4 questions to ask a case management vendor
Whether we’re talking about a life partner, a business partner or an enterprise information platform, you don’t want to start any kind of relationship without all relevant information – or worse yet, go in blind. Selecting a case management solution provider is no different.
Once you’ve decided that dynamic case management capabilities are a fit for you (i.e. you’ve identified the key signs and are prepped for success), choosing the right vendor and case management solution is a significant step forward. The right relationship delivers the tools you need to tackle dynamic, unstructured work and equip your knowledge workers with the right information, in context, to effectively manage cases, incidents, customer relationships, investigations and requests.
When evaluating vendors for new case management software or to replace an antiquated tool, make sure to ask potential suitors these four questions:
1. What’s your solution development mantra?
When it comes to creating case management solution, the “how” is just as important as the “why.” Keep in mind the IT support and involvement required for different solution development methods, including changes and maintenance, to ensure you’re assessing the full picture.
Some vendors require custom coding or scripting to develop case management applications from scratch – either on the part of the solution provider or your in-house developers. On the plus side, custom development means the solution can be tailored to your exact requirements. However, custom-coded applications typically take longer to build (equating to more costs, time and resources), are more challenging to upgrade and become more difficult to change over time.
Other vendors offer point solutions or packaged applications specific to one process. These packaged offerings are often feature-rich and effective for one use case. However, they can’t be easily adapted, extended or connected to other areas of your organization, resulting in dreaded information silos.
So, if you anticipate needing to grow your solution or pursue other applications down the road, niche solution providers might not be your best bet.
Alternatively, you can partner with a vendor that offers a low-code platform to point-and-click configure case management applications. This minimizes the need for costly and time-consuming custom development with straightforward configuration via tools like checkboxes and drop-down menus. Benefits include a faster rollout of applications to more quickly meet end user needs. Point-and-click configuration also allows you to more easily adapt existing applications and add additional applications over time as requirements change, all on the same information platform.
Finally, regardless of solution development, you’ll want to ask whether your vendor offers options to deploy case management solutions on-premises or in the cloud – giving you ultimate flexibility.
2. How do you handle content?
In case management solutions, content is king – and content comes in a variety of formats depending on the case. The way your solution provider views and manages that content has a large impact on deployment and maintenance, knowledge worker accessibility, decision support and ultimately customer service.
In The Forrester Wave™: Dynamic Case Management, Q1 2016, author Craig Le Clair pointed out the treatment of case-related content as a solution provider differentiator:
“Providers fall into two camps: those that view enterprise content management (ECM) and unstructured content as front and center and those that treat it as just another data type … The takeaway? In evaluating vendors, determine how important capture, records management, and content analytics are to your use case.”
If your case management needs involve content in any way, shape or form, you’ll want to figure out whether your prospective vendor falls into the first “camp” – allowing you to seamlessly connect and manage important supporting content alongside the critical data and process components of a case.
The right solution should handle all variations in content and provide an easy way to get the right content to the right knowledge worker at the right time. More than just a static case folder “attached” to the case, you’ll want to put your content to work, allowing it to drive decisions, transition cases between statuses and foster effective collaboration, especially when bolstered by underlying automation and capture capabilities. When you manage case-related content in a central repository, you can even create virtual tailored views, with the content displayed changing depending on the status of the case and the role of the knowledge worker.
Finally, check whether a potential vendor offers native enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) capabilities, which can extend the value of your case-driven content and solutions. Any time that a third party is involved in a case – such as when sharing and collaborating on vendor contracts or collecting documentation from a new hire – EFSS can replace tools like email as a file sharing method. This allows users to securely share and collaborate, automatically consolidating and connecting that information within the case.
3. How flexible and scalable is your platform?
Case work, by nature, is subject to change. Your customers’ requirements shift; your business needs evolve; rules and regulations change and as you track work in your case management solution, you’ll likely see opportunities for improvement along the way.
The ability to easily make those changes is key. The point-and-click configurability I mentioned above is extremely valuable when compared to trying to change solutions developed via custom coding (especially if the developer who initially created the application has moved on). An effective solution allows you to easily add more users, add different process steps and even allow end users to impact the status and flow of cases themselves.
Next, determine the extent that a potential vendor will allow you to maximize your case management investment beyond a single solution. The value of case management is multiplied when you can leverage the same platform and underlying capabilities for case management applications across your organization.
In fact, Forrester asserts in The Forrester Wave™: Dynamic Case Management, Q1 2016 report that more than half of the enterprises it speaks to have at least two dynamic case management deployments on the same platform – a number that has continued to increase since 2013.
4. What’s your track record across industries?
Whether you’re a financial institution, university, healthcare system, manufacturer, insurance company or any other organization, case management can deliver great value via both industry-specific solutions (fraud investigation, student incident tracking, underwriting and claims processing) and back office scenarios (HR onboarding, project management, contract lifecycle management, auditing and compliance).
Make sure that your vendor has the industry expertise required to develop a tailored solution to your business problems. This includes industry-specific customer references that can speak to the value the solution has delivered and how they were able to overcome any challenges along the way.
Ask about any industry recognition, analyst evaluations and customer awards – all of which can tell you a great deal about the solution provider’s experience and strengths.
To learn more about the type of features to look for when evaluating a case management solution and how different providers stack up, download The Forrester Wave™: Dynamic Case Management, Q1 2016.