Case Management vs. BPM

Why is case management different than BPM? While these two modes of business automation have a lot in common, there are some big differences that set them apart. When making the call for your business, focus on these main points:

Knowing Your Kind of Process – Structured or Unstructured

BPM solutions can be great for complex processes that don’t change much, but when you deal with ever-changing data case management is definitely the way to go. Case Management is an emerging space within Business Process Management (BPM) that recognizes that most of what constitutes an organization’s process spaces is not necessarily a “transaction” to be processed through a workflow but rather a “case” to be managed through a workflow.  This recognition is not limited to the usual (though still valid) classification of processes as being more structured versus more unstructured across a spectrum of process types, but also include the way business processes are to be described and automated depending on where they fall in the spectrum, as shown in the figure below.


When it comes to managing unstructured data, adaptive case management is your best bet. Processes are rarely 100% repeatable – that’s where case management comes in. The diagram below adapted from data published by Gartner analyst Janelle Hill shows some of the processes most suited to case management. Criminal investigations, legal casework, customer onboarding, and fraud detection are a few of the most notable processes fit for a case management solution.

Case Management Brings Power to the People

What is needed to address the business processes in the Case Management and hybrid domains are technologies that directly empower and support the knowledge worker in making decisions and otherwise managing the case in ways that are not just the automation of routine and largely procedural activities. Instead, the software solution that is needed is not a traditional BPM Suite (BPMS) that has been retooled to address Case Management, but rather a new class of software solutions that more directly addresses the dynamic and adaptive needs of the knowledge worker performing Case Management.

Case Management is Adaptive and Agile, Not Static and Rigid

When rules changes need to be made, traditional BPM solutions require intensive re-tooling. With case management, the case manager makes decisions on the spot. Case management application development platforms are not only more lightweight, configurable, and quickly deployable than the other retrofitted BPMS platforms, but they have been engineered from the ground up to be focused solely on simplifying and managing the informational context of the knowledge worker in making better decisions faster and more effectively.

It makes for a different kind of business system implementation experience – one that is less reliant on technical development skills while more reliant on business design skills to create and automate the case workflow in an agile and flexible manner.