No matter what the BPM maturity of the company is, what is the best way for a company to share and exchange processes knowledge on a continuous basis?
All get around a circle in a room with candles and have a group hug. Well, Emiel started the silly ideas. I assume he was joking, right.
I find it's a process unto itself, distilled basically as: Observe, Interview, Validate, Publish (repeat)
This is usually best accomplished by a third-party since most people don't have or want to spend the time on such things -- after all, they know what they do; what's your problem? :-)
Best practice is probably a Center of Excellence for Process Improvement and next best is a SME or Project Lead who is engaged with different areas of the business, assuming this is focused on improvement/automation. I have heard and seen great value in having a COE or SME even if using outside consultants as they are able to greatly increase the efficiency of process improvement projects and keep internal 'chaff' at a minimum. This type of role is usually a part time role, especially for smaller firms but it is a valuable role when available.
In our organization, we have monthly "Lunch and Learn" sessions led by a process owner.
The process owner is responsible for having narratives, diagrams, metrics, and associated job aids available a week prior to the session. That way everyone can participate with the same data and information.
Certainly, this is a social and collaborative process that is best done when all the right constituents are included, whether in a seance as described above, in workshops, with back-door communications (where real understanding & compromises happen), or virtually. One of the things we often hear from our customers is that they feel that so much is discussed, but they only walk away with a little bit documented or drawn out from these exercises -- with a lot of insight only gained by those in attendance. This is where the generic 'process wiki' comes in - a place to house that tribal knowledge. Our customers using Blueworks Live find that they can capture & govern the lifecycle of much more of this information and link to the rest -- they feel this is one of the best ways to exchange process knowledge in their organizations. Even then, we see folks do this within IT only for awhile, then only with BAs & grow the circle slowly. Those who seem to get the biggest bang from that exchange openly embrace business folks who want to leverage the tool to capture and share their ideas. (It is about the business, right?).
The best way to exchange process information? Capture it from the horses mouth, capture it as deeply as possible, link to other information and govern the levels of those processes from thoughts to working to guidelines for work today. And, keep it ever-green...
Create a culture of constant learning and make knowledge sharing something organic and not something 100% controlled and managed. Activities like "Lunch and Learn", talks, and formal training are a good way to promote knowledge sharing but empowering users to do it on a informal basis is also very helpful and important.
Using tools like Blueworks Live or Signavio also help a lot as they allow to create process repositories with collaborative features.
Finally, and considering Ian's post... using Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter for organizational learning and knowledge sharing is NOT a joke. If you leverage your knowledge management activities on tools that everyone use, then you are on the right way to truly create a organic learning organization.
Cannot tell if my first answer was a joke without knowing what 'process knowledge' is
Is it knowledge in a wikipedia page about 'what is process management' ?
Is it knowledge about 'what steps do we do here' ?
Is it knowledge about 'who does what with what information and supporting tools' ?
Is it knowledge about 'all the exceptions that only the oldtimers here know how to cope with' ?
Is it information about 'how the process performs'?
Is it information about 'the current state of cases in your processes'?
Is it information about 'an individual case'
There is so much to be known in process country, that even Facebook, Twitter and youtube might be good sources, or maybe Ivory tower initiatives like process centers of excellence.....
It's all about People engaging with their "Process" in a way that first they understand how the process delivers and their role. Second their views are important and can be readily incorporated into their process.
The old days of people being forced to adapted to the software needs to be reversed and once people understand “how” the new “BPM” driven adaptive software actually works in their language that new door opens. Transparency for all is key and it’s not just a one way street. Process knowledge once exposed belongs to the business but in return people can become empowered and enjoy their role in contributing in creating a good businesses?
This is the start of a new journey of a culture change but evolution not revolution as business regains control of knowledge of their processes. As I have said many times “how” knowledge is more important that “what” as far as the supporting software delivering is concerned.
Process knowledge is a “business manual”. Previously it was a thick document immediately obsolete after being printed. Right now, it is a linked and multilingual collection of wiki pages which refer to processes and processes (activities) which refer to related wiki pages. Everyone can comment, raise a problem, attached interesting cases, etc. to any page. Small editorial groups change pages for their departments.
I can remember back to the days when people used to tinker with engines and tune carburettors by hand. Then electronic ignition and fuel injection came along. Now the engine is tuned hundreds of times a second and the feedback is used to adjust the mixture to maintain the right level of emissions, power and fuel economy. Cars pollute less and are much more efficient and reliable.
We are undergoing the same transition with data. We used to guess a process, perhaps collaboratively with a few sticky notes. Then we’d set rough targets and say if it achieves that it is a good process. When it did we’d go away for five years and fix something else.
Now we have electronic process. It delivers up data in milliseconds – lots and lots of it.
So what do we do? Do we ignore it and keep on tuning by hand? Or do we build in systems which use the data to continually optimise the process?
If we have those systems, how do we manage them? Do we limit them by insisting the knowledge is limited to the level we understand or can manually manipulate? Or do we simply trust the analytics – fuel, emissions and power in the case of the car – speed, accuracy and resilience in the case of process.
The real question is what do we do if we haven’t got to the data-driven automatic optimisation stage? Well we create the best analytics we can, aggregating the data into gauges of our three key indicators. And we share this with everyone who can possibly affect these indicators, so we together can drive down the negative indicators and optimise the positive ones.
At Social Process, we do that using eXoPlatform to collaborate, using Tableau or Plot.ly to turn data from Bonitasoft into our gauges. We take the biggest problem each day, rapidly re-iterating until the performance improvements get smaller and smaller.
But it isn’t the best way – just the best we have found so far in the half-way house which is BPM.
Hm...the BEST way? on a CONTINUOUS basis?...that IS a conundrum. I agree with what was mentioned above in that people are often too busy "doing" their jobs to be interrupted by sharing/gaining knowledge about larger processes beyond their position. The knowledge they need in the moment is what matters in the short term, and that is what they will focus on. When there is time to share cross-department insight, it is usually is during a "brown bag" session that...I'm sorry...unless lunch is provided, people will often opt not to attend. To me, this isn't the best way. Publishing the information as a report or newsletter may get interested persons to take a look when they have time, but again, not very continuous. So, a Center of Excellence is one approach to make sure it is someone's job to get that enterprise/cross-departmental conversation happening continuously. It might be difficult for smaller companies to house a CoE, but it can make a difference.
To me the best on-going communication of process knowledge occurs on the job - it's in the button tooltips, in the mouseover guides, in the explanations to forms - it's basically the user being handheld and gently pushed through the process as the user performs it - and I'm not talking about Dee Dee explanations like "ooh, what does this button do?", but about real tips on how to perform the business process, why does it have to happen like this, what is the impact on the other actors, and how does the activity link to the end goal of the process. As simple as possible, as intuitive as possible.