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Business Process Modeling, Management and Mining

Business Process Discovery

Prof. Cesare Pautasso
[email protected]

Discovery Goals

Processes are hidden in organizations, waiting to be found

Identify Processes: distinguish processes, select the important ones

Represent Processes: gather knowledge about processes so that they can be modeled

What we do

Who does what

How we do it

Enterprise Organization

Rummler Brache

Value System

Michael Porter

Enterprises add value by collaborating with suppliers and delivering to customers their products through sales and distribution channels

Enterprise Value Chain

Michael Porter

Primary Functions directly add to the value generated by an enterprise

Support Functions enable the efficient execution of the primary functions

Types of Processes

  1. Management Processes: control and steer the organization
  2. Core Processes: generate value, directly interact with customers
  3. Support Processes: acquire resources

What to identify?

Process Owner: who is responsible?

Process Goal: what is the purpose?

Process Scope: what are the boundaries between processes?

Process Portfolio: what are the important processes?


Suppliers: are needed for the success of the process (provide input, involved in upstream processes)

Owner: responsible for the process success

Participants: involved directly in the process (but may have a narrow perspective about it)

Customers: depend on the successful outcome of the process (only see the output, involved in downstream processes)

Gathering Knowledge

Discovering Organizations or Processes?

Alec Sharp

This indicates some confusion between mapping the organization and discovering its processes. Some processes are cross-functional, and the same units may run multiple processes.

Process Goals

Functional: the main purpose of the process (e.g., purchase supplies, hire staff, find customers, develop new products)

Non-Functional: hard criteria for success (time, cost, quality, satisfaction, compliance) with the corresponding metrics, thresholds and priorities

Process Scope

Abstraction Level
coarse-grained vs. fine-grained

separation between distinct processes

Abstraction Levels

  1. Make Money for the Company
  2. Keep Customers Happy
  3. Develop new products
  4. Find customers that want to buy them
  5. ensure printers have enough paper
  6. close the headquarters every night

Abstraction Levels

  1. Value Chains
  2. Main Processes
  3. Sub Processes
  4. Activities

Coarse vs. Fine Grained

Coarse Grained Processes are too large to study and optimize. Too many people are involved: gathering knowledge and applying changes becomes expensive.

Improving Fine Grained Processes may lead to local optimizations where the overall performance is not improved

Activities or Processes?

Gathering Knowledge

Scoping: Case/Function Matrix

Define process boundaries depending on organizational aspects (which business functions are involved) and a classification of cases (which way different products/services are handled)

Case Types

Product Types: life vs. health insurance, book vs. magazine, software vs. hardware

Service Type: prepaid vs. contract subscriber

Geographic Location: Continent, Country, Regional Markets

Channel: in person, telephone, email, Web

Customer: new, returning, frequent flyer

Case types can be a combination of any of the above classification dimensions

Business Functions

Define what the organization does to handle the various case types

4. Deliver Product and Services

4.2. Procure Materials and Services

4.2.4. Manage Suppliers Monitor Quality of Product Delivered

Functions are refined and decomposed up to a level of detail that can help discover organizational units that can play different process roles

See the APQC Process Classification Framework reference model

Aside: Reference Models

Alec Sharp

Why can't we use reference process models instead of going through all the effort of process discovery?

  1. Overwhelming due to extremely fine granularity
  2. Early stakeholder involvement in discovery helps to get buy-in later with process improvement
  3. Adapting a complex reference model may take even more work than discovering processes from scratch

Reference Models help to prepare the discovery process and ensure that important details have not been overlooked

Case/Function Matrix

  1. Determine which functions are performed for each case type
  2. Aggregate related functions and case types into the same process boundary

Coarse grained

One big process covers all functions and all case types

Fine grained

A process every time a function can be performed for each case type

Medium grained

Tradeoff between broad scoping and narrow focus, some functions collaborate over more than one case type, but not all.


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