Collaborative Process Management & the Wisdom of the Crowd

Written by Lucas de Boer | 5 min read
Published on: January 21st 2020 - Last modified: November 13th, 2020
collaborative process management - two women using post-it notes

Collaboration is vital to any modern business. But these days, it has to be more than file sharing and video conferencing. Organizations need to place collaboration at the heart of everything they do, and give their employees the chance to collaborate not only on their work, but on the processes that underpin that work. Welcome to the world of collaborative process management.

Why collaborate?

In many ways, collaboration comes naturally to humans. We have an instinctive grasp of the ways that collaboration can improve the outcomes of our efforts, and we understand that bringing people with different experiences, skills, temperaments, and knowledge together in pursuit of a common goal produces a better result in almost all circumstances.

In a workplace setting, the same principle applies. In fact, a significant component of our working lives is predicated on how effectively we are at managing our interaction and collaboration with colleagues and team members. No doubt anyone reading this can remember at least one training session or workshop designed to improve teamwork and communication, and therefore increase productivity. (Often these sessions will have a particular project management methodology they offer, usually involving a rhyme or a pun...)

The relatively recent explosion of web-based collaborative project management tools is testament to the fact that people are looking for simple, usable ways to bring structure to their organization, improve project management, and operate more effectively as a team. What this type of collaborative project management software misses, however, is the capacity to take a step further, and allow employees to work collaboratively to define the underlying processes that drive their day-to-day work.

The power of collaborative process management

Project management tools have their place in any organization, and are obviously fit-for-purpose at the level of task management and ensuring project members have a clear understanding of their role within the lifecycle of a given project. Depending on the specific project management tool, there may also be the capacity to coordinate work, distribute tasks, the ability for team members to report progress back to the project manager, and so on.

Collaborative process management, however, is a different thing entirely. It offers a framework for team members to identify opportunities to improve the way their organization actually works at a fundamental level. In effect, it allows every staff member to be a project manager, with the project in question being the business itself!

By now, most modern businesses understand the benefits of effective business process management, in terms of increasing productivity and reducing costs. However, most modern businesses are also managing challenges like extensive and potentially outdated IT systems, a wide variety of customers and markets, and mismatched processes across different business units or business locations. The difficulty of knowing where to start can sometimes be overpowering.

Welcome to the 'wisdom of the crowd'

Here lies one of the truly great aspects of collaborative process management—harnessing the 'wisdom of the crowd'. The temptation is to leave process management to the experts, to let a select group of stakeholders define and manage the way processes should work for the entire team. Collaborative process management, on the other hand, removes this top-down approach and offers the chance for any and all team members to provide their insights into how business processes should operate, and especially how they can be improved.

This methodology also means people’s understanding of BPM grows throughout the organisation and, as a consequence, they also gain a better understanding of quality standards and the expectations, requirements, and norms within their organization. Team members therefore become part of effective process management within their organization, giving them a greater feeling of ownership and connection to the work they do. This encourages them to collaborate even more in future, likely leading to a corresponding improvement in productivity.

Collaborative process management in action

Fundamentally, collaborative process management rests on three key pillars:

  • Supporting process transparency and visibility by breaking down silos and encouraging real-time communication, knowledge sharing, collaboration, and engagement;
  • Acting as a solid foundation for consistency, standardization, and harmonization of activities across the entire team within an business, making teamwork easier for all; and
  • Serving as a means to distribute critical information to all users through a centralized 'single source of truth', avoiding surprises and ensuring the communication of new and changed process elements.

It's important to remember that file sharing, task management, and other collaboration tools associated with traditional project management all still have a place within the framework of collaborative process management, it's just that these activities take place once the underlying processes have been optimized. (In fact, it is even possible that a project manager would be required to manage the communication and logistical requirements as diverse teams collaborate on process optimization itself!)

To provide some practical examples, collaborative process management may involve suggesting edits to a specific workflow, even if that workflow 'belongs to' a different business unit within the organization. It may be offering a single place for employees who work in different places (potentially different floors, different facilities, or different countries) to collaborate on defining the scope of a new process that needs to be implemented. It could even be something as simple as file sharing across time zones, especially when those files are specialized types, or refer to process models themselves.

In short, it doesn’t matter if someone is a complete novice or a process professional—every employee can be included in process management, with the opportunity to collaborate with their colleagues. Transparency and open communication are the key ingredients, ensuring everyone is able to contribute to the long-term improvement of processes.

Collaborative process management with SAP Signavio Collaboration Hub

Team collaboration has always been a guiding principle for Signavio. In fact, Signavio as it is today evolved from an attempt to find the answer to a single question: "Why is it so easy for people to edit one another’s texts and share their expertise online, but there’s no collaborative process management software out there?" In short, Signavio's founders wanted to bring the power of team collaboration into the realm of process management.

SAP Signavio Collaboration Hub underpins business transformation for companies of all shapes and sizes, across dozens of industries. Whether driven by the need to manage digital disruption, protect the business from new challengers, or ensure an agile approach to new opportunities, the sweeping overhaul characterized by business transformation requires new ways of creating value and innovation.

In pursuit of this goal, SAP Signavio Collaboration Hub can help you:

  • Avoid cumbersome, time-consuming email chains, or sifting through folders for the latest version of documents.
  • Create, capture, and manage business process information, with cloud-based infrastructure enabling it to be shared by anyone, any time.
  • Manage and enhance team collaboration and communication across business units, time zones, and geographical locations.
  • Centralize your data, manage access, and collaborate in real time, so you can clearly see, understand, and interact with the data that matters most—a 'single source of truth' for your business.
  • Unite your daily data with a strategic view using the SAP Signavio Collaboration Hub operational Launchpad, turning static process models into dynamic and responsive dashboards, underpinning your organization's process management with real-time collaboration.

Next steps

By leveraging a single source of truth for the entire organization, your company can implement next-gen collaborative and transparent working environments and aim for workflow automation, with real-time comments and enhanced communication as standard. The wisdom of the crowd and the SAP Signavio Process Transformation Suite can be a truly powerful combination!

For an agile, cloud-based approach to process management, with team collaboration and communication at its core, look no further than the SAP Signavio Process Transformation Suite. If you're looking to move beyond project management software, you're keen to have exceptional collaboration tools at your fingertips, and you know automation is part of your company's future, the SAP Signavio Process Transformation Suite could be the solution you need. To find out, sign up for a free 30-day trial today.

Published on: January 21st 2020 - Last modified: November 13th, 2020