The Decisions platform has a comprehensive workflow and rules engine used by enterprise customers to automate traditional, process-oriented tasks. Case management is a different animal that might be procedural at times but often is a very dynamic set of interactions between users and data in order to get things done. In case management you might skip or repeat steps based on the type of case, the customer, the deadlines, or any other data in play.
These kinds of 'on the fly' or 'ad hoc' changes to a process can be determined by user discretion or business rules. Decisions can take the best parts of traditional workflow and case management and marry them together using the enterprise rules engine so that you can have the smartest possible system with the right blend of being predictable and being dynamic.
Managing casework can be complex, especially when undertaken without an intelligent and adaptable management technology. Decisions is a comprehensive workflow and rules engine platform that is perfectly suited to case management. There’s a list of common types of cases presented in the ‘Use Case’ column here if you’re not sure what case management is.
A case represents a business situation requiring work. The work may be complex, it may be simple and it doesn’t necessarily have a process that is defined in advance. Working a case involves a collection of activities or tasks – very much like traditional business process management. But cases are not always constrained to a defined flow. Traditional workflow usually moves through a very specific set of steps and assignments for every task. With case management the specific tasks that are required or available to be done on an ‘ad hoc’ basis depend on the details of each case, the details of the business, and the user’s permissions.
Cases center around a single, complete, current, and accurate view of some data or properties. The case is at the center of the universe instead of it being the actual process. The data for a case can be a combination of structured (well defined) and unstructured (documents). The data is used both by the collaborators as well as business rules to guide the case to completion.
The decision about what has to be accomplished can either be suggested by the rules engine or by the collaborators on the case.
Cases must take into account:
What differentiates a ‘case-based’ workflow from a traditional workflow is that it doesn’t follow a predictable path. Expert workers interact with the case and the business rules and can cause very dynamic adjustments in the workflow. Rules technology is integral in adapting the potential interactions and adjusting the underlying data elements. Each case can follow its own unique path towards goals and milestones established in the case definition because each case is different or unique.
Case management in Decisions is designed and defined graphically – without writing code. You can create new case types, modify case types, and change the rules in a visual, testable, and audited way. This fosters the ability to have continual fine-tuning and improvement of the underlying business logic and interaction paradigms. The way cases are managed can change as rapidly as your business needs. This allows the rules and process management to reduce effort, as well as produce higher quality and more consistent outcomes. Instead of the workflow engine just managing the data, it can start to participate by automatically completing tasks and providing hints, constraints, and alerts for cases that have problems or are falling outside of normal behavior.
The Decisions portal has built-in collaboration tools to also manage data definitions (using graphical tools) as well as unstructured data (documents, images, etc.).
The choice between a case style process and a flow-based workflow is often a continuum instead of an either/or choice. Some processes may contain very few sequential elements or next step suggestions (like investigating a network outage) while others might have a directed primary path (like a call center agent interaction) with the ability to choose other available interactions governed by the rules engine.
The exact mix of how much the intelligent elements of the rules and workflow can assist the caseworkers depends on a few factors:
Decisions provides an ideal platform for the configuration and optimization of case management systems. The graphical tools allow case definitions to be created quickly and changed just as quickly when new patterns or information are discovered. The collaboration tools inside the portal allow you to view case data and provide context for both required and ad-hoc interactions. The rules engine allows the platform to become an active virtual collaborator on the case team.
The ‘Responsive App’ eBook explains how we think about case-based systems and some of our underlying thought processes around workflow.