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Business Process Modeling, Management and Mining

Business Process Improvement

Prof. Cesare Pautasso
[email protected]


Hard to optimize all qualities


External Quality

Customer Satisfaction:

Internal Quality

Working Conditions:



Ability to react to changes

Focused Improvement


  • Individual Activities
  • Sub Processes
  • Entire Processes


  • Average
  • Variance
  • Threshold Violations


How to redesign?

Starting point?

Task Elimination

Remove unnecessary activities:

Better: Cost, Time - Worse: Quality

Task Elimination Example

Trade the cost of checking against the risk of not checking

Skip some check point activities: cheaper but also could lower product quality


Order tasks using their costs/benefits ratio

Anticipate decisions that may lead to quick dismissals

Postpone expensive tasks

Better: Time, Cost - Worse: Flexibility


Use an early up-front decision to pick the appropriate process path and avoid unnecessary work

Example: emergency room admission, quick settlement for cheap claims, VIP treatment for returning customers

Better: Time - Worse: Flexibility

Handover reduction

Keep the same person working on the same case as long as possible

Example: personalized service by dedicated customer account manager

Better: Time, Quality - Worse: Flexibility

Handover reduction example

Task Composition

Combine multiple small tasks into complex large ones (simpler processes, more complex tasks)

Reduce setup time and fragmentation

Ensure uniform quality

Employ generalists that enjoy doing rich and eventful jobs

Better: Time - Worse: Flexibility

Task Decomposition

Decompose large tasks into workable units

Less work per task, more handovers

Employ specialists, let the experts focus on critical tasks

Better: Quality, Cost, Flexibility - Worse: Time

Potential for Parallelization and Self-Service

Task Parallelization

Parallelize Independent Tasks

(assuming enough concurrent execution resources are available)

Better: Time - Worse: Cost

Parallelization example

Optimize Communication

Reduce the number of messages to be exchanged (simplify business protocols)

Automate message handling

Never employ a human being to copy data between two systems by hand

Prefer asynchronous non-blocking interactions

Better: Time, Cost - Worse: Flexibility

History of Hardware Latencies

Information Access

Provide direct, unfiltered, timely access to the right and necessary information

What information is needed to carry out a task or to make a decision?

Who owns and controls information, databases, websites (authoritative sources)?

Better: Time, Cost - Worse: Quality

The Complete Kit

Work should not begin until all necessary pieces are available (front-loading)

Requires to give feedback upstream about incomplete/defective input

Prevents failures due to missing/incorrect information

Wasted preparation effort if the work fails later

Michael zur Muehlen


Let inefficient and non-critical parts of the process be executed elsewhere by a different organization

Requires: provider selection, contract bidding and negotiations, trust establishment, systems interoperability and integration, quality monitoring

Better: Cost - Worse: Flexibility

What to outsource?

internal (private) business functions (e.g., payroll, billing, accounting, legal, IT)

customer-facing (public) processes (e.g., marketing, sales, support)

What to outsource?

Clearly defined, repeatable tasks

Labor intensive tasks done without needing the core competencies or intellectual property of the company

Seldomly executed processes that will need large capital investments

Processes that operate on information allowed to cross national borders

What NOT to outsource?

Core processes that add the most value to the company's products or services

Critical operational processes that need to be closely monitored and controlled

Highly visible processes that impact the company's image

Tasks for which liability cannot be shifted to the external service provider

Where to outsource?

Increasing the distance may reduce labor costs but increase communication, synchronization, travel overhead

Self Service

Push work back to the customer

Examples: data entry, quality assurance, support

More challenging but as important: make sure customers can revise/cancel/suspend their work by themselves

Better: Cost - Worse: Quality


Leverage open community participation

Open Call for "volunteers" which collaborate/compete to carry out a specific task for a small financial reward or social recognition

Examples: content production and curation, distributed human intelligence tasks, fund raising

Better: Cost - Worse: Quality, Time

Process Standardization

Same treatment for all cases of all customers

Use a larger, homogeneous resource pool

Leverage economies of scale

Better: Cost - Worse: Quality, Flexibility

Process Specialization

Differentiate processes based on case types, geography, season, customer profile

Opportunity to include customized activities

Use a smaller, heterogeneous resource pool

Better: Quality, Flexibility - Worse: Cost

Improvement Heuristics

  1. Task Elimination
  2. Resequencing
  3. Triage
  4. Handover Reduction
  5. Task Composition/Decomposition
  6. Task Parallelization
  7. Optimize Communications
  8. Outsourcing/Insourcing
  9. Self Service/Crowdsourcing
  10. Standardization/Specialization

Improvement Fail Factors

BPM Lifecycle

Process Simulation


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