Conformance Analysis in Process Mining

Prioritizing actions based on risks and taking corrective steps in order to improve compliance are demanding tasks that require full transparency into the business operations.  Prebuilt conformance checking with process mining (read: what is process mining) helps you stay on the right track even while scaling your business.

In this blog, I first discuss what conformance checking as a discipline means and present how it works in process mining. Thereafter, I will discuss how you can improve your compliance through process mining.


Conformance Checking with Process Mining

Business processes are key areas for cost reduction and increased efficiency. One core benefit of process mining is its capability to check process conformance, i.e. identify the gap between the desired state (to-be) and actual operations (as-is). 

Let’s get started from the to-be process. It is a process design that the organization expects to happen when they are executing in their operations. Furthermore, the organization drives process design forward with the training of enormous efforts and costs. The core target of to-be and BPM practice is to streamline operations, keep costs in control, reduce variations, and the amount of rework. For example, the to-be of an Order-to-Cash process could be something like this:

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Example of a to-be process

In reality, to-be processes are not followed or executed by 100% of the operations, well often not even by 50-70%, though that would be the optimal scenario. This is because of a simple explanation - we are humans. For example, people use IT systems in numerous ways, policies are not always explicit nor followed, especially when you are in a hurry, sharing and identifying the best practices is also tricky. On the other hand, operations are optimized inside business functions “silos” - not on an end-to-end level.

On the contrary, the as-is process reveals the real process execution. It shows what your organization is doing when delivering goods or services to the end customers, including the non-desired or non-value adding activities. As a result, the as-is process shows you also the most profitable improvement areas in various practices, such as RPA, BPM, or even optimizing your core KPIs.

Why discovering the as-is process is vital:

to understand what actually happens in operations
to identify what are the variations
to quantify process bottlenecks and issues,
and finally, to improve processes based on the findings.

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Example of an as-is process

Now that we have both the to-be and as-is process models side by side, it becomes possible to calculate the conformance between these models. With this capability, validating statements such as…

“We always first deliver and then send the bill.”

“We always execute our procurement according to your policies, and we do not have maverick buying.”

“We must have purchase requisition for all purchase orders in X1 and X3 purchasing areas.”

…becomes super easy!

Process mining empowers organizations with full transparency and data-driven facts into operations by taking mundane business improvement workshops further. Organizations are often surprised by how low their conformance is and what a vast gap they have between real and expected operations. Typical conformance is around 40-65%, which tells that there are a lot of daily business activities missing the best practice and optimal ways of execution. Moreover, the problem with low conformance is that there are more exceptions that require most of the efforts and tie resources for non-value-adding work, see picture below.

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Basic lean concept - 80/20 Pareto

For decades, the BPM practice has been analyzing conformance manually step by step. However, QPR wants to optimize also the analysis and delivers Conformance Checking Dashboard out of the box with QPR ProcessAnalyzer. This gives you the capability to see the conformance rate and also enables an analysis of the differences between any data dimension such as regions, materials, customer, or suppliers. QPR ProcessAnalyzer does not just reveal the problem but also calculates the root causes which empower the next step: improving the process and realizing benefits.

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QPR ProcessAnalyzer - Conformance Checking

The topics discussed above are just a part of the turn-key solution available in QPR ProcessAnalyzer. Roll-in for my webinar to hear more insights and industry use cases below.

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Olli Komulainen

Olli Komulainen has been doing process mining for the past 4 years participating +50 customer projects in Healthcare, Telecom, Professional Services, Automotive, Logistics, Chemical and FMCG industries. Today, he is responsible for QPR Process Mining marketing and QPR ProcessAnalyzer business development.

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