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What is the key best practice for using social effectively with BPM?

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Anne Stuart has done some excellent coverage of the 2012 Gartner BPM Summit, and this post, from the Anthony J. Bradley keynote, raises the question: What is the key best practice for using social effectively with BPM?


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  • Social can be applied to design time, run time and ongoing support (knowledge transfer). Social in design time allows process participants to collaborate on flow activities, routing, and rules with the objective of getting everything on the table (bulletin board) and deciding best use cases and final designs. Social in run time allows participants to ask questions, make comments, or task others to get the right info to make a decision (submit, approve, reject, escalte, etc). Social in support time helps everyone to learn how optimize the process and harness captured data for reporting and analytics. This type of social often happens outside the application in Customer Support portals or other knowledge repositories/communities (jive). Where ever applied, social or socializing ideas and feedback help move projects forward and ultimately optimize business applications.

  • Get everyone on the same page: use a process framework to facilitate conversations and reduce frustrating rework.

  • To me, the single most important best-practice is to use social tools only where they make the most sense, and not merely because they are social tools.

    For instance, using social for notification purposes, especially in time-critical, mobile-centered processes, can be particularly effective, such as when a BPM-based application direct-messages a manager or the next person on a task list with a status update or system alert.

  • I have just finished my presentation: "SocialBPM - hype or here to stay" at the Gartner BPM conference.

    One point was there are 3 use cases for social / collaboration approaches

    - Outside: engaging customers and partners
    - Inside1: where collaboration is required to a get a job done eg solve customer issue
    - Inside2: the process of process improvement

  • The post starts by referring to the PDSI (Process Driven Server Integration) type of BPM, one of the 7 types of BPM. PDSI does not seem closely related to Social, because it is essentially a programming tool. Setting up the strawman in this way allows the post to claim that social BPM seems like an oxymoron.

    The post then goes on to talk about the SCM (Social Content Management) style of BPM, and possibly a bit of ACM (Adaptive Case Management) style of BPM. I agree these topics are important, but you won't take a PDSI system, and make it into a SCM or ACM system. This post helps illustrate why talking about BPM as if it was one category gets in the way of having a real discussion about technology. See more at: http://social-biz.org/2012/04/25/not-to-praise-bpm-but-to-bury-it/

    Social capabilities are quite important to systems designed to support business processes. Here is a post where I enumerated 15 different aspects of a social network technology that would be relevant to supporting business processes: http://social-biz.org/2010/05/24/15-social-requirements-for-acm/

    The most important point is the one that Garth makes above: social can be used at design time, and it can be used at run time. Both are important, but the latter will have a much more dramatic transformation of the workplace.

  • I regret to express, that there is no point to set up a change agenda an let everyone use social tools to carry on work, as well define social stacks to people engage.

    Social interaction is enabled by the way people are connected. If a company has a matrix structure (opposite to a pyramid structure) where people are used to work together in projects, the change agenda by itself can work. But most of the companies have a high disciplined hierarchy and authority is clearly defined and recognized. This means in most of the companies the typical social network is a start network (boss commands and receives all the feedback). Trying to implement social tools where the person you contact most is your boss is useless. This can change in the future as new generations assume position in the company and break the silos, because they are used to work differently (co working, teleworking, on the go, always connected...).

    First is necessary to align network structure to the process spectrum played (from unstructured to structured). That is the first step. If your company has a star network and is necessary high collaboration and tacit knowledge flow, reuse and improvement, the best social stack will not enable anything. The transformation starts in the network, not in the tools. I'm wondering how you will do it without this transformation (but I might be wrong).

    Explore more the concept in this blog post: http://ultrabpm.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/new-killer-star/

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