Case v/s Process – Not about Architecture & Tools, It’s Culture

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Frankly, I don’t like that “v/s” thing between Case Management and Process Management – because the way I see it, everything could be a case and everything could go through a process. It just depends on how you look at it, and how you “intend” to handle “things”.

Take, for instance, Service Requests, one of the most prominent use cases for operational efficiency that BPM drives. You go to a company, preach them process adherence, and you get efficiency by training people on sticking to the process. (Of course you’ve got the tool that gives you all the capability: model – execute – monitor – optimize). You go to another company, the culture is different – they want to handle every case on its own and give its due importance – especially given the possibility of Fraud. You end up doing Case Management.

What this tells me is this. There are tools that have capability to do Process Management in structured manner, and there are tools with capability to perform dynamic case management. What you need depends on how you want to treat the situations and incidents. You want Case Management culture or Process Management culture – that’s the key. Everything could be treated like a case, and everything could follow a process. What do you want?

PS: Most of the time, it’s not an either/or scenario. A Culture that promotes Process management still needs Case Management, and vice-versa.


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  1. #1 by Max J. Pucher on May 13, 2010 - 6:20 pm

    Ashish, I agree with you completely. This is why I propose that beyong ACM (Adaptive Case Management) lies what I call Adaptive Process. With Adaptive Process you can handle any kind of process/case scenario with all the benefits of flowchartless user created activities, constrained by rules and linked to data and content. No need for multiple suites because any process can turn to a case at any time. It is all about what GOALS you have for the outcome.

    More on:

  2. #2 by kswenson on May 13, 2010 - 6:49 pm

    The discussion of case vs process is like the discussion of whether a vehicle is an “off-road” vehicle or not. You start to define the exact qualities of an off-road vehicle, and the definition slips like sand between your fingers. Off-road vehicles have large wheels: but lots of regular vehicles have large wheels. Off-road vehicles have 4 wheel drive, but not all of them, and lots of road-cars have four wheel drive. Off road vehicles tend to be less luxurious, but there are notable examples of luxury off road vehicles. In the end, of course, ANY car can be drive off the road.

    Does that mean there is no difference? No, if your desire is to drive off road, then there are configurations and capabilities that you will want to make use of. We can talk about “off-road features” even though this does not necessarily identify a separate category of automobile.

  3. #3 by Max J. Pucher on May 13, 2010 - 9:56 pm

    Keith, how very true. Good comparison. Obviously there are many features in case versus process that are similar or enable similar functionality. Which is why I am trying to pour oil on the waves. ACM goes beyond what both BPM and CM typically offer. But certainly depending on your idea of ‘Offroad use’ either could be sufficient for some businesses (and have been). If Offroad represents knowledge work then yes, my Porsche Cayenne Turbo is Adaptive Process. It does it all. But then it is expensive and its mileage is horrible in town. So there is a place for BPM, CM and ACM and to only some it makes sense to pay up for a Porsche … and that is completely normal.

  4. #4 by Dave Duggal on May 13, 2010 - 9:57 pm

    Good comments all. We might actually be in fierce agreement!

    Janelle Hill from Gartner made a related post recent that captured the issue well –

    “Most categorization approaches tend to oversimplify the endless variety of interactions between human, system and information resources that happen in any process.”

    She continued “My research finds that different styles of processes still need different technological implementation approaches because of the inherent complexity in the work interaction patterns themselves.”

    She’s right to call it out, but yuch, who wants that? At what cost flexibility?

    Her point echoes Max and Keith as technology and architecture does matter. A Swiss army knife has a greater range of practical use than a butter knife, but their capabilities overlap. If flexibility matters, then go with the Swiss army knife.


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