15 considerations for Process Mining to work

Last Monday I did a lecture on Big Data and Process Mining for local government representatives of the Municipality of Eindhoven. The Uni. Eindhoven is home of process mining (see also: www.processmining.org) and the audience existed of people with a degree on Math, Statistics or other fields. They all had in common that they had a desire to better understand Big Data, Data analytics, Business Process Management and Process Mining. Since they are or were all working at the local government, I focussed my lecture on Process Mining within ‘small’ (governmental) organizations.

My assignment was to take people along in the practical side of process mining and to show them some cases. There were a lot of questions and there was also a lot of discussion. What should have been a 1,5 hour lecture started at 12:30 and ended at 17:30. A great afternoon with great input and remarks. With these people with all kinds of backgrounds the angles to look at Big Data and Process Mining were refreshing.

In the end we determined that for Process Mining to work in organizations these are 15 important considerations:

  1. Process Mining is a rather new field of science and expertise. It is still much driven by scientists. Translation to practical means is important and the input of people from practices is cardinal.
  2. Big Data is hot and therefore all adjacent fields of research seem to be hot as well. However Process Mining and Process Analytics are more than a hype. They are the next step in BPM and the practical side of Data Science.
  3. Digitalization and other developments such as IoT will create opportunities (and need) for Process Mining rapidly.
  4. Small organizations and local governments currently are ‘smelling’ and ‘tasting’, but it will take some time before they can start ‘cooking’ themselves. Collaboration and cooperation will be crucial for success.
  5. For Process Mining to work later, you need to make long term decisions on (target, system, enterprise) architecture now, in terms of event-logging, process supporting/enabling systems, Service oriented architecture, mash-ups and data gathering.
  6. To start with Process Mining; the Conformance or Extension method will probably work best and demand less effort and investments compared to Process Discovery.
  7. For Process Mining to work you should start with creating value-streams (step 1). High level chains that shows the business functions and added-value in your organization and the way this added-value is delivered through processes.
  8. You don’t have to model processes in detail since that is one of the big advantages of Process Mining (step 2.).
  9. However, there is big (change management and awareness) value in the workshops, brown-papers and interviews as well. Therefore you might want to consider to use these instruments after you have created process models from event-log data.
  10. For Process Mining to work you need to have knowledge  of (or access to) data analytics.
  11. Be aware what your strategic (process) goals are (specially in fast changing environments).
  12. Uniformity and cost reduction may no longer be your biggest trigger. More and more organizations are aware that customization and personalization are becoming more important. Therefore inefficient processes that are customer focussing may no longer fall out of the bell-chart.
  13. Create a clear overview of costs for implementation and maintenance of the event-logs, data, algorithms, process models and the benefits in terms of optimization.
  14. Be aware of the seven big data V’s (http://dataconomy.com/seven-vs-big-data/).
  15. Take notice of compliance regulations from privacy and security legislation and (internal) principles. (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/20/little-privacy-in-the-age-of-big-data and http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/How-to-tackle-big-data-from-a-security-point-of-view)

In the end we concluded that Big Data will change. Data gathering will no longer be the goal. Big Data and Data gathering will be used for clear purposes such as real-time Process Management by Process Mining and Analytics. The developments are unstoppable and fastening rapidly. Organizations, also small ones (including governmental) had better be ready! Just like a lot of ‘traditional’ organizations missed the web-shop boat, you don’t want to mis the Process Mining and Data analytics boat!

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ARIS 9 Business Process Platform

ARIS 9 Business Process Platform

Software AG is about to launch their new ARIS 9 Business Process Platform. bQuind (Kevin Biront and myself) visited Software AG at the CeBit in Hannover to meet with productmanagement and to see the new product at first hand.

We were impressed by the booth of Software AG (http://www.softwareag.com/cebit2013/) showing the new and fresh lay-out of the company.

See also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkScBN-Lhxw&feature=share&list=PL4DCBED46AD8AD577

Four forces

ARIS 9 is developed around the so called four forces. No they are not talking about the forces of nature but instead they talk about the ‘buzzwords’: Mobile, Social, Cloud, BigData.

Gartner talks about ‘the Nexes of forces’. http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/nexus-of-forces/

For ARIS this means a hole new architecture and new principles. ImageThe developers have focussed on an environment that can be used or published on mobile devices, that can be hosted in a cloud environment (private, on-premise or public), that can be entered by multiple users that collaborate in the creation of process models or requirement overviews and that is able to analyse big amounts of (process) data.

In order to meet all the demands regarding the four forces Software AG came up with separate but integrated products: ARIS modeling environments and ARIS Connect. The first comes in a ‘normal’ version and a version for SAP just as the current ARIS 7.2 does.However there will be no differentiationbetween Business Modeler and Business Architect clients.

ClientImage

We saw the ARIS client for SAP and for WebMethods. The client for Oracle will (so we were told) no longer be available. One of the first improvements to mention is the fact that ARIS 9 is supported by only one client. While installing your client, you will be asked to select the topics you need. Curious  is that you can also select topics that need different licences. I guess commercially for Software AG a good thing but for most support officers not desirable.

In ARIS 9 you will get the possibility to choose from four generic profiles (working environments) that determine the complexity of the client and the functions.

ImageYou can sign-on once to all acquired ARIS systems. You will need only one management console and document storage system to manage your entire ARIS environment. This is a big benefit for ARIS maintenance and for support officers. Besides this the meta model of your ARIS environment is open for customized configuration which also is a big benefit compared to the current environment where configuration of your meta data model is almost as hard as rocket science. The identity management is done in one storage device so you don’t need to go through all systems in order to maintain your user data and user rights. And a new feature I am specially keen on is the new wizards that help you define and manage specific data framework models such as ArchiMate, TOGAF™ or PRIME with framework specific enhancements.

Search

Also the search functionality (Rocket search) has much improved. When you enter data into the search field the search will start immediately to show names in line with the entered field. You can search using the selections: all, groups, models or objects this way. In the selections you can select types model types, Object type or symbol types in order to narrow down the findings. If you are working in a project and you want to select models or groups easily you can create favourite groups or models and put them in an easy to access list. You can also easily select models that were last used, much like the ‘open recent’ functions we already know from Apple and Microsoft.

User interfaceImage

I am pleasantly surprised by the newly designed user interface and the usability. Both for users and for maintenance administrators its much easier to find your way. The groups are neatly presented and the tabs make it more easy to find functions in ARIS.

ImageNew Object design

There is also a hole new set of object shapes that can be used. Personally I am not convinced this will be an advantage over the current set of objects but I can imagine that new users find them more appealing.

BPMN

A big improvement is the fact that ARIS is fully capable of using BPMN as standard notation over EPC. But also it is possible touse EPC and BPMN simultaneously and integrated. This gives the possibility to change EPC and find the mutual BPMN model also changed in the same way. In case there are multiple stakeholders or target groups that are customed to either EPC or BPMN 2.0 there won’t be a problem to use both and to publish both notations. Or you could transform EPC models into BPMN. The new integration gives you also the possibility to synchronise BPMN 2.0 models with SAP Solution Manager.

SAP Integration

Also in regards to SAP Integration ARIS 9 has some new features and functionalities for process-driven SAP management and projects. It’s, for example, much easier to upload any stored and linked document from ARIS to SSM. The link between SSM and the ARIS document remains so any change of the document or new release will be tracked and maintained. A big feature is that different project data can be maintained and managed from a central maintenance client creating much better project management before an SSM  synchronisation is conducted.

In the ARIS 7.2 Business Architect for SAP the Test designer was already integrated. However in the test designer it was not possible to manage cross-model loops. Now this is much enhanced and now you can select VACD based objects in your test-paths.

During our ‘guided tour’ through ARIS 9 we saw user data being maintained, a group being created, a model be updated and stored and a synchronisation with SAP Solution Manager (SSM) being prepared. Unfortunately it was not possible to actually run the synch but we got a good overview.

WebMethods

Software AG productmanagement also showed us the integration of ARIS 9 with WebMethods 9 and the possibility to synchronize process models with WebMethods. Since this can be done in a split-screen showing it WYSIWYG this is much more easy that the
ARIS-SSM synchronisation. Let’s hope the SAP synch will also develop towards the same integration functions.

Wrap-up

Sofware AG did a great job in designing the new ARIS 9 interface. The new patented symbols for visualisation of processes provide clarity and simplicity, however when you are used to the old objects, I’m not sure you’ll use them straight away. The design however has the potential to make ARIS projects even more efficient. Its a big step forward. 

With ARIS Connect you are capable of introducing social collaboration for process design, modeling and improvement on a corporate, department or project level. ARIS Connect is based on HTML5-based technology enabling access by mobile devices. ARIS 9 can be run on a public, private or hybrid cloud.

Currently unfortunately Software AG did not give any statement in regards to licence structure and pricing of ARIS9.

We asked productmanagement for a more enhanced product overview at Software AG labs so we can see a real live ARIS for SAP synchronisation and also a migration from 6.x or 7.x towards 9. We hope to be able to give you more insights. Please also keep track on our website www.bquind.nl.

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