Can't we just use SharePoint for process management?

We often get asked this question. Why can't we just use SharePoint to manage / improve processes?

What we usually find is project teams and business analysts (BAs), if given the choice, almost always prefer the status quo. They'd rather keep building processes on documents with the same tools they've used for years, like Visio and Word:

- They can apply an approved style, but essentially it's freeform, they can draw at whatever level of complexity suits their current project

- It's fast for BAs. Processes can be churned out relatively quickly

- The primary project objectives are met - process created, signed-off, tick.

- They can be left on the network, or easily added to an intranet / document management system / SharePoint at the end of the project

We call this approach the 'old way'. Most organisations are now considering BPM tools like Promapp, because this approach almost always fails for business teams that are serious about owning and driving process improvement on an ongoing basis - after the project.

Judging by a 2 year horizon after an improvement project:

1. Change management is critical. Visio charts and documents are consistently ignored by business teams, for valid reasons. They're documents, and are not well suited to navigating through multi-level, multi-'object' (think forms, guides, policies), multi-relationship information, which is what processes are.

2. Hyper-links to associated docs? Without two way traceability, not manageable.

3. Drawing tools like Visio, whilst simple for project teams, have proven too hard for business teams to manage. They're left, not managed.

4. Process guidance disappears off the radar with zero interaction. Effective process management depends on personalised notifications and reminders - a personal dashboard that triggers emails to owners.

5. It's good practice to build a central process repository of process knowledge, but does that mean it's good enough to publish processes in one place only. Build it and they will come? Process information needs to be available and updated real-time across multiple platforms that it is accessed from (central repository, intranet, CRM menu, ERP menu, tablet, smart phone, etc)

The majority of our clients use SharePoint, and use it well. In fact we strongly recommend it as one of the deployment channels for their processes from Promapp. The two are easy to blend because the dynamic content from Promapp slots into standard web-page web parts.

SharePoint is a very flexible tool, but it has been touted as a cure for many ills. Used to store process documents, it's turned out to be similar to the old way, but on SharePoint.

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