BPM is a social event

Taken from the AlignSpace blog, and written by Matt Green, it’s an interesting article about how BPM can be seen through the context of a social network…..

We’ve all experienced it. We have a project to do so we get “all the right people” into a room to kick things off. If we are lucky we have a white board available and begin to brainstorm on the project as best we can. Invariably we need run into a wall and need get more information from people who have specific knowledge. This might be Tracy in finance who knows how they process invoices, or Ben in the call center who inputs orders. It could be anyone in the organization who interacts with the project that we are working on. If we are lucky both Tracy and Ben work in the same office, and have time to work with us. If not, we have to get them on the phone. Of course Tracy does not have all of the information either so she invites Susan. What was once a small group of “the right people” has exploded into a large group all with various skill sets and functions.

I see this same scenario played out over and over again in BPM projects. It’s this complication that leads to BPM projects that take too long to implement and go over budget. BPM projects are not just about drawing boxes and connecting lines. They involve a huge amount of research and collaboration among all of the project stake holders. In fact, modeling and coding are only a small part of the entire BPM project.


Before a model can be drawn or a single line of code can be written, you need to have a firm understanding of the “as is” process and the goals for the new process. This can not be done in isolation but rather requires intense collaboration among the project participants. Every person who touches the project should be able to easily understand the goal as well as freely communicate with the other members of the team. They should also be able to easily invite others to help out or provide information.

This is where classic BPM modeling techniques and social networking comes together. Social networks have become all the rage as Facebook and LinkedIn have become household names. Users have become used to being able to connect easily with colleagues and friends and exchange ideas. This new collaboration technique can easily be applied to BPM projects. Imagine being able to invite anyone from around the company to work with you on a BPM project based on your affiliation to you or their affinity to the project. Imagine being able to have each participant easily communicate what they know to a project. Imagine being able to easily search for and locate experts in various areas based on what they have done in other projects. Think of the impact. Finally everyone from the business analyst, to the line of business owner, to the developer will be able to help define and guide a process project. The developer who will ultimately do the coding will finally be able to understand the context to what he is developing. If he has a question he can direct it to correct person at the correct time.

Social networking techniques, when applied to BPM projects, helps bridge the gap between the business world and the IT world. Social networking is about connecting people, and this is exactly what is missing in most of today’s BPM initiatives.


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