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European Conference on Software Process Improvement

EuroSPI 2010: Systems, Software and Services Process Improvement pp 95–106 Cite as

Improving IT Service Management Processes: A Case Study on IT Service Support

  • Antti Lahtela 4 &
  • Marko Jäntti 4  
  • Conference paper

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Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS,volume 99)

IT services and IT service management play a very important role in the today’s IT industry. Software as service approach enables IT customers to focus on using the software while IT service providers take care of the installation, configuration, support and maintenance activities. Various process frameworks can be used to improve IT service management processes. The most widely used IT service management framework is the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) that provides best practices for IT service providers on how to design, manage and support IT services. Despite the IT service management process frameworks, implementing an effective service support interface between an IT service provider and an IT customer is a big challenge. The research problem in this study is: what types of challenges are related to the service support interface between an IT service provider and IT customers. The main contribution of this paper is present challenges in a service support interface identified during a case study with a large IT service provider company in Finland.

  • IT Service Management
  • IT Service Support
  • Service Support Interface

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School of Computing, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, FIN-70211, Kuopio, Finland

Antti Lahtela & Marko Jäntti

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Lahtela, A., Jäntti, M. (2010). Improving IT Service Management Processes: A Case Study on IT Service Support. In: Riel, A., O’Connor, R., Tichkiewitch, S., Messnarz, R. (eds) Systems, Software and Services Process Improvement. EuroSPI 2010. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol 99. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-15666-3_9

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For 2 quarters, we worked with a financial services firm to analyze, design, deploy, test, and document their programs, resulting in deadlines being met, and allowing for increased sales with no staff losses., project background.

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Prior to joining Harvard Partners Steve was the worldwide leader for the Storage Consulting practice at Hewlett Packard. In this role, Steve was responsible for more than 500 employees encompassing sales, pursuit, portfolio, and delivery. Under Steve’s stewardship Storage Consulting built offerings to help clients assess and design complex storage infrastructures and develop state-of-the-art backup, recovery, and business continuance strategies. Steve grew the Storage Consulting Practice at HP by over 200% and introduced 20 new value-added offerings.

In addition to Hewlett Packard Steve has worked for companies both large and small. At ClearEdge Partners Steve advised C-level Fortune 500eExecutives on their IT purchasing and supply chain strategies, saving his clients millions over his tenure. Steve also has been a business leader at Alliance Consulting, where he built a practice to more than 200 consultants and 10 strategic offerings. Steve started his career at EMC Corporation from 1986 to 1998.

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Matt Ferm is a F ounder and Managing Partner of Harvard Partners. Matt’s focus is on IT Assessments, IT Governance, and Program Management. Prior to Harvard Partners, Matt spent 17 years with Wellington Management Company, LLP. As an Associate Partner and Director of Enterprise Technologies, Matt was responsible for managing the global physical computing infrastructure of this financial services firm. This includes data centers, servers, voice and data networks, desktops, laptops, audio/video hardware, messaging (email, IM, etc.), security administration, disaster recovery, production control, monitoring, market data services, storage systems, and capacity planning.

During his career at Wellington, Matt managed the Operational Resilience, Resource Management, Systems Engineering, IT Client Services, and IT Strategic Development groups, chaired the firm’s Year 2000 efforts and was a member of the firms IS Priorities Committee, Project Review Committee (Chair), Systems Architecture Committee (Chair), Year 2000 Committee (Chair), Operational Resilience Committee, Incident Review Committee and Web Oversight Committee.

Prior to joining Wellington Management in 1992, Matt served as Director of Financial Services Markets for Apollo Computer, Hewlett-Packard, and Oki Electric where he managed the marketing of Unix workstations to the Financial Services industry. In 1985, Matt was Manager, New Business Development for Gregg Corporation (now IDD/Dow Jones/SunGard), a small investment database software company. Matt got his start in 1981 on Wall Street, working in the Custody Department of Bankers Trust and the MIS department of E.F. Hutton. Matt received his BA in Economics from Queens College, the City University of New York in 1982, and is a member of the Society for Information Management.

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Jason Young is a Senior Technical Recruiter at Harvard Partners and has more than 13 years of experience in recruiting and talent acquisition. Jason’s focus is on leading recruiting efforts and ensuring expectations are met or exceeded between our client’s needs and our candidate’s experience to deliver. Throughout his career, he’s filled immediate needs with high-level IT and business professionals. He also developed sourcing strategies and built strong relationships with IT specialists, leaders, and executives in a variety of industries.

Prior to joining Harvard Partners in 2018, Jason had a successful career with Advantage Technical Resourcing, (formerly TAC Worldwide Companies). He began his career in IT Staffing with Advantage as a Sourcing Recruiter, finding top-tier candidates for the Sr. Recruiters. He quickly advanced to be the sole recruiter of a national high-volume staffing program. His accomplishments with this program led to him being an MSA recruiter for a large global enterprise client. He provided them with a wide range of talent for more than five years.

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Lisa Brody is the Talent Operations Manager at Harvard Partners and her focus is on managing the recruiting practice. Lisa has over 30 years of experience in recruiting and talent acquisition. She has successfully brought top-tier Information Technology and Business Professionals to our clients, with a purpose, to fill immediate needs as well as, create an ongoing strategy to find IT specialists, leaders, and executives in a variety of industries.

Prior to joining Harvard Partners in 2016, Lisa reveled in an accomplished career with Advantage Technical Resourcing, (formerly TAC Worldwide Companies) from the rise of the organization, serving in several specialized recruiting and talent management roles. She was a lead MSA recruiter for large global enterprise clients for over a decade, providing a wide range of talent. Throughout her advancement, she has consistently, cultivated a strong reputation among candidates and clients for competency, professionalism, and results.

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Top 15 Project Management Case Studies with Examples

Home Blog Project Management Top 15 Project Management Case Studies with Examples

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Having worked for more than 9 years in the dynamic field of project management, I would strongly refer to real-world case studies as invaluable resources for both budding and experienced professionals. These case studies provide critical insights into the challenges and triumphs encountered in various industries, illustrating the application of project management principles in practical scenarios.   I have curated the case studies as a part of this article in such a way that it delves into a selection of compelling project management case studies, ranging from the healthcare sector to infrastructure and technology. Each case study is a testament to the strategic planning, adaptability, and innovative problem-solving skills necessary in today's fast-paced business environment. These narratives not only highlight past successes but also offer guidance for future projects, making them essential tools for anyone eager to excel in project management.

What is Case Study?

A case study refers to an in-depth examination of a specific case within the real-world context. It is a piece of content that sheds light on the challenges faced, solutions adopted, and the overall outcomes of a project. To understand project management case studies, it is important to first define what a project is . A project is a temporary endeavor with a defined beginning and end, aimed at achieving a specific goal or objective. Case studies are generally used by businesses during the proposal phase. However, they are also displayed on the websites of companies to provide prospects with a glance at the capabilities of the brands. It can even serve as an effective tool for lead generation. In simple words, case studies are stories that tell the target audience about the measures and strategies that the organization adopted to become successful.

What is Project Management Case Study?

A project management case study is a piece of content that highlights a project successfully managed by the organization. It showcases the challenges that the organization faced, the solutions adopted, and the final results. Keep reading in order to explore examples of successful project management case studies.

Top 15 Project Management Case Studies and Examples 

Are you looking for some examples of PMP case studies? If yes, here are some of the best examples you can explore. Let’s dive in!

1. Mavenlink Helps Improve Utilization Rates by 15% for BTM Global

The case study is all about how Mavenlink helped BTM Global Consulting to save hours of work and enhance utilization with resource management technology. BTM Global Consulting offers system development and integration services to diverse clients. The challenges that the company faced were that tools like Netsuite OpenAir and Excel spreadsheets were not able to meet the customization needs as the company grew. It impacted their overall productivity.

In order to overcome the challenge, the solution they adopted was to switch to Mavenlink. The result was that it increased the utilization of the company by 10% and enhanced project manager utilization by 15%. It also reduced resource allocation work from 4 hours to just 10 minutes.

2. Boncom Reduces Billing Rate Errors by 100% With Mavenlink

Boncom is an advertising agency that collaborates with different purpose driven brands to create goods worldwide. The challenge was that the company relied on several-point solutions for delivering client-facing projects. However, the solutions failed to offer the required operational functionality. An ideal solution for Boncom was to adopt Mavenlink. The result was that the billing rate error got reduced by 100%. Accurate forecasting became possible for Boncom, and the company could generate reports in much less time.

3. whyaye! Reaches 80% Billable Utilization with Mavenlink

whyaye is a digital transformation consultancy delivering IT transformation solutions to businesses operating in diverse sectors. The challenge was that whyaye used to manage resources and projects using tools such as emails, PowerPoint, and Microsoft Excel. However, with the growth of the company, they were not able to access project data or gain insights for effective management of the projects . The ultimate solution to this challenge was to make a switch to Mavenlink. The result was an increase in the utilization by 6%, doubling of new clients, tripling of the company size, and seamless support through business growth.

4. Metova Increases Billable Utilization by 10% With Mavenlink

If you are looking for a project planning case study, Metova can be the right example. Metova is a technology firm, a Gold Partner of Microsoft, and an advanced consulting partner of AWS. The challenge was that the company handled several projects at a time. However, its heavy dependence on tools like Google Sheets limited the growth capabilities of the organization. So, the company looked for a solution and switched to Mavenlink. The result was that it was able to increase its billable utilization by 10%, increase its portfolio visibility, and standardize its project management process.

5. Appetize Doubles Length of Forecasting Outlook with Mavenlink

Appetize is one of the leading cloud-based points of sale (POS), enterprise management, and digital ordering platform that is trusted by a number of businesses. The challenge of the company was that its legacy project tracking systems were not able to meet the growing needs of the company. They experienced growth and manual data analysis challenges. The solution they found was to switch to Mavenlink. The result was an increase in the forecast horizon to 12 weeks, support for effective companywide scaling, easy management of over 40 major projects, and Salesforce integration for project implementation.

6. RSM Improves Client Satisfaction and Global Business Processes with Mavenlink

RSM is a tax, audit, and consulting company that provides a wide array of professional services to clients in Canada and the United States. The challenge of the company was that its legacy system lacked the necessary features required to support their work- and time-intensive projects and delivered insights relating to the project trends. An ideal solution to this challenge was to switch to Mavenlink. The result was better to risk mitigation in tax compliance, improved client-team communication, templatized project creation, and better use of the KPIs and project status.

7. CORE Business Technologies Increases Billable Utilization by 35% with Mavenlink

CORE Business Technologies is a reputed single-source vendor self-service, in-person, and back-office processing to the clients. It offers SaaS-based payment solutions to clients. The challenge faced by the company was that its tools like spreadsheets, Zoho, and Microsoft Project led to a hectic work schedule owing to a huge number of disconnected systems. The solution to the challenge was to switch to Mavenlink. The result was the enhancement of team productivity by 50%, time entry compliance by 100%, and enhancement of the billable utilization rate by 35%.

8. Client Success: Health Catalyst Improves Business Processes and Increases Consistency in Project Delivery with Mavenlink

Health Catalyst is a company that delivers data and analytics services and technology to different healthcare organizations. The firm provides assistance to technicians and clinicians in the healthcare sector. The challenge of the company was that the tools like Intacct and spreadsheets that is used for project management were not able to provide the required data insights and clarity for better project management. It also limited effective resource management. The solution was to embrace Mavenlink. The result was better resource forecasting, enhanced interdepartmental communication, consistency in project delivery, and better resource data insights .

9. Client Success: Optimus SBR Improves Forecasting Horizon by 50% with Mavenlink

Optimus SBR is a leading professional service provider in North America. It offers the best results to companies operating in diverse sectors, including healthcare, energy, transportation, financial services, and more. The challenge was that legacy software tools that the firm used gave rise to project management issues. The company was not able to get a real-time revenue forecast or gain insights into its future financial performance. The solution that the company adopted was to switch to Mavenlink. The result was better data-driven hiring decisions, efficient delivery of remote work, and enhancement of the forecasting horizon by 50%.

10. Client Success: PlainJoe Studios Increases Projects Closing Within Budget by 50% With Mavenlink

PlainJoe Studios is an experimental design studio that focuses on digitally immersive and strategic storytelling. The company has a team of strategists, architects, and problem solvers to create value for the clients. The challenge of the company was that the manual processing of the company affected its ability to grow and manage the diverse project effectively. They lacked clarity about their project needs and profitability. The solution to deal with the challenge was to switch to Mavenlink. The result was an enhancement in the billing rates by 15%, better project closing within budget by 50%, better data insights for the success of different projects, and a faster shift to remote work.

11. Client Success: RPI Consultants Decreases Admin Time by 20% With Mavenlink

If you are looking for an example of one of the best software project management case studies, then RPI Consultants can be the ideal one. RPI Consultants offer expert project leadership and software consulting services for enterprise-level implementation of solutions and products. The challenge was that the task management solutions adopted by the company gave rise to a number of complications. It resulted in poor interdepartmental transparency and time-consuming data entry. The ultimate solution that the company embraced was to switch to Mavenlink. The result was a rise in the utilization rate by 5%, lowing of admin time by 20%, better forecasting and resource management, and a single source for gaining insights into the project data.

12. Client Success: CBI's PMO Increases Billable Utilization By 30% With Mavenlink

CBI is a company that is focused on protecting the reputations, data, and brands of its clients. The challenge that the company faced was that the solutions used were unable to meet the growing needs of the organization. The systems were outdated, data sharing was not possible, and time tracking was inconsistent. The solution to the challenge was to switch to Mavenlink. The result was better interdepartmental alignment, enhancement of time tracking to support business growth, an increase in the billable utilization rate by 30%, and detailed insights for a greater success of the projects.

13. Client Success: Butterfly Increases Billable Time by 20% with Mavenlink

Butterfly is a leading digital agency that provides digital strategy, website design and development services, and ongoing support to businesses across Australia. The challenge was that the different legacy systems used by the agency limited its capability of effective project management and reporting. The systems were time consuming and cumbersome. In order to deal with the challenge, the solution was to make a switch to Mavenlink. The result was the enhancement of billable time by 20%, fast reporting insights, enhancement of productive utilization by 16%, and better Jira integration.

14. Client Success: TeleTracking Increases Billable Utilization by 37% With Mavenlink

TeleTracking Technologies is a leading provider of patient flow automation solutions to various hospitals in the healthcare sector. The challenge of the company was that it used different systems such as Microsoft Excel, Sharepoint, MS Project, Jira, and Netsuite. The use of a variety of solutions created a number of challenges for the company. It had poor forecasting capability, an insufficient time tracking process, and unclear resource utilization. The solution was to switch to Mavenlink. The result was the enhancement of time tracking compliance by 100%, rise in hours to date by 18%, and enhancement of billable utilization by 37%.

15. Client Success: Taylors Improves Utilization Rates by 15% with Mavenlink

This is a perfect example of a construction project management case study. Taylor Development Strategists is a leading civil engineering and urban planning organization in Australia. The challenge that the company faced was that the systems that it used were not able to support the growth of the business. There were a lot of inefficiencies and limitations. The solution to the challenge was to switch to Mavenlink. The result was better global collaboration, an increase in the utilization rate by 15%, consistency of timesheet entry, and in-depth insights relating to utilization and project targets.

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Start Creating Your Project Management Case Study

Not that you have a detailed idea about project management case studies, it is time to prepare your own. When doing the project management case study exercise, make sure to focus on covering all the important elements. Clearly stating the challenges and the solutions adopted by the company is important. If you want to get better at project management, getting a PMP Certification can be beneficial.

Case Study Best Practices and Tips 

Want to prepare a project management case study? Here are some tips that can help. 

  • Involve your clients in the preparation of the case study. 
  • Make use of graphs and data. 
  • Mix images, texts, graphs, and whitespace effectively.

Project Management Case Studies Examples

Hospital el pilar improves patient care with implementing disciplined agile.

If you are looking for an example of one of the best hospital related project management case studies, then Hospital El Pilar can be the ideal one. Hospital El Pilar is a private hospital in Guatemala City, Guatemala, that provides comprehensive care to patients in various medical specialties. The challenge was that the hospital’s application development team faced several obstacles in managing and delivering projects, such as unclear priorities, a lack of visibility, little interaction with users, and competing demands. The solution that the team adopted was to use Disciplined Agile® (DA™), a flexible and pragmatic approach to project management that optimizes the way of working (WoW). The result was improved project outcomes, increased user satisfaction, greater transparency, and more trust from stakeholders and customers.

British Columbia’s Ministry of Technology and Infrastructure (MoTI) gets its principal corridor for transportation up in 35 days

Reconnecting Roads After Massive Flooding (2022) is a case study of how the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) used a project management approach based on the PMBOK® Guide to restore critical routes after a catastrophic weather event. It is one of the examples of successful project management case studies you can look into. The challenge was that an atmospheric river caused severe flooding, landslides, and bridge collapses, cutting off the lower mainland from the rest of Canada2. The solution was to prioritize the reopening of Highway 5, the principal corridor for transportation of goods and people, by creating scopes, work breakdown structures, and schedules for each site3. The result was that Highway 5 was reopened to commercial traffic in 35 days, despite additional weather challenges and risks4. The construction project management case study we discussed demonstrated the benefits of flexibility, collaboration, and communication in emergency response.

Case Study Template 

To create a well-crafted and highly informative case study template in the realms of project management, you should start by providing a brief overview of the client's company, focusing on its industry, scale, and specific challenges. Follow with a detailed section on the challenge, emphasizing the unique aspects of the project and obstacles faced. Next, you might want to describe the solution implemented, detailing the strategies, methodologies, and tools used. Then, you would need to present the results, quantifying improvements and highlighting objectives achieved. Finally, please conclude the case study with a summary, encapsulating key takeaways and emphasizing the project's success and its implications for future endeavors. By following this structure, you can present a comprehensive yet concise analysis that is ideal for showcasing project management expertise and insights. You can also refer to the template for crafting a better case study on project management – Template for writing case studies.

By now, you must have gained a comprehensive knowledge of preparing a project management case study. This article elaborately explains the significance of real life project management case studies as vital tools for demonstrating a company's expertise in handling complex projects. These case studies, showcasing real-world scenarios, serve as compelling evidence of a firm's capability to navigate challenges and implement effective solutions, thereby boosting confidence in potential clients and partners. They are not only a reflection of past successes but also a lighthouse guiding future project endeavors in the discipline of project management within the fields of construction, pharmacy, technology and finance, highlighting the importance of strategic planning, innovation, and adaptability in project management. If you are aspiring to excel in this field, understanding these case studies is invaluable. However, you would also need to learn from project management failures case studies which would provide a roadmap to mastering the art of project management in today's dynamic business landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

1. how do you write a project management case study.

In order to write a project management case study, keep everything brief but mention everything in detail. Make sure to write it with clarity and include graphs and images. 

2. Why is a case study important in project identification?

It is important to highlight the story of the success of your company and your clients.

3. What are case studies in project management?

A case study in project management is the success story of how effectively a company was able to handle a specific project of the client.

4. What should a project case study include?

A project study must include information about the client, how your company helped the client in resolving a problem, and the results.

5. Which are the best-case studies on project management?

The best-case studies on project management have been listed above. It includes BTM Global, Butterfly, Boncom, and more.

Profile

Kevin D.Davis

Kevin D. Davis is a seasoned and results-driven Program/Project Management Professional with a Master's Certificate in Advanced Project Management. With expertise in leading multi-million dollar projects, strategic planning, and sales operations, Kevin excels in maximizing solutions and building business cases. He possesses a deep understanding of methodologies such as PMBOK, Lean Six Sigma, and TQM to achieve business/technology alignment. With over 100 instructional training sessions and extensive experience as a PMP Exam Prep Instructor at KnowledgeHut, Kevin has a proven track record in project management training and consulting. His expertise has helped in driving successful project outcomes and fostering organizational growth.

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  • BMJ Open Qual
  • v.11(2); 2022

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Defining case management success: a qualitative study of case manager perspectives from a large-scale health and social needs support program

Margae knox.

1 School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA

Emily E Esteban

2 Contra Costa Health Services, Martinez, California, USA

Elizabeth A Hernandez

Mark d fleming, nadia safaeinilli, amanda l brewster, associated data.

No data are available. Data are not publicly available to protect potentially sensitive information. For data inquiries, please contact the corresponding author.

Health systems are expanding efforts to address health and social risks, although the heterogeneity of early evidence indicates need for more nuanced exploration of how such programs work and how to holistically assess program success. This qualitative study aims to identify characteristics of success in a large-scale, health and social needs case management program from the perspective of interdisciplinary case managers.

Case management program for high-risk, complex patients run by an integrated, county-based public health system.

Participants

30 out of 70 case managers, purposively sampled to represent their interdisciplinary health and social work backgrounds. Interviews took place in March–November 2019.

Primary and secondary outcome measures

The analysis intended to identify characteristics of success working with patients.

Case managers described three characteristics of success working with patients: (1) establishing trust; (2) observing change in patients’ mindset or initiative and (3) promoting stability and independence. Cross-cutting these characteristics, case managers emphasised the importance of patients defining their own success, often demonstrated through individualised, incremental progress. Thus, moments of success commonly contrasted with external perceptions and operational or productivity metrics.

Conclusions

Themes emphasise the importance of compassion for complexity in patients’ lives, and success as a step-by-step process that is built over longitudinal relationships.

What is already known on this topic?

  • Case management programs to support health and social needs have demonstrated promising yet mixed results. Underlying mechanisms and shared definitions of successful case management are underdeveloped.

What this study adds?

  • Case managers emphasised building trust over time and individual, patient-defined objectives as key markers of success, a contrast to commonly used quantitative evaluation metrics.

How this study might affect research, practice or policy?

  • Results suggest that lighter touch case management interventions face limitations without an established patient relationship. Results also support a need for alternative definitions of case management success including patient-centered measures such as trust in one’s case manager.

Introduction

Health system efforts to address both health and social needs are expanding. In the USA, some state Medicaid programmes are testing payments for non-medical services to address transportation, housing instability and food insecurity. Medicaid provides healthcare coverage for lower income individuals and families, jointly funded by federal and state governments. Similarly, social prescribing, or the linking of patients with social needs to community resources, is supported by the UK’s National Health Service and has also been piloted by Canada’s Alliance for Healthier Communities. 1

A growing evidence base suggests promising outcomes from healthcare interventions addressing social needs. In some contexts, case managers or navigators providing social needs assistance can improve health 2 and reduce costly hospital use. 3–5 Yet systematic reviews also report mixed results for measures of health and well-being, hospitalisation and emergency department use, and overall healthcare costs. 6–9 Notably, a randomised trial of the Camden Care Coalition programme for patients with frequent hospitalisations due to medically and socially complex needs 10 found no difference in 180-day readmission between patients assigned to a care transitions programme compared with usual hospital postdischarge care. In the care transition programme, patients received follow-up from a multidisciplinary team of nurses, social workers and community health workers. The team conducted home visits, scheduled and accompanied patients to follow-up outpatient visits, helped with managing medications, coached patients on self-care and connected patients with social services and behavioural healthcare. The usual care group received usual postdischarge care with limited follow-up. 11 This heterogeneity of early evidence indicates a need for more nuanced explorations of how social needs assistance programmes work, and how to holistically assess whether programmes are successful. 12 13

Social needs case management may lead to health and well-being improvements through multiple pathways involving both material and social support. 14 15 Improvements are often a long-term, non-linear process. 16 17 At the same time, quality measures specific to social needs assistance programmes currently remain largely undefined. Studies often analyse utilisation and cost outcomes but lack granularity on interim processes and markers of success.

In order to translate a complex and context-dependent intervention like social needs case management from one setting to another, these interim processes and outcomes need greater recognition. 18–20 Early efforts to refine complex care measures are underway and call out a need for person-centred and goal-concordant measures. 21 Further research on how frontline social needs case managers themselves define successes in their work could help leaders improve programme design and management and could also inform broader quality measure development efforts.

Our in-depth, qualitative study sought to understand how case managers defined success in their work with high-risk patients. Case managers were employed by CommunityConnect, a large-scale health and social needs care management programme that serves a mixed-age adult population with varying physical health, mental health and social needs. Each case manager’s workflow includes an individualised, regularly updated dashboard of operational metrics. It is unclear, however, whether or how these operational factors relate to patient success in a complex care programme. Thus, the case managers’ perspectives on defining success are critical for capturing how programmes work and identifying essential principles.

Study design and setting

In 2017, the Contra Costa County Health Services Department in California launched CommunityConnect, a case management programme to coordinate health, behavioural health and social services for County Medicaid patients with complex health and social conditions. The County Health Services Department serves approximately 15% (180 000) of Contra Costa’s nearly 1.2 million residents. CommunityConnect enrollees were selected based on a predictive model, which leveraged data from multiple county systems to identify individuals most likely to use hospital or emergency room services for preventable reasons. Enrollees are predominantly women (59%) and under age 40 (49%). Seventy-seven per cent of enrollees have more than one chronic condition, particularly hypertension (42%), mood disorders (40%) and chronic pain (35%). 22 Programme goals include improving beneficiary health and well-being through more efficient and effective use of resources.

Each case manager interviewed in this study worked full time with approximately 90 patients at a time. Case managers met patients in-person, ideally at least once a month for 1 year, although patients sometimes continue to receive ongoing support at the case manager’s discretion in cases of continued need. Overall, up to 6000 individuals at a time receive in-person case management services through CommunityConnect, with approximately 200–300 added and 200–300 graduated per month. At the time of the study, CommunityConnect employed approximately 70 case managers trained in various public health and social work disciplines (see table 1 , Interview Sample). Case managers and patients are matched based on an algorithm that prioritises mental health history, primary language and county region.

Interview sample

Although case managers bring unique experience from their respective discipline, all are expected to conduct similar case management services. Services included discussing any unmet social needs with patients, coordinating applicable resources and partnering with the patient and patient’s care team to improve physical and emotional health. The programme tracks hospital and emergency department utilisation as well as patient benefits such as food stamps, housing or transportation vouchers and continuous Medicaid coverage on an overall basis. Each case manager has access to an individualised dashboard that includes operational metrics such as new patients to contact, and frequency of patient contacts, timeliness for calling patients recently discharged from the hospital, whether patients have continuous Medicaid coverage, and completion of social risk screenings.

Study recruitment

Semistructured interviews were conducted with 30 field-based case managers as part of the programme’s evaluation and quality improvement process. Participants included four mental health clinical specialists, five substance abuse counsellors, six social workers, nine public health nurses, four housing support specialists and two community health worker specialists. Case managers were recruited by email and selected based on purposive sampling to reflect membership across disciplines and experience working with CommunityConnect for at least 1 year. Three case managers declined to participate. Interviews ended when data saturation was achieved. 23

Interview procedures

Interviews were conducted by five CommunityConnect evaluation staff members (including EEE), who received training and supervision from the evaluation director (EH), who also conducted interviews. The evaluation staff were bachelor and masters-level trained. The evaluation director was masters-level trained and held prior experience in healthcare quality and programme planning.

The evaluation team drafted the interview guide to ask about a variety of work processes and experiences with the goal of improving programme operations including staff and patient experiences. Specific questions analysed for this study were (1) how case managers define success with a patient and (2) examples where case managers considered work with patients a success.

Interviews took place in-person in private meeting rooms at case managers’ workplace from March 2019 – November 2019. Interviews lasted 60–90 min and only the interviewer and case manager were present. All interviewers were familiar with CommunityConnect yet did not have a prior relationship with case managers. Case managers did not receive compensation beyond their regular salary for participating in the study and were allowed to opt out of recruitment or end the interview early for any reason. All interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and entered into Nvivo V.12 for analysis.

Patient and public involvement

This project focused on case manager’s perspectives and thus did not directly involve patients. Rather, patients were involved through case manager recollections of experiences working with patients.

Data analysis

We used an integrated approach to develop an initial set of qualitative codes including deductive coding of programme processes and concepts, followed by inductive coding of how case managers defined success. All interviews were coded by two researchers experienced in qualitative research (EEE and MK). Themes were determined based on recurrence across interviews and illustrative examples and being described by more than one case manager type. The two researchers identified preliminary themes independently, then consulted with one another to achieve consensus on final themes. Themes and supporting quotes were then presented to the full author team to ensure collective agreement that key perspectives had been included. Preliminary results were also shared at a staff meeting attended by case managers and other staff as an opportunity for feedback on study findings. This manuscript addresses the Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research, 24 and the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research checklist is provided as an appendix. 25

All case manager participants provided informed consent. Research procedures were approved by the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Health Centers Institutional Review Committee (Protocol 12-17-2018).

Case managers frequently and across multiple roles mentioned three characteristics of success when working with patients: (1) establishing trust; (2) fostering change in patients’ mindset or initiative and (3) promoting stability and independence. Across these characteristics, case managers expressed that success is patient-defined, with individualised and often incremental progress—a contrast with external perceptions of success and common operational or productivity metrics (see figure 1 ).

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is bmjoq-2021-001807f01.jpg

Illustration of key themes.

Success is establishing trust

Trusting relationships were the most widely noted characteristic of success. Trust was described as both a product of case managers’ consistent follow-up and helpfulness over time and a foundational step to enable progress on patient-centred goals. To build trust, case managers explained, patients must feel seen and heard, and understand the case managers’ desire to help: ‘Success is to know that she knows me very well…I look for her on the streets, and I’m waiting for her to call me back. Hopefully she knows that when she’s ready I will be there at least to provide that resource for her and so it’s that personal relationship that you build’ (Case manager 11, social worker). Case managers also highlighted the longitudinal relationship required to establish trust, distinguishing success as more than one-time information delivery or navigating bureaucratic processes to procure services.

Case managers also identified trust as foundational to provide better support for patients: ‘So they’re as honest with me as they can be. That way I have a clear understanding about realistically what I can do to help them coordinate their care or link them to services.’ (Case manager 2, mental health clinician specialist). Establishing trust was essential to improve communication with patients and produced an amplifying effect. That is, a case manager’s initial help and follow-up builds trust so that patients can be more open, and open communication helps the case manager know what specific services can be most useful. This positive feedback loop further cements trust and builds momentum for a longitudinal relationship.

Permission to have a home visit was mentioned as a valuable indicator of early success in building trust: ‘(Your home is) your sanctuary’, expressed one case manager (Case manager 29, public health nurse), acknowledging the vulnerability of opening one’s home to an outsider. For another case manager, regular home visits in the context of a trusting relationship made the case manager aware of and able to address a difficult situation: ‘Every time I was going to her home, I was noticing more and more gnats flying around… She said it’s because of the garbage…’ After establishing trust, the patient allowed the case manager access to the bedroom where the case manager uncovered numerous soiled diapers. The case manager arranged professional cleaning and sanitation through CommunityConnect, after which, ‘there was room for a dance floor in her bedroom. There was so much room, and the look on her face, it was almost as if her chest got proud, just in that day. She didn’t seem so burdened…So that’s a success’ (Case manager 4, substance abuse counsellor). Across multiple examples, case managers expressed trust as a critical element for effective patient partnerships.

However, the pathways to building trust are less clear cut. Quick wins through tangible support such as a transportation voucher to a medical appointment could help engage a patient initially. Yet case managers more frequently emphasised strategies based on relationships over time. Strategies included expressing empathy (putting yourself in the patient’s shoes), demonstrating respect (especially when the patient has experienced disrespect in other health system encounters), keeping appointments, following through on what you say you will do, calling to check in and ‘being there’. Overall, case managers expressed that trust lets patients know they are not alone and sets the stage for future success.

Success is fostering a change in patients’ mindset or initiative

Case managers described a change in patients’ mindset or initiative as evidence of further success. One case manager explained, ‘Really (success) could be a switch in mind state… If I can get someone to consider addressing an issue. Or just acknowledging an issue. That’s progress’ (Case manager 24, substance abuse counsellor). Another case manager spoke to the importance of mindset by stating, ‘what I try to do is not just change the surface of life’. This case manager elaborated, ‘You help (a patient) get their housing and they’re gonna lose it again, unless they change; something changes in their mindset, and then they see things differently.’ (Case manager 6, mental health clinician specialist). Some case managers suggested that the supportive resources they provide are only band-aid solutions if unaccompanied by a changed mindset to address root causes.

Case managers reported that shared goals and plans are essential, in contrast to solutions identified by case managers without patient involvement. ‘I can’t do everything for them’, expressed one case manager (Case manager 21, public health nurse), while others similarly acknowledged that imposing self-improvement goals or providing resources for which a patient may not be ready may be counterproductive. Rather, one case manager emphasised, ‘I think it’s really important to celebrate people’s ideas, their beliefs, their own goals and values’. (Case manager 4, substance abuse counsellor). As an example, the case manager applauded a patient’s ideas of getting a driver’s license and completing an education certificate. In summary, case managers viewed success as a two-way street where patient’s own ideas and motivation were essential for long-term impact.

Success is promoting stability and independence

Case managers also identified patients’ stability and independence as a characteristic of success. One case manager stated, ‘I define success as having them be more independent in their just manoeuvring the system…how they problem solve’ (Case manager 30, public health nurse). Relative to the other characteristics of success, stability and independence more closely built on resources and services coordinated or procured by the case manager. For example, CommunityConnect provides cell phones free-of-charge to patients who do not currently have a phone or continuous service, which has helped patients build a network beyond the case manager: ‘Once we get them that cell phone then they’re able to make a lot of connections … linking to services on their own. They actually become a lot more confident in themselves is what I’ve seen’. (Case manager 23, substance abuse counsellor). In another example, a case manager helped a patient experiencing complex health issues to reconcile and understand various medications. For this patient stability means, ‘when he does go into the emergency room, it’s needed. … even though he’s taking his medication like he’s supposed to… it’s just his health gets bad. So, yea I would say that one (is a success)’ (Case manager 8, social worker). Thus, stability represents maintained, improved well-being, supported by care coordination and resources, even while challenges may still be present.

As a step further, ‘Absolute success’, according to one case manager, ‘(is when a patient) drops off my caseload and I don’t hear from them, not because they’re not doing well but because they are doing well, because they are independent’ (Case manager 12, social worker). Patients may still need periodic help knowing who to contact but can follow through on their own. This independence may arise because patients have found personal support networks and other resources that allow them to rely less and less on the case manager. While not all patients reach this step of sustained independence and stability, it is an accomplishment programmatically and for case managers personally.

Success is patient-defined, built on individualised and incremental progress

Case managers widely recognised that success comes in different shapes and sizes, dependent on their patient’s situation. Irrespective of the primary concern, many identified the patient’s own judgement as the benchmark for success. One case manager explained, ‘I define success with my patients by they are telling me it was a success. It’s by their expression, it’s just not a success until they say it’s a success for them’ (Case manager 7, social worker). In a more specific example, a case manager highlighted checking in with a patient instead of assuming a change is successful: ‘It’s not just getting someone housed or getting someone income. Like the male who we’re working towards reconciliation with his parents… that’s a huge step but if he doesn’t feel good about it… then that’s not a success.’ The same case manager elaborated, ‘it’s really engaging with the knowing where the patient him or herself is at mentally, for me. Yeah. That’s a success’ (Case manager 18, homeless services specialist). This comment challenges the current paradigm where, for example, if a patient has a housing need and is matched to housing, then the case is a success. Rather, case managers viewed success as more than meeting a need but also reciprocal satisfaction from the patient.

Often, case managers valued individualised, even if seemingly small, achievements as successes: ‘Every person’s different you know. A success could be just getting up and brushing their teeth. Sometimes success is actually getting them out of the house or getting the care they need’ (Case manager 28, social worker). Another case manager echoed, ‘(Success) depends on where they’re at … it runs the gamut, you know, but they’re all successes’ (Case manager 10, public health nurse). CommunityConnect’s interdisciplinary focus was identified as an important facilitator for tailoring support to individualised client needs. In contrast with condition-specific case management settings, for example, a case manager with substance abuse training noted, ‘whether someone wants to address their substance use or not, they still have these other needs, and (with CommunityConnect) I can still provide assistance’ (Case manager 24).

However, the individualised and incremental successes are not well captured by common case management metrics. One case manager highlighted a tension between operational productivity metrics and patient success, noting, ‘I get it, that there has to be accountability. We’re out in the field, I mean people could really be doing just a whole lot of nothing… (Yet), for me I don’t find the success in the numbers. I don’t think people are a number. Oh, look I got a pamphlet for you, I’m dropping it off… I don’t think that that is what’s really going to make this programme successful’ (Case manager 8, social worker). One case manager mentioned change in healthcare utilisation as a marker of success, but more often, case managers offered stories of patient success that diverge from common programme measures. For example, one case manager observed, ‘The clear (successes) are nice: when you apply for Social Security and they get it that’s like a hurrah. And then there’s other times it’s just getting them to the dentist’ (Case manager 28, social worker). Another case manager elaborated, ‘It’s not always the big number—the how many people did I house this year. It’s the little stuff like the fact that this 58-year-old woman who believes she’s pregnant and has been living outside for years and years, a victim of domestic violence, has considered going inside. Like that is gigantic’ (Case manager 18, homeless services specialist). Overwhelmingly, case managers defined success through the interpersonal relationship with their patients within patients’ complex, daily life circumstances.

Case managers’ definitions of success focused on establishing trust, fostering patients change in mindset or initiative, and, for some patients, achieving independence and stability. Examples of success were commonly incremental and specific to an individual’s circumstances, contrasting with programmatic measures such as reduction in hospital or emergency department utilisation, benefits and other resources secured, or productivity expectations. Study themes heavily emphasise the interpersonal relationship that case managers have with patients and underscore the importance of patient-centred and patient-defined definitions of success over other outcome measures.

Our results complement prior work on clinic-based programmes for complex patients. For example, interdisciplinary staff in a qualitative study of an ambulatory intensive care centre also identified warm relationships between patients and staff as a marker of success. 26 In another study interviewing clinicians and leaders across 12 intensive outpatient programmes, three key facilitators of patient engagement emerged: (1) financial assistance and other resources to help meet basic needs, (2) working as a multi-disciplinary care team and (3) adequate time and resources to develop close relationships focused on patient goals. 27 Our results concur on the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach, establishing trusting relationships, and pursuing patient-centred goals. Our results diverge on the role of resources to meet basic needs. Case managers in our study indicated that while connections to social services benefits and other resources help initiate the case manager-patient relationship, lasting success involved longer-term relationships in which they supported patients in developing patients’ own goal setting skills and motivation.

An important takeaway from case managers’ definitions of success is the ‘how’ they go about their work, in contrast to the ‘what’ of particular care coordination activities. For example, case managers emphasise interpersonal approaches such as empathy and respect over specific processes and resource availability. Primary care clinicians, too, have expressed how standard HEDIS or CAHPS quality metrics fail to capture, and in some cases disincentivise, the intuitions in their work that are important for high quality care. 28 29 Complex care management programmes must also wrestle with this challenge of identifying standards without extinguishing underlying quality constructs.

Strengths and limitations

This study brings several strengths, including bringing to light the unique, unexplored perspective of case managers working on both health and social needs with patients facing diverse circumstances that contribute to high-risk of future hospital or emergency department utilisation. The fact that our study explores perspectives across an array of case manager disciplines is also a strength, however a limitation is that we are unable to distinguish how success differed by discipline based on smaller numbers of each discipline in this study sample. Other study limitations include generalisability to other settings, given that all case managers worked for a single large-scale social needs case management programme. Comments around productivity concerns or interdisciplinary perspectives on ways to support patients may be unique to the infrastructure or management of this organisation. In addition, at the time of the study, all case managers were able to meet with patients in-person; future studies may explore whether definitions of success change when interactions become virtual or telephonic as occurred amidst COVID-19 concerns.

This study is the first to our knowledge to inquire about holistic patient success from the perspective of case managers in the context of a social needs case management programme. The findings offer important implications for researchers as well as policy makers and managers who are designing complex case management programmes.

Our results identify patient-directed goals, stability and satisfaction, as aspects of social needs case management which are difficult to measure but nonetheless critical to fostering health and well-being. Case managers indicated these aspects are most likely to emerge through a longer-term connection with their patients. Thus, while resource-referral solutions may play an important role in addressing basic needs, 30 our findings suggest that weak patient–referrer rapport may be a limitation for such lighter touch interventions. The need for sustained rapport building is also one explanation why longer time horizons may be necessary to show outcome improvements in rigorous studies. 16

Relatedly, results point to trusting relationships as an under-recognised and understudied feature of social needs case management. Existing research finds that patients’ trust in their primary care physician is associated with greater self-reported medication adherence 31 along with health behaviours such as exercise and smoking cessation. 32 Similar quantitative results have not yet been illuminated in social needs case management contexts, yet the prominence of trusting relationships in this study as well as other sources 26 27 33 34 suggests that measures of trust should be used to complement currently emphasised outcomes such as inpatient and outpatient utilisation. Future research and programme evaluation will need to develop new trust measurement or modify existing trust measures for the social needs case management context. 31 35

In summary, study themes provide waypoints of how to conceptualise programme design, new staff training and potential measurement development for complex case management programmes like CommunityConnect. Despite the broad swath of social needs addressed, case managers coalesced on establishing a trusting relationship as a necessary foundation to appropriately identify needs and facilitate connections. Second, fostering patients’ own ideas, including a change their mindset or initiative, was important to fully make use of programme resources. Third, supporting new-found independence or stability was a gratifying, but not universally achieved marker of success. Commonly, case managers highlighted moments of success with mindfulness toward small victories, illuminating that success is non-linear with no certain path nor single end point. Themes emphasise the importance of bringing compassion for the complexity in patients’ lives and developing collaborative relationships one interaction at a time.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the CommunityConnect evaluation team for their support conducting and transcribing interviews and applying preliminary coding, especially Gabriella Quintana, Alison Stribling, Julia Surges and Camella Taylor.

Contributors: MK coded and analysed qualitative data, identified key themes and related discussion areas, and drafted and critically revised the manuscript. EEE conducted interviews, coded and analysed qualitative data, and drafted and critically revised the manuscript. EH developed the study instrument, conducted interviews, supervised data collection, contributed to the data interpretation and critically revised the manuscript. MDF contributed to the interpretation and critically revised the manuscript. NS contributed to the interpretation and critically revised the manuscript. ALB contributed to the design and interpretation and critically revised the manuscript. All authors approve of the final version to be published.

Funding: MK was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) under the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award T32 (T32HS022241). MDF was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, grant # K01HS027648.

Disclaimer: Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of AHRQ. Funding had no role in the study’s design, conduct or reporting.

Competing interests: None declared.

Patient and public involvement: Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Data availability statement

Ethics statements, patient consent for publication.

Not applicable.

Ethics approval

This study involves human participants and was approved by Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Health Centers Institutional Review Committee (Protocol 12-17-2018). Participants gave informed consent to participate in the study before taking part.

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Delivering consistent growth is one of the hardest things a company can do. A brilliant idea or product innovation can create a burst of episodic growth, but few companies demonstrate growth year in and year out, especially amid the disruptions and uncertain economy we’ve experienced during the 2020s. Some companies have managed to sustain consistent growth, however.

Research from PwC reveals that the highest-performing organizations invest in a growth system, an integrated collection of capabilities and assets that drives both short-term and long-term growth. The authors provide a framework for building a growth system offering case examples highlighting Toast, IKEA, Vertex, Adobe, and Roblox.

Five elements can move you beyond episodic success.

Delivering sustained growth is one of the hardest things a company can do. A brilliant idea or product innovation can create a burst of episodic growth, but few companies demonstrate growth year in and year out, especially amid the disruptions and uncertain economy we’ve experienced during the 2020s. Some companies have cracked the code on sustained growth, however, while realizing the elusive goal of knowing precisely where next quarter’s revenue will come from.

Invest in prediction, adaptability, and resilience.

  • Paul Blase is a principal at PwC U.S. and leads the firm’s growth platform. He advises executives on designing systems to deliver consistent growth.
  • Paul Leinwand is a principal at PwC U.S., a global managing director at Strategy&, and an adjunct professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School. He is a coauthor, with Mahadeva Matt Mani, of Beyond Digital: How Great Leaders Transform Their Organizations and Shape the Future (HBR Press, 2022).

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Customers across industries share how hp managed print services helped transform the way they work., csx transforms print culture.

Rail transportation leader looks to HP MPS for excellent service and robust security.

iA Financial Group optimizes print environment

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With HP MPS, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System consolidates print, reduces costs, improves security, and integrates seamlessly with EMR.

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Hybrid work eGuide

The definitive guide to help your organization build a successful print transformation strategy for hybrid work.

Re-evaluating your MPS contract?

5 questions to ask your next HP Managed Print Services provider to ensure you have a future-fit fleet.

Why BYO Print could be a recipe for trouble?

Understand the risks of BYO Print for your remote workers, and how HP’s security expertise can deliver safe hybrid workflows with devices and solutions for secure hybrid printing.

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What is HP MPS?

HP Managed Print Services (MPS) is a suite of scalable and flexible solutions for office and production printing environments that help organizations productively and profitably manage paper and digital document workflows. HP MPS is a combination of hardware, supplies, solutions, and services all under a multi-year contract. HP MPS helps transform unmanaged data into intelligent information that can be captured, connected, and communicated while advancing your organization’s environmental, security, and mobility goals.

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HP’s comprehensive approach to MPS is delivered through flexible, modular service offerings that are organized into three stages: Design, Transition, and Manage. We allow you to select the level of involvement that’s right for you—you can manage key components of MPS in-house, outsource some areas completely to HP, and take a co-management approach in other areas—whatever works best with your budget and resources.

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Managed Print Services (MPS) is a business enabler—it enables you to harness and optimally manage the power of your IT print infrastructure. It allows you to lower your total cost of printing, improve IT efficiency, and invest in areas that can increase productivity, competitiveness, and profitability.*

Does HP MPS understand my industry-specific needs?

Yes, we have deep industry expertise across a number of industries including Healthcare, Education, Manufacturing, Finance and Legal, Retail, and Media Entertainment. We offer industry-specific solutions to digitize and streamline critical processes, transform paper-based workflows to reduce costs, drive productivity, and help improve your customers’ experience.

Why should I choose HP as my MPS partner?

HP is a trusted global technology and services leader with service coverage in 170 countries that are tuned locally to address unique region and country needs. HP has the strongest, most comprehensive print security in the industry,** a global bench of credentialed security advisors, and the World’s Most Secure Printers.** As an innovative leader and partner in advancing sustainability and corporate social responsibility goals, HP was recognized as the #1 America’s most responsible companies*** by Newsweek in 2020.

*Source: ALL Associates Group, February 2018.  For largest 5,000 Global Companies.  

**Includes device, data, and document security capabilities by leading managed print service providers. Based on HP review of 2019 publicly available information on service-level agreement offers, security services, security and management software, and device embedded security features of their competitive in-class printers. For more information, visit hp.com/go/MPSsecurityclaims or hp.com/go/securemps .

***Source: Newsweek, 2020

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eGuide: A blueprint for print transformation

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A definitive guide with key insights and considerations to help your organization build a successful print transformation strategy for hybrid work.

This eGuide offers insights to:

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  • Help ensure the right security and sustainability measures are in place
  • How HP Managed Print Services can help solve hybrid working challenges

Disclaimers

  • Includes device, data, and document security capabilities by leading managed print service providers. Based on HP review of 2019 publicly available information on service-level agreement offers, security services, security and management software, and device embedded security features of their competitive in-class printers. For more information, visit  hp.com/go/MPSsecurityclaims  or  hp.com/go/securemps.
  • Based on results of third-party (WSP) research for HP of OEM MPS providers with carbon neutral offers as of June 2020. “Comprehensive” means the planet’s only globally certified carbon neutral MPS service that covers lifecycle emissions due to raw material extraction, manufacturing, transportation, use of HP printers, Original HP supplies, and paper, and end of service.
  • HP’s most advanced embedded security features are available on HP Managed and Enterprise devices with HP FutureSmart firmware 4.5 or above. Claim based on HP review of published features as of February 2023 of competitive in-class printers. Only HP offers a combination of security features to automatically detect, stop, and recover from attacks with a self-healing reboot, in alignment with NIST SP 800-193 guidelines for device cyber resiliency. For a list of compatible products, visit  hp.com/go/PrintersThatProtect . For more information, visit  hp.com/go/PrinterSecurityClaims .
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HP Security is now HP Wolf Security. Security features vary by platform, please see product data sheet for details.

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Montage of images from the Top 40 cases of 2018

Top 40 Most Popular Case Studies of 2018

Cases about food and agriculture took center stage in 2018. A case on the coffee supply chain remained the top case and cases on burgers, chocolate, and palm oil all made the top ten.

Cases about food and agriculture took center stage in 2018. A case on the coffee supply chain remained the top case and cases on burgers, chocolate, and palm oil all made the top ten, according to data compiled by Yale School of Management Case Research and Development Team (SOM CRDT).

Other topics in the top ten included corporate social responsibility, healthcare, solar energy, and financial inclusion.

The annual ranking of the 40 most popular Yale School of Management case studies combines data from publishers, Google analytics, SOM class syllabi, and other measures of interest and adoption. This is the second year that SOM CRDT has published its Top 40 list.

Cases published in 2018 on the top 40 list included Marina Bay Sands Hotel (#13), AgBiome (#18), Canary Wharf (#20), Mastercard (#21), and Peabody Museum (#35). Both the Marina Bay Sands and Peabody cases were featured in major student competitions in 2018.

The cases on the Top 40 list represent a variety of different business disciplines, as Yale SOM cases tend to combine a variety of perspectives. For example, the top coffee case can be taught in marketing, operations, and strategy classes. The number two case on Shake Shack covers finance, strategy, and even innovation and design. The list features a number of cases related to the interplay of state and commerce and social enterprise, traditional strengths of the Yale SOM curriculum.

While there are many US-based cases among the top 40, a range of locales are highlighted among the top 40 entries. Cases set in France (AXA), Great Britain (Cadbury, Canary Wharf, George Hudson), Indonesia (Palm Oil, Golden Agri), China (Ant Financial, Alibaba), India (SELCO, Project Sammaan), Singapore (Marina Bay Sands), Canada (Air Canada, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan), and South Africa (Project Masiluleke) made the top 40 list.

SOM CRDT has been working to increase the number of women featured as case protagonists. The 2018 list boasts 13 cases where women play prominent roles in the narrative.

The top 40 list also demonstrates a wide range of SOM faculty involvement. Thirty different faculty members worked as case supervisors on the top 40 cases.

Read on to learn more about the top 10 most popular cases followed by a complete list of the top 40 cases of 2018. A selection of the top 40 cases are available for purchase through our online store . 

#1 - Coffee 2016

Faculty Supervision: Todd Cort

Coffee 2016 asks students to consider the coffee supply chain and generate ideas for what can be done to equalize returns across various stakeholders. The case draws a parallel between coffee and wine. Both beverages encourage connoisseurship, but only wine growers reap a premium for their efforts to ensure quality.  The case describes the history of coffee production across the world, the rise of the “third wave” of coffee consumption in the developed world, the efforts of the Illy Company to help coffee growers, and the differences between “fair” trade and direct trade. Faculty have found the case provides a wide canvas to discuss supply chain issues, examine marketing practices, and encourage creative solutions to business problems. 

#2 - Shake Shack IPO

Faculty Supervision: Jake Thomas and Geert Rouwenhorst

From an art project in a New York City park, Shake Shack developed a devoted fan base that greeted new Shake Shack locations with cheers and long lines. When Shake Shack went public on January 30, 2015, investors displayed a similar enthusiasm. Opening day investors bid up the $21 per share offering price by 118% to reach $45.90 at closing bell. By the end of May, investors were paying $92.86 per share. Students are asked if this price represented a realistic valuation of the enterprise and if not, what was Shake Shack truly worth? The case provides extensive information on Shake Shack’s marketing, competitors, operations and financials, allowing instructors to weave a wide variety of factors into a valuation of the company.

#3 - IBM Corporate Service Corps

Faculty Supervision: David Bach in cooperation with University of Ghana Business School and EGADE

The case considers IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC), a program that had become the largest pro bono consulting program in the world. The case describes the program’s triple-benefit: leadership training to the brightest young IBMers, brand recognition for IBM in emerging markets, and community improvement in the areas served by IBM’s host organizations. As the program entered its second decade in 2016, students are asked to consider how the program can be improved. The case allows faculty to lead a discussion about training, marketing in emerging economies, and various ways of providing social benefit. The case highlights the synergies as well as trade-offs between pursuing these triple benefits.

#4 - Children’s Premier

Faculty Supervision: Edieal Pinker

The case describes Children’s Premier, a popular group practice in Greenwich, Connecticut which, due to a change in the state’s vaccination law, decides to dramatically change its business model. Did the group make the right adjustments in order to stay competitive and cover their increasing costs? Should the new practices cause a newcomer to the practice to look elsewhere for his children?

#5 - Design at Mayo

Faculty Supervision: Rodrigo Canales and William Drentell

The case describes how the Mayo Clinic, one of the most prominent hospitals in the world, engaged designers and built a research institute, the Center for Innovation (CFI), to study the processes of healthcare provision. The case documents the many incremental innovations the designers were able to implement and the way designers learned to interact with physicians and vice-versa.

In 2010 there were questions about how the CFI would achieve its stated aspiration of “transformational change” in the healthcare field. Students are asked what would a major change in health care delivery look like? How should the CFI's impact be measured? Were the center's structure and processes appropriate for transformational change? Faculty have found this a great case to discuss institutional obstacles to innovation, the importance of culture in organizational change efforts, and the differences in types of innovation.

This case is freely available to the public.

#6 - AXA: Creating New Corporate Responsibility Metrics

Faculty Supervision: Todd Cort and David Bach

The case describes AXA’s corporate responsibility (CR) function. The company, a global leader in insurance and asset management, had distinguished itself in CR since formally establishing a CR unit in 2008. As the case opens, AXA’s CR unit is being moved from the marketing function to the strategy group occasioning a thorough review as to how CR should fit into AXA’s operations and strategy. Students are asked to identify CR issues of particular concern to the company, examine how addressing these issues would add value to the company, and then create metrics that would capture a business unit’s success or failure in addressing the concerns.

#7 - Cadbury: An Ethical Company Struggles to Insure the Integrity of Its Supply Chain

Faculty Supervision: Ira Millstein

The case describes revelations that the production of cocoa in the Côte d’Ivoire involved child slave labor. These stories hit Cadbury especially hard. Cadbury's culture had been deeply rooted in the religious traditions of the company's founders, and the organization had paid close attention to the welfare of its workers and its sourcing practices. The US Congress was considering legislation that would allow chocolate grown on certified plantations to be labeled “slave labor free,” painting the rest of the industry in a bad light. Chocolate producers had asked for time to rectify the situation, but the extension they negotiated was running out. Students are asked whether Cadbury should join with the industry to lobby for more time?  What else could Cadbury do to ensure its supply chain was ethically managed?

#8 - Palm Oil 2016

Faculty Supervision: Kenneth Richards in cooperation with National University of Singapore Business School and David Bach

The case looks at the palm oil industry in Indonesia and how the industry effects deforestation and native rights. The case focuses on a proposal forwarded by leading palm oil traders and environmental NGOs that would ban the sale of palm oil from deforested land. The proposal is opposed by elements of the government, and smaller palm oil companies. Some voices in the Indonesian government are suggesting an agreement to end deforestation needs to be scrapped. What should companies and NGOs do?

#9 - Ant Financial

Faculty Supervision: K. Sudhir in cooperation with Renmin University of China School of Business

In 2015, Ant Financial’s MYbank (an offshoot of Jack Ma’s Alibaba company) was looking to extend services to rural areas in China by providing small loans to farmers. Microloans have always been costly for financial institutions to offer to the unbanked (though important in development) but MYbank believed that fintech innovations such as using the internet to communicate with loan applicants and judge their credit worthiness would make the program sustainable. Students are asked whether MYbank could operate the program at scale? Would its big data and technical analysis provide an accurate measure of credit risk for loans to small customers? Could MYbank rely on its new credit-scoring system to reduce operating costs to make the program sustainable?

#10 - SELCO

Faculty Supervision: Tony Sheldon

The case looks at SELCO, an Indian company that specialized in bringing solar electric products to the poor. In 2009, the company needed a new growth strategy. As students consider the company’s dilemma, the raw case allows them to view video interviews with company leaders and customers, inspect maps of SELCO’s service areas, see videos describing how SELCO’s products were being used, consider articles on India’s electricity grid and socio-economic conditions, read about the company’s founding, consult the company’s organization charts, income statements and balance sheets, inspect the company’s innovative products, review the company’s business models, read news articles about the company’s success, etc.

SELCO, India's innovative solar electric company, was at a strategic crossroads. Should it go “deeper” and serve even poorer people or go “wider” and expand beyond its current geographical areas?

40 Most Popular Case Studies of 2018

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Click on the case title to learn more about the dilemma. A selection of our most popular cases are available for purchase via our online store .

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(Virtual) Case Studies in Business Essentials: Successful Project Management and Non-traditional Road to Finance with Kitty Koo-Tse (GSAS & Postdocs)

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Topic: Successful Project Management and Non-traditional Road to Finance

Where: Zoom

In this 2-hour workshop as part of Business Essential series for PhD students and postdocs.This series aims to inspire students to consider diverse career paths by featuring alums providing an insider’s view of the many ways PhDs are solving strategic problems across industries and functions.

Join us for a case-study with Kitty Koo-Kse, Director of Global Wealth and Investment Management at Bank of America Merrill Lynch . In this workshop, Kitty will share with us:

  • Her unconventional journey into the finance sector
  • Career opportunities for GSAS students and post docs
  • How to successfully manage a project and keep the team motivated

Speaker: Kitty Koo-Tse (MA, Psychology, Director at Merrill Lynch)

Kitty Koo-Tse is the Director of Global Wealth and Investment Management at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She manages strategic initiatives and business governance for Capital Markets in New York. She was formerly the COO for Electronic Trading Risk Management at Citigroup, COO for Firm Risk Management Stress Testing at Morgan Stanley, and Global Head of Product Management for Electronic Trading Business at Morgan Stanley. She was born and grew up in Hong Kong. She came to the U.S. by herself for college, and then went to Yale for her master’s degree in psychology. Her mentor was President Salovey when she was a graduate student, and she is grateful for his mentorship. Kitty champions diversity and is passionate about supporting and empowering female leaders. She held leadership position in the “Diversity & Empowerment Leadership Team” to empower women in the financial industry. She was a panelist at the Yale Women’s Empowerment Conference and a mentor in Yale Cross Campus. She is a Board member of the Yale Graduate Student Alumni Association where she is actively involved in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee. She is also an alumni interviewer for the Yale Alumni Schools Committee. She enjoys food and travelling. She loves participating in Yale Day of Service volunteering events with her family. She lives in New York with her husband and two sons.

Tags: Career Preparation Workshops , Career Development Leaders Program (CDLP) , Exploring Careers , Humanities and Social Sciences PhD Pathways , STEM PhD Pathways

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Moore v. United States: A Supreme Court case that could upend the tax code

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The definition of income —what it is and how it’s taxed—is a core issue of a Supreme Court case that could have far-reaching effects for taxpayers.

Moore v. United States, argued before the court in December, concerns the taxation of unrealized income. A finding on whether the plaintiffs, Charles and Kathleen Moore, must pay taxes on their profits as partial owners of a multinational corporation, could lead future courts to strike down other parts of the U.S. tax code. A ruling is expected this spring or summer.

Sloan Speck , associate professor of law specializing in taxation and tax policy, offers his take on the potential repercussions of the Moore v. U.S. ruling.

Sloan Speck

Associate Professor Sloan Speck

What’s at stake in this case?

First is a structural threat to the entire income tax system as we know it. Moore is setting a stage for future litigation that may have concrete stakes for ordinary taxpayers.

Second, Congress historically has defined income by statute. Congress generally taxes only realized income—where something has happened, such as a sale, to fix and identify that income. This statutory realization requirement has had a simplifying effect on how the income tax system has operated.

In Moore, the question is whether there is a realization requirement under the U.S. Constitution. If the court says there is a constitutional realization requirement or leaves that question open, which I think is extraordinarily likely, that raises a question about how the realization requirement actually operates. Is it a clear rule, or is it more like a legal standard—something that is fuzzy, hard to apply, and requires being resolved after the fact through litigation?

I think it’s a standard, and one that would, to some extent, flip income tax on its head by giving certain taxpayers a new weapon they could use to invalidate different provisions of the income tax law. And the narrow facts in Moore really give no sense of how far taxpayers could take a constitutional realization requirement.

The final stakes for Moore are with respect to wealth taxes. It's well-known that the Biden administration proposed a billionaire tax early on that has not gone anywhere, but it would have explicitly taxed unrealized gains each year and imposed a 20% minimum tax for all people with a net worth in excess of $100 million. Moore is a proxy fight about whether that provision works, and it's an effort to foreclose billionaire taxes before they are enacted and prevent future litigation over those instruments.

What are realized gains?

Realization hasn't ever been clearly defined, but it's fairly intuitive. So the basic case is: I own a piece of property that I sell to another person and get cash back. I can pay the tax that's due on that sale, and I recognize that income as the difference between the cash I have in my pocket and what I paid for the asset to begin with. It works for shares of stock and personal-use property like automobiles and your home.

But there are lots of harder questions about realization. The Moores are taxpayers who own a significant stake in a foreign corporation that's incorporated in India, and the U.S. doesn't tax foreign corporations. While the Moores owned the company, it earned money. Like a lot of corporations, it reinvested that money back into the business and never paid out any of its earnings in dividends. The Moores never got cash in their pockets with respect to their stock, but they’re better off—they’ve made money—because they own part of a successful company.

Their argument is that there was never realization. And that’s the question we're concerned with: Has there been realization because the corporation earned money, or do the Moores actually have to receive those earnings as cash in their pockets?

What would a winning verdict for the Moores mean?

It could undermine big chunks of the Internal Revenue Code. The best example that came up in Supreme Court oral arguments are the partnership tax rules. A lot of people, from high earners down, are partners in a partnership. A lot of small businesses and real estate ventures are partnerships. And the way the partnership tax rules work today is that, if the partnership earns income, the partners pay tax on that income whether they get cash or not.

And for many partners, they don’t get cash. Instead, these partners reinvest their earnings back into the business. That’s the business deal. If there is a constitutional realization requirement, then it could be unclear what rules apply to these very common business arrangements. There would be a lot of uncertainty about how to file taxes for a bunch of small businesses.

In Moore, the government essentially argues that none of this partnership income would be taxable, which is hard on federal revenues but easier on small businesses. Another possibility, however, is that these partnerships could become taxable like corporations, where there would be two levels of tax paid by the partnership and then the partners. 

That would be really bad for all of these businesses. It would dislocate the entire sector because everybody's made their business deals on the assumption you can plow your earnings back in and your partners pay the tax. If suddenly the partnership is paying tax, that's going to materially change what partnership businesses look like, and it will be extremely hard on those business operators and owners.

Finally, there are a bunch of other provisions that are effectively anti-abuse rules that operate on non-realization principles. If those anti-abuse rules were to fall, high earners would be able to avoid paying taxes even more so than they already do. And if the government needs revenue, it will need to look to middle earners. That could cause a shift and who pays what and how much.

What is the most likely ruling?

It doesn't really matter whether the Moores win or lose —that's not the important thing to watch. The outcome of this case is much less significant than the rationale the court provides and the language of the opinions, which is going to shape what happens going forward.

Like the overwhelming majority of Supreme Court decisions, this decision is likely to be bipartisan. So we should expect the opinion to be a heavy compromise between what the liberal and conservative justices want.

It’s been clear for a while that there would be litigation supported by conservative advocacy groups that would target different aspects of income tax. And the Moores were chosen. They stepped forward as a vehicle for advancing questions that have been raised among conservative commentators and advocacy groups for more than a decade.

This is not a surprising case, and its outcome is just one point on a larger arc. It’s the first step and what will probably be a long and difficult path for the government in defending current income tax law.

Even if the decision itself is not destabilizing, it will affect what Congress and the Treasury Department do because they know they will need to defend rules on this basis going forward. And that will shape the income tax law, probably in a way that shifts the burden of the income tax toward middle-income households and away from higher earners.

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CU Boulder Today regularly publishes Q&As with our faculty members weighing in on news topics through the lens of their scholarly expertise and research/creative work. The responses here reflect the knowledge and interpretations of the expert and should not be considered the university position on the issue. All publication content is subject to edits for clarity, brevity and  university style guidelines .

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