Editor Anne Stuart at editor@ebizq.net.



About the Author

Crystal Bedell is an award-winning freelance writer who specializes in covering technology. Contact her at cbedell[at]bedellcommunications.com.

More by Crystal Bedell, ebizQ Contributor

-1-

1  

Explore Our Topics

  • EDITOR'S BRIEFING
ebizQ editorial highlights and updates, compiled by ebizQ staff
  • BaaS bonus: In this podcast, Gartner Research Director Gordon Van Huizen discusses the Backend as a Service marketplace and the approach's pros, cons and challenges.
  • Cloud quiz: How much do you know about business process management in the cloud? Test yourself with this six-question cloud BPM quiz.
  • Three key steps: Clay Richardson of Forrester Research describes ways to emphasize user experience in business process design.
  • ebizQ editorial: Browse ebizQ's collection of independent editorial content, including articles, tips, Q & As, podcasts, guest columns, book excerpts and more.
  • Virtual Conferences
  • Webinars
  • Roundtables

BPM in Action

March 10, 2011

The sixth annual BPM in Action 2011 Virtual Conference will explore cutting-edge market developments in BPM and describe how to leverage them for improved business operation and performance. More

View All Virtual Conferences

Smart Case Management: Why It's So Smart.

Date:Nov 05, 2009
Time:12:00 PM ET- (17:00 GMT)

REGISTER TODAY!

Date:Oct 29, 2009
Time:15:00 PM ET- (19:00 GMT)

REGISTER TODAY!
View All Roundtables
  • Research Library
  • Podcasts
  • News

Joe McKendrick: Part II of II: Designing Evolve-ability into SOA and IT Systems

In part two of Joe McKendrick's recent podcast with Miko Matsumura, chief strategist for Software AG, they talk about how SOA and IT systems need to change and grow and adapt with the organization around it.

Listen Now

Phil Wainewright: Helping Brands Engage with Social Media

Phil Wainewright interviews David Vap, VP of products at RightNow Technologies, and finds out how sharing best practices can help businesses understand how best to engage with online communities.

Listen Now

Peter Schooff: Making Every IT Dollar Result in a Desired Business Outcome: Scott Hebner of IBM Rati

Scott Hebner, Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for IBM Rational, discusses a topic on the top of every company's mind today: getting the most from IT investments.

Listen Now

Jessica Ann Mola: Where Will BI Fit In? Lyndsay Wise Explains

In BI, this tough economy and the increasing role of Web 2.0 and MDM are certainly topics on people's minds today. WiseAnalytics' Lyndsay Wise addresses each of them in this informative podcast.

Listen Now

Dennis Byron: Talking with...Deepak Singh of BPM Provider Adeptia

Deepak Singh, President and CTO of Adeptia, joins ebizQ's Dennis Byron in a podcast that gets its hand around the trend of industry-specific BPM.

Listen Now
More Podcasts
  • Most Popular
  • Quick Guide
  • Most Discussed

Quick Guide: What is BPM?

Learn More

Quick Guide: What is Event Processing?

Smart event processing can help your company run smarter and faster. This comprehensive guide helps you research the basics of complex event processing (CEP) and learn how to get started on the right foot with your CEP project using EDA, RFID, SOA, SCADA and other relevant technologies. Learn More

Quick Guide: What is Enterprise 2.0?

A lot of people are talking about Enterprise 2.0 as being the business application of Web 2.0 technology. However, there's still some debate on exactly what this technology entails, how it applies to today's business models, and which components bring true value. Some use the term Enterprise 2.0 exclusively to describe the use of social networking technologies in the enterprise, while others use it to describe a web economy platform, or the technological framework behind such a platform. Still others say that Enterprise 2.0 is all of these things. Learn More

Featured Bloggers

Steven Minsky's Latest Blog Posts:

Read Steven Minsky's Blog
Scott Cleveland's Latest Blog Posts:

Read Scott Cleveland's Blog
Adrian Grigoriu's Latest Blog Posts:

Read Adrian Grigoriu's Blog
Dion Hinchcliffe's Latest Blog Posts:

Read Dion Hinchcliffe's Blog
Michael Poulin's Latest Blog Posts:

Read Michael Poulin's Blog
Noam Tamarkin's Latest Blog Posts:

Read Noam Tamarkin's Blog
Janne J. Korhonen's Latest Blog Posts:

Read Janne J. Korhonen's Blog

View All ebizQ Bloggers