My take on what is Case Management on ECM

Ok, since “the analysts” told everybody that Case Management is the new hype and we should all do it, many started to ask what is Case Management. Some (many?) said they are already doing it… This makes sense because nothing is new under the sun.

Obviously, a lot has been written (eg: CMS Watch, Consected, Lee, …) on the topic and many definitions were made. One of my colleagues came to me today asking what is actually Case Management and incidentally I was just reviewing all the online opinions after reading yet another new “analyst” reports on the ECM market. So I reckoned it would be good to decide for myself what CM is. Here it is:

What is a case?

A case is the sum of information entities and their associated relations and context, grouped together to reach a certain objective.

My spin on the other definitions is that the thing which makes all these “entities” (people, data, processes) be together is the fact that “the subject” needs to reach a certain objective. Such as, the contract to be fulfilled, the patient to be cured, the credit to be completed… This is what makes all these workers do something on the whatever documents or pieces of information they gather in relation to the case. The lifecycle of the case aims at that objective with intermediate milestones on the path.

A case has the the following specific characteristics which differentiates it from other information structures (eg. folders …):

  • Contains information elements (documents, notes, structured data records…)
  • Knows the relations between all the elements (eg: a schedule is related to a contract, an order to a contract and this one to a frame contract…)
  • Follows a certain lifecycle
  • Has a history (business history, not only a technical one)
  • It’s sensible to its informational context (events in and out, interacts with business processes and data changes from the outside)
  • Brings together the people working on its subject
  • Supports specific views of its contained information for various audiences

What is NOT a case?

Something which fulfills at least 3-4 of the above characteristics might be a case. The rest is probably not.

For example, a credit application is not a case. The “credit” in itself is. Not only the initial file comprising the paperwork for the credit application (this is still a part of the case), but also all the information and “things” which happen during the performance of the credit.

What is a case management system?

Subject for the next post….

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