Guest blog by Michael Green - Offering lead, IBM Case Manager
While an understanding of how the power of content differentiates IBM Case Manager from IBM BPM is important in any discussion of the two, it is not the only differentiator. Another key feature of case management is that in case the knowledge worker or case manager is the main decision maker. As such, the ability to provide flexible process flows that emanate from the case worker and do not have a predetermined outcome is of critical importance.
In classic BPM the processes are understood as being end to end – with business rules and process parameters dictating the process flow between applications and through an organization. Out of this structure comes repeatable processes, enhanced efficiencies and faster throughput. A rules based assembly line assembly line for enhancing the productivity of knowledge works.
Case management however, defies this rational. It is has too many unrepeatable steps, too many that if they are repeatable are done so out of order, or used for some cases and not others. Mostly, it is a process that is driven not by a rules engine but by a knowledge or case worker, based on the unique specifics of the case. Certainly there can be business rules involved to handle initial triaging and scoring, and process choreography to handle the required back end updating and data collection, but the majority of decisions and task initiation in a case are made by the case workers themselves. These decisions are based on the documentation associated with the case, the policies and regulations surrounding the case type, and the case workers own understanding of what would be needed to successfully resolve the case file – to achieve a positive outcome.
To achieve the benefits of BPM in a case scenario the processes must therefore be discrete, individual and none sequential. They must be able to be chosen as needed by the case worker and include the ability to launch ad hoc process steps (usually via email sent from within the application) and include searchable comments – so that decisions are documented and kept in context. These are capabilities found in IBM Case Manager about which I will enunciate next post.