Crafting a dynamic case management (DCM) architecture involves a great deal of thought and consideration about multiple aspects of case management. But in bringing it all together, it’s sometimes tough to discern where philosophy leaves off and action begins.

At the same time, that fuzzy line is part of the point. DCM is about subtleties and gray areas. It’s about helping decision-makers respond in a world where perfectly clear-cut choices are rare.

‘STREAMS OF EFFORT’
Developing a DCM architecture isn’t so much a technology challenge as a business challenge with a technical and measurement component, says John Lucker, principal and leader of the Advanced Analytics & Modeling National Practice at Deloitte Consulting LLP. Lucker cites at least six “streams of effort” to be considered in architecting DCM, just as in analytics. They are:

1. Determining the strategy to solve the business problem and how DCM fits in that strategy.

2. Applying analytics to figure out how you will dynamically control, alter, or route the case as it proceeds.

3. Integrating the signals or actions from analytics into the technical infrastructure, whether it is local or remote or in the cloud.

4. Implementing with the business. You have a strategy and solution; you also need to determine how you will make the business operational process change and what controls are in place. You need to determine how the business will adapt to use this new style of case management.

5. Managing organizational change—namely, how you’ll train your people and then manage improving the processes on the human side. That’s often the most neglected aspect of implementation, Lucker says, even though it’s a critical one.

“In DCM, people are usually the ones who are involved in management of cases, whatever the case is,” he says. However, people aren’t always quick to adapt as a process is changing. As a result, the initiative may require some extensive training, especially if a new process deviates from past practice or requires a diversion around a traditional path.

6. Managing performance. This involves measuring how the new case management process is working and how to create a loop-back mechanism to improve upon or correct problems or streamline the new process. One best practice, in Lucker's view: Arranging to have that type of roadmap across the whole project to make sure it’s executed properly and implemented effectively.

FIRST PRINCIPLES
In addition, there are some first principles that should always be addressed, cautions Michael Dortch, principal analyst and managing editor at DortchOnIT.com. “If you don’t address those first principles, you can’t build a solid case management architecture,” says Dortch, who is also an ebizQ contributor. For instance, in his view, if you’re addressing DCM architecture challenges “episodically or reactively,” you aren’t addressing them effectively.

“You have to use the defined goal of a dynamic case management architecture as both a challenge and an opportunity to revisit and refresh all of the people, processes, technologies, and providers supporting that case management architecture,” says Dortch.

That action can include asking about issues such as whether you have the right IT infrastructure in place to enable the level of dynamism you are seeking, or perhaps whether it needs to include a cloud component. “Just from a process standpoint, you need to determine who sits around the table to figure out how dynamic is dynamic enough,” Dortch says. “That decision-making should involve more than just the IT team; it should engage business.”

INCREASING AGILITY
These days, every business strives to be more agile and responsive because more and more customers, prospects, competitors and influencers “live in that mobile, social cloud,” Dortch says. “It isn’t enough to move at Web speed, now you need to move at cloud speed.”

In fact, Dortch continues, all enterprise activity must be viewed from the perspective of whether it’s something that is sufficiently dynamic, agile and responsive to support overall business goals. “Everything you do in the warp and weft of the infrastructure potentially affects how agile and responsive you can be as a business,” he says. “That has got to be one of the drivers behind looking at dynamic case management architecture and how it can be improved.”

That situation can be one of the biggest challenges for IT people “because we have raised at least two generations of IT professionals who have developed a laser-focused ability to identify and solve specific problems in a very logical and straightforward way,” Dortch says.

However, the issues related to DCM architecture are essentially the tip of the business iceberg: They’re the visible part of a deeper set of challenges: how to make the business run better and be more effective and responsive in the era of mobile cloud computing. “These are tough human and philosophical issues that are not as familiar to IT people, but they are going to need to get up to speed on them,” Dortch says.

DRIVING EFFECTIVE DECISION-MAKING
For example, explains Consilience International LLC founder Dave Duggal, rather than just following a chart, the case context can drive the decision-making process: “In other words, the sum of what is going on results in a certain kind of control.”

And, in his view, that amounts to a new kind of a process, which raises a question along the lines of the classic question of whether the chicken or the egg came first. In other words, Duggal says, “Is it a process if it is not first fully mapped out?”

In fact, he continues, DCM devotees typically argue that it is a process that emerges from DCM, much as new processes evolve in other aspects of life. For example, when you’re traveling and must adapt your plans to due to an unanticipated storm, you’re inventing a new process.

“From a systems perspective, with DCM, you’re getting above rules to a constraint-based system,” he says. “It’s like the enterprise is a web with lots of relationships.” That set of relationships defines the context for the DCM architecture. You’re defining things by constraint rather than procedures—an approach that that he says sometimes dismays traditional BPM practitioners.

“What we are really trying to get to with DCM is what we refer to as joint optimization systems that are contextualized and responsive and allow users to be interactive, with feedback,” he says. As a result, says Duggal, with DCM, “people and systems are now collaborating to meet shared goals.”

READER FEEDBACK: What questions do you have about successfully constructing a case management architecture? Let ebizQ's staff know, and we'll address them in future articles and other content. Please e-mail Site Editor Anne Stuart at editor@ebizq.net.



About the Author

Alan Earls, a journalist who specializes in writing about technology and business, is based in the Boston area.

More by Alan Earls, ebizQ Contributor

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