Since Singularity days, TotalAgility has come in two flavors, namely BPM (Business Process Management) and DCM (Dynamic Case Management). In my experience, it is evident that many business professionals do not appreciate the prominent differences between BPM and Case Management. Practicing technologists, business analysts and business process solution providers understand the importance of differentiating between these two different sets of business process scenarios, and it is important to do so in order to provide the best possible solution to the end users.
The ultimate goal of any business enterprise is to find the solution to the business problems clouding their business processes, but we as customized solution providers need to get at the root of the given problem before designing a solution.
Business Process Management vs Dynamic Case Management
Getting at the root of an existing business process issue is more important rather than sailing at its surface level. It helps us deliver a quality solution to meet the entire set of end users’ requirements. It also helps us design the right business solution aimed with the right perspective.
What is the difference between Business Process Management and Dynamic Case Management? Can you make an analysis on BPM vs DCM? How do I know, whether BPM or DCM is capable of streamlining my business process? Shall I consult a BPM expert or a DCM expert? Which of the two will get the appropriate business process solution? How does TotalAgility handles BPM and/or Dynamic Case Management? Is it capable of handling both DCM and BPM?
These are all very relevant questions that I hear on a regular basis.
How Kofax TotalAgility Treats BPM and Case Management?
I have faced many business queries in the past that I decided to do a post on Business Process Management vs Dynamic Case Management in the light of Kofax TotalAgility. I wanted to answer these queries as per my TotalAgility development skills, knowledge and experience to one and all. I am fortunate that my starting point is with Kofax TotalAgility. It is well designed to handle Business Process Management scenarios as well as Dynamic Case Management scenarios.
This post is a sincere attempt to help business process owners understand their business requirements clearly in the context of both BPM and DCM. Understanding the real problem is equivalent to getting half of the solution done right at the beginning. Advanced Business Intelligence (BI) considers both BPM as well as DCM concepts as an integral part behind developing Business Process Management solutions to resolve the issues hovering over the current dynamic business environment.
Predictable and Unpredictable Business Processes in TotalAgility
Technology has always helped us deliver solutions to some of the most complex business scenarios, although at the expense of our own information, knowledge, skills and problem solving attitude. Some of the business process scenarios are quite predictable by nature; simple and easy to handle.
On the contrary, there are many other business process scenarios which are entirely unpredictable by nature; quite complex and tough to handle. Fundamentally, it is the nature of a business process that is responsible for creating a differentiation between Dynamic Case Management and Business Process Management.
TotalAgility Handles Structured Data and Unstructured Data Differently
Looking from another perspective, today’s dynamic business environment revolves around data. Data exists in two different states – structured data and unstructured data. When we say predictable situation, it is the prominence of structured data which dominates the BPM market, while when we talk about unpredictable situations, it is the prominence of unstructured data which dominates the Case Management market.
Predictable situations or structured data scenarios can be easily resolved with the help of Business Process Management (BPM), while unpredictable situations or unstructured data scenarios can be more readily handled with the application of Dynamic Case Management (DCM).
Business Process Management – Accounts Payable
The scope of BPM extends to most of our everyday predictable (pre-defined) routine processes which are in need of minimal human touch. Some good examples where BPM solution seems to be the perfect fit includes Accounts Payable / Invoice Processing, Customer on-boarding and Employee Expense Claims, just to name a few.
In such cases, a BPM solution does the job perfectly well as the business processes are fairly predictable and is typically related to the handling of structured data.
Business Process Management Examples
In a nutshell, we can say that
- Accounts Payable and Invoice Processing falls under BPM domain.
- Customer on-boarding is a BPM domain.
- Employee Expense Claims is a BPM domain.
These are only some of the many unlimited Business Process Management (BPM) scenarios which are in need of Business Process Management experts. Any business process that has a predictable or a pre-defined routine, and is based on structured data is the perfect candidate to Business Process Management solution.
How to Develop Business Process Management Solutions ?
In fact, developing a BPM solution is somewhat easier as compared to DCM because of the recurring and relatively simplistic nature of these business process scenarios. All the steps in BPM processes are well defined in advance. Simple algorithms are more than enough to route the business logic based on different conditional and branching statements. It is more like developing an if-then-else scenario, whereby all the prospective solution routes can be ascertained well in advance.
Structured data with lots of information is used to model BPM processes. Information workers are well equipped to model these business process situations into successful BPM solutions. Although, whenever an exceptional condition is encountered by the system, the existing BPM solution fails to handle it. It is the trigger of such an exceptional situation (not pre-defined in BPM) that can create the need for a Case Management approach.
Dynamic Case Management in Today’s Business Environment
On the contrary, Dynamic Case Management deals with unpredictable business processes commonly based on unstructured data. DCM solution needs the expertise of knowledge workers to conclude processes. Common characteristic features of Dynamic Case Management are its adaptability as per the dynamic business process scenarios and its continuous evolving nature.
Considering the evolution stage at which Case Management systems are currently operating, human intervention is required. DCM solutions can be developed with a UI that allows knowledge workers to guide the Case Management system decision route in the right direction. It is one of the most prominent features of DCM that differentiates a Case Management scenario against a Business Process Management scenario.
Dynamic Case Management Solutions Based on Unstructured Data
Dynamic Case Management scenarios do not have any pre-defined route to manage a given business process. A major characteristic of DCM is its novice nature. The business processes encountered by DCM can be experienced for the first time by the system, and is most likely based on unstructured data.
Even finding some existing literature about similar business process scenarios can be impossible. Logic behind such characteristics of Dynamic Case Management is quite obvious; had such problems been encountered earlier, it could have been easily modeled into Business Process Management and have been a part of it.
Dynamic Case Management for Medical Treatment Process
Medical treatment process of an unknown illness is a very good example of Dynamic Case Management scenario. Assume a patient coming to a hospital with an unknown illness. The goal of medical experts is quite clear; to medically treat the patient of his/her illness but HOW? The answer to this HOW cannot be given in a straightforward manner with BPM.
The complete medical treatment route i.e., the entire medical process to treat the patient of his/her illness cannot be determined in advance. Looking closely at the situation, you can observe that it is a case of unstructured data management in an unpredictable process, thus a perfect candidate to Dynamic Case Management context.
Case Management Takes a Natural Ad-hoc Path
In such cases, even medical experts do not know the exact medical processes required to treat the patient of his/her illness. The treatment process involves a series of medical diagnosis such as X-rays, blood tests, urine tests, stool tests and many other medical tests. Moreover, this medical treatment case progresses along a natural path by creating ad-hoc processes to achieve the desired goal.
One medical test report may suggest the conduct of another series of medical tests and the chain continues. The medical treatment starts only when the root cause of the illness is diagnosed after a series of medical diagnosis.
Case Management is Based on Knowledge Workers
We all agree that the desired objective of the medical process is to relive the patient from his/her illness. Although, at the outset, neither can we pre-define the processes involved, nor can we pre-define the skill set (or knowledge worker components) required to achieve the end goal. This Dynamic Case Management situation requires the involvement of many medical specialists such as Pathologists, Obstetrician etc. Dynamic Case Management is very much based on the expertise of the domain knowledge workers.
Any process having an undefined solution path falls under the category of Dynamic Case Management and needs the attention of DCM experts exclusively. Although, inclusion of domain knowledge experts in the solution team may also provide an invaluable asset to the organisations.
Future of Dynamic Case Management Systems
In the near future, we can expect Case Management systems to evolve at a higher level, along with the evolution and application of AI (Artificial Intelligence) into it. A level that can be termed as semi-automated case management system. Although, it would be near impossible to completely eliminate human interaction, it can be minimized. The evolution of artificial intelligence and its merger with Case Management has a very strong potential to realize this somewhat abstract concept in reality.
Case Management may implement powerful Analytical Engines as well as Inference Engines based on logic design to catalyze background processing. Furthermore, Analytical Engines and Inference Engines can be powered with Natural Algorithm Processing to create entirely new routes to process undefined exceptional situations triggered by business processes with minimum human interaction. Moreover, future DCM systems may also evolve as self-learning systems.
Case Management and BPM Product Offerings
Now, its time to answer the big question over product selection, a BPM or DCM (Case Management) platform! Which of the two could be your best choice? I have personally witnessed a number of Case Management solutions built on pure-play BPM products. It can lead to a shoehorn approach by taking significant implementation effort, and can sometimes even lead to inadequate solutions or a system so complex, that support and future development become monumental tasks.
Some vendors will have separate BPM and Dynamic Case Management products, which provides a more tailored platform in terms of capability. Although, after making your choice of platform, you have now got the downside of limiting your options in terms of solutions spread across different business functions.
Some vendors also provide the best of both the worlds. They include both BPM and Case Management offerings in a single package. It provides a product that can be adapted to meet the different solution architectures spread across a wide range of diversified business functions. It is made available in a platform that is specifically tailored to give you both pure-play BPM and Dynamic Case Management capabilities.
Finally, taking a decision on whether your business process requires a BPM or a DCM type solution should be relatively straightforward using the information provided above. Kofax TotalAgility customers are in the fortunate position that both Case Management as well as Business Process Management solutions are available on a single platform.
In the light of all the facts and figures mentioned above, it will boil down to a design decision taken in the initial stages of the project, rather than considering it as a commercial matter.