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The road to better business process management (BPM) requires process professionals to develop effective and efficient ways to engage everyone across the value chain: business stakeholders, partners, employees and customers.

Unfortunately, BPM has traditionally focused only on engaging specific silos within the internal value stream, often keeping customers, partners, and the bulk of frontline workers out of the communication loop. Left out in the cold, overlooked constituents often reach out to each other through less formal--but by no means less effective--channels in search of contextualized advice and recommendations to deliver their desired business outcomes.

Particularly within large, distributed organizations, this internal social network presents a treasure trove of influence and, better yet, an understanding of how work really gets done within organizations. To gain valuable insight, business process pros must integrate social network analysis techniques into their process improvement efforts. This means incorporating crowdsourcing analysis to better understand where process participants turn to for guidance when completing processes, in addition to identifying critical intuitive decision points within processes.

As organizations consolidate their BPM environments to support both "tamed" and "untamed" processes, crowdsourced guidance can become the key enabler for agile response and process-exception handling. This next-generation agile BPM environment must facilitate managed conversations and enable event-driven, contextualized and optimized ad-hoc processes through rich orchestration models, analytics, rules and content.

By layering these social BPM technologies over your enterprise resource management (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and other packaged business applications, you can drive real-time social guidance and recommendations and thereby achieve better business outcomes.

Action plan for agile processes

To start engineering more agile processes through real-time social guidance, business process pros should strive to:

Feed intelligence from threaded conversations into process guidance.

The most valuable interactions typically fall outside of structured business processes. Consequently, process teams should establish interactive "listening-post" groups on various communication channels—such as email, instant messaging and internal social networks—for capturing critical conversations that drive process decisions and outcomes. By providing such resources as integrated features of your various collaborative environments and integrating this intelligence with your BPM platform, you can capture critical back-and-forth conversations that may elude the formal process optimization exercises.


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