Barriers to BPM: the SharePoint Effect

Scott Francis
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BarrierstoBPM[This is the fifth in a series of posts on the barriers to BPM adoption in the enterprise]

This is almost the opposite of the Bus Brake Effect.  Where the Bus Brake Effect concerns too many vetoes and not enough yes-votes, the SharePoint Effect represents the unbridled proliferation of ungoverned, ad hoc processes using unmanageable technology.

SharePoint becomes a substitute for process, or a substitute for the Excel-based or Access-based “processes” of the past.  Of course, SharePoint is hardly the only enterprise software that has this unmanaged and ungoverned characteristic.  In small doses these might even be good adjectives, but when your core processes are unmanageable and ungoverned, or when they are undermined by unofficial SharePoint processes, you are risking your business.

The problem?

  • There’s no way to find the appropriate SharePoint site for the appropriate process or process task. If you follow a process – did you follow the right one?  No one is responsible for pruning the tree.
  • The general consensus is that SharePoint does more harm than good, as it is hard to tell which branches of the SharePoint tree are living and which are dead or fallow.
  • The real problem isn’t the use of SharePoint to support your own process, but the expectation that SharePoint will support other people in your company who your organization supports – as an interface to your group.  This isn’t that different than the old Lotus Notes databases that used to proliferate.
  • Except… often there are SharePoint servers proliferating, not just pages within SharePoint – and now you’re really at a loss for how to manage it all.

These same criticisms apply to internal wikis and many other corporate resources – but the pain really arrives when they are the primary methods for executing your processes.

Core processes need the care and feeding of your whole organization – IT, Business, Executive team.  There’s no room for these processes to just run amok, invisible to your executive team. One customer used to call these “hidden factories” of processes.  For us to exercise management by business process, we have to shine a light on the organization’s activities.

Some might ask, is the cure worse than the disease?  Are we advocating so much control that we can’t service the business’ very real needs?  And what if IT can’t meet the business’ needs and goals?  I’d submit that the happy medium is inbetween the extreme failures of bus brake and SharePoint – where it isn’t too easy to say either yes or no to process projects.

 

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