Improving collaboration is perhaps the most obvious benefit to adding social capability to BPM. But don’t we collaborate on processes today? Of course we do but the new social tools add a new dimension to the rich set of communication tools we already possess. Email, telephone, video conference and Instant Messaging, amongst others, are augmented by forums, wikis, blogs and micro-blogging. This new dimension puts conversations and ideas in the public domain. It records and catalogues those discussions and makes retrieving articles easier than searching through your email archive or trying to recall a phone conversation.
There are several stages in the process lifecycle where social technology can have a real impact on collaboration. Marco Brambilla draws an excellent picture of how these technologies can impact the lifecycle in his article “Social BPM: motivation and impact on the BPM lifecycle”. But if Social is to influence BPM as an approach, as much as it does technology, then collaboration must continue to take place across all mediums including traditional forms of communication.
Starting at the initial capture of process, in my experience, nothing is better than doing this in real time with key stakeholders and end users. But simply running a live workshop is not enough. Process has to be captured in a way that is instantly recognisable to the participants. It should really be done live in a capture application as this format will be presented back to the participants later on, they need to recognise it, instantly.
The notation you use is not important; it’s how you use it that’s important. To be social it has to be inclusive, to be inclusive it has to be recognisable to everyone present. To me the best approach is a goal based approach to capture. This is useful for several reasons; getting people to realize why they are doing something is often more important than how or what. This is where you can identify value add, it’s the interface between people and teams and if your stakeholders are not aligned on this then this is great place to get them aligned.
Goal focused workshops are exhilarating. This is because there is normally something for everyone. It’s not a case of documenting the knowledge stored in someone’s head then spending hours poring over it to find inefficiencies and errors. It’s about everyone agreeing what they are trying to achieve, as a result many process issues are solved right there and then by the people responsible for executing them. Best practice is created by those that practice.