Many years ago Peter Drucker, the great management thinker, predicted the rise of what he called the “knowledge worker”. As evidenced over time, Drucker was truly a thought leader. Today, we can acknowledge that we have arrived at “the place” Drucker envisioned: a place where almost all jobs require some element of knowledge work. Yet it is not true that everyone with a computer on his or her desk or a smartphone in his or her pocket qualifies as a knowledge worker.

Case management

Case management includes data, process and workflow

While having access to data is the starting point, it is the worker who knows how to make the best decisions with data that is truly the knowledge worker. And while knowledge workers add considerable value to the way their companies do business, there is also a need for those companies to provide the data from which smart business decisions can be analyzed and applied.

The rise of the knowledge worker has also led to an impetus for business process management (BPM). BPM enables people to access more data. That, in turn, can facilitate new insights for knowledge workers who might not ‘normally’ have access to that same data.

Most enterprise applications run better and more efficiently when used by those who have what we call a ‘process mindset’. Of course, there are a variety of ways to use BPM to gain that process mindset and the insights that are derived from greater access to more kinds of data.

Case management software is a prime example. When case management software is paired with BPM software, business users can build, modify and manage sophisticated digital applications in a human-directed way. Case magnifies the effects of BPM because it is an agile way of integrating data from disparate sources and managing how it is used. As a result of detailed analytics, case management provides information that can be used to derive additional insights.

The true impact of BPM case management is best understood in the context of workflow. The market has a lot of BPM-only tools that rely on the “if, then” concept. They have been developed to manage sequential, time-driven events and operations. Yet many processes are more complex in what they deliver, who they touch and how they handle obstacles and changing conditions.

This is an important differentiator for case management because it is framed around processes that are not necessarily beholden to a timeline or a sequence— but are more often about the logic and actions taken within the process. A well-constructed case management solution can take into account things like business data (through the integration of information from different sources), business logic, deadlines, and insights derived from the data.

It is important to think about case management not as a “thing” like a project or a folder. Rather, it is the accumulation of all the elements that comprise the activity, all formed around the varying aspects of an issue, or case. The beauty of case management is that the goal is known, the premise understood, yet there is flexibility to pull in the necessary information so as to make better decisions based on deeper insights into the issues one is trying to solve.

Consider, for example, how a decision is made using a simple “T-Chart”. We have all, at one time or another, sat down to weigh pros and cons of a T-Chart. To do that, we have to frame the outcome and provide details based on what we know. If it is buying a car, well, we know what we care about most that will sway us in making a decision. If gas mileage, air conditioning and color are critical, we would put them on the list. Maybe we do not care about cruise control and seat warmers, so we can exclude them. If cruise control contributed to gas mileage, and if better gas mileage could give you a better rebate, would that be a factor in your decision? All features have to be assessed and factored in at times independently, and at other times, collectively. A T-Chart (and most human brains), is incapable of calculating so many interconnected variables. Case management, however, is designed to do just that, and by doing so, provides users with an advantage in terms of perspective and understanding.

Peter Drucker also said, “The basic economic resource – the means of production – is no longer capital, nor natural resources, nor labor. It is and will be knowledge.” If you apply that to today’s enterprise, you will recognize the difference between data and, as Drucker says, “Knowledge.” Knowledge brings understanding, and understanding leads to a better decisions.

Case management is a methodology that can help organizations better address and use the information it collects. In so doing, BPM case management solutions enables companies to optimize their most prized asset.