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Process modelling and analysis via process mining

April 11, 2021 by Andrea Breimayer und Peter Preuss

Process modelling and analysis via process mining


In process mining, digitalised business processes are automatically collected, and then visualised in a process model to enable later optimisation. However, classic process management methods cannot be excluded during process identification, verification, or optimisation.

In the last few years, the importance of information technology has grown massively in all business areas. The processing of business procedures is no longer conceivable, without the support of an application system. However, many processes are still characterised by media disruptions, which is understood as the transition from paper to computer-based information systems. Therefore, in this article, we will examine whether corporate processes can still be modelled automatically with process mining, or if process mining has to be combined with various approaches of the classic process management model to receive valid process models..

Classic process management 

The aim of classic process management is to identify existing business procedures in companies and to model, visualise and subsequently optimise them. Before you can start with the modelling of the processes, you have to decide the level of detail at which processes should be visualised, and which views of the process landscape are needed. In addition, the method for obtaining relevant information about the process, the single process steps and the involved roles must be determined (e.g. via a process survey). For instance, potential information sources can be existing process documentation, organisation manuals or even documentations about the application systems. It is also recommended to involve process experts, who can provide information about the real procedures in a company because, often enough, the documentation is outdated. Expert knowledge can either be ascertained in a workshop, at which all process participants attend or via individual interviews. Another possibility for determining the current state of the company’s processes is the so-called routing slip procedure. This is used frequently for the investigation of analogue and paper-based business processes. Attached to this document as an example, is a bill and a routing slip procedure to which everything can be connected, so that both pass through all process steps and organisational units. Every process participant notes on the routing slip which action they took, and when they executed it. After the survey, the processes are applied to a process model in order to visualise them. For this purpose, there are several modelling notations on hand, for example EPK, BPMN or UML. These models form the basis for the following process optimisation (process improvement).

The advantage of the classic process survey is that, not only the digital, but also the analogue process steps can be recorded easily. Thus, business processes can be surveyed consistently and completely. On the other hand, there are several disadvantages. The classic process survey is elaborate, because the survey is done manually, and all relevant process participants need to be involved. The actualisation of the process models is also very time intensive, which often results in them being outdated. Furthermore, the process survey is strongly affected by the subjective view of the interviewees. Frequently the involved persons conceal existing flaws or inaccurately portray issues. Often enough, people describe an ideal process flow — and not the real one. An additional problem is that not all people involved in the process are always familiar with the modelling notations, and a trained person will have to visualise the business processes. Communication problems between process participants and modellers can also lead to faulty process models. 

(complete article was published in ERP Management Magazine 2/2021)

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