What is Case Management

A “case” is any project, transaction, service or response that is “opened” and “closed” over a period of time to achieve resolution of a problem, claim, request, proposal, development or other complex activity. It is likely to involve multiple persons inside and outside of the organization, with varying relationships to each other, as well as multiple documents and messages.

Sometimes known as adaptive or dynamic case management, case management endeavors to improve the performance of your organization by putting case information front-and-center rather than considering the process as primary, the way workflow and BPM do.  Such information will be accessed over the entire length of time you are working on a given task and will become the official record for that work.

Case management is described as operating on bundles of content rather than individual documents or images. A “case” is a compendium of information, processes, advanced analytics, business rules, collaboration, and sometimes social computing that relates to a particular interaction with or issue involving a particular party like a customer, supplier, patient, student, or defendant.  The case file will involve a collection of customer communications, forms, process documents, reports and supporting documentation, and will need to be managed for compliance and audit.

Case management solutions are designed to manage all this to help drive more successful, optimized outcomes – even as they also attend to and secure the individual bits of material contained therein. An Enterprise Content Management (ECM) or Document Management (DM) system may also be used to manage case information. The information will need to be grouped together and made accessible in a suitably controlled way to all who are involved in the case.

Finally, a workflow or business process needs to take place to move the case to its outcome. Within CRM systems, an alerts-style functionality will frequently exist against a given customer log. In  traditional DM systems, workflow may involve moving a given document through each process stage – probably in a serial manner. Neither is appropriate to a case management scenario where the focus is "the case" or collection of information, not a customer or single document. The process outcome is the successful resolution of the case. The participants may need to respond against given deadlines, and those involved in managing the case need to see progress reporting and action monitoring against the case.

Another way to look at this is that businesses and agencies develop long-term relationships with their customers, citizens or subscribers will be judged by the accuracy of the records they hold, the consistency of the communications that take place, and the speed, efficiency and fairness with which each case, claim, or contract is processed. Delivery of customer service has never been more challenging. Customers are more mobile in their addresses, jobs and family relationships.

Communication channels seem to multiply overnight, with customers switching between them at will. Customer interfaces may be dealt with in a CRM or help-desk system. Multiple relationships may be required, as any one case, contract or claim may involve more than one customer, knowledge worker or other contributor.

A customer-centric CRM system may be at a disadvantage compared to a document-centric process management system. A general purpose ECM and DM system may even lack the functionality and flexibility needed to deal with case management. There are differences between "regular" content management and case management most notably the inclusion of functions like incident reporting and investigation management. These capabilities involve entire processes unto themselves and can encompass living documents of all kinds that ultimately will need to have content management principles applied to them. As such, they require specialty care-and-feeding not only up front as information is captured and analyzed, but after the fact as well, when remediation steps are taken. So they represent a distinctly different, if related, breed of cat.

Document management repositories provide a more secure and compliant method of managing case documents. However, these systems take a single-document view, rather than focusing on a case file, frequently requiring customization or procedural changes to manage case-based scenarios. Case processing has very specific needs in terms of adaptive or dynamic workflows able to accommodate ad-hoc routings and rapid process change. Cases may involve collaboration with others outside the organization and these relationships may vary case-by-case. Case managers need to be able to monitor and manage progress.

This information is taken from the body of knowledge that comprises AIIM’s Certified Information Professional exam and designation and from AIIM's white paper, Adaptive Case Management – Comparing document-centric and customer-centric applications.