Depending on your background, case management can be a familiar concept or completely alien. You may be thinking, “what has case management got to do with me”? And you may be surprised to know that most of us are a good case for case management (pun intended).

Case management has traditionally been seen as related to industries such as insurance or healthcare providers, when, in fact, any company that needs to track and improve productivity, collaboration, project status, and information from several sources can benefit from Dynamic Case Management. 

A case is a set of loosely defined activities that are in some way related to each other. Put simply, a case is something you want to accomplish or resolve. It usually involves several people that must make decisions based on information from multiple sources and relies on the worker's ability to make informed decisions that actively move the case forward in the workflow, and repetitive tasks can be automated, accelerating the process. A knowledge worker is anyone that has to think about how to get the job done. Sounds familiar, right? Dynamic Case Management is flexible enough to serve the needs of simple, medium, and complex cases. And that flexibility is one of the features that  differentiates case management from BPM.

What are Simple, Medium, and Complex Processes?

We conducted extensive research with our customers to identify the most common use cases and core needs, and this helped us segment case management. So what did we learn from the research, and how do we define each category? Well, I’m glad you asked. We identified three segments: simple, medium, and complex. And we typically consider a simple scenario as highly predictable and structured cases. 

Simple processes are usually internal productivity processes, for instance, a process for expense approval or employee onboarding, and are typically triggered by a request that is executed via form submission. The workflow typically has 1 to 2 steps of approval, the case workers make some decisions, and others can be automated based on predefined business attributes, for instance, an expense cost in an Expense Approval scenario.

Dynamic Case Management can fit the most simple to the complex of cases.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, complex processes are characterized by being highly unpredictable and non-repeatable, unstructured cases. Complex cases are usually line-of-business or industry processes, for instance, claims handling, or shipping and distribution apps. They require deep UX orchestration to deal with long-lived processes, complex business rules, integration with core systems, regulatory compliance, and business continuity. But we’ve got it handled, complex scenarios are precisely what Dynamic Case Management was “born” to do! 

Right in the middle, the medium processes are usually event-triggered, multi-experience processes that need to be integrated with services. They require an audit trail, monitoring, and real-time analytics. Medium-complexity processes often translate to department and operations type apps, such as ticketing systems or customer service apps.  

Low-code development is popular across organizations of all sizes, and OutSystems has a track record of research and development of features that guarantee that organizations, no matter their complexity, have access to proven enterprise-grade capabilities. Customers choose us to build simple to complex case management apps because they require flexibility and speed while also delivering engaging user experiences. They want to be able to integrate with their own IT landscape, whether databases or core systems. 

More than a third of OutSystems customers have built sophisticated case management solutions instead of using a BPM platform or COTS because it accelerates the implementation of initiatives, provides greater flexibility, and results in better outcomes. With OutSystems, Dynamic Case Management is achievable by the IT and non-IT users. They are able to build applications that improve internal operations, cross-departmental collaboration, and visibility. Importantly, their case managers are resolving more cases in less time

The Only Constant Is Change

In another lifetime, before joining OutSystems, part of my daily work was tracked in a change management system. Change requests were used to track software development tasks. The workflow was pretty simple. A new task triggered a new change request. The change request would be assigned, and then, as the request was handled, it would be passed through several states, for instance, from Open, to In-progress, to Closed. It was a rigid process that did help with keeping track of the task’s progress, but it failed to reflect the dynamic context in which I worked. 

The workflow didn’t promote collaboration, and it wasn’t extensible to external information sources. Information circulated in emails, slide decks, spreadsheets, and other large internal documents. Yet, most companies have to deal with constant change, constant evolution.

At OutSystems, we like to say “the only constant is change” and this may sound familiar because most successful companies have unpredictable work patterns. Companies need to be adaptable, so rigid processes can be awkward and limiting, removing the power and flexibility that workers need to get the job done in the best and fastest way. And this is what Dynamic Case Management does so well. 

Read our Beginner’s Guide to Dynamic Case Management, to learn more on why low-code and Dynamic Case Management are a perfect match.  

Case management, usually has these characteristics:

  • A defined goal
  • A beginning and end (of the workflow)
  • Predictable and unpredictable actions
  • Information gathered from many sources
  • Requires coordination by a case manager
  • Requires decisions based on gathered information and a case manager’s knowledge

People-Driven Case Management

Dynamic Case Management enables case workers to manage unpredictable interactions between people, content, and processes. As organizations rely more and more on knowledge workers to add value to the customer experience, tailoring the experience to the customers’ unique journey, the need for flexibility is evermore increasing. 

Forrester1 has identified three main work patterns that fit the Dynamic Case Management model: Investigative, Service Request, and Incident Management

1Edited by Fischer, Layna  (2014). Empowering Knowledge Workers: New Ways to Leverage Case Management. Florida: Future Strategies 

Now, let’s go over each work pattern in detail, so you can identify the work patterns that apply to your organization. In many organizations, all will be applicable. 

Tell a Story: Incident Case Management

An incident is an event such as an accident or complaints that occur, and that elicit a response/resolution. It usually starts with a detailed record of the incident–the who, what, when, where, why, how, etc. This record helps build a “story” of the event, and each event contains its own record. 

Incident case management facilitates the identification and resolution of these events and, in many cases, to prove process integrity, incident management requires the ability to demonstrate a chain of information custody.

Main characteristics

  • Has a high-level process in place
  • Requires flexibility and speed
  • Relies on cross-team/organization collaboration
  • Has mostly structured data
  • Has mobile and field work 
  • Can escalate and be categorized as an Investigative case
  • May need to account for regulatory requirements

Common use cases

  • IT governance
  • Facility management
  • Emergency response
  • HR grievances
  • Complaint management 
  • New product development
  • Quality management 
  • Medical records 
  • Fraud management 
  • Accident management

Solve the Puzzle: Investigative Case Management

Investigative case management focuses on discovery and evidence-gathering. An investigation can be triggered by an incident report that was escalated to investigative mode. Investigations are usually dynamic and unpredictable, and the tasks are usually delegated, meaning keeping all content and case workers in sync is vital. 

Investigative case workers dig deep and collect information that reaches beyond the initial details. Where the incident report tells the “story” of the event, the investigation looks at ‘solving the puzzle’. Teams must be empowered with ways to record data easily, and access data, as with investigations, the details are of utmost importance. Having a good overall context is also key, and so a single source of truth that helps the case worker view and converge all data assists them in making informed decisions.

Main characteristics

  • Usually started as a service request or an incident
  • Can take place over a large amount of time
  • Aims to deliver intelligence
  • May be partly predictable, yet parts are influenced by events
  • Relies heavily on data and internal communication 
  • Can have data that is structured or unstructured
  • Can initiate new investigative cases
  • May need to comply with regulatory requirements

Common use cases

  • Complaint management 
  • New product development
  • Quality management 
  • Medical records 
  • Fraud management 
  • Accident management

Make a decision: Service Request Case Management

A service request usually starts with a user submitting a formal request for something to be provided. The request triggers the start of the respective fulfillment workflow where a case worker responds to the request. Service requests usually require a balance of control and facilitation to ensure both consistency and efficiency. 

Service requests usually involve multiple roles, and when cases are handed off, continuity must be insured. They don’t often involve a lot of information or require a lot of steps to reach fulfillment. Some steps can be automated, for example, with pre-approval when the request complies with a pre-established condition.

Main characteristics

  • Usually started as a service request 
  • Tends to be of short duration
  • Aims to offer the requester something, such as an approval
  • Is mostly predictable
  • Relies on information and internal communication 
  • Data is mostly structured
  • May need to comply with regulatory requirements

Common use cases

  • Customer service
  • Claims processing
  • Loan origination
  • Underwriting
  • IT service
  • Management
  • HR management
  • Onboarding
  • Procurement

Power to the Case Manager

There are many benefits of having a flexible workflow. A lot of use-cases are data-heavy and rely on knowledge workers to make decisions based on their intrinsic knowledge and the available data. They are usually time-sensitive and need to be resolved quickly.

Flexible collaboration empowers knowledge workers to work together to reach their goals. When dealing with unpredictability, context is unclear, and rigid rules can hurt more than help. In these situations, ready access to centralized information enables workers to make better autonomous decisions, moving the case forward quickly. Integration capabilities extend the system to external channels such as email, or CSAT. Ultimately, the customers benefit from a fast and accurate resolution without losing the consistent experience. 

Power to the Process Owner

Process owners often feel limited by the systems available to them. Generic software may not always fit their needs, and asking IT to develop a custom system may either take too long or not fit the budget, priorities, etc. Each organization’s processes are unique, and therefore, process owners need flexible solutions. With Dynamic Case Management frameworks, process owners and developers can design, build, monitor, and improve perfect-fit case management applications.

Dynamic Case Management eliminates the bureaucratic parts of managing a case, for example, with an automated email. Having automated steps in the workflow pushes the case forward faster, reducing the time spent on handling the case. Collaboration is simplified, making it faster and seamless. Information is centralized, and the case history is tracked, performance can be monitored, essential steps to operational compliance, and handy for future audits. 

One of the main steps in case management is defining the process and subsequent workflows. But things constantly change, right? Dynamic Case Management adapts to changes in complex cases so case managers can focus on the case and not the system’s limitations. Process owners can also enjoy the seamless workflow across departments and teams, and nothing gets stuck in the limbo between handoffs. Modern organizations must be agile and adaptable, and case managers must be able to adapt on the spot, taking charge with ad-hoc solutions, and not wait for weeks or months for a whole new process to be implemented. You can fix it right now!

Want to try out our Dynamic Case Management framework that enables customers to move beyond simple task-focused apps and rote processes? Contact us to schedule your OutSystems demo or take advantage of our early access program. Stay tuned! More details are coming soon.