Friday, December 16, 2011

The Evolving World of Case Management: Taming the Unpredictable

Case management systems are not only for courts.  The concepts are being used in many industries including insurance, health care, and even airport management systems.

The new book, "Taming the Unpredictable", a follow-up to last year's "Mastering the Unpredictable", provides case studies and guidance on the application of "real-world adaptive case management (ACM)" systems.

The new way of looking at "adaptable case management" is that the systems not only capture the context of "what happened" but also allows cases to be restarted at any time or "remain 'living' in its current state for any duration until another event occurs".  Another ACM concept is that the processes are "goal-driven" and "non-deterministic".  In other words: "The end point is known at the start, the pathway for reaching it is determined by the outcome at each stage as well as rules and policies".  Sounds like a court case doesn't it?

The book contains a chapter by NCSC Principal Court Management Consultant, John Matthias: "User Requirements for a New Generation of Case Management Systems".  In this chapter John discusses the value of an adaptive case management system, the types of system configuration options, and the recognition that functional descriptions/requirements are not sufficient as the primary focus of acquisition documentation.  He also notes the need to develop user scenarios for testing system configurability as well as implementation concepts.

And John adds: "Court people understand the need for systems that handle “adaptive case management,” but can’t always envision what that would look like. “Adaptive” is still being defined, and various case management systems display a range of process management from structured to adaptive. Claims that a system is “adaptive” should not be blindly accepted, because marketing may get ahead of reality."

Dave Duggal, the author of another chapter titled Social + Lean = Agile, included the following "Dilbert" comic strip as part of his argument for change from thinking of systems as only "linear processes".  He writes: "Following a linear process regardless of circumstances is nonsensical.  We can't anticipate all scenarios; an unrelated chain of events can impact best laid plans... Technology may connect, automate, and report, but people are the agents of change."

Taming the Unpredictable also contains case study chapters describing systems in Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court in Florida, the Los Angeles County DNA Offender Tracking System in California, and the ACM installed in the Lakshmi, Kumaran & Sridharan Legal Firm in India.

This and the earlier book both contain important concepts that should be considered by all who are developing or modifying their court automation environment.  For additional reading on this subject see:

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