You might rely on Business Intelligence systems for monitoring operations and performance, but when metrics fall outside the optimal range, how do you identify the cause? How do you tell exactly which process is under performing, why it is happening, and where you should take corrective action?
It might seem that BI fulfills the same needs that Process Mining does — that is they are both helping businesses achieve better performance. Although, the hidden flaw in BI is the assumption that business processes are always known and are happening as prescribed. We all wish that were the case, but we know from our experiences, that even the most well-defined operations don’t always go as planned. When these deviations happen, BI can show you what happened (i.e. the accounting department repeated step xxx 4 times) but struggles to answer the real question we need answered: why. Business leaders then try to solve performance issues by relying on intuition and understanding that normally comes from their personal interaction with the process. What they need is a means to look at the underlying process objectively. People only see the process from their own eyes. Some issues can’t be uncovered or are completely missed by BI tools and the business users, they could be in between teams, or in other areas where individuals don’t know about them. The secrets are in the data.
Old methods just don’t cut it anymore. The digital transformation sweeping every industry and one that has relied heavily on traditional Business Intelligence tools, also birthed Process Mining which leverages the digital “breadcrumb trail” — aka event logs. Today there are at least two dozen products on the market to choose from, and more coming all the time. However, as a student of the industry, I would point out that all those tools reflect the original approach and techniques developed by Dr. Ir. Wil van der Aalst, the “father” of process mining so to speak. I submit that while each emphasizes slightly different features, they share first generation, European roots — meaning they all attack process mining in fundamentally the same way.
Process mining tools can provide deep insights into the end-to-end process and are generally good at bridging the gaps between different systems and information silos. Some offer a rather cumbersome approach for traditional business users and require tremendous manual effort and sometimes complex coding knowledge to drill into the data. While other process mining tools simply give users a high level end-to-end ‘visual’ of the process as a flow chart, but do not address the fundamental needs of business users. The most important problem of process mining is the whole concept that there’s a discoverable flowchart behind the event logs. While it could be true in some extremely well-organized processes, the vast majority of real word business processes behave closer to case management. It means there’s not a simple flowchart describing the process A-Z. Instead, there are multiple decision points producing the astronomical number of possible combinations. Finally, to produce a readable diagram, the traditional process mining vendors filter out the events which don’t fit, so even when the flowchart is simple, it still misses the critical information — events that don’t fit into the model. Unlike others that may require the elimination of unexpected paths or reduce process flow complexity to make analysis easier but reduce your understanding of the real process, advanced process intelligence technology from ABBYY’s Timeline allows you to view and analyze all the patterns of process and easily see through the complexity of your business processes. Without complete process transparency, you will miss vital clues and violations/opportunities for improvement and impacts on process quality.
Your business is complex but how you view it doesn’t have to be. Timeline is the newest entrant in this industry and is the only software that does not trace its lineage to the University of Technology, Eindhoven. The company’s U.S. founders came out of the business process management and business intelligence industries. Because of this, they approached process mining from a different perspective altogether. While all products share the same basic event-extraction process (i.e. scraping event logs) – what’s different in a second-generation application like ABBYY’s Timeline solution is how that data is processed and organized. The ABBYY Timeline founders invented the timeline methodology (hence the company name) a patent pending approach that enables highly sophisticated, easy-to-use queries and analytics, aka the proliferation of the “everyday-user” process intelligence solution. This unique process-focused approach delivers informed process understanding based on the data. Organizations can quickly search for patterns, analyze the granular details, discover the process flow, predict the future state, monitor and remediate issues with systems they already have. That means there’s no need for complicated integrations; process insights are available at the click of the mouse.
The ABBYY Timeline process intelligence solution sees a process as a dynamic process flow of inter-related events — an entirely new and unique way for customers to look and understand and further improve their business processes. BI solutions are focused on the data and metrics surrounding individual steps or events in a process and don’t have the ability to measure and analyze time intervals or even deal with the fact that many times there are repeated events. The timeline methodology approach makes it easy. Therefore, Timeline is empowering all users, regardless if they’re LEAN certified or computer coding geniuses, to become process experts. Anyone can now go beyond their traditional way of looking at how their businesses operate and view and analyze all the patterns of process flow easily seeing through the complexity of business processes.
Timeline’s extensive capabilities allow faster and better process analysis with a simple point and click interface featuring what is soon to be 30+pre-built, best practice analysis tools — no coding required. Unlike others that can’t filter, search, or analyze violations, patterns and events in a process (can only do mining or as in AI — pattern mining) ABBYY Timeline makes process analysis easy. No single solution can match the complete set of capabilities and features of the Timeline platform.
The good news is that many of these products, including Timeline, offer free trials of their cloud platforms so you can run the same set of data through different applications to determine which best fits your needs. Process mining is here to stay no doubt, but a process intelligence platform like ABBYY Timeline represents the newest generation — focused on more for the business user — and it will rapidly evolve useful and reliable predictive capabilities. All of this together, will reshape your process optimization and automation projects and become the center of your digital transformation initiatives acting as your accelerator to sustainable process improvement initiatives.
By Ryan Raiker, Senior Product Marketing Manager at ABBYY Timeline