Process Thinking with the Development of Social Collaborative Business Processes for PLM

I’ve been thinking about how a company can use business process tools to manage their processes. In one of my previous posts, “How to improve PLM process before PLM system using BPMN,” I discussed the possibility of using process tools supporting BPMN to capture business processes in the organization. One of the key ideas in this post was that you can use BPMN tools to capture process definition, and later, to implement these processes using tools and systems you already have in your organization. PLM and dedicated BPMS products are systems that can be used for this process implementation.

 When I started to think about how process capturing may occur, I came to the conclusion that the business process capturing process is very painful for an organization. As for product development in a manufacturing organization, this process can differ greatly from organization to organization. So process capturing is natural step for the organization when they implement Product Lifecycle Management and create a collaborative business process environment. 

What we can do to change this? One of the ways is to reuse the practice of social networking and crowdsourcing for process capturing. My key point in formulating this conclusion is that process development knowledge in an organization is spread over many departments – engineering, manufacturing and others. It is very problematic to have people efficiently involved in capturing their existing processes – too many people, too much time… Also, people are busy running their businesses and claim not to have time for processes capturing. Allowing all people in the organization to be involved in ‘capturing processes’ which I refer to as “Process Thinking” changes the rules of the game. With everyone involved, people are able to do multiple reviews. Step-by-step adjustments can make a significant change in the product development process implementation for PLM. In addition, this process can improve people’s process adoption. Socially created processes will reflect the existing processes accurately. Afterwards business process management tools can optimize and improve existing processes. 

How can we make this happen practically? The answer probably comes from software providers. What if process tools were to support a staged process of continuous process changes? Each person would be able to adjust the process to reflect the way people manage their work. Allowing everyone to vote and approve process changes will let all people be involved in the process definition possible right from the beginning. Another important achievement would be an increased trust in the process definition – normally, people trust something more if they were a part of it and defined it collaboratively together.

 I believe that you may have some experience in this by trying to centralize the definition and approval of processes. However, making process definition open and transparent for all people in the organization can allow PLM companies to leapfrog the overall adoption of PLM systems in an organization.


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