The processes are the heart of the enterprise’s operations. All employees always follow the processes rules to do and manage their usual day to day tasks. So we can easily understand how it would be strategic for a company to improve these processes to be more efficient and competitive. Moreover all processes have their weaknesses, sometimes the employees are stuck in a specific activity of the process and they cannot just move forward just because it misses something that should not block the process but unfortunately which is required to move on to the next stage.
To be efficient the employee has to find out a way to unlock the situation, and so to be able to satisfy the customer or just to be able to do his job he may have to bypass the process. A new process path is then created (a Process Variation), we can also name this new flow a variation of the process.
Following that schema, a lot of variation will appear and the initial process flow as it has been initiated can be really far from the reality, far from how this process is really performed in the company. Sometimes, and after a long duration the Happy Path just represents a minor part of the real execution. In fact, time is the worst process enemy !
When a new process is officially launched in a company, it’s possible and easy to train the involved employees to practice it in a proper way. That means the number of variations should be null or almost if the design phase has been performed properly. But the reality is here and after a while, for many good reasons (like organizations changes, systems and applications evolve) the process stays as is and does not fit anymore with the business needs. Consequently the employees have to find a way to do their job despite the “old” process which cannot be adapted. This is when new variations come.
To summarize: the number of variations can be directly proportional to the process age and the number of changes in the company (systems, applications, organizations, etc.).
Number of variation = f(Time, IT Complexity, Company Organization)
This is a real and concrete problem almost all organizations have to face, and that’s the reason why analyzing and controlling a process is so important.
To mitigate such problems like this, companies launch specific initiatives/projects like Six Sigma, Lean, Kaizen to figure out and investigate their enterprise processes. These initiatives are really efficient however they are also data-driven initiatives. The first iceberg is almost always to get some accurate metrics to drive in an efficient way such projects like these. This is where Process Mining solutions can typically help as they can also be seen as process measuring tools.
A good start for such investigation like this is to think about these typical questions which can lead the Process Analysis :
- How do you know there is a problem? Did you identify a specific pain ?
- What specific measures indicate there is a problem?
- What will success look like? What is the scope?
- Who is on the team and what are their roles and responsibilities? and
- What is your project plan?
These basics question will drive to specifics outcomes which are most of the time led by
When looking a bit deeper at the DMAIC Methodology (Lean – Six Sigma) the Process Intelligence tools can really help along all the process improvement journey. Indeed Process Intelligence is not only about providing measures and facts about the process executions. It can also help in analyzing the process behaviors and maybe more important enabling control and monitoring on it.