Business Process Management & Enterprise Architecture track of ACM SAC 2017

This year I’m co-organizing with Davide Rossi and a bunch of experts in Business Process Management and Enterprise Architecture a new event called BPM-EA, which aims at bringing together the broad topics of business processes, modeling, and enterprise architecture.

These disciplines are quickly evolving and intertwining with each other, and are often referred to with the broad term of business modeling.
I believe there is a strong need of exploring new paths of improvement, integration and consolidation of these disciplines.
If you are interested to participate and contribute, we seek contributions in the areas of enterprise and systems architecture and modeling, multilevel models tracing and alignment, models transformation, IT & business alignment (both in terms of modeling and goals), tackling both technical (languages, systems, patterns, tools) and social (collaboration, human-in-the-loop) issues.
The deadline for submitting a paper is September 15, 2016.
You can find the complete call and further details on the event website:
BPMEA track at SAC 2017

Feel free to share your ideas, opinions and criticisms here or as a submission to the event.

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Making Social BPM mean Business – Sandy Kemsley’s seminar at BPM Europe 2012 by IRM-UK

While attending the BPM Europe Conference 2012, I started by following the seminar by Sandy Kemsley on Social Business Process Management.
She brought up a large set of interesting issues related to Social BPM:

Social BPM dimensions

Dimensions of complexity can be orthogonalized and well managed:
  1. Structure: how much structured is the process
  2. Internal Collaboration: how much internal collaboration the process allows
  3. External Involvement: how many external actors can be involved
This is extremely interesting, as it unfolds the concepts that I was investigating in some of my past posts on social BPM options and adoption levels. But here the orthogonalization makes the problem much more crisp and clear.

Collaboration Spectrum

The span of collaboration can cover different levels:
  • Predefined participants
  • Selection of participants from a predefined set of enabled ones
  • Selection of any participants or participants self-selection

This is also close to the continuum of social BPM, but again focusing on one specific orthogonalized aspect at a time.

Social as a feature or as an application?

The point with Enterprise 2.0 is that several social tools exist now, and the challenge is how to put them together in a productive and coherent way, without irking to build yet another stack of silos, in the socialization domain. There is a huge social enterprise software confusion, and social BPM is part of it.
Socialization, as well as any other enterprise issue, should be tackled as a comprehensive problem at enterprise level. The main challenge is not to reduce this to simply selecting a set of social tools to be used. Social must become an attitude and a lifestyle in the enterprise.
You can get Social process discovery and modeling, and this is covered by several vendors. However, it’s much more interesting to have social process execution. This is covered by vendors such as HandySoft and Fujitsu. Major vendors like IBM are also expanding their features towards Adaptive Case Management (ACM), by covering as much as possible of this within their BPM products.

Process event streams

This is very similar to the Facebook timeline or other customer-oriented event streams. This is also a major user interface change in the enterprise. Events may have a direct link to underlying process models or instance. One can subscribe to a stream by topic or by author or other. Enterprise systems get usable, mobile and quickly accessible.
Producers of these class of products include: Appian Tempo, Tibco Tibbr, IBM Blueworks Live.

Other aspects

Several other ways exist for making BPM social, such as online communities (internal centers of excellence, external communities of practice, marketplaces): this is covered by IBM BlueWorks, Appian, and Software AG Aris. In small, this is also what the WebRatio Store is aiming at in the near future (while now it’s mainly focused on WebML features).

Some producers are offering BPM Software as a service solutions, with cloud deployment(Appian Anywhere, Fujitsu InterstageBPM, Cordys Process Factory and other emerging ones). WebRatio is also moving towards the cloud, but at the moment the development part is based on the Eclipse-based  standalone tool suite.

Organization and Impacts

While the technology is not cutting edge any more, organizational impacts and benefits are still challenging for the enterprise.
Social Business has now an ad-hoc social business maturity model. 
The social BPM maturity gap. Internal: above, orange line. External: below, yellow line.
You have two dimensions:
  1. internal versus external social business (Y axis)
  2. business maturity level (X axis)
    1. Ad-hoc
    2. Engaged
    3. Structured
    4. Managed
    5. Optimized
    6. Unified 
The current status of most companies is currently in the state “engaged-structured” internally and “structured-managed”externally.
The main challenges are on culture and collaborativeness. Enterprises need to trigger a participatory culture, considering people’s contribution independently of their role, increasing transparency and openness, allowing and empowering employees to deviate from predefined processes.
A nice bottom line for the discussion is that Social BPM means to monitor events and not outcomes of BPM

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The social enterprise options

A huge discussion is ongoing on how to implement the social enterprise paradigm and on why it doesn’t seem to deliver as expected.
Obviously, social enterprise is a broad term that comprises a large number of very diverse problems addressed and solutions that can be adopted, within a variety of business scenarios (including social CRM, social BPM and many more).
I think there is a common problem that needs to be solved for each of them: how much to empower the users / workers with respect to keeping in control of the business.
I see a continuous set of possibilities here, but I tried to summarize them in a discrete set of 5 options, as reported in the figure below.
Let’s assume a simplified model with two user stereotypes:

  • internal user: representing a human resource formally enrolled in the enterprise activities and in charge of some tasks or responsibility. For instance, in case of BPM, this would be one of the users assigned a role in the BP and in charge of performing one or more process activities.
  • external user: representing any actor (from within the company, from partners or third party enterprises, or even from the end user base) that is not formally in charge of any task, but that do contribute somehow to the business through his/her social interactions, feedback and so on.
The continuum of the social enterprise options when deciding how to exploit the social assets.

The possible solutions that can be implemented are:

  1. No social enterprise: the company performs its business in a traditional and completely structured way, without exploiting weak ties, informal interactions, user feedbacks. Everything is performed through the some enterprise software platform.
  2. Empowered enterprise: the company applies some user/worker empowerment by allowing external users to contribute through a social networks. In this case, the actual business is run through the enterprise software platform; the users on the social network have limited interaction options, while the ones on the enterprise platform are enabled to perform the entirety of the needed tasks.The internal user still plays a predominant role here and decides if and when to exploit the actions and events coming from the social platform.
  3. Enterprise democracy: the company adopts a completely transparent policy and lets the external users perform the same actions that internal users can do.
  4. Enterprise view: the company role in this case is to get a view on any kind of complex interactions or behaviour on a social network. In this case the role of the internal user is quite diminished, because he is basically just collecting feedbacks or statistics on the action, while the actual activity is performed on the social network.
  5. Only social: this is the most unstructured scenario, where everything is run on the social basis and there is no actual structured activity ongoing on it.

These 5 scenarios are all good in principle, but if you move to the real business some of them are more important than others.
Let’s keep out the two extremes: we are not interested in the non-social case here, and on the other side the completely social one doesn’t make much sense in a business setting (actually, even in the pure social network platforms there are some analyses and tasks run by internals, which position the case in the scenario number 4).

Empowered enterprise is probably the most sensible scenario, and I can imagine a lot of situations where this can apply (most of the Social BPM cases for instance).
Enterprise democracy, although positioned in the middle, is quite extreme in considering the role of social contributions. At the moment I can’t see any real scenario where to apply this. If you have some, feel free to share it.
Enterprise view instead is typical of several situations where the social behaviour needs to be observed for understanding the positioning of the enterprise (think about social CRM, social Marketing, opinion trend analysis and so on).

Please let me know if you are aware of any other sensible scenario you recognized, and please share also real / realistic cases you experienced.

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My take on today’s Social BPM tweet jam

Today I participated, together with an impressive number of world-renowned experts in BPM, to a hectic tweet jam on Social BPM.
I curated a (slightly remixed) recording of the session, which is available here ( and embedded below.
The participation was so intense that it was really hard to keep the pace of the discussion (especially because I was having a conf call in parallel), so the recording has been definitely useful.
To get an idea, here are the final statistics on the discussion: 521 tweets generated 375,886 impressions, reaching an audience of 24,348 followers.

When I went through the contribution, I found a lot of hidden pearls that I missed.
Overall, my impression is the following: despite some criticism on the term “Social BPM”, I would say there is wide consensus on the need of integrating rigid BPM approaches with others that consider user interactions as crucial value for the enterprise. To my surprise, several experts (including Nathaniel Palmer and Clay Richardson) agree that there is a substantial request for these technologies by customers, especially in “non-traditional” scenarios. On the other side, the state of the art of the tools and systems is still perceived as weak or only partially addressing the actual needs.
This is definitely encouraging because it leaves a lot of space for research, improvement, and exciting evolutions in the field.<a href=”” target=”_blank”>View “Social BPM discussion and tweetjam” on Storify</a>

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Social Business Forum 2011: Keith Swenson keynote speech on the Quantum Enterprise

Keith Swenson keynote speech at the Social Business Forum2011 on the Quantum Enterprise

Today I attended the Social Business Forum 2011 in Milan. It was a great event, with a huge line of speakers and events. The audience was huge (1200+ people I think), so big praise to Open Knowledge for the organization.
If you want to grasp the level of social interaction, just look on twitter to the #sbf11 tweetflow. You could barely follow it in realtime.
I have no time to go through the entire stack of sessions, but I wish at least to report here on the keynote speeches at the Social Business Forum. Great speeches from Dell, Oracle, and Fujitsu VPs actually.
Among the many things going on, the Social BPM book was launched at the event, sponsored by WebRatio and the event itself (during Keith Swenson speech at the end of the day). That’s why I’m focusing especially on Keith’s speech. Some hints on the other speeches are reported too.
Keith Swenson speech (Fujitsu): the Quantum Enterprise

The discussion basically start from this simple question: Why do we think that we should have simple processes?
Chaos and turbulence are there, both at the macroscopic physical level (thus challenging the Newtonian thinking) and at the atomic level (Quantum thinking). Why shouldn’t they be there within an organization made up of complex human beings interacting?
Repeatability and mass production at the office place work well until you stay at the level of routine work. However, this level is being more and more automated and thus eliminated. We have now a much larger percentage of work which can be defined “knowledge work”.
What distinguishes a knowledge worker is the way to apply their knowledge by figuring out what they need to do based on the intelligence and knowledge. This spans from university professors, to paramedics, rescue and firefighting crews, police detectives, judges, and so on. They follow up clues and they have no way of predicting and modeling in advance what to do.
The thing is: 40% of workers today are knowledge workers and this percentage is going to increase.
While a good model for the enterprise for routine workers is a machine, a good model for knowledge workers is an ecosystem, ie. a place with several parts that are self-organizing and self-regenerating.
Thus, the paradigm is moving from a Newtonian model (external observability, smoothness, simple rules, predictability) towards a Quantum model (limited precision, turbulence, relationship-based, unpredictability).
This also implies a move from push to pull models in the organization. The push model assumes centralized choices, passive consumers. The pull model instead bases on loosely coupled and modular systems.
So, enterprises should be careful of not to oversimplify. The value today must be on promoting the culture of sharing knowledge and decentralizing.
We are on the verge of this change, and enterprises must be able to master this transition. Here is the link to Keith’s presentation:

Bill Johnston speech (Dell): Paving the Way to Social Business

On this, you can directly look at the slides that the author put on SlideShare:

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Social BPM: links, references and resources

In this post I wish to summarize the opinions and the discussions on the hot topic Social BPM. I think this provides a good understanding of the topic and a feeling on the debate that is still ongoing. If you know about other useful references, feel free to add them (self-citations are also welcome). Also, if you are cited and you think your position is not well represented by the quote, feel free to detail it.
One further valuable resource is the Social BPM handbook that will be available starting June 2011,on which I also wrote a chapter on A Model-driven Approach to Social BPM Applications.

Uhoh. Social BPM in the real world? [Thanks to Jim Sinur for pointing this out. Credits for Dilbert: Scott Adams]

Who is socializing in Social BPM, Keith Swenson

“Proper use of social software will be about individuals producing, publishing and running their own processes. Not collaboration on the design phase, but designing individually, and collaborating with a completed process.  This won’t just be the BPM lifecycle using social software, it will be the elimination of the BPM lifecycle, the elimination of a design phase, the elimination of the separation between designers and workers.”

Will Social Revive Interest In BPM? Will BPM Make Social Relevant?, Sandy Kemsley

“Everyone could be a writer in the blogosphere, but in reality, only a tiny fraction of those who read blogs actually write blogs, or even comment on blogs. The same will likely occur in runtime collaboration in BPM: only a fraction of users will design processes, even though all have the capability to do so, but all will benefit from it.”

Knowledge Management, Social Media, Social BPM and Control, Sandy Kemsley

“There is a paradigm shift happening in the way that organizations understand control. Control no longer means that management dictates every action that every employee takes, but rather that appropriate levels of control are given to everyone so that they can control their environment and make it most effective for their tasks at hand.”

The Continuum of Social BPM, Marco Brambilla

 “The introduction of social features in business processes can be achieved at different levels, according to a spectrum of possibilities: from closed BPM to Participatory Design, Participatory enactment, Social enactment, and Process Mining.”

Want Value From Social? Add Structure, Tom Davenport

“I’m becoming convinced that the way to gain value is to combine computer-based sociality with computer-based structure. […] The combination of the social and structuring aspects of technology ensures that online social activities are oriented to getting work done. The addition of structure makes everyone more conscious of the work tasks at hand, which limits the desire for purely social interaction. ”

The BPM Game Changer, Adam Deane

“It’s just a matter of time before organisations will be purchasing Twitter-like software for their internal use, and BPM will need to adapt to this new environment. Yes, Google Wave failed. But that doesn’t mean that the trend is dead.. Other companies are building Twitter for Business applications”

Is Social BPM A Methodology, A Technology, Or Just A Lot Of Hype?, Clay Richardson

“On the one hand, some feel that social BPM is all about tools and technology (i.e., process wikis, process mashups, etc.).  And on the other hand, I see another camp emerging that believes social BPM should focus on transforming the organization and the organization’s processes. I say, they’re both right.  We see customers adopting social BPM along a continuum.”

Is There Social BPM?, Boris Lublinsky

“Social networks have already profoundly changed our lives. Usage of social media will create a similar impact on BPM design and implementation. Will it create a new type of BPM or just a new way of BPM implementation remains to be seen.”

Social BPM: Is It Social, or is It BPM?
Open question by Peter Schooff  (with some responses below)

Michael zur Muehlen:

“If you only focus on streamlining process execution and making it as efficient as possible the social aspect diminishes. But if you consider process discovery, the development of a shared understanding of what your operations look like, and monitoring your process environment, then social plays a big role. Social is all about providing context, a rich environment of data points that a streamlined workflow would be lacking otherwise. The challenge is to make this context useful, both from a social networking perspective and from an unstructured data perspective.”

Tom Allanson:

“Social BPM is basically just collaborative business process management utilizing a collective network environment – it’s about extending BPM access and decision-making to partners and select external parties without compromising the exclusivity of the core group.”

Clay Richardson:

“Basically social capabilities are now assumed to be baked into BPM offerings. I think the real question now is how do you move your organization to harness social BPM capabilities.”

The future of social BPM

“The future of social BPM lies in developing the best way to leverage social media tools to promote collaboration and coordination in the workplace – on an enterprise basis with a meaningful contribution to the business.”

Social has no future (Yet), Keith Swenson

“In general, social software systems record what is happening now and in the past, but for the most part completely lack any representation of the future. Enterprise Social Software, or Social Business Software, will succeed only if it has some representation of goals or other future activities.”

Will social BPM supercharge BPM?, Thomas J. Olbrich.

“My view would be that we need to become more social where it helps. But let’s not overreach and hold company-wide opinion polls during process design and implementation. Social in the sense of making room for qualified input is fine, process anarchy is not.”

Social BPM is a Methodology FIRST, Just like BPM

“I will argue that more than 50% of the information and data used to complete business processes is communicated outside of the formality of business process technologies today.  Chat programs, emails, standing in front of the coffee machine in the AM, and passing people in the hall are easy and convenient channels of vital information exchange. […] There is no reason to start employing any existing Social BPM or Social Technology application today without first understanding the state of “chaos” you have today.”

Realizing the Promise of BPM Software: Forrester Says Social BPM Extends Process Participation, Ben Farrell

“BPM software will only reach its true potential when more people inside (and outside) the organization get involved. Social BPM is a great way to extend the reach and impact of the technology across an organization – to get more people to “Be Part of the Process”. […] Run-time social BPM means you get real-time feedback on how well a process is working. It means process bottlenecks can be identified and resolved, and processes improved, faster.”

Social Breaks The Logjam On Business Process Improvement Initiatives, Clay Richardson

During process design, teams leverage social tools to more easily engage stakeholders in process discovery and definition, including frontline workers, customers, and partners. For process development, some process pros turn to social and Web 2.0 tools by using BPM software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. And during process execution, teams leverage social to support dynamic business processes.

What are the boundaries of social BPM?, Chris Taylor

“I’ll admit, ‘social’ can strike fear into the hearts of the traditionalist (and/or control freak), and social BPM is no different.  Will making my processes open to all lead to chaos and anarchy?  I would argue the opposite is true.”

Tapping into Collective Knowledge Will Drive Unstructured Process Activity, Jim Sinur

“When organizations aggressively tap into collective knowledge inside and out side their organizations, BPM will have to behave differently. BPM will have to support morphing work driven by emerging goals and dynamic decisions and be able to identify potential best practices.”

Social BPM – Responding to Business Uncertainties, Arun Ravindran

“If refining in Business Processes Management (BPM) was all the rage in the eighties, then leveraging the power of emergent processes seems to be the focus and challenge of today’s businesses. “

Making BPM “Social”: Flexibility First, Sociability Follows, Andy Wang

“To enable organizational agility, decision makers need to be able to adapt quickly in the face of change. An ECM system with flexible BPM tools is a necessary foundation to have in place before putting a Social BPM methodology into practice.”

Social BPM and the new IT stack, Keith Harrison-Broninski

“If you need to fuse the structural benefits of BPM with the collaborative potential of social technology, you won’t find it in the products currently being marketed as “social BPM”. Rather, you need to look elsewhere, for […] “collaborative planning””

Social BPM and the HIMS, Keith Harrison-Broninski

“My purpose is to point out that the current hype for social BPM is unjustified, which cannot be a good thing either for consumers or vendors. If you try Blueworks Live expecting a solution for high-level knowledge work, you will only come away disappointed.”

What constitutes a social BPMS, by Sameer Jejurkar

“So what is social BPM(S)? At its core “social” means collaboration and communication. It can mean collaboration and communication that occurs during normal course of business i.e. when a business process is in flight. This is interaction (such as email, phone conversations etc.) between users that usually happens outside the context of a typical (non-social?) BPMS. The ability to collaborate with others in the organization is a definite plus for all internal users.”