Social BPM and its evolution from human BPM

With the cultural revolution caused by social media, resulting in a new set of social skills, companies are discovering the value of collaboration and user engagement processes in social BPM execution environments.

By traditional definition, ‘human-centric business process management’ is a BPM approach focused on human activities and interventions in business processes, supported by automated functions.

Before the emphasis was on operational efficiency, visibility and controlling processes with agility. Now, the adoption of social models and collaborative opportunities promote the traditional boundaries of BPM systems for a change of perspective in three basic steps:

Dealing with unstructured processes

Traditional BPM processes are designed in advance and executed repetitively. The focus is on the provision of user accounts, benchmarking processes for efficiency and support for changes over a medium term to ensure alignment with business needs.

Social BPM, however, helps solve the gaps in processes that don’t traditionally have a standardized design or well-defined standard operating procedures. Interactions with customers are becoming increasingly complex, with increasing demand for customization and personalization. There are several situations where regular process choices are inadequate and where a single user can not solve the case.

Just think, for example, a customer of a bank with high purchasing power, on vacation, urgently needs a new credit card. The usual response to this is to send an email to a person with the proper skills for transaction authorization.

In this situation, social BPM brings in an optimized platform for collaboration, along with contextual integration with process artifacts necessary for an effective resolution. As noted, the focus is on effectiveness, rather than just flow efficiency.


Another dimension of change is the increased penetration of mobile devices among the workforce. IDC Research predicts that mobile devices will account for over a third (37.2%) of the global workforce in 2015. Thanks to the incredible variety of devices, the workforce now can be connected and available, effectively and productively through remote locations and time zones.

Today BPM platforms allow the rendering of BPM user interfaces in all the major browsers and allow operation on all the major mobile platforms with minimal additional development.

See: Business process management outsourcing


Collaboration in the arrest and improvement of processes

Process Improvement and optimization are essential to the transformation conducted by BPM.

While traditional approaches to process improvement enjoy quality techniques and analysis of activity monitoring data. Social BPM brings a new set of capabilities to help the cause, taking advantage of a huge amount of data generated during the user’s collaboration including; talk updates, ratings, comments, tags and aggregate user opinions, which can all provide real customer feedback value on the model and process design.

This form of crowd-sourcing can be used to evolve the design gradually. Process analysts can collaborate with end users to simplify the overall process design.

Big Data’ offers opportunities to add feedback from social BPM with several other structured and unstructured data sources to build a knowledge base centered around the business process. extracted standards of Big Data can be used by analysts to improve the process.

What does it take to drive Social BPM?

The success of social BPM lies in creating an organizational and technological ecosystem of support. Important considerations include:

  • Look beyond the tools: Social BPM is not just about providing collaboration tools and user interfaces of the social type, but also integrating them into processes and systems that guide the work. Users must have the ability to link a context specific process instance (as the details of the request for replacement of the credit card mentioned above) and associated task options in their conversations. The same goes for the notifications generated by the system.
  • Empower users: All authorized users should be able to access the right information and the right policies for the context. The information and content may be from several company sources such as information records from external sources, document repositories and policies related to work. All information can be filtered based on the context of the case, and user authorization rights.
  • Motivate the community: With increased human contact, the processes designed and managed with social BPM have greater acceptance and impact due to the inherent attributes of participation and transparency. However, the goal of the collaboration will have to be reliable or valuable enough to entice users, the community and the organization in general. Also, organizations need to develop an effective strategy to promote this motivation. The proposal ‘Gamification’ has been a widely used social approach and can be effective in driving the social BPM purpose. Gartner predicts that by 2015, over 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will use Gamification.


The adoption of social BPM is forcing a shift from the traditional paradigm of human BPM and providing opportunities to solve problems in unstructured business processes. Ensuring that users are fed the right data and that the community is motivated for a good purpose, are critical success factors in Social BPM.

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