Posted by: Derek Weeks on: July 7, 2011
It is remarkable how quickly social technologies have become the primary way that many people communicate and collaborate. Yet in many companies the use of these technologies is seen as detrimental time wasters that should be prohibited in the workspace. One of the reasons that social technologies have gotten a bad rap stems from their heritage in non-work related communication. Use of the term “social” further reinforces this perception. But, a more fundamental reason that social technologies have not achieved either the level of business endorsement or results is that these technologies have not been connected closely enough to work activities seen as generating business value. But there are huge, untapped opportunities for social technologies to deliver large business value.
In the past year or so the social term and its capabilities has been attached to BPM. Industry analysts, practitioners, vendors and experts have all contributed to the discussion of what Social BPM is and what it means. Elise Golding, Carol Rozwell and Jim Sinur wrote a very nice research brief¹ on Social BPM and defined two implementations of Social BPM—Social BPM design and Social BPM iteration. I would argue that a third implementation of Social BPM involves social process participation, absent any explicit effort to design or iterate the process.
The first and second implementations of Social BPM involve pursuing process design and ongoing improvement. Social technologies provide a more collaborative and lighter weight way to engage a broad range of people in discovering, documenting, and designing improved processes.
For example, a major problem in organizations is that many processes are neither well documented nor understood. In a typical process improvement effort a business analyst must bring together a team who they believe knows about the process. Only after dozens of meetings and several documents passed back and forth through multiple cycles, can the team then validate what the process is and start to figure out why. Now, after spending much time, effort and money, the team can finally begin to design improvements in the new process.
By closely tying social capabilities to process design with Social BPM, businesses are able to engage process owners, process participants and other stakeholders across the organization in real-time during the requirements and process definition stages of your project. Errors can be immediately identified and input from a broad range of users incorporated. Social BPM enables you to quickly and efficiently access previously untapped knowledge for the most informed and accurate process improvement. A combination of socially oriented technologies can come together with process modeling to accomplish this, including context sensitive chat, screensharing and use of the Cloud.
My discussion about Social BPM doesn’t end here. Stay tuned as I explore additional implementations of Social BPM, its future and how it can (and will) help transform business.
¹Gartner, Inc., “Social BPM: Design by Doing” by Elise Olding, Carol Rozwell and Jim Sinur, May 4, 2010.
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