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As the BPM and Case Management Global Summit is coming to Washington, DC, at the end of this month, what would you say are the biggest challenges facing Case Management today?

Wednesday, June 01 2016, 09:47 AM
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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, June 01 2016, 10:05 AM - #Permalink
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    As I have been working in the field for a while now, where both WfM and (Adaptive) Case Management (being derivates of BPM...) are being applied, I'd say the biggest challenge is understanding when to use what.

    I notice (often) customers don't understand the proposition of both. So you get interesting situations where they want to build WfM type of solutions (e.g., a strict approval flow) using Case Management tooling etc. So... Confusion (again!).

    It should be possible IMO to build a fundamental BPM (governed) framework (https://q9elements.com style) where you can anchor both (and more) approaches / tooling and put these in the right BPM context. I have done this in some cases and customers go like: Ahaaa... :-).

    What matters here is that you understand how stuff gets done (e.g. the strict approval flow OR a more loose case handling situation). Only then you're better able to choose, decide and justify what enabler (approach, tool, resources) is the best fit...

    I realize I didn't address technical challenges with Case Management Systems. But hey, that's also not my initial focus :-).

    • karl walter keirstead
      more than a month ago
      We have found it helpful to make less of a distinction between structured and unstructured by accommodating structured processes on the one hand but declaring ad hoc interventions to be "processes of one step each". Everything ends up being a process or, more generally, an "intervention" at the case.

      As for when to to use what - the pitch is if you follow the best practice protocol, all things being equal, you should arrive at the same outcome. Easier for everyone.

      However, since we hire knowledge workers on the basis that they know what to to when, no need to overly constrain them, so let them follow the protocol or deviate as appropriate and let rule sets at the case environment level "rein in" extreme, unwanted deviations away from the best practices.
    • Peter Hilton
      more than a month ago
      That’s the kind of education I was aiming for by describing approval variations in http://www.signavio.com/post/approval-workflow-modelling-patterns/
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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, June 01 2016, 10:28 AM - #Permalink
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    When to use structured versus unstructured, and HOW to do so. And that's always a proper understanding of the task(s) at hands and then the SMEs to go effect, implement it properly, including the BPMS and the technology.

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    • Dr Alexander Samarin
      more than a month ago
      It seems you want an automatic "gear box" to switch between more structure and less structured.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, June 01 2016, 11:03 AM - #Permalink
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    I see at least two.

    First, recognizing the markers of what is a Case Management type of process (or set of processes) vs. what is regarded as traditional BPM. Various markers have been proposed: process profiles (a set of distinguishing characteristics); dominance of structured vs. unstructured flows; use of structured data vs. unstructured data, or information as data vs. information as knowledge; clustering of sequence-drivent activity vs. event-driven state changes; degree of reliance on knowledgeworker; etc. I'd say all of these should be examined, but admittedly we don't have a consensus on whether an objectively measurable definition even exists (too much proprietary IP involved for that too ever happen, IMO).

    Second, in a similar vein, we don't have a consensus on the vocabulary and semantics of Case Management as distinct from traditional BPM. CMMN has been put out there to make up for BPMN's limitations in modeling event-driven state changes across multiple process spaces. The vendor community alread moved on from this debate by ignoring/bypassing BPMN semantics and implementing Case Management semantics in their own idiomatic ways (making BPMN a new proprietary standard rather than what it was supposed to be, while turning discussions about Case Management into a Tower of Babel moment before any serious work could be done to mitigate that outcome).

    Aside from that, I think we will see that more and more of what we regard as work is really more case-oriented than transaction-oriented.

    • karl walter keirstead
      more than a month ago
      The healthcare industry is just now shifting from "transaction-oriented" (fee-for-service) to "case-oriented" (performance based). It is proving to be a difficult transition.

      There are two camps, one trying to get back to what we had prior to fee-for-service i.e. individual patient care), the other with a focus on long term outcomes data collection which will supposedly benefit the grandchildren of current patients).
    • Lloyd Dugan
      more than a month ago
      A great example of the tension!
    • Bogdan Nafornita
      more than a month ago
      Mic drop.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, June 01 2016, 11:26 AM - #Permalink
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    The biggest single problem is thinking that it is "like BPM" and that means that you need a visual programming language. So many times I have see in effect: "Case Management is like BPM but you use CMMN instead" or "BPMN is for BPM and CMMN is for case management" as if that actually resolved the differences.

    Some programmers will always be programmers, and they just really can only imagine the world in terms of programming languages.

    • David Chassels
      more than a month ago
      Keith
      You really do not need either BPMN / CMMN or programmers to build any case management using declarative from the graphical build that sets up the pre-built business logic which never changes. Well proven does it all.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, June 01 2016, 12:17 PM - #Permalink
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    The greatest challenge facing Case Managers is sifting through the bafflegab to find a proper Case Management software suite.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, June 01 2016, 12:28 PM - #Permalink
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    Agree with Keith, as programmers said about 35 years ago: You may use Fortran, but you must not think “in Fortran”.

    Recently, one of my clients has deployed an BPM application in which there are (almost) no flow-charts – activities and coordination between them are defined in MS project charts and a lot of linear (run-down) scenarios.

    Again, flow-chart diagramimg is only one of the many techniques to make coordination explicit. (see ref1)

    Thanks,
    AS

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  • Accepted Answer

    Ian Gotts
    Ian Gotts
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    Wednesday, June 01 2016, 12:35 PM - #Permalink
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    Case Management can be structured and unstructured. The issue is that people see no value in "modeling" the case flow. I believe that there is, but the level of detail that modeling will vary.

    Most cases involve the customer, so first model the overall customer journey. This is the customer journey - not your internal process and how it impacts the customer which is what many mistakenly do, claiming it is the customer journey.

    Then you can model the overall internal process that is interdependent with the customer journey. BTW "model" means end user / business modeling ie UPN-style (ref1) and not CMMN or BPMN. The level of detail you go down - heirarchically mapping - for these internal processes will vary depending on:

    • structured vs unstructured case - the more structured, the lower the level of detail
    • level of training, skills, responsibility of those executing the cases - level level staff need more process "direction" and support
    • the process model driving the configuration of the case management system - so the lower levels of the business model are then CMMN diagrams
    • the number of systems involved in delivering the case (case management, CRM , ERP) - the more complex the process across systems, the moreprocess "direction" and support that is required

    So the challenge is getting businesses to take the time to really understand the customer-related internal processes around the different styles of case they need to manage. The good news is that more companies are thinking about how their business is "digitized" and that means rethinking the business model and therefore the high level business process.

    Can I get off my soapbox now?

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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, June 01 2016, 04:20 PM - #Permalink
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    The biggest challenge to case management "today" is what's coming down the pike "tomorrow".

    Lawyers have woken up to a shock. And what's true of legal is also true of many case-oriented "professions" and occupations, including health care, insurance, field service etc. Automation also applies to you.

    And the economics are fun too.

    Standard BPM-automated processes (such as they are) are usually commodity processes by definition. So-called "unstructured work" with myriad exceptions and unknowns is typically where margins are found -- or costs are generated.

    And "one person's exception is another person's lunch" (to coin a phrase I think). So that industrial structure evolves around who can organize niches of exceptions -- which then become more like STP for that startup.

    And case management is at the center of it all. Competitive pressure because case management automation is possible. Therefore a startup.

    The challenge for business leadership is new responsibilities for "thinking process" and "thinking automation". No more "wait states on the golf course" while IT codes a new idea. Case management and business process technologies provide business concepts as first class citizens of the technology. That means busness leaders, with a little help from business analysts, will be "at the rock face" of new process and case evolutions.

    So business rushes ahead. Will BPM and case automation technology keep up?

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, June 02 2016, 10:33 AM - #Permalink
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    Echoing many comments above, it seems that the biggest hurdles and challenges remain human-related, not technical.

    Quotes from various actual ACM case studies published in the new book “Best Practices for Knowledge Workers” being launched at BPM and Case Management event on June 27. (Each attendee gets a free copy of the book, btw).

    • Lack of cooperation from client-side stakeholders during the demo sessions.
    • There was some skepticismabout how a case management system could be created to be self-aware of the knowledge workers and help ensure process completion.
    • Maintaining an intuitive application design that is easy to use and can be easily trained on
    • Whether or not to undertake organization-wide process automation or a more incremental approach
    • In this culture where people were “wedded to the paper” some of the projects raised anxiety among subject matter experts (SMEs) who felt their contribution was being replaced by an automated process
    • Technological issues are expected when moving to different software and architectural approaches but the most challenging issues were human-related.
    • Without management buy-in the program will suffer and either not be supported at all or not be able to achieve its full potential
    • Working with professionals of different industries is always a challenge because the communication must be at a common level, almost creating a particular language understandable to everyone in the project.
    • Coordinating multiple related technology integration projects being worked upon by different teams around the same processes (product) was a challenge.
    • There was some initial hesitation to change and uncertainty about going from familiar spreadsheets to a new way of managing work.
    • David Chassels
      more than a month ago
      Layna
      You raise some interesting issues many of which can be addressed with a good 6GL platform (no/low Code). So here is my take

      Cooperation – once business users/management see how their ideas come to life V quickly resistance moves to excitement. IT on the other hand see as a challenge!

      Scepticism - yes but again understand how in business language and then seeing build at click of button it quickly disappears! IT move from ignoring to ridicule . do not be silly can’t really deliver….?

      Incremental - Definitely but business likely to want to know can it go across the organization if it works……Yes

      “Paper” – that change has to be faced but where a paper doc required demonstrating its delivery from the system will ease concern. Yes automation will increase “efficiency” but the real-time feed back of activity will support empowering people to use their human skills better

      Technology issues – The new “adaptive” system will quickly gain users support where all business issues are readily supported. Yes the traditional fear of “IT” new and change is there but quickly subordinated to the new environment

      Management buy-in – once management understand how comments like why do any other way emerge! As ever the first delivery is important there after word will spread…..then IT gives up the fight!

      Common language – well this is the secret business logic never changes to step by step you build requirement from business language. Yes domain knowledge of leader in build certainly helps but talk to users they know what is required!

      Multiple technology integration – Fact is if the platform cannot handle as least say 80% of requirements you are doomed to face such complexity. The same process end to end could have 100 individual process maps (which is the application) and with speed of build one team can readily handle.

      Spreadsheet syndrome – Yes here fear of “knowledge” being exposed and transferred is real! But the benefits will far out weigh this concern Plus if involves “compliance” then no choice but comfort taken is seeing their ideas being taken seriously unlike where IT has been?
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, June 02 2016, 12:27 PM - #Permalink
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    3 votes

    Maybe it's that business is confused at this "IT" term Case Management.....? All operational needs could be case management CRM the customer, SCM the supplier, HRM the employee, Grant management the applicant, Claims management the claimant, etc ....? What business wants will be the vital Adaptive capability to handle inevitable change and UI that recognises what the user needs for a good experience.

    Then business wants to understand exactly what they are buying ...in their language and how it will address their specific requirements. This effectively knocks out hard code inflexible vendor versions of requirements! So it comes to the plaform that can handle all custom requirements both the formal and informal with audit trail who did what when to both contribute to supporting improving the process and of course satisfying compliance! So perhaps therein is the real challenge? And then who takes responsibility and how is this articulated to business so all are on the same page...a new experience for all?

    • karl walter keirstead
      more than a month ago
      Agree, it's all about the platform i.e. the UI, ability to accommodate structured and unstructured interventions, audit trail, compliance checking.

      I would add one more - "seamless interoperability", otherwise your Case becomes an island. Many events get to Cases via data exchangers.

      In healthcare, law enforcement and insurance there is no confusion re "Case" (i.e. case workers, crime investigators, lawyers/officers of courts, claim adjusters(,

      I like " . . . all operational needs could be case management".
    • David Chassels
      more than a month ago
      Yes that interoperability needs to be recognised . The platform needs to be able orchestrate other systems/data as required which become the slave to these business operational requirements. Some call MDM but I think deeper than that?
    • karl walter keirstead
      more than a month ago
      Our people have invested a lot of time on "interoperability" - one healthcare app on pilot project ran up 214,000,000 transactions over 9 months. This was an e-hub app for a managed care company that did daily consolidations of patient data across 100 of their member clinics.

      Anyone who wants to dig deeper on multi-directional interoperability can look at. . .

      https://kwkeirstead.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/ecases-iv-interoperability/

      the article was written in 2013 as #4 of a 4-part series on e-Cases
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