Adaptive case management (ACM) is also known as “dynamic case management” , is getting a lot of interest lately. BPM vendors identified this need while engaging with companies to manage existing business processes. And so ACM tools are emerging as complements to BPM. They provide a human-centric combination of process, content and collaboration to support knowledge workers to be more productive.
What is case management?
Case management is a way of organizing the work and activities in a company around a case instead of around a process or data. A Case is the coordination of multiple tasks – planned or unplanned – and associated content, towards a concrete objective or goal. Case oriented systems allow more flexibility and adaptability compared to process oriented solutions. Case oriented systems are better equipped to handle unstructured or less structured data compared to data oriented solutions.
Why would you need case management?
You would typically need ACM in a situation where you want activities to be managed, activities don’t have a fixed pre-determined sequence (there are unplanned parts), activities need access to content (both structured and unstructured data), and humans determine what need to happen while executing a process and/or need to interact with other experts (collaboration to solve the case).
Scenario’s in companies we have engaged with are claims handling and investigation in insurance, credit card disputes and pension rewarding in financial services, rehabilitation in health care, and handling contracts.
Compared to process management
In BPM the process is dominant. This means the order in which the activities are performed is predetermined and static. Data flows through the process. While with ACM the data is primary and the processes are brought to it. In many cases using ACM the processes are not even fully defined. They are defined on the fly. From that perspective ACM is a way provide enough structure to knowledge work to make it manageable, but not so much as to strangle it.
When handling our values adding activities as a case we know most of the activities that have to be performed. There is no fixed order. The order depends largely on human decisions. In each stage of processing a case a process participant has insight into the activities that have been performed, the data available (structured or not, internal or external) and needed, and the activities that still have to be performed.
The activities are performed by employees in a way that suits the case the best, to their best knowledge and experience. So the process is designed and performed by doing. The flow of activities and their sequence depends on human decisions during the execution of the process.
Like a process a case has state. A case can be open, resolved (complete, closed, rejected) and re-opened. The latter is often difficult when using BPM.
Oracle BPM and Adaptive Case Management
At Oracle OpenWorld the addition of Case Management functionality in BPM Suite is announced. PS6 of BPM Suite (version 184.108.40.206) will feature Adaptive Case Management at design time. It will support the definition of a “case” as basis for flexible, unstructured, user-driven case progression. You’ll be able to define Case Activities, Case Events, Stakeholders and Permissions. There won’t be a user interface available in PS6, just an API and probably some example Java code.
Additional ACM functionality will be available in the 12c release Oracle BPM Suite. It is expected there will be some sort of Case Spaces that user interface can be compared to Process Spaces for BPM Suite. And of course there will be further integration of BPM en WebCenter.
Use ACM as an addition to BPM. Again a hybrid solution could be the one that best fits your business. There are parts of your process that can be handled best using a fixed sequence and there are parts that need Case Management. Just like when you didn’t start using an automated process to handle certain types of data in your applications.
The use of ACM extends beyond the knowledge worker. There tons of other roles that could benefit from working with cases. Basically all processes that are handled by e-mail and spreadsheet and the people using these could benefit from a well designed case management system. This would also improve transparency and open up possibilities to better reporting on the work done.