Your organisation could be split into two activity areas - the well structured business process (think assembly line) like production, HR and supply chain where ERP excels, and...
the iffy stuff you spend most of your day on that has many names:
- Loose ends
- Process orphans
- Roughly repeatable processes (hat tip to Keith Patterson via David Terrar)
Thus methodology has been developed:
- ISO 9000 (a set of procedures that cover all key processes in the business, also applied to structured processes)
- Six Sigma (set of practices to systematically improve processes by eliminating defects, also applied to the structured processes)
- Best Practices (well, kind-of-chosen standard technique or method to be applied to process)
- Benchmarking (measure the Best Practices)
- Rules on a-sheet-of-paper (you've probably seen those on the wall above you phone)
- Accounting GAAPs (set of rules or benchmarks so iffy activities as a whole can be compared from place to place and time to time then to be adjusted accordingly)
But where does ERP come in?
As software "models real life as we see it" the ERP train picked up the well structured processes and left the loose ends to fight for themselves. But yesterday Hugh argued "that the line that separates social media and ERP is going to start getting VERY blurry, and really soon... I can see a not-to-distant future where even the larger ERP solutions are built around social software, not the other way around". And I agree simply for the reason that they should be one, there are no reasons why the world puts a line in the sand between structured and loose ends processes.
Actually it boils down to the definition of what "social software" is.
Social software "enables people to rendezvous, connect or collaborate".
But a short circuit happens in our brains when we "see" what social software is using those three terms: It invokes the image of an open marketplace or gathering where the efficiency requires freedom and little structure and thus quite the opposite of what ERP entails.
Now, if you study a shopper in a Sunday morning market, or a conference participant mingling you will discern a "flow", one-to-one discussions, then to the next but always transparent so others may join in. Still a structured flow, albeit a barely repeatable one.
I.e. I would argue for an enhanced kind of social software that can offer structure to the flows while it delivers accountability and transparency - as long as it's built with the flexibility to alter direction and allows for new participants as need be. Then Hugh will be right - all processes, both highly structured and the barely repeatable - could be run by the new kind of social process software.
And that would also be the end to makeshift structuring methodologies - ISO 9000, Six Sigma, Best Practices and one day; accounting GAAPs.
There, now I described thingamy again.