Moving Along from BPM to Case Management

"Workforce optimization (WFO), a proven solution for containing costs and improving service in contact centers, has been extended to incorporate the complexities and unique requirements of managing employees in customer service support and back-office operations. Enterprise WFO software can factor in the full scope of resources being applied to transactions, no matter where or by whom they are processed. WFO solutions can help organizations:

  • Gain visibility across their operations by providing data and reporting;
  • Determine capacity requirements and increase throughput;
  • More efficiently meet service levels and deadlines; and
  • Improve quality, compliance and reduce errors/rework.

Organizations that have applied WFO to their internal back-office processes are now looking to leverage those benefits across all their activities to give them a single view of the customer experience."

Greg goes on to describe how this plays into an outsourced work environment:

"Many organizations first took advantage of (business process outsourcing—BPO) to gain cost savings through labor arbitration. These contracts were based on a fixed FTE contract, which meant that the onshore companies rarely looked into the specifics of processes and work allocation. They were satisfied with getting back a completed transaction within a set service goal for continued onshore processing. Now, with more emphasis placed on customer service, organizations are demanding increased visibility into their offshore processing. It is no longer acceptable for BPOs to be a black hole in the customer value chain.

Glen Schrank, who is CEO of a company called Eccentex, sees it as no less than a "revolution" in the changing nature of knowledge work AND the knowledge worker: "It's no secret that our workforce is constantly evolving and the demand for knowledge workers has drastically increased across multiple industries. Businesses with a high percentage of knowledge workers form the fastest growing sectors in today's economy.  Today's knowledge workers consist of different generations and each is faced with their own challenges. We know one thing for sure, since being identified as ‘knowledge workers' by Martin Feregrino in 1959, the manner in which work is executed has changed and evolved and is very different across industries and individuals. Just as the tasks, work environment and requirements of knowledge workers have progressed since the industrial revolution, so have the tools available for every generation to efficiently do their jobs."

Glen continues, "Both companies and employees have to make adjustments in order to keep up with today's evolved knowledge worker. Millennials are comfortable working via tablets and smartphones, but they aren't alone. Baby boomers and generation Xers are just as capable to adopt these new technological tools and the modern work approach. This modern mobile approach to work is upon us, and in order to succeed, knowledge worker adoption is critical. We are at a point where technology is not too overwhelming; it provides the right amount of challenges, advantages and tools to produce effective results in the workplace."

He goes on to make the "case" (sorry) for dynamic case management. "Dynamic case management is the agile approach to the automation of knowledge-based work within any commercial or public sector organization. Dynamic case management is considered dynamic because it focuses on unstructured and ad hoc processes. It is likewise a continuing process that involves people, information, processes and technical tools. A case is processed by a case worker from beginning to closure, ending with a successful case resolution, even in constantly changing environments. It is likewise adaptive and adaptable because it can be used by non-technical users and it can do different things in different situations. With DCM, circuitous business processes, fragmented communication, repetitive operations, missing documents and long approval timetables are things of the past."

Well, maybe not quite things of the past, but certainly improved enormously.

Ben Farrell is director of communications for Appian. In his piece, Ben concentrates on the importance of communication among workers, but notes that there are many avenues to take. "Enterprise social tools may increase communication, but communication about what? They create yet another siloed platform, cut off from broad enterprise processes, systems and data. This deficiency is particularly apparent in adaptive case management (ACM) work patterns. ACM requires a combination of structured process and unstructured collaboration, but the two must both be firmly grounded in the events, data and enterprise systems relevant to a given case. Because enterprise social lacks that grounding, it cannot keep case events and collaborations in a single system. This means users must collaborate on one platform, and switch contexts to other systems for actual casework. This is inefficient and it precludes the automatic creation of integrated audit trails that increase organizational intelligence on how to better handle specific case types in the future." Employees should be able, he says, to "see and act upon all important business events-or even the absence of expected events-arising from any enterprise system."

Ben cites an example that brings it home. He talks about an energy company—EDPR NA—that developed an internal collaboration tool they call "COBRA" (not to be confused with the business health insurance plan). "The COBRA system was able to capture more than $100,000,000 worth of issue solutions in the first nine months of use. It gives EDPR NA a modern social business platform for adaptive case management that drives business performance by turning tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge.

"The system has created a searchable knowledge base of detailed solutions for potential future issues, including the original case's context, to aid decision-making. COBRA also allows EDPR NA to track the frequency of issues related to specific equipment suppliers. COBRA is rapidly eliminating EDPR NA's reliance on ad-hoc email-based issue tracking, collaboration and document sharing. The files in the COBRA system were accessed more than 3,000 times in those first nine months. Each of those points of access is part of a structured and auditable record of a particular solution instance."

So, we present both the theory and the actual practice of case management in this White Paper. We hope it is as yummy as my salmon.

1 "How Knowledge Workers Get Things Done", published by Future Strategies in collaboration with the Workflow Management Coalition; 2012.

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