Amit Kothari Structure, Visibility & Measurement: Linking Social to Business Processes
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By Amit Kothari


Social enterprise efforts have sceptics - and sometimes for good reason. Whilst social collaboration has important qualitative use cases, some executives struggle to see how social tools can fit into existing business processes. Social by nature is unstructured, but bringing social behaviour into a structured process could provide visibility, enable process improvements and allow you to capture all actions - down to the tiniest step to see real-time analytics.


FreePint Topic Series: The Social EnterpriseA "business process" is an operational status quo that hasn't changed for a long time.

In manufacturing, they may be part of management methods such as Kaizen. In professional services, some processes are effectively just recommendations, unless they are compliance-driven.

The gap between unstructured social and structured business processes is very large, and the problem remains painful.

Handpick Your Processes

The critical path to getting this right involves structuring social, making processes visible, and finally, using structure to allow everything to be measured, leading to real-time analytics.

Picking the right type of process or use case is critical to gaining the most benefit from social.

An example can be found in identifying simple steps that need tracking, such as onboarding new employees (PDF), new clients (PDF) or new suppliers. Equally, the termination of a contract and an employee leaving is an important process to get right.

Key Questions

Here are some key questions to ask when trying to link social to a business process: 

  • Is this a distributed process, involving many different teams? Is overall visibility required (ie tracking)?

  • Are the steps time-sensitive or ordered in a simple way?

  • Is there any exception/problem handling method right now for the process?

  • When dealing with exceptions, is there an easy way to incorporate learning points into the core process, so that things are improved next time?

  • Are there incentives or clear structures to informally suggest improvements to a process to the process owners?

  • Is improvement to a process measurable and visible, so that the situation before and after can be easily attributed to a specific person or improvement?

  • Between the beginning and end of the process, is there a large amount of temporary information, or chaos and complexity?

  • Does the value of intermediate information in a process diminish rapidly when the process ends?

Define the Opportunities Between Business Processes and Social

It's clear that applying social to everything is not the answer, since social solutions can generate immense amounts of unstructured information, making matters worse than before.

What's required is a structured but socially-enabled information container which captures, tracks and facilitates business processes. We are then able to apply social in a focused, structured manner.

Add Structure to Social

Deriving business benefit is ultimately about the simplification of business processes first, followed by carefully adding social features.

With semi-structured models for interaction and content, it might be finally possible to reach a stage of measurable and collaborative business processes.

Ultimately, this can help you to track, improve, measure and analyse business processes far more elegantly. The benefits are clear accountability and real-time visibility, making processes your business differentiator.

Editor's Note:

FreePint Subscribers can log in now to read and share more about the social media "tidal wave" and its impact on business processes in Amit's article Bridging the Gap Between Business Processes & the Social Enterprise.

The Social Enterprise

The FreePint Topic Series: The Social Enterprise runs from January to March 2014 to examine the ways that organisations are maximising internal social connections and knowledge management.

Register your interest now for notification of new content published in the series, to get early announcements to register for FreePint Webinars produced in the series, and to receive a free copy of the FreePint Report: Buyer's Guide on Social Tools, scheduled for publication in March.

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