We use cookies and other similar technologies (Cookies) to enhance your experience and to provide you with relevant content and ads. By using our website, you are agreeing to the use of Cookies. You can change your settings at any time. Cookie Policy.

For Michael Edelberg, change is a constant.

The clinic coordinator for the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation, a pro-bono legal services organization, needs to access hundreds of case each week. “Cases change and the people issues also change,” he says.

For instance, sometimes the kind of legal issues involved—family law versus criminal or immigration law, for example—may change, but other elements are still part of the same case. “We may have to be active in many ways to pursue legal remedies for someone,” he says.

Dynamic case management (DCM) helps Edelberg manage activities ranging from collaborating with hundreds of attorneys to running “conflict checks”—that is, checks for potential conflicts of interest—in the organization’s attorney database.

The organization’s DCM system also allows caseworkers—often attorneys, including some who may be working outside their specialty areas—to link to training videos, manuals, case-specific information and even other people involved with the case. “That means that a volunteer [intellectual property] lawyer can get the resources needed to understand and deal with a family-law issue,” he explains. “Every case and every legal remedy can be different, so our system helps us manage all those issues.”

Lawyers have always had to move cases along from point to point. Now, “the dynamic aspect is that, although it always changes, we know we can count on the DCM to help smooth the processes and connect everything,” Edelberg says. DCM also readily adapts to the organization’s needs.

ADAPTABILITY: A KEY GOAL
Adaptability is much on the mind of Nathaniel Palmer, executive director of the Workflow Management Coalition, a professional and standards organization in Cohasset, Mass. Palmer says decision makers looking at DCM for rapidly changing environments may want to consider a different definition for essentially the same concept: He prefers to use the term adaptive case management, or ACM. That’s a distinction that can help clarify thinking, he says.

Dynamic case management became the standard term for this kind of work because the first widely circulated analyst report on the concept used that phrase, Palmer says. With DCM, he says, you are presumed to have a predefined process model with some exceptions--that is, activities happening outside that model. But, he adds, when you introduce exceptions into a process, you begin to lose control over the process--and you may lose some of its benefits as well. In fact, in conventional DCM thinking, the degree to which exceptions can be allowed is limited because of the underlying process design. The point, he notes, is to consider your goals and whether you are dealing with a defined or definable process or something more fluid.

Outside of simple, predefined pathways, the main idea behind DCM is that it’s ad hoc, Palmer says. In contrast, he says, ACM involves taking rules and what you know, then adding visibility, predictive analytics and big data as elements in the whole. You then use ACM to manage the pathways connecting them all. “It might seem like semantics, but the ability to respond to change by understanding the impact of that change—as in ACM—is really different from the DCM idea of simply having the ability to do something with a little variation,” he says. Keeping the ACM model in mind may help set the parameters for a project more effectively--even if that project is labeled as a DCM initiative.

MANAGING THE PEOPLE WHO MANAGE YOUR CASES
From a management standpoint, DCM inherently requires employees who are more flexible, who require less structure and “who can figure things out on their own,” says Janelle B. Hill, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn.

In other words, DCM users don’t need managers to prescribe every procedure. Managers can set the goals and outcomes—or, as Hill puts it: “They can let the workforce know where the guardrails are located and what you have to do to stay within them.” But beyond that, she says, managers should give case workers the freedom to work things out—which, of course, isn’t exactly the approach that many middle managers take today.

Hill pointed out that DCM is often collaborative, and teams of people working on a case often produce the best outcome. But many managers lack the skills to foster teamwork, overlooking such basic steps as recognizing and rewarding collaboration. Too often, “performance rewards are reserved for the culture of the hero,” Hill says. “Individuals have to perform miracles to be recognized. That is counterproductive to fostering teamwork.”

Figuring out how to manage and reward collaborative behavior isn’t easy. “All our performance metrics are about counting things: How many calls did you handle? What is the average time to settle an account?” Hill says. “We don’t measure how effective you are at mentoring people or how many people you mentored at the same time or whether someone is great at fostering collaboration.”

In fact, the technology of DCM is always the easy part, Hill says. The real challenges are changing culture and behavior. Her advice: “Start small and focused. Find the right leader who sees these problems and is willing to try some new approaches.”

READER FEEDBACK: Is your company considering DCM to help manage rapidly changing casework? If so, ebizQ editors would like to hear about your experience. Contact 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

-1-

1  

Explore Our Topics

  • EDITOR'S BRIEFING
  • 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