Rainer Schmidt and Selmin Nurcan have co-authored a nice paper that succinctly explains some key social software principles and their application to BPM. Their view is that social software and business processes can have a unique relationship where processes may apply social technologies to enhance process stakeholder interaction and/or support process design and implementation. Both of these extensions to traditional BPM address some existing stakeholder engagement and process model adoption issues.
Four enabling factors of social technology are presented in support of the emerging “social” BPM approach with reference to various sociology and marketing texts. These principles as debated at various workshops and BPM conferences have been defined as:
1. Weak Ties – “spontaneously created connections between non-predetermined individuals”. Leading to improved organisational agility due to enhanced knowledge exchange within and outside established network boundaries.
2. Egalitarianism – Crowd sourcing knowledge from all process stakeholders (internal & external) with all contributors having an equal say in the discussion.
3. Social Production – A rapid process improvement cycle driven by an open user-access policy established to support continuous knowledge aggregation & reuse.
4. Service-Dominant Logic – Adoption of a service-oriented approach to marketing where the process Customer is a co-creator of value.
They go further to draw the alignment between social software and business processes i.e. process may use social software to improve stakeholder interaction and/or processes may be the object of social software. This means that the traditional practice of BPM (modelling, requirements analysis etc) utilises social technology to address for example the model-reality divide between process model design and implementation. In their view, the key benefits of social BPM will be the continuous fusioning of process knowledge; process improvement agility; identification of hidden knowledge contributors and the broadening this knowledge base.
Rainer and Selmin raise some valid points on the benefits of social BPM not least of which is how this approach can address the model-reality divide….but just how successful is this in practice and can these benefits be measured?
When reviewing a software application one of the first things I think about is the “look and feel” or usability of the app – does it interest me and what makes this application stand out from the crowd. This offering from Intalio grabbed me from the get go. At first glance IntalioBPM is like a new car, you just want to get behind the wheel and drive it! The clever use of fresh and funky icons coupled with the application of a Cloud based approach immediately draws your attention and fuels the need to look under the bonnet.
The open source Cloud based IntalioBPM application comes in two flavours: either the limited Community Edition (free) or the feature rich, fully supported Enterprise Edition. Each of these versions offer “a twelve step life cycle for business processes” (represented below) that adds a few more steps to Six Sigma’s traditional DMAIC model.
With a system architecture offering BAM, both process and document repositories, and driven by BPMN 2.0 and BPEL 2.0 process engines, this BPMS delivers a robust end to end enterprise level process management solution out of the box. A key feature and one of the components offered in both editions is the BPMN Designer which includes the features of:
• An integrated process development environment – supports the modelling and deployment of business processes and provides a common working environment for all process stakeholders.
• Zero code process design – turns any BPMN model into executable BPEL processes without the requirement for further coding
• One-click process deployment – through the use of graphical, wizard driven interfaces processes can be validated and deployed with one click
In addition, the included IntalioBPM BPEL 2.0 process server is scalable and can be deployed across a wide range of computing platforms and databases. Another key feature that makes this app attractive.
Upon installation, one of the first screens launched is the Workbench which permits you to define the directory location of a workspace. The Workbench consists of perspectives (a group of views and editors), views (used to navigate information or display properties) and editors (used to edit or browse resources).
After spending some time navigating through the various screens and functionality it is clear that this intuitive application that will meet the needs of most process stakeholders and the ease of use and logical screen flow are in keeping with the overall flavour of this application. So far I’ve been impressed with the level of integration with the other Intalio SaaS products on offer, their current move to seamless module integration, the proactive adoption of Cloud computing and the ability to access these applications on an IPad!
There are a few reasons why I remain impressed with the approach taken by Intalio. Firstly, they have embraced an open source approach (and added some polish along the way) to deliver a Cloud based BPMS solution that invites process stakeholders to get hands-on. Secondly, Intalio have taken to mash-up their various CRM/BPMN2 modelling/SaaS offerings and recognise the need for seamless integration between these applications. Thirdly, they offer a free (up to 5 users) Community Edition which allows for a “try before you buy” approach to software acquisition – granted also that comparatively the fully supported Enterprise Edition is not expensive. Fourthly, Intalio have a jump on the big boys in the BPM Vendor market which may drive more Cloud based BPMS applications in the future.
IntalioBPM is definitely worth an appraisal if you are in the BPMS market.