1. Peter Schooff
  2. Sherlock Holmes
  3. BPM Discussions
  4. Thursday, 07 April 2016
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As was made quite clear in [url=http://bpm.com/bpm-today/in-the-forum/do-you-consider-social-bpm-a-failure]this discussion[/url], Social BPM was not exactly a resounding success. So what is the best way to handle to social aspects of a process?
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

You don’t manage collaboration. You enable it and then get out of the way. If it isn’t happening, then you should be looking for problems to remove.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 1
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Agree with Peter Hilton here:

The first we need to understand is: What are the collaborative aspects of a process? I assume meta stuff like:

reviews and authorizations - a process (description) has been created or changed and needs to be reviewed and authorized
feedback and change requests - a process is being executed and there is feedback or even change requests from the business; this needs to be captured

The only thing you could "manage" now is make sure to put stuff in place that enables the collaboration and create some guidelines for the business to use it. Just to realize that - in the end - collabroation mainly comes down to culture again :-).

  1. KM Mukku
  2. 4 years ago
  3. #1607
One can also have processes that cross organisational boundaries, where an action has to be performed by an outside organisation. Collaboration in this case need a lot cheques and balances, delays on any side will put back the process. Recently came across something like this for a service organisation.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 2
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For most knowledge-worker oriented processes, collaboration cannot be an after-thought but rather needs to be an integral part of the process. The term "Social BPM" is an unfortunate moniker as BPM is not fundamentally about being Social (eg. broadcasting your status to your friends/followers etc.).

The question is what is the best underlying model for Collaborative aspects of a process. Several candidates present themselve, viz. document-centric, task-centric or conversation-centric models.

In my opinion the conversation-centric model is the most natural model for collaborative processes. The recent explosion in "conversational commerce" is an indicator of this. This is also why most collaborative "processes" are run in email today.

The biggest flaw with traditional conversational systems such as email and chat is that they are fundamentally stateless. i.e. the state of the discussion is only implicit. For example I might be having an email conversation regarding a Vacation Request. In this case, the state of the discussion, viz. the fields, documents, tasks, checklists of the Vacation Request are implicit.

The next generation of conversational BPM will make the state of the conversation explicit. Besides making it explicit, the state of the process will be synchronized with the conversation. And the ability to see how the state has changed with each comment in the conversation is also critical.

The other advantage of a conversational model is that processes emerge naturally (in the above example, the Vacation Request 'process' may start out with no state and over time as patterns emerge, state can be added as appropriate). This is a more natural way for knowledge workers to 'do processes' rather than up-front figure everything out.

The notion of seeing how the state has changed speaks to the larger philosophy of 'ask-for-forgiveness-rather-than-permission'. Highly permissioned workflows are both difficult for non-developers to design and tend to be overly prescriptive and brittle.
  1. https://tmail21.com
  2. https://tmail21.com/why-tmail/lean-processes/
Founder and CEO, TMail21
Co-founder and CTO, One Network Enterprises
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 3
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Agree with the comments but would emphasize that these Collaborative actions can be formal where all actions as data created are tracked with full audit trail, incuding emails. However there are points where what we call informal process are important and need to allow users freedom to think and act "outside the box". However in the work environment there is still a recognised outcome that needs to be recorded. It may be that time is the only guide in which case as say milestones in time reached but no action automatic reminders or escalations can be triggered. Could also involve external events that change the needs and this can be recognised informing the users as required. Always remember where new data/information is created does require the audit trail for compliance and or audit purposes i.e. who did what when.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 4
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The fundamental shift for businesses is that they need to recognise that far more aspects are now collaborative. So they need to redesign the business with tis in mind and enable the collaborative aspects to work better.

Our business is collaborative, therefore we need Chatter / Yammer / Jive / tbbr. This is way too simplistic a perspective. It is the easy (but wrong) opt out for execs and IT.

Recent Fortune article The Hard Evidence: Business Is Slowing Down, (see link)

[i]Result of rise of technology & ‘collaboration’ tools…….” 60% of employees must consult with > 10 colleagues daily to get their jobs done. Half of that 60% need to engage more than 20 to do their work"[/i]

  1. http://fortune.com/2016/01/28/business-decision-making-project-management/
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 5
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“Managing collaboration”—We BPM folks do love our guardrails, don't we?

Let's separate a couple of issues. Collaboration in the context of an application—for example, in the context of reviewing a submission for regulatory or financial approval—was never properly the focus of “social BPM”. In any event, BPM does a pretty good job of organizing this type of work without the need for “social” enhancement.

Then there is the matter of customer engagement through social media in the context of BPM-driven applications. Such capabilities have the power to truly transform the relationship between organizations and their markets; and yet, this use case also tends to be overlooked in discussions about“social BPM”.

Instead, what seems to have received the most attention is the idea of collaboration among insider stakeholders surrounding the creation and enhancement of process-driven applications. And it is on this battelfield that the idea of“managed collaboration” ultimately met its demise. Building and improving applications is fundamentally a creative endeavor—and creativity abhors management. Around my office, for example, the best ideas arise during chance hallway encounters or unexpectedly in the midst of a conversation on an entirely different subject. Furthermore, if I have to be concerned that my contributions are being captured for later audit, well... I'm gonna just stay quiet, thank you very much. I know I'm wrong ten times for each time I'm right, but that hardly means I want that fact attested to in the record.

Scott's opinions only. Logo provided for identification purposes only.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 6
Max J. Pucher
Blog Writer
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Social BPM was a still birth as it was nothing else than lipstick on the BPM pig. I pointed this out five years ago.



Let me be blunt and to the point and not pussyfoot around the BPM pundits who don't recognize a business when they see one. A business is PURPOSEFUL COLLBORATION. The purpose is to service its customers better than the competition and that means as an individual by individuals. Hence it is always collaboration! No people, no service, no emotional connection, no loyalty, no business. We are not talking about manufacturing, ok? So not the 'collaborative aspects' are the outlier, but the artificially created processes are. A business never follows a process but it should collaborate to achieve goals, that can be seen as units of work. The completion of a flow diagram does not ensure the achievement of a goal. One can do BPM on a very high level that is far above automation and put into each task box a goal to be achieved. People then collaborate to achieve those goals. It is no longer BPM.

BPM in all its forms is either a kind of application development or dumbing down work to the point that cheap and replaceable staff can do the job. Yes, we will get back into whether this is also true for 'BPM - The Methodology'. BPM needs a methodology because it makes no sense otherwise. Why would a business kill its own capabilities, innovative powers and its workforce with BPM and SixSigma? Only when its management is inept and clueless and listens to consultants who have never run a business themselves.

At my banks, I hardly ever can get the answer to a question or the completion of a request from a single person. They often call 5 people until there is an agreement of what to do. And these things can't be encoded into a process because I am an individual in a special situation and so is everyone else. Dumbing that down makes the service the bank provides easily replacable and not competitive regardless of how cheap and correct it is in its limited ability.

All these things in the above we adress with ACM Adaptive Case Management. Users hardly ever need a process and when they do it is done by IT and it is really a simple application linked into the goal achievement pattern of the case. Users rather need to know which goals they are supposed to achieve in a particular customer service situation. They can call in anyone to collaborate on the goal achievement. THere will be a complete record of who did or recommended what and the whole things can take place online without physial contact, but phone and people contact can be part of it without breaking the process. There is no outlier in ACM. There is no bad process. Every goal achieved is a learning experience and reusable for the business.

Live streams, email, Twitter and Facebook are all 'open collaboration'. There is no underlying business purpose. But it is amazing how much I can achieve by using Whatsapp and the main problem is that I do not have a record of who communicated about what in regards to particular customer and goal. My focus is to create a business ontology that enables the description of goals and rules in a non-ambiguous way for the collaboration. That will increase the quality and not a dumbed down flow diagrams. 

Social BPM saw the collaboration happening at process design when that is absolute nonsense. Achieving goals IS THE COLLABORATION and it will replace the silly notion of highly automated and error free processes at some point in time. Maybe I can write a similar post about that in another five years time when all the BPM hacks have retired.
This just in, snorting coffee through your nose burns. Made my day brother Pucher, made my day.
  1. John Morris
  2. 4 years ago
  3. #1606
Outstanding insights!

May I suggest though that in eloquently describing "purposeful collaboration" that you are describing a craft manufacturing model?

In other words a model where we "muddle through"? Certainly this describes a lot of life and business. And you are certainly correct about the misapplication and premature application of aging and inflexible BPM technologies to poorly understood business processes.

However, I'm not convinced that so much work around the world is so unique that it cannot be modeled and abstracted into helpful automation technology. Your suggestion of rules and goals as heuristics is a good start. After a while I think people realize that a lot of collaboration is unnecessary burden and overhead and that sometimes we don't need to be creative. And that lots of things can be helpful understood and performed as systematic manufacturing.

As for your definition of business, "purposeful", absolutely. But "collaboration" is derivative; I suggest alternatively "purposeful performance of work". Work, i.e. transformation of inputs into outputs, preferably creating value, is the meaning of business. An emphasis on work allows us both to pivot away from unnecessary collaboration, I think.
"Users rather need to know which goals they are supposed to achieve in a particular customer service situation. They can call in anyone to collaborate on the goal achievement [...] Every goal achieved is a learning experience and reusable for the business."

made my day...

I'd kindly invite you to one of my current customers... where old people need to input data into a web form... they are so slow and clumsy, that THEIR BROWSER SESSIONS EXPIRE!

And you talk of the new age where all users are empowered to collaborate and learn freely outside the confines of processes, rules and systems...

I gotta admit, you smoke really powerful stuff... or you really work and live in Wonderland. Congratz on either case!
Bogdan did kind of oppose to what I wrote, but then he confirms it by saying that what is currently happening in the real world is hardly process oriented at all. And yes, so many business are stuck on old software they can't get rid of and partially because no one knows in management what the processes look like. The people who do them know regardless of what means they are using to execute them. No one is being trained to use Facebook and no one is trained to use mobile apps. So why is that not applied in a business sense? Why do people have to be forced to work in a pre-coded way when they could work like they know anyhow and do it their way as long as they achieve the defined goals? ACM is a high level form of process management that does not focus on flow diagrams unless backend orchestration or data entry wizards are needed. It focuses on suggesting or mandating goal achievement. Just like people know what to do with a Todo calendar entry they find it not too hard to work towards a goal. And then just like on Facebook they can add other people to help them achieve that. Why do you think Slack is so popular? It is a means for collaboration. ACM just has more application integration features and can deal with business content. And it will be these tools that will kill the current BPM industry, whether you like it or not.

And in terms of slow data entry or other unproductive ways of people communicating, it will be the abilities of modern software related to content and voice recognition that will bring a huge step forward to collaborative environments. The world is about uniqueness and diversity and not about statistical similarities that are in most cases quite irrelevant. A process that is nearly right is still WRONG. Collaboration is about effectiveness and not efficiency, but being effective each time the first time is a lot more efficient than being efficiently wrong.
Again, everything sounds fine until you hit the tarmac. These guys are supposed to enter information from an invoice, maybe 3 lines. There's nothing complicated about the procedure or the tool, it's a simple form with 3 lines, each with 3 fields.

Don't tell me I should buy Kofax to scan hundreds of types of invoices (would take more to correct the capture than to manually input the data) or dictate their content in Romanian language (recognition not reliable, if ever available), or ask the vendors to do EDI (EDI is dead, remember? and most vendors don't even have email addresses). These options do not exist and will not exist, for a very long time, in this part of the world, in this industry etc etc. Full stop.

So, what then?

Do I ask these old dudes to fire up Slack to... input invoices that match requisitions?
Again, our argumentation is a bit surreal. You are arguing that the local authorities should remove the guardrails from those stairs, because you've seen some young joggers there and it really bothers them - they know better. I am arguing that there's a lot of old dudes who find those guardrails helpful.

Unfortunately, 80% of our world still finds guardrails helpful, and this is true in business as well.

So, yes, BPM maybe be guardrails, it prescribes execution instead of giving out pink freedom vouchers - guess what, there's a ton of people that expect to be told what to do and are very uncomfortable figuring it our on their own.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 7
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My reply is based on the understanding that

1) Business process is explicitly defined coordination for guiding activity flows. This means that any business process is an agreed plan which may include some variants and may be adapted during its execution.

2) BPM is a process-based management discipline. In other words, a coherent set of rules for the better management (of the enterprise functioning in support of the enterprise goals) via business processes.

Coordination may be weak (crowd) or strong (army), imperative (working instruction) or declarative (a set of constrains), explicit (as state laws or directives) or implicit (tacit, social), etc. Collaboration is a form of coordination and various forms of coordination are supported by various coordination techniques (see ref1).

Thus the Best Way to Manage the Collaborative Aspects of a Process is to provide a coherent set of various coordination techniques in the same environment (i.e. a BPM-suite tool). 


  1. http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2014/03/coordination-techniques-in-bpm.html
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