Archive for Social Business Processes

Enabling Enterprise-Wide Social Business Processes

With the launch of Cim v2.1 last month, I’ve been engaging with a very different set of business groups amongst our customers.  These are groups that have really never gotten into leveraging SharePoint – even though their organization has it deployed enterprise wide.  They are now looking to leverage Cim on SharePoint 2010 to scale out and up enterprise-wide business processes that have been operating in limited, cumbersome environments.  This scenario that we call enterprise-wide social business processes (EW-SBP) is a targeted scenario for Cim and leverages the entire CorasWorks value proposition.  In this article, I’ll provide the overview of this scenario.  In future blogs, I’ll drill into specific business processes.


The Situation

These enterprise customers have existing business processes that require contributions from a large groups of users.  You might say that they have a big, front-end funnel.  The organizations have already determined what their process is and that it works for the business. They’ve been doing it, but, it has been painful. As they exist today, they are too limited in visibility and touch, they are cumbersome and not scalable (usually built or managed using spreadsheets and/or legacy systems such as SAP and Siebel), and, they are expensive and a hassle to maintain and move forward.

As Cim v2.1 has gotten out there, these business groups are bringing us their processes.  Here is what they want:

- Broad User Scale – They want to scale the front-end of the process to be able to engage a very broad set of users – the whole enterprise, a division, or their business group.  They want this to occur with very little upfront or ongoing effort.  They want to be able to launch new initiatives with just a bit of effort and not having to reinvent a new process/system.

- Robust Process Management – They want their core process, the way they manage it now (but better and easier), to be part of the solution.  They want it to be rich, configurable, and flexible without requiring a computer science degree.

- Enterprise Integration – They want this front-end engagement/process to be able to connect to their external back-end systems (like their project management systems) to a) push approved items into these systems or b) expose the enterprise data within the system to assist the users of the process.  NOTE: Some of these business groups are now considering the option of also leveraging SharePoint to do this also.


Some Examples

In many cases, the processes that these business groups are looking for are already part of the CorasWorks stable.  Some examples of them are as follows.

New Project Initiation – they usually have multiple project management systems, off SharePoint.  What they want is the front-end where people can submit new project ideas, get visibility and collaboration, and then, put them through a review, evaluation, and approval process.  The approved one then get pushed into their PMO or into Project Portfolios in their enterprise project management system.  Their objective is to reduce project duplication and make sure that the projects that even get considered are thought out and vetted amongst a broad, visible audience.

Change Request Management – We are seeing two main “flavors” of this.  One is driven by product groups, the other by IT.  In sum, they want to open up the front end to a broad set of users to be able to easily submit and collaborate on change requests.  Then, they want to run them through a review and approval process.  The approved ones will get pushed into their external system or into project sites or team sites within SharePoint for implementation.  The value is a broader funnel that allows for better collaboration before the change requests move into consideration.

New Product Innovation – We are getting multiple variations for this scenario.   But at the core, the business owners want to engage the full enterprise to capture ideas for new products and markets.  They want to put them through a review and approval process, and then, push them to external systems or SharePoint sites for people to incorporate into their next product cycle.  With this process they are looking to drive revenue growth and competitive strength through a bigger funnel for innovative ideas, the ability to get more varied collaborative input, and the means to target the “thinking” of the organization towards specific challenges/opportunities.

Continuous Improvement Programs – At the enterprise or division level, organizations are looking to capture ideas, projects, plans to feed into a program they are using to manage their Continuous Improvement.  Usually, these are operations oriented groups.  They are looking for ideas for cutting costs, decreasing cycle time, and overall efficiencies.  They want broad participation (sometimes mandatory), and then, they review and approve the ideas, and move them into implementation.


The Cim Enterprise-Wide Social Business Process (EW-SBP) Solution

The basic design of our solution is the same across all of the four examples above.  It is a distributed process that lays on top of and cuts across the SharePoint environment and beyond.  Below is a screenshot depicting a generic process.

Generic EW-SBP

The process breaks down into three distinct sets of activities as follows:

Collaboration: Users will have access to one or more communities to contribute and collaborate with others on the items.  They will do this from wherever they work across SharePoint using the Cim Activity Stream.  The items are all collected in one or more “communities”.

Process: The process owners then go about reviewing, evaluating, and approving the items.  It may be a simple process with a few core decision makers.  Or, they may use collaborative reviews that pull in subject matter experts and other managers.  Further, they can configure multiple stage-gates, with specific activities within each stage that need to be completed before the item is promoted.  Here they will make the decision.  And, they will manage the overall portfolio leveraging various reporting features.

Execution: They then push approved items into downstream project sites, processes, programs, or team sites.  These downstream activities may be in external enterprise systems or may exist within the SharePoint environment.  For instance, CorasWorks provides our Project Portfolio Management solution that runs on SharePoint and is integrated with Cim to make this phase a natural next step.

The core selling points of the CorasWorks Cim v2.1 solution are:

- it runs natively on SharePoint and thus they can leverage this existing enterprise infrastructure

- the CorasWorks Cim solution is largely off the shelf in terms of the core things they want for their process

- Cim is easy to use and feature rich, providing contributor users and process users with a good experience

- Cim is easily adaptable and they can see how they can tweak it where they need it

- Cim is based upon the CorasWorks Solution Platform, which is a mature platform (now in v11) and gives them the flexibility to extend the solution in the places where they require some deep enterprise integration

- the price is very competitive and they are able to launch additional processes using the same framework



In sum, we are seeing Cim v2.1 running on SharePoint 2010 being adopted for enterprise-wide social business processes.  Effectively, these customers are leveraging our solution to scale their existing processes.  They are targeting broad numbers of users (5,000 to 50,000).  The target is usually enterprise-wide or at the division level.  They want the front-end collaboration, a clean, robust process to get to the decision on items, and, the flexibility to then use different means for execution (building, implementing) and or extend the solution as needed.

In future articles, I’ll drill down into specific processes and talk about specific features and benefits.


How Cim v2.0 Communities Drive Enhanced Effectiveness of Social Collaboration on SharePoint 2010

A great number of organizations are in the midst of their migration to SharePoint 2010.  This migration carries with it a new set of expectations for the platform.  So, what are the key areas for new value?  A common one cited is potential network effect of social collaboration with your internal workforce.  In this article, I will drill down into Cim v2.0 Communities and how they enable a new level of organizational effectiveness and directly drive tangible business value through social collaboration.  

So, what is it that customers want from social collaboration that enhances the value derived from their SharePoint 2010 workplaces?  Here is my list of common wants:

- a richer set of interactive collaborative features

- greater visibility across the workplace and less navigation

- easier and more convenient to use

- reusability across varying scenarios

- drives improved efficiency AND effectiveness of purposeful activities

- results in tangible improvements in business value

Within Cim, social collaboration is driven through our Communities.  Cim includes a Community module, one of nine in the product. This module is at the heart of the overall social collaboration experience.  As you will see below, Cim Communities are not necessarily destination sites (although they can be and they may be part of one) as we have historically considered a community to be.  Rather, Cim Communities become core features of your SharePoint environment providing a robust Community experience and driving social collaboration.  This distinction makes Cim Communities able to be much more targeted at specific purposes that drive tangible activity and business results.

There are three core aspects of Cim Communities that work together to produce the above result – they are:

- Rich, interactive, social collaboration feature set

- Usage Flexibility

- Designed to Support Direct Alignment to Business Processes


Rich, interactive, social collaboration feature set

Because we designed our communities as drivers for business processes, they come with a very rich feature set.  I’ll list the top ones in three sections below.

First, the general features of Cim v2.0 Communities are (NOTE: for more technical people):

- Each is technically a native SharePoint site – thus, data, functionality, security and administration are in native SharePoint

- The user experience is delivered via a distributable Snaplet that can be snapped onto any web part page across your SharePoint environment.  The Snaplet is self-contained – one very robust web part.  The result is that you don’t have to navigate to the community to participate.

- It is a multi-content experience (technically a mash-up) – it is not data typed into separate web parts like those within a team site – the experience and content revolves around each item within a given community

- Customizable contributor web 2.0-style forms, with custom fields that can be set for public or private

- Each Community can be “fit to purpose” with the features and metadata for the purpose, including styling using our CSS-framework

- Communities support configurable Groups to slice the contributions and Managed Tags to further slice contributions – used by users for access and back-end processes

- Users can subscribe to the entire Community, a Group, a Managed Tag, an Author, or individual articles – they will then receive a feed of the relevant activity

- Users can perform searches within one community or across a portfolio of communities distributed across an environment

Now, to some specific collaborative features. Below we show a detail view of a posting to one of our communities whose purpose is to gather Product Ideas that are then put through a downstream stage gate process for approval.

recycled values


Here are some of the key features of this display:

- Custom Fields – you can expose custom fields used for management and downstream processes.  Above we expose Status, Group, and Pulse.

- Feedback – users can comment and do star rating (1-5) which translates to Star Power calculation used in supporting Top 10 Listings and Reports

- Documents – the author and community users can upload documents and add notes

- Peer Reviews – each community can have a peer review form tailored to its purpose.  The form is customizable.  You can have choice fields that are used in weighted scoring, and also, absolute fields for numeric and dates (for surveys), or text fields.

- Pulse Auto-Promotion – the administrator can set Pulse categories (such as Bubbling above, Hot, Cold, etc.) and thresholds based upon activity and data to auto-magically promote items to a different Pulse.  It can also trigger notifications and review gate changes.

- Managed Tags – each contribution can be tagged by the author using Managed Tags set by the administrator – these make it easy for users to access related items and subscribe to feeds

- Social tagging – each contribution can be tagged into SharePoint 2010 My Sites which then add it to the social network


Additional back-end/downstream features:

- You can create customized emails triggered by activity

- You can trigger notifications based upon changes (like Pulse changes) or time

- You can enable Content Approval to require approval before publishing or to be used in a one to many scenario such as when you use a Community to submit personal requests

- It supports a complete private collaborative display for downstream managers to comment, do separate Management Reviews (with different forms from Peer Reviews), and vote on items in a private environment

- It supports a downstream stage gate process with extensive configurable activities to drive Community contributions into and through a process


Usage Flexibility

The above feature set along with other modules of Cim v2.0 drive some typical and some unique usage scenarios.  Let’s start with the typical.  You can create Communities of Purpose.  Most other vendors target their communities for a scenario where you are deploying a site (like a team site) or a portal with features including a core community-like experience.  In our case, you’d create a portal with a Community at the core surrounded by other Cim features and SharePoint features.  These communities tend to be standing and somewhat passive sites.  

A new, more untypical approach with Cim Communities is to think of them as activity driving tools vs. passive sites.  We have found communities to be extremely effective as tools for event-driven activities such as in our Idea and Innovation management scenarios.  In this scenario, you would bring up a Community for a specific campaign, such as gathering product ideas for a business line.  It would be “open” for say 30 days.  Then, it is closed and the results are worked.  This has shown to driven great participation.

A key part of Cim Communities is that they are not Site dependent.  Thus, for instance, you can have many communities as part of a site.  Imagine you are building out the Product Management portal.   The users would work right in the portal with the full feature set of every community at their fingertips. Some communities could be:

- the general Product Management dept collaborative community

- a campaign for a new product line as above

- a standing community for Technical Challenges where needs are posted and resolved

- a community for Process Improvements with a back-end process to vett and approve them for implementation

- a customer stories community to capture stories from the field and expose them to collaborative feedback

- a Help desk, request community of the organization to capture requests (that is on every department portal) and managed by engineers using content approval

Following, this model you could use a Cim Community to augment an existing Extranet or Internet-facing site.  An example would be a community to capture online customer stories to feed into a marketing process.

You can also access a Cim Community from anywhere within SharePoint.  Because of the Snaplet architecture, the same community experience can be be snapped in the Product Management portal as above, and also, the Marketing department, and, the Enterprise portal.  A team may want the convenience of having this Community in their team site, or, the VP, Products may want it in their My Site.  This ability to distribute the “community experience” via a Snaplet enhances visibility, breadth of participation, and level of engagement. Below we show the Snaplet of the Product Ideas community in a My Site.  it is showing the article listing page of the community.  They can do all their work from within their My Site.

my site - product ideas


Designed to Support Direct Alignment to Business Processes

Within Cim, the Community is one of many modules.  Its role is to be the front-end for social collaboration.  It is common amongst social tools vendors to talk about how social capabilities and tools indirectly drive business value.  A common refrain is that a Community of Purpose say for an Engineering team adds business value by allowing engineers to share information and develop and improve better processes and techniques.  We definitely agree that this can add business value.  However, typically this Community of Purpose is not directly tied into a flow of business activity or a process which means that it may not really add tangible business value.

With Cim Communities, we have designed them so that they can be tied directly into back-end business processes. Let’s take the above Community of Purpose for Engineering.  Now, lets add a Cim Community to that site.  Its purpose is to capture the ideas for Process Improvements (new, changes, kill, etc.).  It is tied to a formal Process Improvement process. The engineers can share challenges and ideas and provide feedback and additional within the community.  It is a feature of that site.

Behind the scenes (the Management side of a Community) is a structured stage gate process to review and decide on whether to implement a given idea.  The Process Change Management team team has a private collaborative interface where they can comment, do formal reviews, and vote on each contribution.  It also is a Snaplet and may be accessed from any site across SharePoint.  Activity here updates activity in the Community in the site.  Below we show a sample of this Management Activity display. 

mgmtactivity - crop

This back end process is supported by other Cim features to manage the stage gate process, the portfolio, activity management such as delegating tasks, the portfolio, reporting etc.  Now, the Cim Community is directly tied into a business process that drives business value.

The result of this integration of a social community and a business process is that there is a more direct and tangible relationship to business value.  This also tends to drive engagement and participation since people know that this Community drives a formal process (what we call a Social Business Process).

Now, not every community should be tied directly to processes.  In a typical organization, perhaps 20-30%.  However, you will find that many Communities of Purpose come up with items that could and probably should then flow into a downstream business activity.  With Cim Communities, you can tap into these communities as a source to drive downstream processes.  


Cim and Cim Communities provide the rich, social collaboration experience that you expect with social software.  However, we have gone further to insure that you can take it the next step and very purposely leverage the powerful network effect of social collaboration to drive business value.  The fact that you can use Cim Communities with existing sites where and when you need it makes it a great way to incrementally add value to your organization.


Ease, Power and Value of Cim Stage Gate Forms

In my article, moments ago I wrote about Social Collaboration for Managers.  Let’s stay in the process management discussion and cover another important feature for managers that are working items through their Stage Gate process.  The feature is Forms.  Cim has some extra details that really bring out the power of forms in a Stage Gate process and make it unusually easy to tailor the forms thus enabling you to continually improve your process.

So, a form is just a form – right?  Not really.  Let’s put it in context.  Usually, we think of a form as either a New, or Edit, or a View form.  They do one of these.  In fact, in SharePoint they have different names.  In addition, typically we think of a form as a single all in one item.  Thus, if you are entering a record for an item with 20 fields, then, the form will have 20 fields.  We also think of a form as working on a single type of item – particularly in a SharePoint context where end-user activity is typically data typed.

However, in a Cim Stage Gate business process, the activity of people changes at each Stage.  This is the design.  In addition, at each Stage, you may have different people or groups of people acting in the roles for that Stage.  They may act on different types of data that are related.  Further, you may want certain individuals to have special rights to perform unique actions at that Stage.  The upshot is that the activities within Stages are different.  So, we figure that the forms should be able to be different also.

Below we show a typical Cim form.  At first glance it looks like a normal form.  The form has 11 fields.  True.  But, actually it is one form working on an item that has 40+ fields.  This particular form is for Moderator Notes used at the initial Screening stage.  Note that the form has read only fields and edit fields.  Thus, with this form the user can only do 3 things.  They can attach documents, make some notes, or check off the assessments required.  But, they can see other data to put their work in context.  You can also specify what group of people you want to be able to use this form vs. another form.  Yes, in one Stage Gate display you actually can have multiple, role-based forms.

stage gate forms

Below, we show another form to Task a Supporting Team.  This one is available at the Review stage.  It is used to assign tasks to people.  But, it is a rather robust little “form”.  First, it doesn’t just assign the task, it actually goes out and creates a new task in a Team Site for a team located somewhere across a SharePoint environment.  it doesn’t just add the fields you enter on the form, but, it pushed forward say 5-10 other fields from the item that you are working on.  This way the assignor only fills out a few fields, but, the assigned team/user has everything that they need at their fingertips. 

Well almost.  This new task is related back to the item that you are working on so that the person working the task can access additional information such as related documentation, comments, and interact with others “upstream”.  This remotely assigned task is trackable as part of the business process.  The form can also kick off chained actions such as notifying people, logging items or updating other related information.

Now, that is a lot of work for a little form.


The Value is in the Ease of Configuration

Okay, so maybe I have you thinking that our Cim forms are quite useful.  But, that is really just the beginning.  The key to business value is that we make it very easy for a non-technical person to create their own “forms”.  This is really where the value comes from.  Your process is different from other business teams and organizations.  Your process changes; you get better, smarter, leaner, and even smarter.  The value is that Cim can very easily adapt to deliver the continuous improvement in your process.

How? Cim leverages the underlying CorasWorks v11 Solution Platform to make this happen.  You use a nifty tool called the CorasWorks Actions Wizard to create or modify your forms.  You have many options to choose from, all by clicking, and then you can snap your new form into your business process.  Bottom line is that it might take 2-3 minutes to create a form and snap it in and try it out.  And, you can even change the color in that time.  The Action Wizard is designed for truely non-technical users, what some like to call the new Citizen Developer.

Remember the Stage Gate

Before ending, let me restate that Cim usually is implemented in a Stage Gate process.  Each stage is different, and, different people will do different things at each stage.  The forms are a key aspect of laying out the work stream through the stage gates.  In future articles, I’ll drill down further into the other types of actions provides by Cim that drive activity in your process such as Human Actions, Task Automation, Workflow, Email Notifications, System Notifications, Chained Actions, Timer Actions and more.  The key for all of these in Cim is that they are easily tailored, by non-technical people using wizards, to meet the changing needs of Your process.  The ability for the software to be easily adapted is a core value proposition for continuous innovation and improvement.

Cim forms, at your service…


Social Collaboration for Managers (they are people too)

Cim v2.0 has a lot of new social collaboration features such as Peer Reviews, Scoring, Auto-Promotion, Virtual Workspaces, My Site Snaplets, My Site Bookmarking/Tagging to Social Networks.  Most of these are oriented towards the general community (“the crowd”) and intended to drive broad visibility and participation.  But, what about the managers that have to wallow away actually reviewing, evaluating, and deciding on all of these great ideas, requests, proposals, projects, etc.  Well Cim v2.0 puts some social sizzle in their hands also…

In previous articles, I’ve talked about how Cim blends the two sides of the same coin – Social Collaboration and Business Process.  Generally, we talk about the general community being the spot for social collaboration, whereas, the Stage Gate process is for the managers, reviewers, decision makers.

In Cim v2.0, we introduced the Management Activity Panel.  Now, the managers have their own way to get social amongst their smaller group of people.  Below we show this new feature.


On the left is a listing of the various items that they have to review.  It is like a speed review listing.  It uses a nice, fast and efficient incremental search. Note that they can also quickly see which items they have already reviewed and voted on vs. those that are open.

On the right, is where they do their social collaboration.  This is their private space.  Here they can see the submission description and details in one click.  They can make comments that are private to their group, ie., not shown to the general community.  They can do reviews.  Their reviews can be different from the peer reviews in the general community.  They can have their own review questions, choices, subjective, and absolute and the reviews can be scored with weightings of questions.  Lastly, they can Vote.  Note that their votes are shown to all of the other members of their group.  (Unlike in the community, where the Ratings are averaged and not shown by individual).  And, they can change their votes at any time (but they only get one).

Thus, in Cim v2.0, managers, reviewers, process owners, now have their own private, space to get social.  It is fast, efficient, robust, and compact.  This drives an effective conversation as they deliberate on items, and, it does it efficiently.

Simply, a better way to work.  Enjoy…


Cim for Process Improvements: It’s Official, It’s the BRI in Cim v2.0

Cim v2.0 is coming up next month.  We have Base Reference Implementations (BRI’s) that are part of the shipped product.  These are standardized, off-the-shelf solutions that are initially implemented to get customers up and running quickly.  They are then customized to meet the customers different application scenarios.  Thus, one BRI serves as the base for many applications within that solution type.

In Cim v2.0, we are adding the Social Business Processes solution type – what we call Cim Process.  We have a number of different applications that we’ve built running up to the launch for beta including Project Initiation, Customer Stories, Process Improvements, Technical Solution Challenges, Requirements Gathering, Product Change Requests, Strategic Planning, and Enterprise Best Practices.  We’ve done bake-offs/surveys/debates to decide which should be the BRI in the product.  The official decision is Process Improvements.

The somewhat obvious reason is that a Process Improvement app logically relates to a solution type that is about social business processes.  It makes sense to use it to get ideas, vet them and decide what business processes you want to create, change, etc.  However, an even more powerful reason was that very few of our customers actually had any structured way of managing the process of improving processes.  In addition, those that did only had methods that they could use to big, new, deep processes – this left a huge gap for improvements.  As we showed them Process Improvements, this became clear, and, most quickly recognized the gap and wanted to address it.

Below is a screen shot of the home page of the winner in all of its Blue and Red glory.

PI Home - red


Let’s talk a bit about this solution that will now be the BRI…

It is a powerful, yet simple solution.  The nuance of process change is that not all change means creating new processes.  Accordingly, within the application we provide for tagging your ideas for process improvements as New, Kill, More, Less or Change.  Also the biggest process change is not necessarily the one that has the most important result.  So, we let users tag their areas of impact.

It also helps that this solution amplifies the voice of the crowd.  There is no question that many organizations have too much process or the wrong process that hinder results.  So, finding out the reality, through visible social collaboration is a big advantage.  Then, we have the crowd to vet, collaborate, comment, and do peer reviews of suggested improvements.  

In addition, the app has a clean 4, stage-gate process to then put the suggestions through to make decisions on implementing the changes.  Below is our new style Management Activity display where process managers can privately review, vote, and comment on each recommended improvement.  Effectively, they have their own private “social eddie” in which to efficiently vet each suggestion – in both a subjective and empirical way.

mgmt activity

So, you put the crowd “social eddie” for capturing and collaborating with the management “social eddie” for getting the investment decisions made and you have an effective social business process app for driving change in processes. 

As the BRI for Social Business Processes it effectively comes in the box of Cim v2.0, so, this is one app that you can cross off your wish list.


Social collaboration and business processes: Expect them to be two sides of the same coin

As a lead up to the release of Cim v2.0 in February, I’ve been making the rounds with the analysts.  At the same time, I’ve been spending a great deal of time with our beta customers.   There is a very interesting dichotomy between what our customers want and what most vendors are selling and analysts are covering.  So, a bit of sharing…

We are working with customers on social business processes using Cim v2.0.  Of course, we are doing idea and innovation management solutions.  And, with Cim v2.0 we’ve been getting into the new breed of solutions like application change requests, customer stories, project initiation, technical solution challenges, enterprise best practices, etc…

In fact, every presentation I make, the customers come up with at least 2 processes “that would be so much better as a social business process”.  The benefit of having an easy and robust way of engaging more people and providing visibility with the structure of a stage-gate management process to take that activity and translate it into result is very compelling.  The upshot is customers get it – once they see it and experience it.

Now, the analysts.  For years now, they have been analyzing the two separate vendor categories of Social Software and Business Process Management.  These are very different categories of products.  Most of the vendors in each are different.  The Social Software people are going further and further into Social Media.  The BPM folks are getting deeper and deeper into the nuances of heavily structured business process.  To the credit of the analysts they know that the two areas are just going in different directions and they have a sense of something missing in the middle that delivers business value in a reasonable way.  But, since there is no defined, known market with established vendors they do not “cover it”, and, they have nothing to sink their teeth into.

Back to customers.  The typical story from our customers is uncannily the same.  “I have invested in all of these social tools.  We own a bunch of deep BPM and workflow tools.  But, what I just want is a process to go out and gather solutions to a technical challenge or customer stories and be able to vet, collaborate, review and decide on them.’’  Try doing this by integrating the two leading vendors from the two categories covered by the analysts.  A million dollars and 18 months later and you might have a solution.  

Enter CorasWorks with Cim v2.0.  We simply see that there is a great need for nice, clean, robust social business processes that work well in the middle.  They are not totally social.  And, they are not about deep, sequential processes.  They address the scenarios where you want a clean stage-gate type business process that is open and engages a broader group of people in a collaborative, interactive way.  Of course, it just gets better because it runs within a distributed, SharePoint work environment – so you leverage everything that you are already doing.

Our approach to the need is to provide a complete, balanced solution that easily translates directly to the business problem – without the need for integration work and unnecessary bells and whistles and costs.  As we’ve had the discussion we often use the analogy of the two sides of the same coin.  The social side is a bit different from the business process side.  Different user roles, different UI’s, different objectives, different activity, different outcomes.  But, to have an effective solution it is best to see them as the two sides of the same coin.  In fact, you should expect that they are pre-integrated and designed to work as one.  This is very different from trying to integrate and merge two completely different sets of technologies.

I am not holding my breadth to create a new analyst category for Cim-based social business processes on SharePoint.  Our focus is on delivering what our customers want and need, within a reasonable time and cost.  Eventually, as we continue to show them our customers’ successes they’ll get on the bandwagon.


Cim 2.0 – Overview of Release

As mentioned in My Sabbatical article, Cim v2.0 is planned for release at the beginning of February.  We’ve had great success with the Cim v1.2 release as shown in our Featured Customer Stories.  The v2.0 release broadens the product and goes deeper.  I’ll break it down into the two solution areas supported in this release – Idea and Innovation Management and Social Business Processes.  Along the way I’ll start to introduce you to the some new modules and features.


As stated, Cim has gone beyond just Idea and Innovation Management.  It is being adopted as a platform for Social Business Systems on SharePoint.  It was designed to go in this direction based upon our modular, flexible and open design.  In v2.0 we are adding support for different solution areas.  In future releases, we’ll add more supported solution areas.  Thus, in v2.0 we’ll refer to our Idea & Innovation Management solution as Cim Innovation and the new Social Business Processes as Cim Process.  Note that we have different approaches for making your successful with each of these as discussed below.


Cim Innovation – Idea & Innovation Management

Our core is Idea and Innovation Management.  Our customers tend to apply Cim in two different ways.  One is Idea Management where they focus on the idea capture and collaboration with a small amount of management and process.  The other is Innovation Process Management where they want to define and implement the end-to-end process.

In Cim v2.0 we are providing separate “flavors” of Cim modules with feature sets that are optimized to the different scenarios. 

-  Thus, for Idea Management we are updating Idea Communities with Dynamic Forms (easily modified), Activity Auto-Promotion and Peer-to-Peer Review. 

- Whereas, for Innovation Process Management we are adding core modules and features for Remote Updates, Role Based Notification, Chained Process Actions, separate modules for Team Sites and Consoles for business users to support a richer and more robust end-to-end process. 

Customers may use the various modules and features together, but, with this approach it makes it easier for them to get up and running with their initial scenario.


Cim Process – Social Business Processes

The wholly new solution set is Social Business Processes.  In Cim v2.0 we will be including a new set of modules and design to allow folks to quickly and easily deploy point, social business processes.  The key with these processes is that the social activities and process management activities are brought together in an easy to use, balanced, single app.

The sample process to be included in the product is for Product Ideas in the Product Management department.  This is the process we are currently demonstrating (if you haven’t seen it, give us a call).  In addition, our design will allow us or others to create additional social business process apps that you will get from the Cim Learning Center and snap into your environment.  Our first batch of 10 of these next generation apps are as follows:

1.Product Ideas (Product Management)

2.Technical Solution Challenges (Engineering, Services)

3.Customer Change Requests (Product Management)

4.Process Improvement (Cross-Functional)

5.Application Change Requests (IT)

6.Requirements Gathering (IT)

7.Project Initiation Onramp (IT)

8.Customer Stories (Marketing)

9.Partner Onramp (Marketing, Channel Management)

10.Strategic Planning (Executive)


These process apps will be released in a rolling schedule.  They are deployed in a site like an application portal.  This site incorporates the social aspects along with a stage-gate management process, notifications, and reporting.  The process app is packaged into a single module where you control the forms, data, security, process actions, stage-gates, notifications, auto-promotion, reports, etc. 


One Product, Many Solutions

Going into 2011, our plan is to continue to add additional solution types to the product.  We’ll also be adding individual apps, such as the business processes mentioned above, in the Cim Learning Center.  All of these will be part of a single product under a single license program for Cim customers.  This has been our approach with the CorasWorks Application Platform now in v11 and has worked well for our customers.  One key difference is that there is a base license for the solution and then a per user cost.  Thus, you have lower up front costs and can purchase more users as your adoption increases.



My Sabbatical on Social Business Systems

How have you been?  I’ve been a bit absent form the blogsphere over the last couple of months. I’ve been on a sabbatical of sorts going deep into Social Business Systems on SharePoint.  In this article, I’ll cover what I did, what I learned, and what the near future brings CorasWorks style.

In Q3 we launched our new CorasWorks v11 application platform for SharePoint, the v1.2 version of Cim, and the v2.0 version of PPM.  These new products are the basis of our lineup to deliver value through Social Business Systems on SharePoint 2010.  So, over the last 3 months I went deep into the jungles of our customers armed with these new tools.  I focused primarily on scenarios using Cim.  I took the lead as engagement manager on a number of Cim projects and saw them through start to finish.  I took the calls, I lead the sessions, and I listened and learned.  I also engaged with a large number and variety of our customers to expose them to our new products and work on loads of new types of applications.  In addition, I worked with analysts and other thought leaders who are all sensing the growing importance of Social Business Systems in the 2010’s.  Some, may call this work, I call it learning, fun, and really rewarding.

So, what did I learn…

- Social Business Systems have power – basically the approach comes down to opening up business processes to more easily and interactively engage a broader group of people.  In the 2010’s, you will see the merging of Social tools and Business Processes on a collaborative platform.  It resonates, they work, and results of processes improve. 

- Our customers need inspiration for their SP2010 implementations – for the most part our customers have been really struggling about what to do differently on SP2010.  Yes, there are tons of new technologies.  But, how should you leverage this new platform to deliver greater value?  Are there new approaches that work?  One validated answer is the new layer of Social Business Systems.  One customer calls it the “blue” layer.  Green is the team site (collaboration by proximity) – done.  Yellow is the portal (everyone’s place to view) – over done.  The blue layer is the missing one.  This is where people interact around a purpose, a process, a goal, a community.  This is the new layer of value.  It brings it all together, yet, allows people to continue to work from wherever they work in this distributed, virtual environment we call SharePoint. It is hard to imagine how vast this blue layer of value is until you see it and experience it. 

- Idea and Innovation Management is a staple of the new world – our drive into this space makes sense to our customers.  Innovation is critical to many organizations.  Effective Idea and Innovation Management is an objective but getting there is a real challenge.  By delivering a flexible solution customers can gradually move into this area and evolve towards being a better innovator.  It is working for our customers.

- People respond to the simpler, web 2.0 UI – If you’ve seen the new “UI” of our portal, solutions, applications, communities etc., you know what I mean.  In general, people are quickly adopting the new social style UI for collaboration.  This is because it is very easy to use, interactive, and has the web 2.0 style display of information.

- Web 2.0 – The Purpose vs. the Content – Naturally, we think of the nice looking display in web 2.0 style.  However, we have discovered the importance of another more fundamental difference.  Displays like native SharePoint and CorasWorks v10 are content typed – data typed.  A library of Documents.  A separate library of discussions.  A display of tasks.  They are separate and related by proximity of all things.  In the web 2.0 displays, they are about purpose – issues, knowledge, products, customer stories, change requests.  In effect, the displays are mash-ups of different types of content.  Accordingly, the design starts with the Purpose, content type is secondary.   

- Cim is really a platform for Social Business System solutions – we started with Cim targeting Idea and Innovation Management.  Our customers are now pulling it into many different directions – we are encouraging and supporting this – it is working well.  It is very quickly becoming a platform for a much broader range of solutions. 

- Our customers want to start small with point solutions – One important finding is that most of our customers aren’t yet ready for enterprise Idea and Innovation Management solution.  They ARE very ready for smaller, more point specific Social Business Processes.  Examples are managing Application Change Requests, Customer Stories, Project Initiation, Technical Solution Challenges.  Message received!

Moving forward…

Okay, so we learned.  Now what.  Well, 2011 is going to be interesting.  Here are some things we are doing:

CorasWorks Solution Learning Centers – Over the last month we have launched two Learning Centers for Cim and PPM.  They are now available to customers in the Resources section of the CorasWorks Community (  These are private resources of customers of these solutions and are being packed with solution specific material.  We envision that these solution specific resources working as a community will be more effective for our customers.

Cim v2.0 – this new version will be out at the beginning of February.  It will now have two main solutions within it: Idea and Innovation Management and Social Business Processes.  The Social Business Processes solution type is targeted to address our customers desire for more specific Business Process solutions that are easy to deploy and use.  You will see the feature set grow rather quickly (more to come…).

Social Business Process App Publishing – we will get back on the horse and begin publishing a new generation of apps.  You’ll see them in the App Store and they will be available for download in the Learning Centers.  They will be released on a rolling basis.    Note that these apps are designed to address specific scenarios such as Application Change Requests, however, with our open app design they can be modified to other scenarios.

Cim v2.1, v2.2, and v2.3 – over the course of 2011 we will be releasing 3 more versions.  With each version we will be supporting additional solution areas within the broader context of Social Business Systems on SharePoint 2010.

Cim and PPM Integration Scenarios – we will continue to work on enhancing our loosely coupled design of these two major solutions.  It is very common for our customers to invest in both, however, almost always they are different business groups.  Making it easy and non-invasive to get the two groups to share information, interact and work together as part of a broader process is a design and people objective for us.

Over the next month, I intend to catch up on my blogging on all of the subjects above.  So, stay tuned.