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1-2-3 Tips for Maximising Case Management

Blog: Colin Crofts - Business Process Improvement

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Technology and data executives are constantly keeping their eyes on the big picture, overall business process management, broad technical structures, digital content and workflows. But there’s a hole in that oversight–the crucial issue of case management. Jeroen Jansen, General Director of Netherlands-based Informed Consulting, came to that realization in college. He started thinking less about computers and more about how people (read: customers, employees) use them.

“The human brain does things that computers will never do,” Jansen thought at the time. “Computers were great for structured data. But people work with documents (and images, graphics, sound, video and more) and that’s a whole other ballgame.”
Shifting his focus from broad technical structure to users’ needs, gave Jansen better insight into where IT is working well, where things could improve and what should happen next.
“It’s the clash between business process management and case management,” he says. “Companies that spent the last 15-20 years converting to ‘digital-everything’ focused on creating an optimum workflow to manage all that information. It’s a good start, but one size does not fit all.”
Jansen cites a favorite example: airlines. Reservations have become so completely digitized and automated, that a harried traveler stuck at the airport is directed by an agent at the counter to “log into the carrier’s website” for help. That, Jansen says, is business process management taken to the extreme.
“The original thought in the IT world was to build generic, database-centric user interfaces that highlighted and maximized the powerful capabilities of the ECM,” says Jansen. “But over time such an interface becomes increasingly complex to use and workers may turn away.”
Case management, on the other hand, focuses on helping users complete their specific, unique tasks. It empowers workers, unleashing decision-making and creativity, benefiting the overall enterprise. It’s like an IT version of the Harley-Davidson story, where a nearly-bankrupt company shook off its antiquated assembly line in favor of small teams with greater responsibility and decision-making power. Now the company is firing on all cylinders.
creativity_1The key, Jansen says, is enabling workers to access data on their own terms. It’s the thinking behind Informed Consulting’s SPA4D solution, which leverages the power of both EMC Documentum and Microsoft SharePoint.
Building multiple, custom-configured interfaces may seem daunting, even excessive to some organizations. Until they see the results. Jansen cites as an example, Abbott Pharmaceuticals, with 30,000 Documentum users.
“We gave the tech-types the complex tools they needed,” Jansen says. “Others got a simpler, more intuitive experience with the look and feel of solutions already familiar to them. Usage doubled!”
Jansen and his team applied similar techniques in their work with the Municipal Government of Amsterdam, replacing a decade-old system with one that created a much friendlier relationship between employee and enterprise. “The moment they saw it,” he says, “they got excited!”
Jansen offers these tips to maximize case management:
  1. Let the users do the talking, especially younger employees. Far from being reluctant to change, a generation that’s grown up with touch screens, text messages, Twitter and Instagram knows exactly what it wants.
  2. Push your team to customize an interface for each distinct group of users, based on tools they’re already familiar with.
  3. A custom-tailored experience means a better relationship with data.
That way, a highly-skilled engineer in the back office can delight in an interface’s power and complexities, while a salesperson, researcher, customer service representative, airline mechanic or compliance officer can get a simpler, custom-tailored experience and better use of the data, Jansen says.

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