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How would you define social BPM?

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Social BPM has come up quite a bit on the forum, but to take a step back, what exactly are we talking about when we talk about social BPM?  So how would you define social BPM?

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  • To me it's the same as BPM itself, it's broken into Social BPM the tool, and Social BPM the method.

    The tool should allow greater collaboration between process owners, participants, users, process experts, architects for managing and improving the organisation,

    The method is about increasing the flow of information and creating an adaptive enterprise with more open lines of communication, loosening the tiers of hierarchy and creating a more 'networked' approach to the internal company.

    Use them both and you truly will have a new kind of business entity, one without the other is like leading the cart horse to an empty water trough.

  • A topic close to my heart! It depends how you look at it; there is Social BPM as it is today and captured nicely by Adam Deane here: http://wp.me/pPwZ5-1bt

    And then there is what Social BPM could/should be in the future. And as a commenter on my own blog pointed out (http://wp.me/p1KGaW-a) at some point the real value that 'social' brings to BPM will eventually be part of mainstream BPM.

    So Social BPM is really just the term used for this improvement cycle in BPM.

  • First, the main office sends a tweet out with the production schedule, which the plant manager enters into Farmville and invites the factory floor to join him on his Farm. Then as each assembly line station completes their task, they FB Poke the next guy in line, who adds them to their Google+ circles to signify the goods are ready for sale. Excess inventory gets posted on a MySpace wall.

  • Taken from the glossary of the new book: Social BPM: Work, Planning and Collaboration Under the Impact of Social Technology

    social BPM - Leverage social networking tools and techniques to extend the reach and impact of process improvement efforts.

    social network analysis - Pinpoint historical activity patterns within social networks through the statistical mining of complex behavioural data sets.

    social process guidance - Apply crowdsourcing and social network analysis techniques to deliver real-time contextual advice and guidance for completing a process task or activity.

    social software - A class of software systems that allows users to communicate, collaborate, and interact in many flexible ways. Generally, such software allows users to form their own relationships with other users and then exchange messages, write notes, and share media in different ways.


  • Social BPM is currently undergoing definition, thus all of the arguments to and fro. For me, there are multiple aspects to "Social BPM" that include the following (I'm choosing my top three):

    Collaboration - Not new. There are many products that have allowed collaboration for many years, but there is an opportunity now to put user-friendly, continuously-updated information alongside business process. Doing this through "Twitter for the Enterprise" in the form of Jabber and Jive-type products is a mistake, I believe. The chaos that is created by having just another stream of information is greater than the value of simply having the capability. Social BPM allows the common language of business (process) to be aligned with the conversation that take place. I see a hashtag framework developing that will help coordinate the streams in a meaningful way.

    Participation - Newish. Even those not directly involved in a particular business process or its change and improvement can follow what is happening. This will make organizations much more end-to-end in view, which can only be good, as silos kill the transparency of the value chain. As more companies work both inside and outside their physical walls, the ability to have greater participation means new things.

    Feedback - New. The ability to gain implicit feedback (tracking of useability, relevance) and explicit feedback (user to owner) on business processes changes the dynamic of business process from an expert-to-user system to a userexpert interaction. Where this is going isn't clear yet, but it is enormous in its potential impact.

    There are many other possibilities, but these three are the top of the mind things that for me define Social BPM

  • I recently posted a blog about Social BPM and it starts off with Forrester’s Clay Richardson definition. He is credited with coining the term in late 2009. He described it as “processes developed and improved through the use of social technologies and techniques.”

    Read more here http://insights.pointsourcellc.com/2011/08/10/social-bpm-breaking-down-the-barriers-between-developers-and-process-users/

    @christopher taylor - I agree with your point that Social BPM is currently undergoing definition

    Simply put, I would define Social BPM as the infusion of social technologies into the business process in ways which unlock the intellectual capital and unstructured communications of its participants.

    @sandy carter – my definition was inspired by your talks and your soon to be released book “Get Bold! Using Social Media to Create a New Type of Social Business”

  • @theo I like your tool/method approach. It makes a lot of sense to me.

    @keith Extending the reach and impact of process improvement efforts, I couldn't agree more.

    @christopher/@esther Ditto, the social BPM definition continues to evolve.

    From a methodology perspective, social BPM appears to be a term for how process improvement efforts should be undertaken. Effective process improvement needs social interaction - collaboration, participation, and feedback (as described by @christopher).

    From a tool perspective, returning to @theo's comments, social software by widening the band of interaction improves the "social BPM" methodology, but can't replace it, which is what I see many organizations attempting to do.

  • There have been a number of forums in which this definition type of effort has been occurring. To me, the interesting conversation should shift towards how is all this social (which is hear to stay and will soon stop being mentioned in front of "BPM" which will go back to being just "BPM") changing the role of a BPM professional? If everyone is empowered through social to document and improving processes, then how is the process professional evolving?

  • To me, Social BPM basically means transferring the hidden value of social relations to the (broad) field of enterprise organization.
    In practice, this means allowing collaborative process improvement and collaborative process execution.

  • @Mihnea it's more along the lines of process becoming less prescriptive and allowing workers more freedom to choose how they execute it. Where appropriate.

    The change for the process professional will be to understand how to capture process that provides the right degree of detail for the right situation. What's more, it will be more social because any analysis or improvement effort must involve the workers themselves.

    I do not see all workers documenting their own processes. It's only us geeks here that get excited about boxes and lines. For everyone else that would just be a pain.

  • I propose that we are slowly gaining an understanding of how evolving social complexity drives innovation through emergence, which simplistic methodologies of strategic planning, business and process management fail to take into account. The surprising realization is that social complexity is not an unwanted side effect, but it is actually the only path to achieve continuous innovation. Complexity produces however unease in people who try to exert control. Emergence seems to insult their intelligence when they should understand that emergence created human intelligent capability.
    It is the above understanding of emergence that should have profound impact on process management as we clearly observe the social system of a business and try to describe it in various ways—i.e. with process flowcharts. We need to however realize that emergence is a function that can’t be causally described or controlled.
    Take for example product innovation from Apple and its iOS developer community that is driven by highly motivated individuals who thrive on autonomy. There is no change methodology that forces individuals to do anything except for some guiding rules. One APP may be radically new, but it represents a gradual improvement of the Apple mobile ecosystem if it finds ADOPTION with consumers.
    I imagine a social BPM platform to be a ‘Process AppStore’ for your business that allows business people to simply create and adapt resources (content), activities, goals, targets, rules and data connectivity from a library of easy-to-use templates that they can more or less recombine at will.
    While ‘simple for the business user’ means to provide understandable, reliable, predictable, repeatable, inter-connectable and low-unit-cost process resources it is wrong to assume that therefore all end-to-end processes must be optimized for lowest cost and rigidly encoded to fulfill the above criteria. Social BPM empowers people to embrace socially emerging complexity. The key to success is however user guidance, goal-orientation, process transparency and performer and customer ratings which allow the selection and reuse of goal-achieving activities.

  • When I think of social BPM, I think of several dimensions that add significant value.
    Let’s say there is a 20/80 rule between structured and unstructured dimensions in any work environment. Let’s say this has perhaps always been the case. What’s changed? Well technology has caught up, providing coverage 80/20. Technology now makes the outside world very tangible and external influences are now so pervasive and interwoven with our minute by minute existence both in the work place and outside it. What’s more events can now catapult from one side of the globe to the other that the speed of influence to impact is significant to alter business outcomes, and if understood, can be the difference between business success and failure.

    So technology, including social media, now captures the previously untapped resources of this social aspect of our working lives. Much of the unstructured is the social dynamic that’s provided context, influences, indeed sometimes determines outcomes. If I am able to accommodate all aspects of social, structured, dynamic then I can start to develop a true understanding of what works. In a practical example, say a Lease renewal process, by incorporating the social in the audit trail we see how an unrecognised stakeholder informally passes on tacit information and significantly influences the success of renewal. Am I more capable of improving this process armed with this information?

    So I suppose Social BPM, from a technical integration perspective, must mean a convergence of social media with and within BPMS.

    Another significant value add is the possibilities that social media add to business process. These are endlessly mind blowing; almost an inexhaustible pool of opportunity which we see unfolding in the mainstream as we go about our lives. One example discussed at the recent Gartner BPM Summit in Sydney was the travelling executive who tweeted his lost luggage and change of flight requirements to NZ Airways only to have them respond promptly to an answer to his problems; Now you may say that was a coincidence of events not a pattern but I say not; what we see hear is a change in behaviour from buyers, expectancy, plus a systemic change in process from a corporate mainstream business seeking to exploit growth and loyalty in the very competitive business traveller market.
    This Executive is now an avid fan plus the example highlights how businesses must use these mediums to listen and exploit.

    Now If I take this to businesses I deal with I start to run amok with ideas; for example, a services business that maintains parks and reserves for Councils, already very savy, incentivises its staff to spot issues before the public for which it runs an incident and helpline service. Why not set up a Corporate Twitter account and ‘listen’ on public comments about the facilities and use? What about a social media site where the public can upload comments of photos, likes, dislikes, meet and greet, book and share. Link this to its business processes to leverage this in terms of improving service, and ultimately contract renewal and growth.

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