Process Mining is a relatively new addition to the field of BPM, but it has already had a huge impact. Process mining focuses on understanding how business processes are executed by looking at system trace data that reflects the execution process. Process mapping is all about modelling and documenting the different steps of a process to understand how they work together as one cohesive unit.
So what can we borrow from Process Mining to apply to Process Mapping? We'll explore an approach with 3 benefits that any practitioner can adopt!
Process Mining allows a business to view a complex process through a series of simple variants, from the most common to the least. Each variant can be a simple list of activities, (a->b->c) without any confusing branching and merging logic. The most common variant is often called the 'happy path'. It's helpful to name each variant. e.g. "Procure-to-Pay with Price Change" or "IT Incident with missing information from caller".
Focusing on process variants in discovery workshops has 3 key benefits:
1. Business users are more inclined to propose new variants. Using a variant approach in discovery workshops makes for very interactive (and fun!) sessions.
2. Formal process maps can get very complicated quickly with discovery getting bogged down in edge cases. By making a conscious decision to only focus on the variants that matter, by the top 10 most common for instance, the ultimate process maps are easier to understand.
3. It then becomes easier to tease out what causes these variants, when we know a case will follow a variant, how do we know and when do we use the information, and how long does a variant take? These will all be great characteristics to think about when designing future processes.
Process mapping is an excellent way to document the steps that are involved in any given process, but traditional approaches do have limitations. One of the benefits of Process Mining is that it offers a different perspective on understanding how business processes are executed.
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