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Process Collaboration and Intellectual Property

Lately I have been getting tons of questions from press, analysts, partners as well as customers around one of our key goals in the community: sharing of process information and best practices.  I felt that it would be good to put some of my thoughts on paper and share with you some points of view.

 I think that process information sharing happens at three different levels:

Level 1: sharing information around best practices with commoditized processes.

As companies and their software suppliers focus on the processes that control their business, the potential for the “commoditization” of processes is growing. If you look at most software vendors, the application suites they have sold in the past 10-20 years really encompass about 80% commoditized processes and 20% customizations. 

As James Taylor of BPMI says rightfully so: ” Let’s start by considering why processes are becoming commoditized. The first trend driving this commoditization is the growth in the use of Business Process Management Systems (BPMS).While there are many advantages to BPMS, the growing use of process templates in this context means that there is a real danger that an organization’s competitors may use the same process, thus diluting the “value add” from one company to the next. Similarly, as the major application suite vendors focus more on process-centric automation, they too push companies towards a common process design. Lastly, as companies turn to outsourcing, they find that the standard processes required to make an outsourcing contract workable make them look more and more like their competitors. ” 

Example: The CRM process for taking a service call from a customer is a highly commoditized basic process. There are of course variations on how you take the call ( via a telco solution computer, or personal 1 on 1, or routed to a service center in Asia) However, how you handle the call and how you then enter the call in the system ( customer info, service call #, details, link with possible contract information ,etc) is pretty straight forward. If you look at all the CRM vendors they most of the time have the same type of functionality around this process.

The BPX community as we grow will have a lot of sharing of this type of information of  commoditized process knwoledge in an open fashion( via wiki, blog, e-learning, or forum). There is most of the time nothing propietary around this type of sharing.

Level 2: sharing ideas around new business processes

If most existing processes get more commoditized, the question becomes ” How can companies differentiate themselves, yet still take advantage of the new technologies and approaches in process management? ”

In the early brainstorm phase, the BPX community will and can be a conduit for both networking, so you can get a BPX community team of smart brains around a subject, and also be an open idea exchange platform. This will still happen in an open exchange, however the following detailed design of the processes following the brainstorm sessions, probably will not be discussed in a public format

Level 3: sharing of propietary process knowledge

As it says in the title, lets not expect that anyone in the BPX community will share this type of propietary information with other people in the community, unless it is necessary to take that process to the next level again, so you go back to level 2.

However, we do have this notion of closed wiki spaces, where people by invitation only might work on improving,and adjusting a propietary process or set of processes.

1 Comment
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  • Hi Marco
    Your analisis is very focused, you are definitly on track. I have every day to “switch” level of sharing with colleagues and other members of projects and teams. You are helping me to understand it. Topic that I was thinking, and I wrote some comments about it, it’s about level three. I am helping to customers to create and find better process and services, and when we together finally find it, as a treasure we make it grow. That has a big value, and contribution to that value from tools like wiki could be really marginal. If you find a new valuable process it doesn’t matter if you use wiki or a word doc to get it. That it’s reason because I think that in level three, web2.0 tools (IMO) can have a marginal contribution. In fact best tools I found to brainstorming are people, pens and paper.
    Finally, It was an honour for me to meet you this year in Las Vegas.