The Right Time To Close A Case

Some undertakings are intrinsically complex, others become that way only when people complicate initiatives that might otherwise allow an undertaking to remain relatively simple.

I have clients who agonize over when to close a Case.  Closing eCases does not require much effort, and, once closed, an eCase can usually be re-opened.  Why then worry?

The reason is purely administrative. You can charge time to an open Case but not to a closed Case.  Leave open a Case and someone on your team will find their way to charging a few hours, here and there, to the Case.

Here are some practical guidelines on when to close Cases and how to manage them whilst they are open.

Cases serve as a repository for Case data and often provide decision support services to Case Managers in respect of the performance of work at Cases.  Case environments and tools that are accessible from within Cases also provide run-time guardrails to “rein” in work at Cases.

Cases always have goals and the usual time to close a Case is when the Case goal has been met.  But, not always.

A big question here is how do we track progress toward achievement of Case goals?

The first thing to recognize is that Cases often have multiple goals. Some are more important than others, accordingly, you need a weighting system to assign relative weights to different goals.

Next, the path from the start of work to achievement of any Case goal is typically non-linear. Early on, time/money is spent, with only minor progress.  At some stage, progress is rapid, only to slow down again as a goal nears completion.

Usually, progress is only achieved as a result of the application of resources, the passage of time and the expenditure of money.  But not always.  Certain “countdown” goals can be met by doing nothing – the clock runs out, the goal has been met. End of.

It’s not effort that counts but rather results.  Working smart brings you closer to achievement of Case goals than working harder.

We can no longer claim that reaching the end of a process means that we have achieved a Case goal.  Processes have been replaced by a mix of process fragments and ad hoc interventions.  A state of end-of-process sometimes maps to a Case goal, in today’s world of process fragments it typically does not.

Judgment is usually required to declare when the last process fragment or last ad hoc intervention has been performed.


Management consultant and process control engineer (MSc EE) with a focus on bridging the gap between operations and strategy in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, connect-the-dots law enforcement investigations, healthcare services delivery, job shop manufacturing and b2b/b2c/b2d transactions. (C) 2010-2018 Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and are not connected with Jay-Kell Technologies Inc, Civerex Systems Inc. (Canada), Civerex Systems Inc. (USA) or CvX Productions.
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