Enterprise Change Agents Need to Add Process Mining to Their Bag of Tricks

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy, Tools for Startups

Today many change initiatives (and new software sales almost always involve the key elements of a change initiative) rely on interviews and replicating the results from an existing “manual system.” Processes mining tools and techniques will play an important role here.

Process Mining Camp 2012

“Process Mining Camp is where professionals gather to learn from seasoned experts. A place where you can meet fellow explorers and exchange ideas and business cards. Old-timers and greenhorns alike, this is where we get down to business and share stories from the frontier at the campfire.

Whether you are an expert or have just recently heard of process mining, here you can meet other people who are just as curious and passionate about process mining as you are. Learn about how others are using process mining, and what they have to tell you.”

Opening lines to Process Mining Camp 2012 home page

Learning from Interdisciplinary Efforts

You can learn a lot from interdisciplinary efforts and the connections they explore between seemingly unrelated fields.  I think process mining tools are going to become an essential part of the enterprise change agent’s toolkit, and that includes any startups selling to the enterprise who perform a “before and after workflow analysis” as a part of their engagement process.  For a better definition of process mining I quote the opening paragraphs of the  2011 “Process Mining Manifesto” developed by the IEEE Task Force on Process Mining.

Process mining is a relatively young research discipline that sits between computational intelligence and data mining on the one hand, and process modeling and analysis on the other hand. The idea of process mining is to discover, monitor and improve real processes (i.e., not assumed processes) by extracting knowledge from event logs readily available in today’s (information) systems. Process mining includes (automated) process discovery (i.e., extracting process models from an event log), conformance checking (i.e., monitoring deviations by comparing model and log), social network/ organizational mining, automated construction of simulation models, model extension, model repair, case prediction, and history-based recommendations.

Businesses Processes Rely on Databases Not Paper

More fundamentally I think this is a recognition of the implications that we no longer manage businesses by paper records, software is the new paper for coordination, communication, and collaboration in the enterprise. A spreadsheet, a shared document directory, or a content management system of some sort typically mediates what we call a “manual process” today. There has always been a certain amount of analysis of these records for what I would call an autopsy: auditors determining after the fact where things went wrong. I think the analysis of these records is going to play a much more important role in diagnosis and prescription, so that there is less need for an autopsy.

Today many change initiatives (and new software sales almost always involve the key elements of a change initiative) rely on interviews and replicating the results from an existing “manual system.” Both are still requirements for initiating and completing a successful improvement project and remain critical to gaining a deep understanding of the culture, key assumptions, and unwritten rules of a firm. But change agents will need to become more skilled at assembling and analyzing the records not only of primary processes but the interstitial connections between them: processes mining tools and techniques will play an important role here.

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