The Standard+Case approach to response management

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Image ┬ęcanstockphoto.comHere is an exciting new approach to categorising and resolving any sort of transactional work. (In an IT context, it can be "tickets", such as requests or incidents on a service desk, problems, or changes; or even user stories to be developed). There is a book.

The world refuses to be standardised: there is other incoming stuff that we haven't seen before, that we don't already have a defined response for, that has to be handled as a case.

You can only industrialise that which you can standardise, i.e. make known: described, predictable, and repeatable. Only some of the world can be standardised.

Whether you are talking development, deployment, or response to situations, some of the world will always be unfamiliar due to change, or unpredictable due to complexity.

That's Standard+Case.

If your customers see your group as bureaucratic and inflexible...
If your staff feel process bound...
If your process doesn’t adapt to a changing world...

S+C addresses criticisms of process-centric approaches to managing responses that they don't deal with the undefined situations, and they don't allow customers and knowledge workers to be empowered to deal with them.

Buy the book:

And unlike some new-fangled theories, S+C does not seek to replace or change existing approaches: it expands and clarifies that theory to provide a more complete description of managing responses.

  • Improve performance: improve responsiveness, efficiency, and effectiveness of your service responses
  • Empower knowledge workers to use their creativity, expertise, and leadership
  • Improve morale amongst your service desk and other responders
  • Empower your customer to ask for what they need not what the rules say you provide

From a Standard+Case user organisation:

My first impression after just a week is that the 'standard guys' are very happy and the turnaround of tickets has improved. On the case side it is interesting as all of a sudden people are concerned about making it easier to work with cases. What tools do we need to put in place? How can we document our systems better?
To sum it up I think focus is the word that comes to mind. Less context switching.

From a book review (Karen Ferris, itSMF Fellow and author of the seminal Balanced Diversity: A Portfolio Approach to Organizational Change):

This book is an eye-opener and a must-read. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone involved in situation response. This is a game-changer

From Phil Green on LinkedIn

I'm a big fan of Standard+Case. I attended your workshop at LeadIT 2013 and it literally blew my mind. Ground breaking, yet at the same time genius level simplicity and common sense. I've called upon it numerous times since then and found it of great help.

Standard+Case is a synthesis of our conventional "Standard" process-centric approach to responding, with Case management, a discipline well-known in industry sectors such as health, social work, law and policing. This description is written from the perspective of Service Management within the IT industry (so please excuse some ITSM jargon), but it can be applied anywhere.

It provides a good skills path for service desk analysts that fits well with gamification. And Standard+Case is applicable to Problem Management and Change Management (and Event Management...) as well as Service Desk activities. S+C applies to anything that requires a human response: there's either a standard response or there isn't.

This page provides some additional resources for readers and users of Standard+Case.

Thanks to Charles Betz for pointing me to Case Management

Videos, podcasts, and webinars

I was honoured to be invited on the DevOps Cafe podcast. Jump to about minute 14 if you want to skip discussion of other topics:
DevOps Cafe Ep. 40 - Guest: Rob England (The IT Skeptic)

I got to be on Practitioner Radio, the only podcast where I never miss an episode:
Here is the abstract
and here is the podcast on iTunes

And on ITSM Weekly The Podcast, USA edition:
This seems to be the only place it still survives

A video interview from the recent ITIL Forum in Sarnen, Switzerland:

ITIL Forum 2013 ITIL-Forum Switzerland - Interview with Rob England, the IT Skeptik - from Martin Andenmatten on Vimeo.

A blog interview with Rui Soares on ITIL Blues:

Copyright Rui Soares

My presentation to the virtual TFT13 conference (and presented simultaneously live to the British Service Desk Institute SDI13 conference in Birmingham)

Presenting S+C at the previous TFT12 online conference:

Rob's more recent presentation materials on slideshare:

Standard+case explained in German:

Dave Snowden on complex systems. Blow your mind:


It would be good to gather some generic samples or templates of the following:

  • Case policy
  • case record document
  • case report
  • a procedure
  • inputs checklist
  • outputs checklist


Discussion of Standard+Case:

See the reviews and feedback on the book here

More about Case Management:

Switzerland Case Management Network reportedly has excellent resources, though everything seems to be in German or French. Webpages are readily translated by Google, but PDFs are more problematic.

Capabilities and Levels of Maturity in IT-based Case Management important academic paper including the C3M maturity model

Workflow Management Coalition excellent online description and resources

Mastering the Unpredictable: How Adaptive Case Management Will Revolutionize the Way That Knowledge Workers Get Things Done, Swenson;Meghan-Kiffer Press; 2010 (Amazon book) Has some really useful content: it taught me an immense amount about case management. But the book is about technology solutions to what I maintain is not a technology problem. in true IT fashion this book tries to solve ACM with tools - tools should always only have a supporting role. (Nor is it terribly well edited: more a collection of essays)

See also Keith Swenson's excellent blog

Wikipedia on Advanced case management (not terribly good)

Case Management; Kitson, Ravisanskar, Soudamini; CapGemini 2012

The Association for Information and Image Management has a page on Case in the IT context and a webinar, all very technology-centric. What is it about IT people?

There is a Case Management Body of Knowledge, accessible online by annual subscription. It is focused on health and social welfare cases: cases dealing with people. As such, the usefulness for IT is limited.
There is an accreditation, CCM (pdf), also focused on health and human care professionals, and focused on the practices and laws of the USA. You pretty much need to be a licensed American nurse to sit it: it is useless for our purposes.
Similarly The Case Manager's Handbook, Fourth Edition is focused on the health industry. I haven't read it. It rates highly on Amazon.
The Case Management Societies of America/Australia/UK are also focused on health. So is the American case Management Association. And so on.

Related topics:

Why gamification?

Stateful and Stateless Design of Work


Guide to the Universal Service Management Body of Knowledge (USMBOK), I Clayton, Service Management 101; 2012.03a edition (2008), ISBN-13: 978-0981469102

Human Interactions: The Heart and Soul of Business Process Management, K Harrison-Broninski, Meghan Kiffer Pr (2005), 978-0929652443

How Knowledge Workers Get Things Done, L Fischer ed., Future Strategies Inc. 2012, 978-0-98497644-7

How to Measure Anything, D W Hubbard, Wiley 2007, 978-0-47011012-6

ITIL Service Operation, Cabinet Office, TSO 2011, 978-0-11331307-5

ITIL Service Transition, Cabinet Office, TSO 2011, 978-0-11331306-8

Kanban and Scrum, H Kniberg, M Skarin, C4media 2010, 978-0557-13832-6

Management Challenges for the 21st Century, P. Drucker, Butterworth-Heinemann 2007 2nd Ed, 978-075068509-2

Mastering the Unpredictable, K D Swenson, Meghan-Kiffer Press 2010, 978-092965212-2

The Checklist Manifesto, A Gawande, Metropolitan 2009, 978-0-80509174-8

The Practice of Management, P Drucker, Harper-Collins 1954, 0-06-011095-3

Thinking for a Living, T. Davenport, Harvard Business School Press 2005, 978-159139423-5