Social BPM: Social Technology for Competitive Advantage

September 27, 2012 1 comment

The unprecedented growth of online, feature rich collaboration platforms such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter has changed the way individuals communicate and connect in both a personal and professional context. Couple this with the timely, albeit slower, response by enterprise-level software Vendors to incorporate similar features in their core products, and we see further erosion of the demarcation between personal and private use of IT systems. This movement is evidenced by the extension to functionality of leading Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Process Management system (BPMS) providers, especially in the emerging cloud computing paradigm. “In the process deployment field, social and business process integration is emerging also in industry, as several vendors are proposing integrated social BPM suites” (Brambilla, Fraternali et al. 2011). The emerging paradigm of social business, described by IBM (2011) as integrating “the collective knowledge of people-centric networks to accelerate decision making, strengthen business processes, and increase innovation that matters” is further evidence of this phenomenon.

Known as Digital Natives, “the next generation of employees expect to be able to configure their own environment to suit their working style, to collaborate with others at any point in a business process where they see fit, and to combine information from multiple internal and external sources in order to accomplish their tasks” (Kemsley 2010). This emerging breed of employee provides internal capabilities that have not previously been exploited by the enterprise. Further, competitive organisations have the opportunity to leverage off the network effect of connected consumers as “Social networking is more and more considered as crucial for helping organizations harness the value of informal relationships and weak ties, without compromising the consolidated business practices embedded in conventional BPM solutions” (Brambilla, Fraternali et al. 2011). Organisations have the technology and the opportunity to utilise their emerging Digital Natives to proactively engage online with current and potential consumers to inform their business decisions.

According to Martinho and Rito-Silva (2011), “Business Process Management is considering new approaches that use collaborative environments to involve all types of business process stakeholders in the improvement of the organization’s business functions.” One of the evolving approaches is a field of research termed “social BPM”. A recent definition proposed by Brambilla, Fraternali et al., (2012) captures the current view of the field, “Social BPM fuses BPM with social software, with the aim of enhancing performance by means of a controlled participation of external stakeholders to process design and enactment”. Typically, social BPM research has focused on the use of Web 2.0 applications internally within an organisation to enhance the analysis or modelling phases of the BPM lifecycle. As the concept of social BPM is now maturing, we must move beyond just collaborative modelling and towards the core goal of BPM, that is to “create a process-centric, customer-focused organization that integrates management, people, process and technology for both operational and strategic improvement” (Goeke and Antonucci 2011). It is when we take a more strategic view of how the capabilities of social technology can be applied to business processes that we may see opportunities for competitive advantage.

Social BPM must mature from being just an internally focused collaborative design approach to being a fully integrated practice of embedding the wisdom of the organisational ecosystem into business processes. It is on this basis I posit that by using relevant, contextual information sourced from social technology, organisational business processes can be triggered, enhanced and potentially transformed. Further, the coupling of the rich sources of information available in the business ecosystem and organisational internal capabilities may ultimately provide strategic insight and competitive advantage. As “Organizations are beginning to understand the benefits of incorporating collaboration into their business processes” (Kemsley 2010), technology and management practices are changing accordingly. Through the adoption of these social practices, an organisation may gain insight to the explicit and implicit requirements of their customer base. Early identification of customers and their needs can be utilised for competitive advantage.

Social BPM has emerged as a way of exploiting the “weak ties between people and implicit enterprise know-how to improve activity execution and disseminating of knowledge” (Brambilla, Fraternali et al. 2011). These “weak ties aim to motivate spontaneous interactions between social actors and to create new perspectives on solving problems.” (Wang, Greaseley et al. 2011). However, “BPM is not as simple as managing processes contained within one company but within a network of suppliers and customers” (Janiesch, Matzner et al. 2011). To support the goal of utilising BPM to be a “customer-focused organisation” (Goeke and Antonucci 2011), an enterprise should adopt social technology to proactively engage consumers within a familiar online environment, where these individuals are increasingly spending time and developing a sense of community.

The concept of micro-blogging with an application such as Twitter is gaining popularity as the “service is simple, easy to use and its success has company executives wondering if using the short message service in their Intranets would benefit organisational information sharing and communication” (Riemer 2010). Further (Böhringer 2011) suggests that “it is blogging, especially microblogging, that is of great interest to BPM, as it follows an activity-driven, time-based approach of interaction management”. As a reflection of the applications maturity, Twitter has evolved from its initial scope of being a personal social networking service to now prompt the user at login to “Find out what’s happening, right now, with the people and organizations you care about.”[1] The inclusion of organisations in this statement is a strong reflection of the changing usage pattern for this application.

Twitter is an ideal IT communication medium as “the technical access barrier can be regarded as very low and at least from a pure technical and ease of consumption viewpoint in first world countries practically as non-existent” (Rosemann, Anderson et al. 2011). Secondly, microblogs such as Twitter “do not have any significant price-based constraints that would exclude users” and finally there are no “significant contractual constraints that would exclude end users” (Rosemann, Anderson et al. 2011). Twitter has several unique characteristics not least of which is the limitation on any message to 140 characters; this is a major point of difference from most other social media platforms. This restriction forces the content of the message to typically be summarised, concise and focused on a particular event. Further the sheer volume of Twitter messages sent each day (340 million[2]), and the ability to conduct data mining and analysis on these transactions, provides a rich source of interaction and contextual information for interested organisations. Twitter’s ability to send information in a real-time directed manner, the ability to label content through the use of #hashtags, and the connectivity provided by mobile technology combine to make this a truly unique application.

To date there have been several studies that have investigated the relationship between internal collaboration platforms (such as Yammer) and the organisation. Findings from research by Riemer (2010) are informative but it is recognised there are fundamental differences between private (internal) and public (external) microblog networks. They have discovered that “microblogging in the corporate context is vastly different to its public equivalent” (Riemer 2010). And “The different usage patterns observed on public, leisure-related social network systems (SNS) and business related SNSs indicate that different social transactions are executed on different SNSs” (Richter 2010). Whilst the differences between private and public microblogging is recognised, “in both cases the underlying technology is quite similar” however “appropriation and use in a corporate context are structured by the needs of the tasks at hand and by a shared group context” (Riemer 2010).

Some limitations must be acknowledged, it is recognised that this approach to “collaboration is also not suited to every business process, particularly those governed by strict regulations, or those performed by inexperienced workers or outsourced participants. The decision to include collaboration in a process – or even in a single step within a process – must consider process governance requirements, the experience of the participant, and the nature of the work” (Kemsley 2010). Further, as mentioned by Riemer (2010), “while simplicity is often seen as a key success factor (e.g. Passant et al. 2008, Netskills 2010, Zhao & Rosson 2009), microblogging is not without controversy. Critics argue that with Twitter an unprecedented mass of meaningless information is created (Pear Analytics 2009)”. These observations support the intent of this research i.e. that these digital interactions with customers must be selective, managed and ultimately add value to both the customer, and strategically to the organisation.

As mentioned by Trkman (2010), “For forty years the issue of fit between an organization and its strategy, structure, processes, technology and environment has been a basis for theory construction and research (Kanellis et al., 1999)”. I propose that by applying the unique capabilities of social technology to organisational processes, the internal capabilities of an organisation could be utilised for competitive advantage. These dynamic capabilities of an organisation have been defined by Teece, Pisano et al., (1997) as “the ability to integrate, build, and reconfigure internal and external competencies to address rapidly changing environments”. Further, “The competitive advantage of firms is seen as resting on distinctive processes, shaped by the firm’s asset positions (such as the firm’s portfolio of difficult-to-trade knowledge assets and complementary assets), and the evolution path it has adopted or inherited” (Teece, Pisano et al. 1997). They purport that “wealth creation in regimes of rapid technological change depends in large measure on honing internal technological, organizational, and managerial processes inside the firm” (Teece, Pisano et al. 1997). Thus, “Dynamic capabilities reflect an organization’s ability to achieve new and innovative forms of competitive advantage given path dependencies and market positions (Leonard-Barton, 1992)” (Teece, Pisano et al. 1997). I posit that based on contextual, event focused information provided by social technology, these “Dynamic capabilities enable firms to create new products and processes and respond to changing market conditions” (Helfat 1997).

Justification for the selection of dynamic capabilities theory as applicable is offered by Trkman (2010) who quotes Vaidyanathan & Devaraj (2008), “The quest for the achievement of sustainable competitive advantage from BPM can best be described by the DCs‘ theory. This theory attempts to bridge the shortcoming of a resource-based view by adopting a process approach. DCs are a buffer between firm resources and the changing business environment and help a firm to adjust its resource mix and thereby maintain the sustainability of the firm‘s competitive advantage”. Further, according to Wade and Hulland (2004), information systems resources (such as a service like Twitter) may take on many of the attributes of dynamic capabilities, and thus may be particularly useful to firms operating in rapidly changing environments. Further support of social technology as a dynamic capabilities enabler is provided by Eisenhardt and Martin (2000) who state that “Real-time information also builds intuition about the marketplace such that managers can more quickly understand the changing situation and adapt to it (Eisenhardt, 1989)”.

Teece, Pisano et al. (1997) propose that organisational capabilities and the renewal of competencies in reaction to the business ecosystem are “intimately tied to the firm’s business processes, market positions, and expansion paths.” Further “Dynamic capabilities also rely more on real-time information, cross-functional relationships and intensive communication among those involved in the process and with the external market” (Eisenhardt and Martin 2000). As mentioned by Weill, Subramani et al., (2002), “Enterprises increasingly link to customers and business partners through electronic channels” and “integrating all the channels to deliver a single picture of the customer’s relationship with the enterprise is a challenge”. Weill, Subramani et al., (2002) also define strategic agility as “the set of business initiatives an enterprise can readily implement” and their research “demonstrates a significant correlation between strategic agility and IT-infrastructure capability”. The consumption of Twitter will support strategic agility as “the capability to change depends on the ability to scan the environment, to evaluate markets and to quickly accomplish reconfiguration and transformation ahead of the competition” (Zahra and Nielsen 2002).

By utilising the unique characteristics of social technology in the context of business processes, opportunities may arise to enhance organisational dynamic capabilities. It is through this strategic agility that competitive advantage can be obtained. This view is supported by Teece (2011) who writes “Dynamic capabilities can usefully be thought of as belonging to three clusters of activities and adjustments: (1) identification and assessment of an opportunity (sensing); (2) mobilization of resources to address an opportunity and to capture value from doing so (seizing); and (3) continued renewal (transforming). These activities are required if the firm is to sustain itself as markets and technologies change”. Chesbrough (2003) further argues “that organizations need to explore new pathways to systematically make use of know-how that lies outside of an organization’s boundaries through new forms of collaboration (Feller et al., 2008; von Hippel, 2001; Walsh and Deery, 2006)” (Niehaves and Plattfaut 2011).

In recent work by Teece (2011) he states that “value can flow to the enterprise from the astute creation, combination, transfer, accumulation, and protection of intangible assets. Such assets are the new “natural resources” of the global economy”. Teece also suggests that some classes of “intangible assets are technological know-how, business process know-how, customer and business relationships, reputations, organizational culture and values, as well as formally identified intellectual property” (Teece 2011). By inference, these new assets, such as organizational social technology interactions, should be nurtured and applied so that value can be derived in support of an organizations unique dynamic capabilities. This is further supported by Teece’s view that “Business-model innovations are critical to success in unsettled markets where traditional revenue and pricing models are no longer applicable. The Internet allows and requires business model innovation” (Teece 2011). Finally, a closing statement by Trkman (2010), “The company should embrace change to enhance its competitive advantage; however, it should carefully align its business processes (supported with the proper implementation of IT) with its environment and assure the flexibility and continuous adaptations of its core processes. It should therefore establish which business processes are key processes and contribute to the competitive advantage”. Competitive organisations are now in a position to leverage these new corporate assets to inform strategy and maintain their competitive advantage.

References

Böhringer, M. (2011). Emergent Case Management for Ad-hoc Processes: A Solution Based on Microblogging and Activity Streams Business Process Management Workshops. M. Muehlen and J. Su, Springer Berlin Heidelberg. 66: 384-395.

Brambilla, M., P. Fraternali, et al. (2011). A Notation for Supporting Social Business Process Modeling Business Process Model and Notation. R. Dijkman, J. Hofstetter and J. Koehler, Springer Berlin Heidelberg. 95: 88-102. Also in: Social BPM, Work, Planning, and Collaboration under the Impact of Social Technology, Future Strategies Inc., Book Division, Lighthouse Point FL, USA (2011)

Brambilla, M., P. Fraternali, et al. (2012). BPMN and Design Patterns for Engineering Social BPM Solutions Business Process Management Workshops. F. Daniel, K. Barkaoui and S. Dustdar, Springer Berlin Heidelberg. 99: 219-230. Also in: Social BPM, Work, Planning, and Collaboration under the Impact of Social Technology, Future Strategies Inc., Book Division, Lighthouse Point FL, USA (2011)

Eisenhardt, K. M. and J. A. Martin (2000). “Dynamic Capabilities: What Are They?” Strategic Management Journal 21(10/11): 1105-1121.

Goeke, R. J. and Y. L. Antonucci (2011). “”Antecedents to Job Success in Business Process Management: A Comparison of Two Models”.” Information Resources Management Journal (IRMJ) 24(1): 46-65.

Helfat, C. E. (1997). “Know-how and asset complementarity and dynamic capability accumulation: The case of R&D.” Strategic Management Journal 18(5): 339-360.

IBM (2011). “Using IBM Social Business to Take Your Business Relationships to the Next Level: A Game Changer for Small, Medium, and Large Businesses.” An IBM Redguide publication.

Janiesch, C., M. Matzner, et al. (2011). A Blueprint for Event-Driven Business Activity Management Business Process Management. S. Rinderle-Ma, F. Toumani and K. Wolf, Springer Berlin / Heidelberg. 6896: 17-28.

Johnson, S., M. Thompson, et al. (2012). “The Guide to Social Media Monitoring.” Community ebook.

Kemsley, S. (2010). Enterprise 2.0 Meets Business Process Management Handbook on Business Process Management 1. J. v. Brocke and M. Rosemann, Springer Berlin Heidelberg: 565-574. Also in: Social BPM, Work, Planning, and Collaboration under the Impact of Social Technology, Future Strategies Inc., Book Division, Lighthouse Point FL, USA (2011)

Martinho, D. and A. Rito-Silva (2011). ECHO An Evolutive Vocabulary for Collaborative BPM Discussions Business Process Management Workshops. M. Muehlen and J. Su, Springer Berlin Heidelberg. 66: 408-419.

Niehaves, B. and R. Plattfaut (2011). “Collaborative business process management: status quo and quo vadis.” Business Process Management Journal 17(3): 384-402.

Ploesser, K., C. Janiesch, et al. (2009). “Context change archetypes : understanding the impact of context change on business processes.” Australasian Conference on Information Systems (ACIS).

Rahman, M. A., S. Hamdan, et al. (2010). Context-aware social networks mashup: A personalized web perspective. Instrumentation and Measurement Technology Conference (I2MTC), 2010 IEEE.

Richter, D., Riemer, K., & vom Brocke, J. (2010). “Social Transactions on Social Network Sites: Can Transaction Cost Theory contribute to a better understanding of Internet Social Networking? .” Paper presented at the 23rd Bled eConference, Bled, Slovenia.

Riemer, K. a. R., Alexander (2010). “Tweet Inside: Microblogging in a Corporate Context.” BLED 2010 Proceedings. Paper 41.

Rosemann, M., M. Anderson, et al. (2011). “Digital complementary assets.” Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems 2011.

Swenson, K. D., N. Palmer, et al. (2011). “Taming the Unpredictable. Real World Adaptive Case Management: Case Studies and Practical Guidance “. Also in: Social BPM, Work, Planning, and Collaboration under the Impact of Social Technology, Future Strategies Inc., Book Division, Lighthouse Point FL, USA (2011)

Teece, D. J. (2011). “DYNAMIC CAPABILITIES: A GUIDE FOR MANAGERS.” Ivey Business Journal Online

Teece, D. J., G. Pisano, et al. (1997). “Dynamic Capabilities and Strategic Management.” Strategic Management Journal 18(7): 509-533.

Trkman, P. (2010). “The critical success factors of business process management.” International Journal of Information Management 30(2): 125-134.

Wade, M. and J. Hulland (2004). “Review: The Resource-Based View and Information Systems Research: Review, Extension, and Suggestions for Future Research.” MIS Quarterly 28(1): 107-142.

Wang, Y., A. Greaseley, et al. (2011). Combining ERP Systems with Enterprise 2.0 ENTERprise Information Systems. M. M. Cruz-Cunha, J. Varajão, P. Powell and R. Martinho, Springer Berlin Heidelberg. 219: 198-207.

Weill, P., M. Subramani, et al. (2002). “Building IT infrastructure for strategic agility.” MIT Sloan Management Review 44(1): 57-65.

Zahra, S. A. and A. P. Nielsen (2002). “Sources of Capabilities, Integration and Technology Commercialization.” Strategic Management Journal 23(5): 377-398.


[1] Twitter login (accessed 23/05/2012) https://twitter.com/

[2] What is Twitter? (accessed 23/05/2012) https://business.twitter.com/basics/what-is-twitter/

[3] Plugtree: http://www.plugtree.com/event-driven-business-process-management-in-jbpm5/

Categories: Uncategorized

Business Process Management beyond Boundaries? – A Multiple Case Study Exploration of Obstacles to Collaborative BPM

December 13, 2011 1 comment

Presented at HICSS2011 this research paper by Niehaves and Henser takes a close look at the importance of  business process collaboration external to the firm, and the obstacles which must be overcome for this to be successful. Through a qualitative analysis of three different organisations they seek to answer their research question of “What are potential obstacles that may restrain organizations from expanding their BPM from an endocollaborative to an omnicollaborative state?”.

To further define the term “collaboration” the authors introduce three theoretical degrees of BPM centric collaboration:

  1. Non-collaborative BPM characterised by individual uncoordinated attempts at business process activities.
  2. Endocollaborative BPM – BPM activities undertaken wholly within a department or organisation.
  3. Omnicollaborative BPM involving stakeholders both internal and external to the organisation.

The authors have used these definitions as a base in their investigation into the obstacles to communication between internal and external process stakeholders. Interestingly they also acknowledge the impact of ISO9001 certification upon an organisation’s BPM initiative (refer Benner, M. J. “Dynamic or Static Capabilities? Process Management Practices and Response to Technological Change.” Journal of Production Innovation Management (26:4), pp. 473-486.)

The case study data collection involved a triangulation of interviews, observations and documented evidence to answer the above research question. Based on this evidence the paper proposes nine blockers to omnicollaborative BPM:

  1. Resource requirements
  2. Knowledge safeguarding
  3. Benefit expectations
  4. Knowledge about process
  5. Knowledge about Partners
  6. External impressions
  7. Firm-Internal acceptance
  8. Decision Power Control
  9. Decision promptness
Categories: BPM, Enterprise 2.0

How social technologies are extending the organisation – from McKinsey

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment

This recent McKinsey Quarterly article “How social technologies are extending the organisation” runs in parallel with my own PhD research into the practicalities of social business processes.

The presented results of McKinsey’s fifth survey indicate the continued adoption of social media applications, with many organisations of the belief that this technology could spawn new and radically improved business processes. I am of the same belief that by leveraging off the internal & external community of practice, real benefits can be gained from the insights of others. Further, using social technology to engage with current & potential consumers, based upon what we term “consumer-events” (see my other research), allows an organisation to proactively engage and potentially customise their customer facing business processes.

The Authors report that more than 40% of Executives surveyed (of a total of 4200), state that social technologies are being used across their organisations and increasingly to engage with external customers, partners and suppliers. It is my belief that this is where the real benefits will be gained, through true collaboration and targeted requirements gathering from known and unknown process consumers & stakeholders. From this report though it is evident that organisational maturity is also key to the success of social technology adoption, perhaps due to functional capability?

Some interesting statistics are presented which appear to fluctuate year on year and I believe reflect the changing nature of social technology as well as our personal and professional interaction with this medium. Further evidence that social technology does not provide the magical silver bullet to organisational success, but is merely an effective tool in the bag of organisational capabilities. For me a key takeout from this paper is that “Senior executives should think strategically about how social technologies can support business processes by helping organizations to navigate the external environment and to forge stronger links with customers and vendors.”

Categories: Uncategorized

The Business Innovation Dogfight in the Cloud

July 20, 2011 Leave a comment

The Business Innovation Dogfight in the Cloud

A fascinating article by Peter Fingar which discusses the strategy of USAF pilot John R. Boyd and his approach to the concept of agility. Boyd’s concept of always being on the offensive in combat led him to the development of an effective decision cycle called the OODA Loop created from four interrelated and overlapping steps –

1. Observation – select the “right data” and avoid information overload
2. Orientation or otherwise “situational awareness”
3. Decision – avoid analysis paralysis
4. Act – execute the decision and repeat the above

The goal of the above cycle is to “create situations where one can make good decisions more quickly than the competition” where the organisation that “goes through the OODA cycle in the shortest time prevails because the competition is caught responding to situations that have already changed”.

Peter then presents an emerging practice of using Cloud based delivery models (IaaS/PaaS/SaaS) to execute business innovation, the most interesting to me being BPMaaS or Business Process Management as a Service. He purports that this approach could support multi-company BPM to engage in truly end-to-end business processes. With this may come the social advantages of collaboration and potentially innovative practices based upon crowd-sourced insight of the process community.

Could this theory of organisational agility be the key to process innovation and consequently organisational transformation?

Categories: BPM, Enterprise 2.0

ThyssenKrupp Steel USA Case Study

July 19, 2011 Leave a comment

This bptrends.com article is an interesting review of the successful application of a process centric approach to managing a global steel production organisation. ThyssenKrupp Steel USA was faced with a challenge of competing with other steel mills whilst maintaining the highest quality standards and minimising supply chain disruption. Their particular challenges was the management of three production sites on three different continents and cultures, and integrate their BPM initiative with existing computer systems and industry certifications.

As a highly motivated Executive group provided support for this initiative, core to the approach was a conscious decion to not design their business model around transactions but more successfully align their processes with organisational strategy and subsequent transformational activities. Critical to their success was Executive level buy-in for BPM and the accountability, control & governance that this level of stewardship brings to the initiative.

Their model, known as the Integrated Business Management System (iBMS) consists of 5 key goals each linked to a central process repository:
1. Drive best practice
2. Process accountability
3. Business and IT alignment
4. Training
5. Drive standards certification

This model also helped to establish a “hierarchy of process” that linked the strategic goals of the organisation down to the most tactical, operational of processes and gave transparency to the “why” and “who” questions of process outcomes and ownership. Further, the involvement of Executive process owners, advisors, auditors etc supports visibility, accountability and continuous process improvement as the program matures.

ThyssenKrupp Steel USA provides an excellent example of a successful BPM implementation through process transparency, ownership and governance. It will be interesting to analyse their progress and follow how this initiative evolves over coming years.

Categories: BPM

Key Challenges for Enabling Agile BPM with Social Software

June 9, 2011 1 comment


Bruno et al., (2011) discuss the concept of agile BPM supported by four features of social software: weak ties, social production, egalitarianism and mutual service provision. Further the Authors identify that the main requirements for implementing agile BPM are the organisational & semantic integration and responsiveness of business process modelling, execution & management activities. In effect this study will go part way to addressing one of the recognised short comings of traditional BPM, the “Model-Reality divide” -> the divide between abstract process models and the actual executed process. This issue is further evidenced in other literature (Erol et al., 2010; Magalhãe Magdaleno, Cappelli, Araujo Baião, Maria Santoro, & Araujo, 2008; Schmidt & Nurcan, 2009; Silva et al., 2010).

* Weak ties: spontaneous creation of contacts between non-predetermined individuals.
* Social production: creation of artefacts by combining the inputs from independent contributors without a predetermined way of working.
* Egalitarianism: the role of process contributor and consumer are merged and a culture of trust is established.
* Mutual service provision: by combining mutual services a new service is created.

Two distinct categories of “process” are presented, firstly those that are highly structured, well defined, repeatable and potentially automated. Secondly, and more applicably, those processes that are typically more knowledge intensive, collaborative, creative and loosely structured may benefit most from the application of social technology. The Authors offer a characteristic of agile BPM as “capable to react quickly to external and internal events” with a motivator to “implement the vision of an agile enterprise that is capable to rapidly adapt to changing business challenges and opportunities”. An adoption of agile BPM will require a paradigmatic change to the traditional BPM lifecycle.

As asserted, the prerequisites for an agile BPM lifecycle are organisational integration (inclusion of all stakeholders into the requirements elicitation phase); semantic integration (a common understanding of terms and context); and responsiveness to internal and external events. Further, the Authors offer a statement in support of this new agile approach, “A common flaw of BPM lifecycles is that there is only a top down but not a bottom-up flow of information in real-time” resulting in the non integration of available information.

* Organisational integration: Enable the use of stakeholder perspectives & languages to allow participants to acquire & contribute knowledge and requirements to processes.
* Semantic integration: The amalgamation of differing stakeholder goals, values, languages and motivations.
* Responsiveness: supported by the concept of weak ties as established organisational hierarchies are bypassed.

In conclusion, some approaches to enabling BPM with social software through fostering participation; sharing knowledge; fostering collaboration; empowering process stakeholders; reconciliation of terminology; and extending BPM notations are presented. This comprehensive research article presents a combined view of earlier research and provides a view of current understanding and points to possible future directions for social BPM.

Bruno, G., Dengler, F., Jennings, B., Khalaf, R., Nurcan, S., Prilla, M., et al. (2011). Key challenges for enabling agile BPM with social software. Journal of Software Maintenance and Evolution: Research and Practice, 23(4), 297-326.

Erol, S., Granitzer, M., Happ, S., Jantunen, S., Jennings, B., Johannesson, P., et al. (2010). Combining BPM and social software: contradiction or chance? Journal of Software Maintenance and Evolution: Research and Practice, 22(6-7), 449-476.

Magalhãe Magdaleno, A., Cappelli, C., Araujo Baião, F., Maria Santoro, F., & Araujo, R. (2008). Towards Collaboration Maturity in Business Processes: An Exploratory Study in Oil Production Processes. Information Systems Management, 25(4), 302 – 318.

Schmidt, R., & Nurcan, S. (2009). BPM and Social Software. In D. Ardagna, M. Mecella & J. Yang (Eds.), Business Process Management Workshops (Vol. 17, pp. 649-658): Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Silva, A. R., Meziani, R., Magalhães, R., Martinho, D., Aguiar, A., & Flores, N. (2010). AGILIPO: Embedding Social Software Features into Business Process Tools. In S. Rinderle-Ma, S. Sadiq & F. Leymann (Eds.), Business Process Management Workshops (Vol. 43, pp. 219-230): Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Categories: BPM, Enterprise 2.0, web 2.0

When Social Software Meets Business Process Management

June 1, 2011 Leave a comment

This conference paper from 2009 offers the concept of process-orientated mashups (in contrast to data oriented) designed to support lightweight, agile & time critical business (or personal) processes. Li (2009) proposes the importance of agility & flexibility with the design of collaborative business processes to adapt “to the situational needs of the business”. The Author asserts that the integration of web services and human interaction in an SOA environment can be used to build a process-oriented mashup, allowing a User to automate activities leading to the execution of that process via a workflow system.

A rudimentary example of an “information gathering” process is given where a User accesses data from three different social, online sources – an RSS feed; a blog; and a recommendation list on a social networking site. The Author asserts this process of gathering information (data) from different locations could be represented in a workflow (YAWL?) and in effect link social technology to existing business process management (BPMS) systems i.e. a process- mashup.
The paper also offers a view of current (2009) web based resources, technologies & tools & examples of some “social software providers” (Amazon, Google, eBay etc) who provide their web services for mashup purposes. Importantly, these services support participation, provide a rich user experience, are scalable and can harness the benefits of collective intelligence.

An interesting concept briefly raised is the use of a recommendation approach in a online community based environment for Users to rank different process parts of similar models. This approach of social process design & verification will ideally deliver best practice and repeatability with process models. Given the rapidly growing web resources landscape, the challenge now is to discover & utilise these services to provide agile, process-centric mashups.

Li, X. (2009). When Social Software Meets Business Process Management.

Categories: BPM, Enterprise 2.0, web 2.0
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