Whither Social BPM?

  • May 13, 2010
  • Scott
  • 6 Comments

Keith Swenson weighs in on Social and BPM:

Similarly, proper use of social software will be about individuals producing, publishing and running their own processes. Not collaboration on the design phase, but designing individually, and collaborating with a completed process.  This won’t just be the BPM lifecycle using social software, it will be the elimination of the BPM lifecycle, the elimination of a design phase, the elimination of the separation between designers and workers.

How our expectations have changed in just a year – I read the above statements and agreed.  And yet, I remember a year ago even getting people to buy in to the idea of social features around designing BPM was a stretch (here’s a post from barely 9 months ago on the subject).

One thought-  social collaboration on structured processes will be important, just as Keith argues that collaboration on “user-designed” processes will be important.  As Keith put it “collaboration on the finished product” (his emphasis).  Social collaboration of users within a process could result in best practices bubbling up – much like some of the improvements discovered on factory floors by the people who work the line – but you have to have support for collecting and acting on that feedback over time.

The only part I really couldn’t agree with:

“This won’t just be the BPM lifecycle using social software, it will be the elimination of the BPM lifecycle, the elimination of a design phase, the elimination of the separation between designers and workers.”

The work will change, but I don’t believe process design goes away.  I think it just means that a rising tide lifts all boats- making more processes accessible from an ROI and skills point of view – not eliminating the need for design on a significant number of processes.  In other words, I don’t think that process collaboration turns process designers into typists whose job has become obsolete because everyone does their own word processing and typing.  I think it is a bit more like introducing productivity tools that make something that would previously have been difficult, easier.  Lowering the barriers to entry, rather than eliminating the whole discipline and process of process improvement.  However, I reserve the right to disagree with myself in a year or two as we see what the future holds! We’re still learning what “social” can mean for our businesses – too early to close our minds to a range of possibilities.

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