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

Ben Farrell
May 4, 2011

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," as we say at Appian. But this isn't just our opinion. It's also the opinion of Clay Richardson, Senior Analyst for Forrester Research, as expressed in his keynote address at our recent Appian World 2011 conference.

Diverse factors trigger firms to investigate BPM's potential, Richardson noted. In a 2010 survey, 348 enterprise and small-to-medium sized business IT decision-makers were asked about the major drivers for their BPM initiatives. Sixty-nine percent said optimization of processes. Other frequently cited drivers included increased productivity for process workers, the ability to provide real-time visibility into key processes and to standardize processes across divisions and regions. Support for compliance efforts and the ability to change processes quickly and easily also were noted. BPM provides language and tools for business transformation, Richardson said, delivering operational insight that moves organizations from traditional lines of business and functional management to horizontal centers of excellence.

We are all familiar with social technologies - we use them everyday in our personal lives to communicate and share ideas. Overlaying that type of familiar and intuitive experience on process means everyone - knowledge workers, managers, executives, partners and customers - can participate in processes and in the optimization of those processes. The crucial element, of course, is to ensure that the social collaboration is tied directly to business events. This is what turns "social" into "social business." That's precisely what we have done with the Appian BPM Suite and the Appian Tempo mobile and social interface.

Drilling more deeply into the technology, Richardson commented on several aspects of social business process. While it certainly aids process design and development - where you're getting the real-time input of, say, 10 or so process stakeholders and can extend process development methodology and tools - the real untapped value is in uniting 10,000 or more process participants during process run-time.

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. It means more support for executing against unstructured processes, ad hoc data, and unplanned business events.

To derive the greatest benefit from BPM, Richardson advised streamlining governance, simplifying the change process, automating workflow and introducing transparent reporting. He recommended pushing down responsibility, empowering teams to make decisions, allowing them to own the process and supporting them with the tools to do so.

We couldn't agree more.

-Ben Farrell, Director, Corporate Communications