Defining Social Business Process Management: A Delphi Study

Defining Social Business Process Management: A Delphi Study

Dalia Suša Vugec (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJESMA.2019010105
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Business process management (BPM) is a holistic discipline which is focused on improving organizational performance by managing the business processes of the organization. In recent decades, it has been widely accepted and implemented across many different organizations with some success. However, there were some issues regarding the traditional approach to BPM, like the reality-model divide, etc. As a response, a new discipline, called social BPM has emerged which is based on the principles of social software. For the purpose of this article, a Delphi study has been conducted with the aim of defining the social BPM as well as to identify its main characteristics. The results are presented in this article, proposing a single definition of social BPM and the list of its characteristics.
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In recent few decades, business process management (BPM) has been in a great focus of many organizations as well as many researchers. Harmon (2007) defines BPM as a managerial discipline focused on improving organizational performance by managing its business processes wherein they are the core of every organization. However, in doing so, traditional approach to BPM stumbled upon some challenges and issues which have been reported by several authors (e.g. Schmidt & Nurcan, 2009; Erol et al., 2010; Ariouat et al., 2017). One of the most common problems refers to the model-reality divide, described by Schmidt & Nurcan (2009) and Erol et al. (2010), while others include issues like deviation and loss of innovation, lack of visibility, information pass-on threshold, lack of cooperation and lack of information fusioning. Most of these occur because of the lack of collaboration within the organization and/or because of lack of involvement of key shareholders. The answer to the stated problems has been found in the attempt to implement the principles of social software as well as the social software usage for BPM as the new approach within the area of BPM. This new and emerging discipline has been named social BPM. Nevertheless, there is still no strong consensus on what social BPM really includes or on its definition. Moreover, different authors indicate different definitions and propose different characteristics of social BPM. For example, Pflanzl & Vossen (2013) view social BPM as “the practice of actively involving all relevant stakeholders into BPM through the use of social software and its underlying principles”, while Kirchmer et al. (2013) define it as “a tool that uses social media such as community Web pages, blogs, or on-line social networks to drive transparency in organizations.” Moreover, Lee et al. (2011) describe social BPM as “a promising tool to improve the performance of an organization by providing extensible communication tools, informal data handling functions, and knowledge based decision supports” while Batista et al. (2017) indicate that social BPM is “the combination of BPM with social and collaborative techniques for the purpose of exploring collaboration among stakeholders throughout the BPM lifecycle.”

This study is fully supported by Croatian Science Foundation under the project PROSPER - Process and Business Intelligence for Business Performance [IP-2014-09-3729]. One of the goals of the PROSPER project is to explore and define the concept of Social BPM and to investigate the levels of its acceptance within the companies participating in the project. In order to fulfil the stated goal, and with the purpose of identification, analysis and determination of the key concepts of the social BPM, a Delphi study has been conducted. Having in mind the goals of the PROSPER project and the lack of consensus on social BPM definition, the goal of this paper is to propose the definition of the social BPM as well as to identify its main characteristics, as indicated by the conducted Delphi study.

With the purpose of meeting the stated goal, the paper is organized as follows. After this short introduction, a theoretical background is given with the focus on social BPM and the description of the Delphi method. Next, the Delphi study on social BPM is presented by first presenting the employed methodology and then presenting the results of the conducted study. The paper ends with a conclusion, limitations and directions for future research.

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