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Webcast with Sandy Kemsley Review

March 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Sandy Kemsley and Keith Swenson presented a webcast on the subject of Crossing the Next Frontier of Business Process Management: Introducing Process Intelligence.” Sandy’s part includes a clear and accurate description of how process mining works.  It also touched on Fujitsu’s new Interstage Process Analytics product.  Access the webcast and related things at the BPM For Agile Enterprise site.

This image (click on it for larger view) helps to represent the problems that traditional manual process discovery runs up against.  When a consultant interviews people on what the process is, each person has their own view of the process, which may not in fact be accurate.  Then there is what I call the “bicycle riding problem”: The person may in fact have the ability to accurately perform the process, but can not explain how they do it.  Many work behaviors are like this where people operate on tacit knowledge that they can not put into words.   Finally, the person may have an accurate understanding of their part of the process, but they may not be willing to say exactly what it is.  They may feel that the process as it is performed is broken, and so they will report instead what they thinks that the process should be.  All of this gets in the way of discovering the real process.  Process mining cuts through all this by analyzing the real evidence behind the process, and giving you an ego-free picture of the process as it really is.

The webinar was coordinated with a white paper that Sandy wrote on the topic of process intelligence: “Enabling Process Intelligence Through Process Mining & Analytics” which can be downloaded from that link after registering.

Also this week, Vance McCarthy published an article at Integration Developer News on the product: “Fujitsu Interstage BPM Unites Automation, Analytics, SOA Loose-Coupling.”

Read more…

Process Mining Manifesto clarifies Market for APD

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

The IEEE Task Force on Process Mining has released the Process Mining Manifesto.  This the single best, most concise description of what process mining is, and what this revolutionary new technology might bring about.

Background

Process mining is the scanning historical records of activity in order to determine the process that had been used.  A process is simply a sequence of actions.  Process mining uses recorded evidence of many such sequences to give you a picture of the typical path and exceptional paths as well.

Research on this field started in the mid 1990’s.  This means it is still a relatively young field, it has come surprisingly far in a decade and a half, and can be used successfully in business situations today.

Fujitsu launched process mining as a service offering three years ago, called Interstage Automated Process Discovery.  I have been involved in the launch and evangelism of this new approach for understanding and optimizing business.  See this 9 minute demo and this podcast on Integration Developer News.  My most recent webinar last month to ASQ was on how process mining can be used to support Lean and Six Sigma methodologies.

Why a Manifesto?

I have personal experience with using the approach, and the results are dramatic.  A simple, two week consulting engagement can give a medium to large organization a number of tips that will certainly save that organization millions of dollars.

I recently attended a presentation to a fortune 50 company where some Fujitsu consultants had spent a few days analyzing some of their order fulfillment history records.  Focusing on operations in two countries, we were able to pin point individual products which had handled incorrectly.  We were able to show how sales progressed differently in the two countries.  We could break this out by specific product line, and could tell them, for example, how long different models were typical delayed in customs or other processing.  I remember particularly the enthusiastic response of one IT executive saying “This is witchcraft!

It is not unusual for people who hear about the approach without experiencing it, to believe that it is too good to be true.   They have a hard time believing that it really works, and it is pretty amazing.  Other members of the IEEE Task Force have run into the same thing: there is not enough known about process mining, and it seems too good to be believed.

This drove the need for a Process Mining Manifesto to clearly define process mining and to help people understand the real promise of this new technology.  It was written largely by Wil van der Aalst and his colleagues at the Technical University of Eindhoven, but also with representation from a broad range of contributors across industry and academia.  It is now being translated into a dozen languages.

If you are not already familiar with process mining, the manifesto is probably the best way to come up to speed quickly.  If you have a high level understanding, the manifesto will give you a solid base to understand in detail when you might want to make use of this approach.

Relevance to Interstage APD

Fujitsu’s Interstage Automated Process Discovery is process mining.  Fujitsu has participated with development of this manifesto (and are helping to translate it to Japanese) because we believe that the more people know about process mining, the better the market place will become, and this will enable more use of the technology.

APD is process mining that is built into the Interstage BPM Analytics, and so it is always on, always available to give you a view of how the processes have really been running.

See my post about “Flipping the Process Life Cycle” to see how process mining might be incorporated into everyday agile BPM.

Links

BPMN & XPDL Users Group

November 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Looking forward to the BPMN & XPDL Users Group meeting coming up on Dec 2 & 3 in Sunnyvale.  The two-day event will feature four half-day sessions.  Topics range from best practices and implementation tricks, to what’s new in XPDL 2.2 and the future of the XPDL4BPMN standard.  It is a chance to discuss issues with colleagues, and for your voice to be heard by others in the industry.  Here are links to details and a PDF brochure.

All participants BPMN/XPDL User Group Iconof the User Group meeting will receive a complimentary copy of the Digital Edition of the BPMN 2.0 Handbook.  This will be the newest and most up to date reference on the BPMN 2.0 standard with chapters from many of the top BPMN experts.  Whether you come by or not, you still have a chance to order the print version of the “BPMN 2.0 Handbook” for the 30% Pre-Launch Discount (expires December 5).

Fujitsu has the honor of hosting this year’s meeting at our facility in Sunnyvale.  Fujitsu has been a long time supporter of the BPMN, XPDL, and many other important standards.   You do not have to be a member of WfMC or OMG in order to attend this event.  Hope to see you there.

Covering all sides of the BPMN Debate

September 7, 2010 4 comments

There has been a vigorous debate of the role of BPMN.  These posts are relevant:

The discussion boils down to one thing: is BPMN the best choice for a business professional?

The BPM community has been developing BPMN for a number of years.  If you want to represent your process as a flowchart, then is seems that BPMN would be the best way to do this.  BPMN is kind of like a dictionary but instead of providing words, it provides shapes that can be used to express certain ideas on a flowchart.

Interstage BPM Supports BPMN

With Interstage BPM, if you wish to use BPMN as you only representation of the process, then this is possible.  BPMN can be used in the standalone studio modeling environment, in the on-line collaborative modeling environment, and in the run-time execution environment.  Through all of these various environment, the product assures a single consistent underlying model, without requiring any transformations along the way.

However, we have found that many business professionals are not comfortable with designing and using a flowchart approach, and we don’t force this on them.  The studio has two “perspectives”:  Business User and Power User.  You can use either one you are comfortable with, and you can switch back and forth at any time.

The business user perspective shows the process as a list of tasks, using an outline organization to display nested tasks.  We have found this approach to be much more comfortable with users who want to focus on the tasks to be done, and less on the automation of them.  The business user is not forced to use this, they can switch to power user mode at any time and get the full BPMN support.  But they often don’t want to; it is something about the flowchart formalism that gets in the way of thinking about the tasks.

The standard pattern we see is business users sketching up the process as a list of tasks.  Then later, it may be switched to BPMN view for more detailed automation tasks.  Offering both perspectives is a distinct advantage over just offering BPMN.

Switching Between Alternatives

To let you know what this might look like, here is a simple process generated in business user perspective:

(Image is supposed to display here, and wordpress is having some difficulty with it, so if you don’t see an image use this link)

This is quite comfortable for business users.  If you, though, you can switch to power user perspective on this same process, and see it displayes as this:

(Image is supposed to display here, and wordpress is having some difficulty with it, so if you don’t see an image use this link)

It is the same process — but displayed in two different representations.

Shouldn’t We Just Have One Perspective?

Some will argue that if you train the whole organization well enough, you could use a single notation.  That is a good theory, but it does not reflect the realities of the jobs that people must perform. Go back and compare the two different representations, and you will see that they each emphasis different aspects of the process.  The business user approach can visually represent the time dimension, and the duration that different tasks are expected to take.  The BPMN diagram can not represent that, but it can represent more complex sequencing logic.

The idea that there should be one single representation is an oversimplification.  Clearly, if an organization wants to do this, and wants everyone to use BPMN, then they certainly can with Interstage BPM.  But you also have the choice to use the representation that fits the audience best.

Where is the controversy?

Jim Sinur made a blog point pointing out that BPMN is too complex for regular business professionals, and that they are preferring to use other formalisms.  Strong BPMS vendors and providing multiple formalisms for user.  At Fujitsu, we have to agree.  This does not seem so controversial, but be sure to read all the posts and note how some people seem to find this controversial.

Categories: BPM, Fujitsu Interstage

Links Aug 2010

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Some say that ACM is just BPM except with unstructured processes. That is like saying starvation is like eating, except without any food.

While doing a review of the tweet-jam coverage, it hit me that many people want so much to categorize all work as being process oriented, that when they see work that does not fit that mold, they invoke something called an “unstructured process”.  It is fine to talk about unstructured (or unpredictable processes) but you should not think that an unstructured process acts in any way like a structured one. Read more…

ACMJAM Discussion – Part 3 of 3

August 5, 2010 Leave a comment

We held a tweetjam on the subject of Adaptive Case Management (ACM) on July 15.  I have already posted part 1 and part 2.  Here is part 3. Read more…

ACMJAM Discussion – Part 2 of 3

August 5, 2010 Leave a comment

We held a tweetjam on the subject of Adaptive Case Management (ACM) on July 15.  It is going to take me three posts to get this all in.  See Part 1. This post contains part 2 which contains the bulk of the discussion of how ACM relates to BPM: is it different, and how? Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized