As momentum builds for dynamic case management (DCM), confusion reigns about where it fits in the BPM landscape. It’s a divisive issue, especially when a vendor has both a traditional BPM suite (BPMS) and a DCM product line (like IBM) or when the BPMS vendor hasn’t moved quickly to embrace case management (like Oracle). If, as a vendor, you have an abundance of BPMS riches, you haven’t seriously considered DCM, or if you are a BPMS buyer, it’s time to take DCM seriously.

Dynamic case management is the future of BPMS; vendors ignore it at their peril. Why? Simply put, it is more flexible, adaptable, and people-centered than the products that have come before. Just as integration-centric BPMS vendors added human capabilities to remain competitive — Software AG is a good example — today’s BPMS vendors must add DCM to meet the demand for new systems of engagement.

Forrester has written extensively about transforming processes from the outside in, starting with the customer experience. Once you do this, it’s clear that many systems of engagement require a strong BPMS that supports employees to the max by giving them the power to make decisions and change the routing of work on the fly. These processes also require analytics — not just for optimization, but also during runtime to help employees make better decisions. These decisions also require unstructured information, like loan documents and customer onboarding documents. Guess what? I just described a DCM solution.

Here’s the BPMS landscape in three years:

  • Mainstream BPMS vendors will have added DCM. By this time, the BPMS vendors who resisted DCM (thinking it’s just document management on steroids) will have recognized that DCM raises the bar. Adding DCM will not be easy — but vendors will not want to be left behind.
  • DCM vendors will become BPMS providers and the DCM category may disappear. Within three years, vendors will recognize that DCM is a use case of BPMS. They will reorient their thinking and marketing and will compete ferociously by offering rich BPMS solutions supporting service requests, investigations, and incidents (the three segments of DCM).

What should a buyer do? 

  1. Examine your processes to see how variable work actually is. If the ability to change within a process provides a competitive advantage, look at DCM.
  2. Talk with your DCM vendor about documents. If your so-called DCM vendor talks about managing documents and nothing else, run — it isn’t really in DCM. Instead, it is a document management vendor with DCM aspirations.
  3. Evaluate all BPMS vendors against a DCM yardstick. If your need for change isn’t high, still probe your vendor’s commitment to DCM, because it will affect its long-term success.