Guest blog by Michael Green, Offering lead - IBM Case Manager
How much easier it all would be if all software products fit into nicely differentiated boxes. Software, however, is infinitely flexible and resists being tightly categorized. Certainly that is the case when you try to differentiate IBM BPM from Case Manager. Both deal with aspects of process management; both can move information in a choreographed way around an organization; both include people and processes in their process flows and have ways do deal with exceptions processing. Is there anyway to clearly differentiate the two?
Speaking in Japan this week, Allan Takatsuka, the ICM World Wide Technical Lead, tried to articulate such a differentiator. He noted that when processes included a significant amount of content - specifically unstructured or document based content - and needed people to act on that content - then the content oriented process controls and tools in IBM Case Manager clearly differentiated that offering from IBM BPM. Allan noted that while there were other aspects of case management that one or the other product could demonstrate rival capability - software being what it is - in the area of content it was clear that IBM Case Manager was the better option.
From the point of view of IBM Case Manager I can certainly argue that there are other areas of differentiation, but Allen’s point is well taken. The ability to deal with multiple document types, to allow editing and audit control of all documents actions – who read, edited, signed – and when they did so – certainly differentiate IBM ECM products from all other offerings. The ability for documents to be understood, initiate discrete process tasks, and automatically create contextual audit trails that include the case documents with all the process steps, is a unique feature in IBM Case Manager. So while perfect worlds do not exist, focusing on content based process flows as a way to differentiate Case Manager from IBM BPM is at a minimum a good – clear – place to start.