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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