The Rise of "Social" BPM Tools

Scott Francis
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I prefer to call them BPM Collaboration tools.  Recently we’ve seen updates to Lombardi’s Blueprint, the release (into Beta at least) of IBM’s Blueworks (interesting choice of names, IBM), and the release of SAG’s AlignSpace. Sandy Kemsley recently reviewed both the latest release of Blueprint, and the latest from SAG Alignspace.  I believe at least the latter was based on a Webex or walk-through, rather than on actually having hands-on-access.  Good capture of the strengths and weaknesses of each.  It sounds like Alignspace is more focused on community and less on modeling, and Lombardi comes at it from a collaborative modeling “point of view”. I’m interested to see Sandy’s take on IBM’s offering as well, since she’s getting a good look at more than one tool in close proximity. This is a really valuable service the independent voices like Sandy and Bruce give us. One interesting comment on Sandy’s Blog was from Terry Schurter of Global360.  He claims that these social sites are a recipe for disaster.  Well, certainly they won’t all succeed equally.  But to claim that the feedback from the user community on these sites won’t be useful misses the boat.  Lombardi and SAG won’t need to ask their users what they think (although I’m certain they will do so), they’ll be able to see for themselves how users are using their respective sites – which features are laying fallow and which ones are drawing attention and usage.  They’ll be able to introduce a new feature and observe whether it enhances user perception or utility. Terry discounts these benefits out of hand, which I think is a mistake.  It is a mistake to think that just a few experts at each of these vendors have all the answers for what should go into a product. Having led sessions much larger than the one Terry describes (3 people), I can say definitively that there is a technique for adapting to larger groups of stakeholders and still driving progress – and two of the key ingredients are having a clear decision maker, and having an outside consultant or facilitator (someone who can’t be tarred with any particular internal politics or biases).  There are, of course, a whole host of minor adjustments to the process as you get a larger (or smaller) participation group. These social / collaborative tools should just give us better technical tools to augment what we’re already doing in conference rooms and videoconferences.