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Is social a bad idea for BPM?

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This question stems from this interesting post, Who is to Blame for Social BPM?, where Brian Reale states: "Social BPM needs to become something that BPM is not. It is like saying that email needs to become Twitter or Skype if it wants to survive into the next decade.  The point is that it is not...and that is why it will die and it will get replaced by something different."  What are your thoughts?

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  • Any human-centered process is inherently Social, only the introduction of systems can make work anti-social.

    Adding social allows for a collaboration layer on top of complex interactions/transactions, but if in the end you still just end up with more items for a traditional change management program, it won’t delight customers or unleash innovation - just another middleware layer for integration.

    You need to bake social adaptation into systems themselves to allow for safe in-flight variance and change. This requires a re-think of Process Architecture.

  • Social is collaboration, and collaboration is a critical part of the "process of process improvement". Social technology is now allowing collaboration across time zones and geographies.

    I've explained my thoughts in more detail in a recent blog http://bit.ly/lyJpBp called "Understanding Social BPM (or at least setting some context)"

  • Ian, Dave, I'm with you.
    I would revert the question: is BPM a bad idea for humans?
    Response: not in general, but it can be if you shape BPs and BPM in a stubborn and blind way.

    You should always remember that BP is a means, not an end. And when the means alone doesn't suffice, you need to expand or change the means.

    I think that social and BPM perfectly complement each other. Obviously, organizations will adopt the social aspects based on they needs.
    Read the options I see for this in the image at:
    http://www.modeldrivenstar.org/2011/09/social-enterprise-options.html

  • Social is nothing new, but the technology for collaboration and communication IS new. I've now watched integrated BPM and social systems ('baked in') that allow process users to view conversations going on at what I call the point-of-process:

    One implementation uses storyboards to convey business process as an abstract of process maps, with a running panel of social conversation on the side. Any question or comment triggers a notification to the process owner for 'real-time' support. Very powerful, but it only works when process is owned and change managed.

    At Northrop Grumman, they use social media to work in adaptive ways (watch out, ACM...you're getting subsumed) while maintaining process rigor in a system that prescribes the tasks that must be done a certain way (for compliance, safety, etc.).

    Is social a bad idea? Not at all. It is a necessary part of BPM.

  • Like everything else, Social is just an evolutionary step for BPM. Deeper and enrichened collaborative efforts will only speed up both the analysis and delivery of any BPM project. What needs to be borne in mind though is that when we think of Social it should no longer be thought of as internal/ external interaction, it's just interaction. Social removes barriers, and social processes should have no distinctions between external and internal customers and supply chains.

    What's more, as I've written many times before, BPM methodology needs to be rewritten in a social context, traditional organisational hierarchies tumble in favour of flexible structures, and process mining is not longer concerned with simple numbers but people. You can't have Social BPM without a dose of Sociology.

    So, no, social is not a bad idea for BPM, just traditional and archaic BPM is bad for Social.

    Above all else, Social is NOT just a technical layer. Machines aren't social, people are. Remember that when you're trying to sell your next release.....

  • If BPM is the methodology then Social BPM has no meaning, except maybe a more democratic governance style. If we talk about BPMS for system or software then Social is a software component on top of BPM as we find with Chatter and the like. Maybe it reduces some of the bureaucratic time lag but it won't make your business more agile if it continues to create flowcharts. But who cares ...

    Eventually, current style BPMS will simply go away as an anachronism of modern business management. Social communication technology will remain as a key element of empowering people. I propose that inside a large business there will be (maybe in ten years?) ERP with more or less rigidly defined processes and there will be a much larger process/case/collaborative/social platform linked to it that does EVERYTHING else, doing away with MS-Office, BPM, email, ECM, CRM and all other non-ERP silos. It will most of all help to define and execute business strategy.

    This platform will continuously scan and identify ontology-based data, content and information being exchanged - inside and outside the business - and recommend to people the best possible options how to deal with it without restricting them in any way, except for some compliance rules.

    Why ten years? Because the current IT staff, management and the analysts that they talk to have no imagination and no guts to go forward. Like old ladies they hang on to their hats in the wind ...

  • ... which means in the end that all of the enterprise IT might end up in the Cloud providing that process/case/collaborative/social platform. Hm, maybe it won't be ten years and all these gutless people will be out of a job ...

  • I am so glad you asked. :)

    In general, I agree with Reale's point. Social BPM, I believe, is a creation of analysts who are under pressure to continually add their own twists and enhancements to otherwise relatively stable technologies. (Prediction: next we'll be hearing about the "gamification" of BPM. You heard it here first.) But "social" isn't like ketchup: you can't make everything on your plate taste better by just pouring some on top.

    And, sorry, but it's a cop-out to say "social" is the same as "collaboration", and therefore, hey presto, BPM has been social all along! There are plenty of collaborative models that aren't "social" in the sense in which it's used today. Like the waistband of the jeans I wore in college, if you have to stretch the definition of "social" too far, it's just not a good fit.

    Having said all that: there are social features that can make a nice enhancement to BPM platforms. Adding those features doesn't magically convert those solutions into "Social BPM"—they're just nice features. But then, many disciplines—process analysis, project management, and software engineering, to name a few—have contributed to BPM. So ultimately, while there's some usefulness in looking to social networking for inspiration, let's not go overboard.

  • Max, I really like your vision here. And, in fact, what you have written is really the type of brave new world that I was hinting at in my original blog post. I like the way you flush out the concept and put a little more meat on the bones. I think this really extends what Keith was hinting at back in early 2011 in this post http://bit.ly/yVqX67, and also what Steve Wood did a good job of discussing in his post- http://bit.ly/zSi4BR

    Thanks for the feedback.

  • BPM and Social are polar opposits in many ways. However, thats not to say there isnt a time and place for both. Social can be great for collaborative functions within typical BPMS, however, we all know the saying, too many cooks spoil the broth. When we start to introduce social, no matter what we apply social too, this concept of too many cooks is a real issue, and can be highly detrimental to an organisation.

    I quite like Max's comments here, however, just because we have the potential to work in this brave new way, doesnt mean it makes business sense. We have to and MUST always remember that business has invested a lot in its current IT and they want to get maximum ROI back on their current investments - so moving to the cloud economically may not make sense for an organisation that has already invested heavily in other areas....Lets face it, most big organisations still rely heavily on good old main frames, so lets not dream that we can move into a brave new world quickly, even if ideally we all should...

  • I think we haven't seen anything yet when it comes to social and collaboration technology. This area of tech is just getting the ball rolling and sooner or later even better innovation will present itself to really fine tune the process.

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