Saturday, May 22, 2010

How Process Mining can support your BPM project

Process Mining is an important new capability that supports and enhances BPM initiatives. This article describes what process mining is, how it fits into the BPM methodolgy and why organisations should start mining their business processes.

What is Process Mining?

Process mining is the reverse engineering of business processes based on event logs.

Event logs are produced by "process aware information systems". These event logs contain; case ids, event names and types, originators and timestamps. Event logs may also contain; customer ids, product types and other decision attributes. Event logs are often kept as an audit trail.

Organisations need to map their workflows as the first step. It's a daunting task. There are workshops with key people. Where do you get the data from? How do you know it’s correct? Projects are often abandoned because they are seen to be taking too long and consuming valuable resource time (even after initial successes).

An event log from an application is converted to an MXML (mining xml) format by an interface. Now it’s ready to be mined and analysed. This requires about a day per log file to code and test. It provides performance data that answers the following questions;

• How long does each event take?
• What are the wait times?
• What is the throughput time?

So if you have poorly documented legacy systems which need to be analysed, improved or converted into new systems then process mining is your starting point.

These tools can save a significant amount of time while providing accuracy and analysis that would be almost impossible to determine otherwise. In order to carry out a process improvement project you will need this data to benchmark your processes.

What is BPM?

BPM is the achievement of an organisation’s objectives through the improvement, management and control of essential business processes.

What are the key elements of the BPM discipline?

According to Gartner they are:

•Optimizing the performance of end-to-end business processes that span functions, as well as processes that might extend beyond the enterprise to include partners, suppliers and customers

•Making the business process visible (and thus explicit) to business and IT constituents through business process modeling, monitoring and optimization

•Keeping the business process model in sync with process execution

•Empowering business users and analysts to manipulate a business process model to modify instances of the process

•Enabling rapid iteration of processes and underlying systems for continuous process improvement and optimization

Process mining supports these key elements. Some examples;

End to end business processes can be discovered using process mining’s workflow discovery capabilities. Extracted event logs can be mined and converted to various workflow formats and exported to standard BPM modeling tools.

Process mining can make the business processes visible and explicit by annotating workflows with performance and organisational data.Using process mining’s conformance capabilities the current process model can be compared with the log from the latest execution of the application. The conformance reports will highlight variations between the model and the log.

Process mining tools allow inquiry and discovery of individual process instances using various tools.Extraction of an event log, conversion to process mining format (mxml) and mining and analysis by a process mining tool is a rapid. This allows for a quick response and round tripping between model and log.

How can you use process mining in your organisation?

Process Mining is an important part of the BPM tool kit. There are various opportunities for organisations to make use of this capability.

Legacy systems are often the backbone of organisations. They are often poorly understood and not well documented. Nevertheless they are important to the running of the business. By using process mining these applications systems can be brought to life by the creation of workflows and performance analysis.

Process mining will show what the application is doing and what resources are being used. From this analysis management can decide to rewrite, reengineer or make changes to the system or human side of the process. Once this is done the new business process can be executed and compared to the new process model to ensure the changes had the desired effect.

Legacy systems are often linked in a complex web. Using the semantic capabilities of process mining this can be unraveled and the applications better understood.
Auditors can make use of process mining to better understand the process and eliminate risks to the organisation.

Many organisations run a standard application to support their business. They are often unhappy with the performance of their processes without actually knowing what those processes are. Process mining can help discover what the issues are and where changes can be made.

For organisations that are moving from one application (eg. ERP or CRM) to another process mining offers an opportunity. It is important in a BPM context to be able to compare the “As Is” business processes with “To Be”. Process mining provides this capability.

Process mining is an important part of BPM. Organisations often embark on BPM projects from small process improvement projects to full scale Six Sigma efforts without knowing what their processes look like. The time taken to determine the processes with traditional methods is often inaccurate and time consuming.
Process mining provides a quick start to these projects that is risk free. There are many opportunities for organisations that use process mining!

Gartner RAS Core Research Note G00164485 18 Feb 2009, RA3 02192010


Michael said...

An interesting approach to a problem that is faced by most of the businesses these days. I am working on a process improvement project these days and this information will surely help.

Sweety_Fatty143 said...

After publishing his first book about jBPM for Packt Publishing, he was recognized as a valuable member of both projects at the JBoss Community Awards 2011.

bpm business process

Rebecca Lorenz said...

It is important to know and investigate first the matter of the business. This blog could be a big help to others. Thanks!

Benchmarking Process Improvement