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Understanding Case Management: Part 3 BPM vs Case Management What’s the Difference?

Like most people who are new to case management, you probably have lots of questions. Exactly what is case management? How it case management different from workflow or business process software? In what industries can case management be implemented? How is the digital age impacting case management?

This is the third in a series of Sharedo blogs to answer those questions.

Both Business Process Management (BPM) and Case Management solutions incorporate processes, business rules, forms, data models, document handling, and system integration. They also often share the same infrastructure and overall architecture. As a result, there is some confusion in the marketplace about which product to implement in order to streamline workflows. When searching for solutions for better case management and improved business process management it’s important to understand the differences.


Googling the term ‘Business Process Management’ in 2018 yields 146,000,000 results, of which more than 10million are concerned with BPM software solutions.

The overarching objective of BPM is to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness of processes. Organizations use BPM to build composite applications that streamline (eliminate wasted activities) and automate (reduce time) targeted human and system-driven work. Activities are generally well defined, but may include ad-hoc interactions and/or dynamic collaboration. Applications combine business rules (e.g. policies, procedures, roles, responsibilities, routing, escalations, deadlines, SLAs), forms (e.g., layouts, data capture, data validations, dynamic questions), data models, content/document handling, data repositories, system integration, and user interfaces to enable user access and system administration.

Case Management

Whereas BPM is concerned with the delivery of a typically well-defined end to end process which may, in turn, consist of a set of sub-processes; case management is primarily focused on the delivery of a group of, often loosely defined and loosely linked processes.  In short BPM solutions are focused on structured processes; case management for less structured ones.

Whilst cases typically follow an overall “plan” or top-level process the path to reach the conclusion is typically less defined. We often use the analogy of finding your way to a meeting to articulate this. With a BPM solution, you will define your flowchart from leaving home, the journey you will navigate and potentially some conditions along the way that might change your journey such as bad traffic. The BPM solution will get you to your destination but is typically “fragile” when presented with unplanned events such as your car breaking down or your partner asking you to stop off and grab some milk on the way home!

With case management you define your goal; to arrive a set destination by a certain time but accept that the “flow chart” will change. While there may be steps within the case management solution, the direction of those steps is often widely varied. And, it’s not just the goal or outcomes that make it a case, but that the process itself is not consistent, as it would be in BPM. Case management then, allows you to react to changes such as your car breaking down and will replan against your goal … potentially letting your client know that you are late. Case management then helps you manage ad-hoc events and parties such as looping in an assistant or car hire company. Like BPM, Case Management applications provide visibility into overall work and associated content. Content that may need to be changed/edited as decisions are made.

If we use the legal industry as an example, it could be a case of an employee injury in the workplace. The employee may need to go to the doctor and be treated and released, or they may need to take a leave. Worker’s compensation may be filed and they may have several doctor visits before returning to work or they may file a claim. HR, Payroll, Operations, Medical Doctors, and Insurance may all have tasks to complete. A goal is defined; to settle the case but the path towards that is semi-structured, at best. This then is a case.

BPM vs Case Management

Many businesses and non-profits have the need for both BPM and case management, and often the lines between the need for either is rather blurred.

As our businesses become more digitally focused, organisations are also changing the way they work. They are using BPM software and other types of solutions such as Artificial Intelligence to automate more and more of the “lower skilled” processes that have typically been performed by people. As computers perform more and more of these tasks; so, the percentage of occupations that are classified as Non-routine continues to grow (upto 60% of occupations in 2015)

This growth in knowledge-based occupations increasingly requires process support for unstructured and specialized work where experts are required to make knowledge-based decisions in an ad hoc manner based on moment-to-moment conditions. This is the change in working practices that Case Management Solutions address; providing better business outcomes for such scenarios.”

So, whilst case management and BPM solutions share many of the same characteristics applying the wrong paradigm to a process can lead to a less than optimal solution. The reason we cover it is that some may believe they need one specific production service only to discover their needs are more robust, more complicated, than the system or software they purchased. They become frustrated and may give up because they are trying to squeeze their cases and processes into a solution that doesn’t fit. So instead of thinking it as BPM vs case management, think of it as BPM and case management operating together to improve management efficiency.

If you want to learn more please get in contact with the ShareDo team:


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