By , Manager, Solution Consultants
In March 2018 IBM announced details of the merger of several products to create the IBM Automation Platform for Digital Business. This represents a change in focus from traditional enterprise content management (ECM) to DBA or digital business automation – a term that gained momentum and is used beyond the scope of IBM. For those that do use IBM Case Manager, these changes have produced many questions, so here are some answers to help clear things up.
The main goal of DBA is to automate processes and more efficiently get relevant work to knowledge workers via tasks, content, workflow, capture and decisions to help a business achieve its goals. Within IBM, it is now a single product line that is the culmination of complimentary IBM products. The IBM Automation Platform for Digital Business includes the following key areas:
- Tasks: Computerized human tasks (AKA robotic process automation (RPA))
- Content: Content lifecycle management (Previously-known as Enterprise Content Management, but now called Content Services)
- Workflow: Processes and cases (combination of IBM Case Manager and IBM BPM)
- Capture: Intelligent document classification and data extraction from incoming content (IBM Datacap)
- Decisions: Policies and decisions (Previously-known as Business Rules)
How does IBM DBA affect Case Manager?
Previously, to manage a case, users interacted with the IBM Content Navigator interface. Behind the scenes, workflows launched from Case Tasks, and embedded business rules automated and assisted in decision-making. Today, the core functionality of Case Manager remains unchanged. Case data is still available and users have access to all related content stored in the FileNet P8 repository. Now though, the other functions will have more robust tools available to leverage.
Case Tasks Have Greater Functionality
Tasks are a combination of content and process. The task objects are stored as content objects related to the case but are often dependent on the underlying workflow. While the P8 Process Engine had the ability to meet the needs of case solutions, IBM BPM represents a more feature-rich and modern workflow tool to manage processes coordinated by the Case Tasks. Within the IBM DBA umbrella, the workflow elements of the Case Tasks will be performed by the IBM BPM tools, integrating another best-in-breed product into the product line. This will greatly expand the functionality and reusability of the workflow supporting Tasks by providing additional native functions that make workflow design more flexible.
What IBM Case Manager Used to Be
- A standalone case management product that stored all content, data, etc. in a content repository – IBM FileNet P8 – and provided the ability to manage the overall process of a case (or business entity).
- Its intent was to orchestrate business processes by focusing on business goals rather than workflows.
Embedded Business Rules Now Include Decision Composer and Operational Decision Manager
Previously, embedded business rules had some limitations, especially when it came to modifying business rules outside of the solution. There were also shortcomings with how complex the rules could be. With the embedded rules, each rule had to be managed individually and integrated with the workflow, and complex and compound rules were not available. Now with DBA, embedded business rules include the integration of IBM Decision Composer and IBM Operational Decision Manager which help users capture, analyze, automate and regulate rules-based business decisions. With the rules managed externally to the case solution, changes can be made to the rules without requiring a redeployment of the case solution or impacting other parts of the solution. Additionally, IBM Decision Composer provides the ability to develop complex business rules using multiple data points.
Case Manager Now Includes Robotic Process Automation
Robotic process automation is a new functionality for Case Manager. It replicates, supports or supplements the actions of human employees. The benefit of this is that it frees knowledge workers to complete tasks that actually require their experience and expertise.
Does this mean a new user interface will be used?
Thankfully, no. Many organizations that have IBM Case Manager spent a large amount of time and money customizing and developing it within the IBM Content Navigator interface. The good news is that Content Navigator will remain the interface moving forward. This means that previous investments will not be lost.
Will the merger with IBM DBA break my current infrastructure?
Your current case solutions will still work in the new structure and workflows built using the FileNet Process Engine will still be usable. This will not break anything that you have today – it is an expansion of the features available to your case solutions. Case tasks can be defined to use either the legacy workflow or the new IBM BPM workflow.
What should I do to familiarize myself with the IBM DBA tools?
Over the next year or so, we will see IBM continually integrate the DBA products and make them more seamlessly interact with one another, so nothing is set in stone yet. To familiarize yourself with the Automation Platform, read the product sheet or the white paper.
Manager, Solution Consultants
About the Author: I manage a team of Enterprise Content Management Solution Consultants. Basically, our job is to smoothly-deliver projects for our clients. When I have time off from work, I like to ride my motorcycle, travel to Las Vegas or visit my daughter.