If you haven’t already read it take a look at Adam Deane’s take on Social BPM. As he points out, current vendors have added social capability to traditional BPM products and now we’re waiting to see what happens. There are a few vendors reporting some interesting behavior developing among their users which is encouraging. But Adam’s conclusion, which I agree with whole heartedly, is that if ‘Social BPM’ is helping BPM become more widely adopted then that’s a good thing.
There are others out there that claim the conversation has moved on. That social is about empowerment and BPM does anything but empower workers (Max Pucher). Or that BPM represents a Newtonian view of organizational management that is being replaced by the quantum organization (Keith Swenson). In this view ‘social’ and ‘BPM’ cannot co-exist, a completely new form of work organization is required as embodied by Adaptive Case Management (ACM).
I agree with this view, to a point. I am beginning to understand ACM and the benefits it brings but I do not believe BPM is a lost cause, or that Social BPM is not a relevant approach. The problem lies in the definition of BPM. Even within a well-established and mature industry it is difficult to get consensus. But that’s not the problem; the problem is in the way that BPM is seen as a constant. That what BPM meant in the year 2000 is the same as it means today and the same as it will mean tomorrow.
The fact is Business, Process and Management are three words open to interpretation. As BPM vendors add new functionality and explore new areas they are constantly changing its meaning. When BPM practitioners find new and innovative ways to deliver more value from BPM projects they are changing what BPM means for them and their clients.
Like management practices in general we are constantly learning new ways to apply BPM, some work and some don’t. Some approaches work better for some organizations than others. This is one of the things that makes work exciting for us as practitioners, the chance to innovate and create something new no matter how small that change may seem at the time. The bottom line is BPM can and is changing and making BPM more social has to be a good thing.
For this reason I believe that Social BPM as an approach is valid although it may not have been fully defined yet. I am excited about ACM and believe it is part of the future but ACM, BPM and SocialBPM are different things and there is potential for each to play its own role in the future organization. Is Social BPM over already? No, it’s just getting started.