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Business process management faces many challenges. According to a new Forrester report, the biggest challenge facing BPM success is more social than technological. As it turns out, human behavior creates more logjams than most system integrations.

Identifying Obstacles to BPM

Think about it. Teams of people, from various departments, come together in an effort to streamline workflows and facilitate collaboration -- sometimes for the first time. What could go wrong? Three things, actually. Forrester's report, Social Breaks The Logjam On Business Process Improvement Initiatives, outlines three cultural challenges impeding business processes from being successfully implemented.

Getting on the Same Page

Not everyone is familiar with the same terminology or comfortable with the same technology. Additionally, business people, process owners, and stakeholders come to the table with their own notions of what constitutes a business process. Such inconsistencies can slow down the whole process. Forrester says that

Even with the introduction of business process modeling notation and Agile development, process professionals still report taking three to four cycles — i.e., different process improvement projects — to standardize terminology and methodology for their initiatives."

Fighting Turf Wars

Office politics usually play a significant role in what and how decisions get made. Unfortunately the same is true for BPM. Forrester found that power struggles over BPM often involve teams in time-consuming maneuvering that slow down overall progress for process improvement.

Taking Ownership

After all the bickering and foot-dragging, it may be hard to get anyone to take ownership of the project. While IT is often in charge, many other departments may jockey for position, leaving others feeling left out. Getting the right people to be empowered and in control of projects is not easy, but engaging stakeholders in the full life cycle for process improvement is a start.

Fighting Social with Social

Forrester suggests that solving social problems often takes social technologies. Yet, if you thought there were obstacles to implementing BPM, engaging with social media in the enterprise isn’t any easier. The opportunities that social media can provide are often misunderstood, underestimated and undervalued.

Social platforms can do much more than just facilitate knowledge -- they have the potential to engage more people at once. As a result, more voices are heard and conversations can begin to improve processes, rather than impede them. Additionally, social BPM can help guide smarter decisions during process execution by delivering relevant content and information through a streamlined workflow.

Of course, social BPM can only go so far. The point is to make all the pieces of the BPM puzzle come together so that everyone feels empowered and informed, which in turn can alleviate many of these obstacles.