Will the Case Management crowd sit down and work out a common roadmap please

“It’s all just a little bit of history repeating…” – Dame Shirley Bassey

Listening to various vendors and announcements recently, plus the chatter coming from Process.gov it’s apparent that the old hype machine is on the spin cycle again and this time it’s Case Management in the wash.

Whilst BPM still can’t define itself properly after almost 2 decades, Case Management is coming into the fore as a successor of sorts in the modern age, albeit still very much a vendor related artefact. Still, there’s dissention in the ranks already because there are so many names for it starting to emerge, so far we have:

  • Case Management
  • Dynamic Case Management
  • Adaptive Case Management
  • Advanced Case Management

IBM has just thrown the last one into the ring only recently but then adds to the confusion further by stating that “The advanced case management strategy from IBM unifies information, processes and people to provide a 360-degree view of the case”. Oh I see, so now it’s a strategy and not a BPMS ? No, because it then goes on to talk about IBM’s wonderful new Advanced Case Management solutions too. So what is it ? A solution, a strategy, a bit of both ? Vapourware ? (well, it is Big Blue after all….)

Of course the announcement was met with much excitement and chattering across the analyst community, they’re well paid for it but they’ve missed quite a fundamental point here. Case Management is on the cusp of evolving into something that BPM does want to follow but unfortunately because they can’t agree on a common terminology or what XYZ Case Management actually means they are heading down the same road BPM did, which was leaving it so wide for interpretation that ultimately it’s going to lead to massive confusion with clients as to what the benefits really are.

And it’s taken BPM 20 years to try and convince the enterprise what it can really do. Do you really want that to happen for Case Management too ?

Take it away Shirley……

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6 responses to “Will the Case Management crowd sit down and work out a common roadmap please

  1. So what is wrong with a bit of darwinian selection and evolution. I am not sure they (the vendors) could all agree on a common roadmap and framework … reason being there are so mamny subtly different approaches. No doubt our Wave will shed some light on the subject … and I will be going out of my way to make sure that we don’t end up with just the usual suspects. The intention is to do a bit of a beauty parade first to see their offerings. Sure, there are some that will make it in, but we want to see what’s out there before we commit to a set of vendors for the Wave. And just in case you think this will be a walk in the park – I estimate around 7-10 man-days per vendor on the Wave (so we have to limit the numbers).

  2. Derek,presumably before you look at vendors for the Wave you need to define what the Wave is actually looking at? There are so many vendors out there claiming to provide Case Management solutions and each comes at it from a different standpoint – traditional CRM vendors and ECM vendors for example – that it could be comparing apples with pears.In my view, Case Management solutions are a framework of services we deliver to an organisation to support their case management activities. Depending on what the organisation does, the relative importance of the services within the framework changes. For example, within the courts case management is likely to be document-centric while we’ve just won a deal with a charitable organisation that’s very citizen-centric in what it does. Both are case Management, and both fit with our framework, but it would be difficult to compare the solutions.

  3. This whole naming issue is really a shame. I say this having participated in the WfMC event where Adaptive Case Management was coined. There were people in favor of sticking with "Case Management" and those for something new. "Adaptive" was added as a means to distinguish this generation of Case Management solutions from the prior. So there’s your first set (Case Management and Adaptive Case Management). It appears that Forrester took a similar approach in using "Dynamic" to distinguish from older generations of Case Management solutions. The choice of dynamic likely relates to the concept of Dynamic Business Applications that they’ve written about in the past, so is a logical extension.Strangely enough, these happened around the same time (November / December of 2009), so a group of interested individuals (WfMC summit) and analysts (Forrester) both recognized an expanding interest in Case Management and took it upon themselves to get the word out there.Given the similarity of the two concepts and even the phrasing, it’s likely reasonable to suggest that the two be consolidated into a single term.Where the whole thing goes off the rails for me is the IBM announcement of "Advanced" Case Management. I too am confused as to what it really means (not like IBM was going to brief me!), and how it is different from anything that Forrester or the WfMC is positioning. If IBM is positioning this as a "product" or "solution" then the naming is a marketing choice and shouldn’t be as confusing. The issue is it seems that IBM are trying to define a segment or technology platform where there are already initiatives out there to do so. It would be nice, for a change, for everyone to agree on the concept (which was the goal of the WfMC coming together) rather than making things more confusing for customers.So back to your original request, I’d too would like to see more involvement from organizations like IBM in defining the space as a community rather than further fragmentation.@Norman, Forrester’s latest paper on Case Management breaks down different types of cases in a way that might help with your issue. That said, there’s another level of detail that needs to be laid out specific to different industries / segments / agencies to highlight how Case Management specifically helps them and what components they would need to leverage from a Case Management solution.

  4. This is a good discussion. From an IBM perspective I can share with you that we are most interested in what our customers are telling us as they attempt to solve a new set of problems. They are saying that case-type problems require a new, more advanced set of capabilities then what is currently available. They need a solution that pre-integrates a broad set of capabilities from multiple technology "platforms" in the context of a case (such as process, content, events, collaboration, rules and analytics). And they need tools for business users to easily build, deploy and maintain their case applications. Really this is not a label for a new or different market (from "traditional" case management) – it is the recognition that the customer problem has evolved and there is a need for a next-generation solution. Actually the use of "advanced" simplifies the discussion, and customers understand that IBM is innovating to meet their new, emerging needs in a broad way. The other adjectives are powerful but invite the debate as to whether they apply to a specific attribute of case management (i.e the dynamic nature of work or processes). However, this is not the only new requirement we are hearing. For example, lifecycle governance of a case is an advanced concept and really does not relate specifically to the dynamic or adaptive nature of work (although you will want to capture/log all of that ad-hoc activity for regulatory compliance or legal reasons). We certainly are interested in participating in the discussion on how to best describe what is happening in the case management space. However, our focus is on bringing all of the assets of IBM together in a unique way to solve case-style problems and create better case outcomes for our customers. What we call it is less important than the value it can drive.

  5. Five years from now, flush with new technology will vendors double down on the adjective war? Could we see press releases for ‘Super Advanced Case Management’ or ‘Really Adaptive Case Management’ or perhaps ‘Wicked Dynamic Case Management’?What’s in a name? that which we call a roseBy any other name would smell as sweet;Customers really don’t care what we call it – they just want better tools for running their businesses. My bet is that the superlatives will fade from use and plain old Case Management will survive the marketing excesses of the day.

  6. @Davidabsolutely agree with "a solution that pre-integrates a broad set of capabilities from multiple technology "platforms" in the context of a case " although I prefer to look at case management as a "framework of services that support a business process". In any case, it’s the acknowledgement that this isn’t an application, despite how many vendors are labelling their BPM or ECM products. That’s why I think an analyst assessment of the case management space is going to prove difficult.What we seem to be losing in the adaptive/dynamic/advanced debate around the name and the attribute each describes is that one of the key changes around case management right now is that it’s moving out of a silo in many organisations and is fundamentally part of the DNA of the organisation. or maybe we just need another label to describe that!

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