Business Process Management (BPM) is about collaboration between people and so is Social Networking. BPM is about capturing, improving and managing business processes. BPM requires collaboration between various people responsible for the process. Social Technologies provide the ability for people to collaborate, discuss, provide feedback/reviews, share documents. So logically it makes sense to utilize Social Technologies for Business Process Management.

Forrester’s Clay Richardson coined the term “Social BPM” referring to Process developed and improved through the use of social technologies and techniques.

Does that mean that we can utilize the existing Social Technologies available for BPM?

The answer is yes and no. I will try to explain the reason for this ambiguity.

Public social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are very popular networks and are excellent at gathering knowledge because of the wide reach. But being public network, there is a risk of unauthorized access to company’s intellectual property and business  information which is critical in maintaining market leadership. That makes these public tools not appropriate for BPM.

Private social networks like Yammer and Socialtext overcome that limitation by using the business email addresses to restrict access to the network. These private social network can be good tools to collaborate between the employees of an company in collecting and sharing the process knowledge and trying to improve the process. But they need to be used in conjunction with Office tools such as Word and Visio for documenting the process. That limits the use of such tools for Social BPM.

There are tools like IBM Blueworks and SAP AlignSpace that have tried to address the above concerns, and provide a process modeler with social networking features to enable Social BPM. They enable collaborative process design and social networking. These applications run in the cloud and also provide the ability to export the process model, so the ideas can be implemented using BPM Suite such as IBM Lombardi.

So, Social BPM does seem to be a reality. Oh wait, what if my Process workers like to collaborate and share the knowledge for process improvement or discuss ideas of making the process efficient or just need to collaborate to get the work done?

Watch this space for more information.