What is Process Mining?

Process mining techniques allow for extracting information from event logs. Process mining takes existing data records from your IT systems, extracts the business process (and its variations) and automatically generates understandable visualizations of the business process. Because existing IT records are the basis for process mining, objective visualizations of the real business process are obtained. The following video gives a short introduction on process mining:

See the following ressources for further information:

12th International Conference on Business Process Management

This year’s Business Process Management Conference (BPM 2014) will take place in Haifa, September 7-11, 2014. The BPM conference series embraces the diversity and richness of the BPM field and serves as a melting pot for experts from a mix of disciplines including Computer Science, Information Systems Management, Services Science and Technology Management.

  • Process modeling and theory (e.g. reference process models, process simulation and static analysis, business process quality, etc.)
  • Process model management (e.g. process model storage, process model indexing, etc.)
  • Process architectures and platforms (e.g. service-oriented architectures for BPM, workflow management systems, etc.)
  • Management of process execution data (e.g. process performance measurement, process mining, process data analytics and visualization, etc.)
  • Process flexibility and evolution (e.g. adaptive and context-aware processes, case handling, process change management, etc.)
  • Human-centric BPM (e.g. people-intensive processes, user-centric aspects of process management and use)
  • Non-traditional BPM scenarios (e.g. knowledge-intensive processes, data-driven processes, etc.)
  • Management issues & empirical studies (e.g. business process lifecycle management, business strategy and business processes, success factors and measures in BPM, etc.)

Visit the BPM 2014 conference website for more information.

Comprehensibility of Process Models

Doris Weitlaner presented her paper on “Intuitive Comprehensibility of Process Models” at the conference “S-BPM One 2013”.

The study empirically examines the use of semiformal process modeling languages in companies. It could be revealed that formal BPM has still not been accepted as a useful practice in firms. Corporations mainly rely on flowcharts in order to design processes. The study further investigates the comprehensibility of BPM languages. Based on empirical data the paper analyzes to what extent EPC, BPMN, UML and the storyboard design are understood by individuals. It was found that the comic representation “storyboard design” is broadly intuitive and easily understood. BPMN and UML also achieved good results, too, but only under certain restrictions. EPC and concurrency of activities in general caused some problems. The full paper is available here. View Doris’ presentation here:

An example for a process (in storyboard design) can be found below:

Storyboard Design

11th International Conference on Business Process Management (BPM 2013)

BPM 2013 is the 11th edition of the reference conference for researchers and practitioners in the field of Business Process Management (BPM). The conference covers all aspects of BPM, including theory, models, techniques, architectures, systems, and empirical studies, and engages the most renowned representatives of the BPM community worldwide in talks, tutorials, and scientific discussions.

BPM 2013 will take place in Beijing, August 26-30, and it will be the first edition of the BPM conference series in Asia. Topics include

  • Process modeling and theory (e.g. reference process models, process modeling languages, notations and methods)
  • Process model management (e.g. storage, indexing and retrieval of process models)
  • Process architectures and platforms (e.g. workflow management systems, service-oriented architectures for BPM)
  • Management of process execution data (e.g. process performance measurement, process mining)
  • Process flexibility and evolution (e.g. process change management)
  • Human-centric BPM (e.g. integrating strategy, processes, people and IT)
  • Non-traditional BPM scenarios (e.g. knowledge-intensive processes)
  • Management issues and empirical studies (e.g. success factors and measures in BPM, BPM maturity)

More information can be found on the conference website.

The Effects of Process-Oriented Organizational Design on Firm Performance

This article briefly summarizes the study “The Effects of Process-Oriented Organizational Design on Firm Performance”, by M. Kohlbacher and H. A. Reijers, which is to be published in the Business Process Management Journal.

Process Management and Firm Performance

The study investigates which process management components (i.e. process design and documentation, management commitment towards process management, process ownership, process performance measurement, corporate culture in line with the process approach, application of continuous process improvement methodologies, and organizational structure in line with the process approach) are important for improving customer satisfaction, product quality, time-to-market speed, delivery speed, delivery reliability, and financial performance.

The empirical findings of the study reveal that

The paper will be published in the next issue of the Business Process Management Journal (Vol. 19, No. 2, 2013).

Process Ownership and Continuous Process Improvement: Effects on Financial Performance and Customer Satisfaction

This article introduces the study “The Joint Impact of Process Ownership and Continuous Process Improvement on Financial Performance and Customer Satisfaction” by D. Weitlaner, M. Kohlbacher and A. Kamagaew, which will be presented at the IEEE International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management in Hong Kong in December 2012. The study is nominated for the best paper award.

The process owner role and continuous process improvement are two key components of business process orientation. The article investigates whether the implementation of these two concepts can improve the firms’ financial performance and customer satisfaction. The study is based on data from 840 Austrian manufacturing and service companies. The empirical evidence indicates that organizations that implement both concepts – process ownership and continuous process improvement – reap the fruits of process management in terms of higher financial performance and customer satisfaction.

The paper will be available via IEEE Xplore after the conference. The poster of the study can be found here.

How Process Management Impacts Innovation Performance

This article briefly summarizes the study “The Effects of Process Orientation on Exploitative and Explorative Innovation”, by D. Weitlaner and M. Kohlbacher, which will be presented at the 32nd Annual International Conference of the Strategic Management Society, which will take place in Prague, October 7-9, 2012. The presentation of the paper will take place in Track I, Session 239, on the 9th of October (see session details).

The study investigates how individual components of process orientation (i.e. continuous process improvement, corporate culture in line with the process approach, management commitment towards the process program, the process owner role, process performance measurement as well as process knowledge and documentation) affect explorative and exploitative innovation. Exploitative innovations (or incremental innovations) refer to small-scale improvements and adjustments of existing goods/services of a company. In contrast, explorative innovations represent entirely new goods/services which are not inferred from the existing supply of a company.

The empirical study involves 840 Austrian enterprises operating in the manufacturing or service industry. The empirical findings reveal that continuous process improvement and a culture that is in line with the process approach are significantly and positively associated with both types of innovation. The empirical evidence also shows that a narrow focus on detailed process documentation may actually be cumbersome to explorative innovation.

Developing an Enterprise Process Model Based on Cascading and Segmentation of Business Processes: A Case Study

This article introduces the study “Process Cascade- and Segmentation-Based Organizational Design: A Case Study” by Kohlbacher M. and Weitlaner D., which was presented at the IEEE International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management in Singapore in December 2011.

The paper discusses the approach of process cascading and segmentation, a design principle which helps organizations to build its structure around its customer-oriented business processes. Cascading of processes is an approach where the organization’s business process design is based on internal customer-supplier relationships which ensure that every business process of the organization has a clearly defined (internal) customer which places an order and also receives the results. Segmentation of business processes refers to the idea of creating process variants of business processes which face heterogeneous market and/or customer requirements. Both principles – cascading and segmentation of business processes – complement each other. The paper shows how these design principles are applied in practice by using an Austrian manufacturing firm as a case study.

The poster of the presentation can be found here; the paper is available via IEEE Xplore.

Modeling Business Processes with the Event-Driven Process Chain (EPC)

This article gives a brief introduction into modeling business processes by using the Event-Driven Process Chain.
The Event-driven Process Chain (EPC) is a type of flowchart and was developed by Prof. Wilhelm-August Scheer at the Universität des Saarlandes in the early 1990s. There are four basic elements of the EPC:

  • Events: The event describes the incidence of a state. This state activates a function or is the result of a function. Events are passive elements in EPC. Every process begins and ends with one or more events.
  • Functions: Functions represent tasks or activities within the company. Functions describe transformations from an initial state to a resulting state. They are active elements in EPC. Functions consume resources and time. A verb should be used for the name of a function.
  • Logical Connectors: By using the three different logical operations (AND, OR, and XOR), branchings can be inserted between events and functions.
  • Control Flow: The control flow describes the chronological-logical dependency of events and functions and can be split up by using the logical connectors.
EPC elements

The basic EPC elements. Source: Course “Process Management”, Graz University of Technology.

A simple EPC model is depicted in the following picture:

Simple EPC diagram

A simple EPC diagram. Source: Course “Process Management”, Graz University of Technology

Events and functions can be connected by logical connectors in the following ways:

Events, functions and logical operators in the EPC

Events, functions and logical operators in the EPC. Source: Course “Process Management”, Graz University of Technology

Process Owners: How to Help Them Succeed

This is a brief summary of the article “How to help process owners succeed”, posted on Harvard Business Review Blog Network by Brad Power.

According to Brad, six things militate against success in the role of the process owner:

  • The management team’s attention shifts to other priorities.
  • Process owners misunderstand their role.
  • Process owners are not held accountable for improvements.
  • Process owners are not senior enough to have the necessary influence.
  • The organizational structure to accommodate the role is too complex.
  • Employees are uncomfortable belonging to business processes rather than functions.

Brad lists 6 specific bullet points how to address these issues:

  1. Make the process owner role permanent and incorporate it into overall performance management.
  2. Select process owners with strong leadership skills and develop those skills even further.
  3. Make the process owner accountable for how well the process performs.
  4. Give the process owner organizational power.
  5. Minimize disturbance to the organizational structure. Create process owners outside the formal organization with a very small staff, leave most people in their functional organizations, and clarify the process owner’s role with respect to the functions and business units they will work with.
  6. Help employees get comfortable thinking in terms of end-to-end activities that together generate value to customers. Encourage cross-departmental activities that solve customer problems, and reward cross-departmental teamwork.