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Editorís Note: In this two-part Q & A, Neil Ward-Dutton, co-founder and research director of MWD Advisors, speaks with ebizQís Peter Schooff about ways to get concrete business results from dynamic case management (DCM). In Part I, they talked about options for using DCM for bigger business goals. Here, in Part II, they discuss real-world examples of DCM in action. This Q & A, excerpted from an accompanying podcast, has been edited for length, clarity and editorial style.

ebizQ: What have you seen in terms of case management and businesses? What are some real-world results that you've seen?

Ward-Dutton:
Just like in the kind of the more structured BPM world, there are many, many different ways in which people approach this, and many, many different degrees of sophistication that they apply it with.

One example that springs to mind is this local government agency that has used case management to transform the way in which they deal with citizens who are experiencing "life events." That's kind of management-consultanty kind of term, but [it means] things like a birth in the family, or a death, or moving into the area, or moving out of the area, a marriage, a divorce, those kinds of things.

What's interesting about those events is: They mean multiple things. Let's say you move into the area. Maybe you're somebody who is entitled to a [government] benefit and maybe assistance with housing, things like that. Historically, if you're in that situation, you'd probably have talked to lots of different departments and give them all of the same information. It's incredibly frustrating. It costs a lot of money for the government agency and it costs a lot of time for you.

One organization we work with has used case management to wrap all that up so when they deal with a life event, they're able to actually talk it through with the person: "Okay, so you're moving into the area; let's talk through what you need. Do you need assistance with housing? Do you need assistance with your children? Do they need assistance with health care services or are there any problems with your property that needs fixing? Do you need any services that you haven't got at the moment?"

What they're able to do with the case management approach is work through the whole set of transactions in a way that is very much aligned with how the person wants to do it. They're just asking for the information once. They're taking a much more conversational approach to dealing with the situation. And they're ultimately reducing the cost because at the back end, all the transactions that are sent to the individual departments dealing with housing, or with benefits, or with schooling--those all are automated off one core set of case information.

So you've got this case acting like a front end to lots of different transactions, but you don't know up front what transactions need to be instigated. What you do have is the ability to share the information and the state of all those transactions seamlessly. From the citizen's point of view, it's much quicker, it's much more seamless, it's much less hassle, and there tend to be far fewer errors.

So the citizen satisfaction level has gone up massively and they've also saved a lot of money.

ebizQ: You've also mentioned an example involving an insurer.

Ward-Dutton:
This was an insurer that still had an awful lot of correspondence done by paper. All the policies were managed in paper files, and they were having a lot of problems with errors, with rework and taking ages to find information to reply to correspondence. As a result, they had pretty low customer satisfaction ratings.

They started out with a kind of simple digitization program to basically get rid of paper, to digitize all the correspondence, to put in a document-management system. But they built case management functionality around that for things like onboarding new corporate clientsÖand managing all the policies behind that and doing that over a long- term basis.

So the focus for their work [has been] around aggregating lots of different policies that are connected around one core set of information, and that core set of information has to last for decades. It has to be auditable. It has to be searchable. It has to be discoverable pretty much instantaneously. So for them, case management was a more like a pragmatic entry point around digitization, but then also around the long-term management of a core set of information.

So there are two examples. Hopefully, those just start to give you a flavor that people approach case management from different angles and they have different goals. But fundamentally, there are some key elements that always tend to come to the picture.

ebizQ: As you've said, case management is relatively new to the scene. Is case management something that a company would deploy companywide?

Ward-Dutton:
It's kind of a yes-and-no answer.

We've recently seen a lot of industry interest in case management approaches in a couple of key sectors. Health care is one. Insurance is another. State, local and federal government is another. We also see it in a couple of key business areas, particularly around customer service and things like complaint-handling and fault resolution.

But I'm a firm believer that when you step back from the term "case management" and think about "where could we benefit from a system that would help us manage and improve exploratory kinds of work," then you can see that you could apply it in many different parts of an organization.

When you're describing [exploratory] work, you typically talk about resolving something or planning something or closing something. So it could be a sales deal; it could be resolving a fault; it could be resolving a complaint; it could be planning a product or planning a launch...It could be in customer-facing areas, but it could equally be in R&D or product management. Or it could be in partner management or supply chain management. It could be in strategy and in corporate kind of functions.

When you think abstractly about exploratory work, you can see there are many different places that you could apply it. But the reason I said "yes and no" is that there are many kinds of work where I don't think case management is necessarily the most optimal solution.

This is where you've got work that is much more routinized and it's really very predictable. You know that if you do A and B and C and D and E, and you do them in that order, you're going to get the right result. [In such instances,] the case management approach is may be not the right one. [Also,] if itís the kind of work where youíve had conversations about maybe offshoring or outsourcing, then it's probably an indication that itís routinized work and you may not get the most benefit from applying case management.

Do you have a real-life example of dynamic case management in action? Share it with ebizQ's editors. Email editor@ebizq.net.



About the Author

Peter Schooff is a former contributing editor for ebizQ, where he also managed the ebizQ Forum for several years. Previously, Peter managed the database operations for a major cigar company, served as writer/editor of an early Internet entertainment site and developed a computer accounting system for several retail stores. Peter can be reached at pschooff@techtarget.com.

More by Peter Schooff

About ebizQ

ebizQ is the insiderís guide to next-generation business process management. We offer a growing collection of independent editorial articles on BPM trends, issues, challenges and solutions, all targeted to business and IT BPM professionals.

We cover BPM standards, governance, technology and continuous process improvement, as well as process discovery, modeling, simulation and optimization, among many other areas. We follow case management, decision management, business rules management, operational intelligence, complex event processing and other related topics. We closely track important trends such as the rise of social BPM, mobile BPM and BPM in the cloud. We also explore BPMís use in functional areas, such as supply chain and customer management, and in key verticals, such as financial services, health care, insurance and government.

ebizQ's other BPM-oriented content includes podcasts, webcasts, webinars, white papers, a variety of expert blogs, a lively online forum and much more.

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