The way we work is ever-changing. It’s rumored for some time now that automation and AI are coming for our jobs, yet there’s never been a greater demand for knowledge workers. Though automation will take over some aspects of work, in the foreseeable future, it's repetitive, tedious tasks that’ll be taken from us, freeing up precious time to keep learning and to exercise creativity.
Automation is nothing new. The word automation was coined in the 1940s at Ford and used to describe the automatic handling of parts of metalworking processes.
Digital-Enabled Process Management
Around the globe, organizations are taking advantage of digital business process management methodologies to manage repetitive, predictable human actions. Work automation is freeing employees from these tasks so they can focus on other higher-value tasks. Two such methods are Dynamic Case Management (DCM) and Business Process Management (BPM).
These are not new concepts, case management has been used in legal and clinical settings for some years now, slowly expanding to other areas of business. Business process management as a management discipline has been around for quite a while (late ‘80s to early ’90s, there isn’t a consensus) and is accepted as an evolution of process engineering first described in Frederick W. Taylor’s The Principles of Scientific Management in 1911. Taylor studied and defined methods for implementing business processes efficiently. He believed that it was possible by applying enforced standardization of methods, adoption of best practices, working conditions, and cooperation.
What is BPM?
Both BPM and Dynamic Case Management are techniques to help accomplish work.
In BPM, a process is an orchestrated workflow of well-defined activities that are expected to happen in the normal course of business, and that is carried out frequently, but not continuously (they have a start and an end). Because many of the activities are predictable, many lend themselves to being handled automatically without the need for human action.
A process can be clustered with other processes but each sustains itself independently. The process owner owns the process and defines the sequence of activities, and can fine-tune the flow to optimize it for speed and efficiency. The process usually follows rules and guidelines such as legal requirements, or the expectations of stakeholders, and less administrative overhead frees up time. The ideal process is one that’s fully automated with no human intervention.
An example of a process is the set of activities to support signing up people for new online bank accounts. There is a set way of getting this done, the activities are always the same, carried out in the same sequence, and there’s no tolerance for switching it up on a client-by-client basis. Each sign up is the same as the next. Other examples that benefit from BPM are operational processes (for instance taking orders from customers), management processes (for instance, overseeing human resources), operational compliance, and more.
Read more about BPM and low-code in this blog post.
What is Dynamic Case Management?
In Dynamic Case Management, the process is not enough. A case is a set of loosely defined activities that are in some way related to each other. There may or may not be orchestration of the activities, because their execution is not necessarily rigid. And this is because a single case can follow more than one process, meaning that the workflow may not be predictable. The process owner or participants have control over the workflow and can change it on a case-by-case basis. The participants are often called knowledge workers. Each case activity must be owned by a worker. DCM lends itself to collaborative work, as there’s no limit of workers that can partake in a workflow.
Automation can be set up for activities where predictability is appropriate, but the activities can change, flows can change, and participants can change to meet the needs of the case. The participant relies on the content and information available to make judgments, deciding the next activities of the case.
A case usually concentrates information from several sources, providing an overview of the task at hand, and relies on the worker's ability to make informed decisions that actively move the case forward in the workflow. Cases are highly reliant on information and are appropriate for real-life scenarios where not everything is predictable and organized.
An example of a case is healthcare patient management, where a one-size-fits-all approach won’t do. The clinician allocated to a patient will base their diagnosis and treatment based on case information such as clinical laboratory tests, medical history, symptoms, and their own medical knowledge.
Other common examples are incident management or claim management. They start with a case, such as a customer complaint, and from the start, the goal is to close the case successfully. Everyone involved in its management is expected to follow the established policies and rules, yet each case can involve different steps, information, and participants, and depending on the complexity can take a matter of minutes or days to close.
Case management relies on the participant’s knowledge to move the case forward. Information is not knowledge, so far only humans can remodel information to generate knowledge.
“knowledge grows like organisms, with data serving as food to be assimilated rather than merely stored"
1960, Paul Alfred Weiss, author of: Knowledge: a Growth Process.
BPM and Dynamic Case Management at OutSystems
OutSystems is addressing both BPM and Dynamic Case Management, as both have a solid reason to be a part of the daily life of organizations. And we hypothesize that as the nature of work continues to move from being production and task-based towards knowledge and context-driven work, case management will become more central to businesses’ needs.
The way businesses operate and communicate with their customers is ever-changing. Customers also change and now take advantage of omnichannel communications to interact with companies, whether by email, social networks, forums, and so on. To reach their business goals, companies must find new methods for handling contextual information, making it accessible to knowledge workers. Dynamic Case Management is flexible enough for this ever-changing organizational landscape.
And though you may love the freedom that Dynamic Case Management offers, if your business relies on predictability and low risk, and benefits from a structured process from end-to-end, you’ll probably be best suited to BPM. Don’t worry, we’ve got that sorted too. Our BPM solution gives you the control and the means to optimize to perfection.
OutSystems is a highly customizable platform, easily extended and integrated with other technologies. Business Process Technology (BPT) addresses many case management and BPM use cases and allows you to integrate processes into your applications. The Process Flow Editor offers a set of capabilities for designing the process flow of activities to be executed during the entity's life cycle.
Accelerate Development for OutSystems Developers
OutSystems Case Management is built to address different personas needs and use cases within an organization while accelerating the development journey, by adding an additional level of abstraction with a set of pre-built functions that are typically a part of Case Management applications.
Power to the Process Owner
OutSystems is building a Workflow Builder that hands the power over to the process owner – the person who’s most knowledgeable about the processes. Not only can they design the process that best fits company needs, but now they can also develop it! Speedy development, speedy results.
End-to-End Process Control
Don't be mistaken: case management isn't the opposite of the structured, predictable BPM, and it's not intended for an unplanned, impromptu world with no controls or structure - the essential difference is that with Dynamic Case Management, the process isn't structured upfront.
Organizations in every industry rely on processes to run the business and when looking at automation and digitization, and it should not be a choice between BPM vs Dynamic Case Management - more frequently than not, the business needs both.
The challenge is keeping technology solutions aligned with the fast-changing organizational landscape that businesses face today, and this is where low-code (and no-code) come into play. With low-code, changes can be made at business speed while remaining fully integrated with the core applications managed by IT. Want to try out our dynamic case management frameworks that enable customers to move beyond simple task-focused apps and rote processes? Contact us to schedule your OutSystems demo or take advantage of our free trial. Stay tuned! More details are coming soon.