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Workflow Enactment in a Social Software Environment

As I near completion of my Masters of Business Process Management at Queensland University of Technology, I have undertaken to write a literature review on how Business Process Management could be supported by Social Software (web 2.0 – wikis, blogs, twitter etc).

The following are just my workings as I go through this process over the next couple of months…please excuse my initial rough drafts!!
Of course, any feedback is appreciated.


Workflow Enactment in a Social Software Environment

Davide Rossi and Fabio Vitali
Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Informazione
Universit`a di Bologna, Italy

Key Terms:
Structured coordination; emerging coordination; space of knowledge;

“Both Business Process Management tools and social software applications help organisations in enacting multi-actor processes”

Rossi and Vitali (2009) write that both BPM and social technologies have the same goal of enabling multi actor processes but differ in the application of actor coordination. BPM is typified by well defined process models referred to as structured coordination. Conversely, social technology supports the collaboration of users is what the Authors call emerging coordination. This paper discusses how structured coordination can be introduced to a social software environment.

McAfee (2006) asserts that Enterprise 2.0 is a trend where Organisations adopt social software tools to support business processes. These software tools can accommodate dramatic process changes, have the required flexibility and empower the knowledge workers. Rossi and Vitali (2009) assert that one of the main strengths of social technologies is that they provide an array of collaboration tools (blogs, wikis, forums) that support user interaction.

BPM: well defined process models which enforce interactions -> “structured coordination” – process first
Social Software: enactment of processes via collaboration tools -> “emerging coordination” – tools first
Change requires a paradigm shift from structured to emerging coordination…
“Human factors and cultural resistance are well known limiting factors for BPM tools “ – Bernstein, A.: How can cooperative work tools support dynamic group process?
bridging the specificity frontier. In: CSCW 2000: Proceedings of the 2000 ACM
conference on Computer supported cooperative work, pp. 279–288. ACM, New York

Identified ss adoption challenge – “relaxing the constraints of the stakeholders”

The Authors make the important point that “one of the main strengths of the social software approach, is that of providing users with a wide array of different tools (blogs, wikis. Forums, shared calendars) that can be used synergically, and no existing tool or service allows the enactment of workflows spanning across multiple applications”

Social X-Folders support the “natural evolution of coordination patterns typical of social software”…a collaboration platform.

The paper proposes the idea that “processes mixing BPM tools and social software tools are probably bound to find interaction points around artefacts, and artefacts in a social software environment are often bits & pieces of scattered information”.

Social X-Folders; orchestration of social software tools

Categories: BPM, Enterprise 2.0, web 2.0
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