Process Mining

Mark Lefcowitz, June 28, 2021:

Process Mining 101

There is an odd sounding phrase beginning to echo throughout the world of Process Improvement and Business Transformation: “Process Mining”.

In the past, organizations relied on subjective assumptive models to reconstruct and understand their critical processes. This manual process often takes months to achieve, and like any other manual activity is subject to competing priorities and human error. The data it is based upon is often incomplete or simply inaccurate.

In a business world replete with demanding customer expectations, shorter product and project work cycles, where digital transformation, disruptive technologies, and shifting global and local supply chains frequently trigger unexpected business challenges, process mining is a new approach existing at the confluence of data science and process management.

According to a report filed by Gil Press in a Forbes article posted in December 2020, the amount of data created, captured, and consumed during the period of 2010 to 2020 increased by over 5,000 %, from 1.2 trillion gigabytes to 57 trillion gigabytes.

As with any form of  extraction, the activity of “mining” involves the removal of something of value from vast amounts of inconsequential material that surrounds it.

To take the metaphor one more step, process mining also involves looking for value in the right places.

Primarily using various event log data sources, Process professionals can turn event data into operational insights to guide your strategic planning and actions. Using discovery techniques, event logs are analyzed using deductive techniques to produce a process model. Conformance techniques are used to compare existing process model to the event log of the same process; i.e., does the process model conform to the data that has been captured, and vice-versa. Enhancement techniques can be brought to bear to extend or align your existing process model and your event collection strategy.

Process mining techniques can be configured for both offline and online, operational support, providing real-time and near real-time insights into Key Process Indicators (KPIs), like:

  • Case and activity frequency
  • Throughput time per case
  • Average time spent per activity
  • Number of activities per case
  • Rework rate per activity
  • Throughput time between activities
  • Number of cases conforming to your ideal process

Neither the public sector, nor the private sector are immune to the fierce under currents of change within which we all live. Processes are the engine of everyone’s daily experience. In the end, we are all both consumers and creators of process. Increasingly, we are called upon to be on alert for shifts in our daily environment, and to react to these changes with agility.

If agility is the key to business and organizational survival, then the decisions we make should be based upon knowledge rather than conjecture. Process mining is a new approach that can be applied towards those ends.


About the Author:

Mark Lefcowitz is a Principal Process  Engineer, Sr. Project Manager, Sr. Data / Business Analyst, and thought leader specializing in Organizational Change Management, Business Transformation, and Continuous Process Improvement, with over 30 years of professional experience in both the private and public sectors.

He is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, a certified Project Management Professional, and a certified Lean Master. He has functioned as a Senior Subject Matter Expert, Program Manager, Project Manager, and Senior Analyst in a variety of legacy operating environments. He is an expert in facilitated processes.

Among his numerous professional achievements, he has successfully taken an organization through both an ISO 9001 certification and a CMMI SCAMPI-A Level-3 assessment—back-to-back, start to finish—in less than five months.

Mr. Lefcowitz’ original training was in the field of dispute analysis and its resolution.  He was a private mediator for 15-years, serving as a non-attorney member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s, Committee on Dispute Resolution. He was also one of the founding members of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution (SPIDR). He served as its first President.

He is a strong advocate of teaching conflict analysis skill sets as a primary first step in assisting businesses and organizations to drive their own business process and transformation efforts.  All human endeavors depend on people collaborating with others to achieve commonly shared goals.