Case management is growing in popularity among vendors, analysts and organizations in the content and information management space. 

But the term is nothing new for those in the healthcare industry. For decades, the healthcare industry used case management in planning and coordinating patient support, resources and wellness services. And the same goes for areas like social services and court case management, where the concept also has longtime roots. 

So if it’s not a new concept, why all the buzz?

Managing information as a case applies beyond these few industries, moving the conversation away from the process automation solutions that businesses have long used to handle repetitive tasks. The concept (bolstered by industry analyst attention) has inspired software vendors to innovate and offer tools and technologies to bring the benefits of case management — including the coordination of information, collaboration and the ability to handle unpredictable events — to a wider area of work.

Companies adopting case management capabilities are reaping the benefits — including a complete, central view of all information, support for audits and compliance, and the ability to drive better customer experiences.

But, as with any emerging technology, the extended application of case management might not be immediately clear. So let’s tackle a few case management misconceptions:

1. A case management approach only applies to certain industries

That’s not the case (pun intended). While case management was born and still thrives as a specialized practice in the areas mentioned above, analysts, software vendors and end user organizations alike are embracing similar principles and applying them to business solutions across all industries. 

Organizations ranging from manufacturers and universities to credit unions and insurance companies are adopting case management solutions. This includes industry-specific solutions like fraud investigation, claims processing and student incident tracking, as well as horizontal use cases like HR onboarding, IT help desk, project management and more.

While different in many ways, the work shares key requirements that benefit from case management capabilities and the ability to manage work as a case, including a need for employee decision-making, support for unpredictable or variable outcomes, organization-wide collaboration, and easy access to all related documents and data. 

Some of the benefits of centrally managing all information, tasks, events and activities surrounding a case, customer, request, complaint or investigation include: improved customer service levels, decisions supported by a 360-degree view of information, and enhanced visibility for reporting, auditing and compliance. 

2. Case management has nothing to do with structured processes


Case management performs best in cases of unstructured work that doesn’t follow a predictable path or flow toward one specific outcome. However, case management capabilities can complement transactional technologies like process automation, helping manage exceptions or other aspects that require a human touch and decisions.

Think about the back-and-forth within a contract management lifecycle or conversations surrounding a standard student enrollment process. This work can all be managed as a case. 

On the flip side, even more dynamic, case-centric scenarios frequently have standard or repetitive aspects that can be automated for the worker, allowing them to focus their time and energy on making key decisions, managing relationships and fulfilling complex requests. 

The most successful and robust case management solutions I know leverage both case management and more traditional process management and automation tools. And when these capabilities seamlessly combine within the same information platform, they provide a truly intuitive solution for employees and better, more personalized experiences for the customers, clients, patients, students and constituents they serve. 

3. Case management and enterprise content management are worlds apart

Au contraire. 

While often touted as distinct disciplines, the worlds of case management and ECM (along with areas like business process management (BPM), enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) and more) are converging. Many vendors with foundations in ECM or BPM have either purposefully designed their platforms to offer capabilities that support these solutions, or have acquired other products to bridge the gap.

This connection of case to content is driven by business demand. According to a Forrester study, commissioned by Hyland, 47 to 51 percent of surveyed organizations anticipate an increasing demand for embedded content in customer service, collaboration and customer-facing applications — all of which are prime opportunities for case management capabilities. 

Content provides a critical part of case management, supporting effective decisions and interactions throughout a case. Organizations should manage that information as part of the case itself, rather than scattering it across spreadsheets, file shares, paper files, email inboxes and disconnected niche solutions.

Imagine trying to resolve an employee dispute without a complete picture of the individual, including performance reviews, email correspondence and job history details. Picture managing a vendor relationship without the relevant contracts, conversations and contact information. Visualize investigating a potential fraud case without the history of transactions and current client data.

Documents can drive decisions, transition cases and foster effective collaboration, especially when bolstered by underlying automation and capture capabilities. And the benefits are multiplied when building many case-driven applications on a central ECM repository — using that same content across solutions and dynamically providing the right information to each worker, in context.

Case management isn’t just for healthcare and social services. The approach and supporting capabilities can deliver value for every company.  Is your organization optimally handling unpredictable work? If not, a case management solution might provide the answer.