属性項目は、業務プロセス上の問題（非効率性やボトルネックなど）を特定した際、それは、特定のリソースや顧客において起こりやすいかどうか、といった深堀りを行う「根本原因分析」において活用するものです。また、「活動基準原価計算（ABC: Activity Based Costing)」などに基づいて、処理費用の算出が可能であれば、属性項目として処理費用を追加することで、プロセスに係るコスト視点での分析が可能となります。
このように、プロセスマイニングとデータマイニング・AI、BPMはお互いに補完しあえる関係にあると言えます。プロセスマイニングのゴッドファーザー、Wil van der Aalst教授は、「プロセスマイニングは、データマイニングとBPMをつなぐ橋である」と述べられていますが、まさに、BPMの取り組みにおいて、プロセスに特化したデータマイニングとしての「プロセスマイニング」は大きな役割を果たしていくと思われます。
さて、プロセスマイニング分析後に発見した問題を解決するための施策としてのソリューションには、まずRPA(Robotic Process Automation）によるタスク自動化が挙げられます。また、プロセス単位で一定の業務手順を自動化するためにはビジネスプロセスマネジメントシステム（BPMS）の採用が有効でしょう。また、業務を遂行するためのリソース最適化のために、アウトソーシングサービス（BPO)の活用も検討に値するでしょう。
同社では、プロセスマイニングを単なる問題発見ツールとしてだけでなく、実際の業務プロセスが可視化できることで、関係するメンバーが「すごい（Sense of Excitement)」と思ってもらうこと、また、非効率性やボトルネックが一目瞭然となることから「すぐに改善しなければ（Sense of Urgency）」という気持ちを喚起できる仕掛け、すなわちプロセス改善を着手させ（Initiator)、促進する(Katalysator)ことのできる有益なアプローチとして活用しています。
グローバルに展開する保険会社、AIGでは様々な業務プロセス改善に取り組んでいます。特に、米国AIGの”Data-Driven Process Optimization”と呼ばれる部署では、プロセスマイニング、シミュレーション、BIを組み合わせることで改善成果を積み重ねています。
Data-Driven Process Optimization部署では、プロセス改善の一連の手順を「プロセス風洞（Process Wind Tunnel）」と呼んでいます。自動車や航空機、建築物などの設計においては、風洞に模型を置いて風の流れ等を測定する「風洞実験」を行います。同様に、プロセスの改善にあたって、シミュレーションによる改善成果の予測を行った上で改善施策に展開するという手順を踏んでいるのです。
プロセスマイニング分析結果から、部品補修プロセスの総所要時間（ターンアラウンドタイム、またはスループットと呼ぶ）を長くしている大きなボトルネックは3カ所ありました。すなわち、「検査（Inspection)」、「提案と承認（Proposal and approval）」、「修繕と認証（Repair and certification)」です。
各工程では、大きなユニットの60－80％が処理待ちとなっており、このため6日～12日ほど想定よりも時間が掛かっていました。どれも解決すべきボトルネックではありましたが、どの工程から着手するか、優先順位をつけるために同社では「制約理論（Theory of Constraints）」を適用しました。制約理論は、プロセス改善を目的としてボトルネックの解消に取り組むためのアプローチです。そして、制約理論に基づき、「提案と承認（Proposal and approval）」からボトルネック解消のための施策を開始したのです。
In this article, I’ll explain the flow of using process mining to improve business processes, contrasting it with the procedure of treatment in a hospital.
Process mining aims to discover various issues and problems hidden in the process by visualizing invisible business processes from the event log data.
In terms of this “visualization of the process”, process mining is often likened to an X-ray. However, just as in the treatment of diseases, the ultimate goal is not the discovery of the lesion (Inefficiencies and bottlenecks) but the implementation of appropriate treatment (improvement measures) and the return to a healthy state, in other words, the realization of an improved “ideal process(to be proess)”.
Let’s start by outlining the flow of medical activities in a hospital. Broadly speaking, there are two stages: the “diagnostic stage” and the “treatment stage”.
The starting point for treatment is when a patient comes in with some kind of symptom such as fever or cough.
First, we will ask questions about the extent of your current symptoms and conduct an interview.
Using an X-ray machine, the area where the lesion is thought to exist will be photographed.
The presence of the lesion is confirmed by looking at the X-ray photograph.
From the results of the X-ray photos, you can determine what diseases the patient have.
In addition, various physical exam and tests will be performed to verify the correctness of the above diagnosis.
The course of treatment is based on the results of the diagnosis and the patient’s wishes. For example, it’s about whether to carry out surgery or how to treat medication.
If it is better to remove the lesion, surgery will be performed.
The treatment is performed by administering medications alone or in conjunction with surgery.
The etiology has been eliminated and the symptoms are gone. Treatment is complete.
Next, we’ll outline the steps to improve business processes along the path of diagnosis and treatment at the above hospital.
●Business Process Improvement
Understanding the current situation – Diagnostic stage
Process with problems – Patient
Select processes that are experiencing problems as phenomena, such as long throughput, high operating costs, customer complaints, etc., as targets for improvement.
Process Setup – Preliminary interview
Basic information related to the process to be improved, such as an overview of the process, the number of processes, and the department or person in charge, will be organized through interviews. If there are any specifications or manuals for the system involved in the process, check them as well.
Process Mining – X-ray
Based on the event log data of the process to be improved, we analyze it using a process mining tool and create a flowchart of the current process.
As is process – X-ray photograph
We analyze the current process from various perspectives, such as frequency and time required.
Problem identification – Diagnosis
Based on the results of the above analysis, we identify the areas that are causing problems or issues as a phenomenon, i.e. inefficient procedures that are taking too long, or bottlenecks that are piling up pending cases.
On-site interview and observation – physical examination
To identify the problem areas, we conduct interviews with the person in charge at the site and conduct observational surveys to identify the root cause.
The root causes of process inefficiencies and bottlenecks are: too many meaningless steps, too many mistakes, too many reworkings, and too few people assigned to deals that need to be done.
Improvement Activities – Treatment Stage
Improvement Policy – Treatment Policy
Once we have identified the various problems and issues related to the process and the root causes of these problems and issues, we plan improvement measures.
As a major improvement policy, it is important to first clarify the objectives, such as reducing throughput, reducing costs, and improving customer satisfaction.
Implementation of improvement measures – Surgery and Medication
There are a variety of options for improvement measures, ranging from major to minor modifications.
BPR (Business Process Re-engineering), which is a zero-based re-engineering of the process, can be compared to surgery. Replacing manual tasks with RPA software robots might be like replacing an artificial heart.
If a small change in procedure could improve the time required, it would be a disease that could be treated with simple medication.
Improved Process (To be process) – Recovery
Once the desired process has been achieved as a result of effective improvement measures, the project is complete.
Just as regular check-ups are necessary in the treatment of a disease, it is important to continuously monitor the target process to ensure that problems do not recur or new problems arise.
Thanks to process mining and task mining, you are able to find inefficient processes and bottlenecks in the process. But that’s not where it’s done, is it?
Needless to say, process mining and task mining make it easy to uncover problems through data analysis, but they don’t tell you how you can solve problems. (It’s plausible that in the future, advanced AI capabilities will be added in process mining tools to hint at ways to improve them.
Therefore, once a problem related to the process has been found, the process mining and task mining are no longer needed for the time being.
What comes into play after finding a problem is problem-solving techniques, including Lean Six Sigma. In those problem-solving methods, you can use various frameworks such as 5WHY and factor analysis (fish bone analysis) to find the root cause behind the problem, and then plan and implement specific improvement measures.
This article introduces nine redesign methods that can be used as a reference to consider specific improvement measures. These redesign methods are systematized in BPM (Business Process Management). This is a practical method that has been developed empirically through numerous process improvement projects that have been implemented in the past.
In fact, there are nearly 30 rules of thumb for process redesign. Of these, the nine methods I’m going to share with you are the most common and most likely to produce improvements.
The nine process redesign methods can be broadly categorized into three levels (task level, flow level) and process level). Each method will be explained at each of the three levels.
This is a change of any kind to the individual tasks (activities) that make up the process.
1 Task Elimination
For those tasks that are taking a long time, it’s important to ask yourself if the task is worth doing in the first place, eliminate it, or reduce the number of times you do it.
For example, if there are three levels of approval tasks and they are formidable, reduce them by one level to two. In the inspection process, the number of inspection tasks could be reduced by a fraction of a percent by changing to a statistical method that only inspects a small portion of randomly selected products, rather than inspecting all products.
2 Task composition (decomposition)
When tasks are subdivided into smaller chunks, or when tasks are passed between multiple departments, the time required is often longer. Therefore, it may be effective to consolidate multiple tasks into a single task, or to consolidate tasks in your own department without passing them on to other departments. (Conversely, multiple tasks can become inefficient when they are combined into a single task. (In that case, it may be useful to break down the task).
In some cases, running sub-processes in a conditional branch may reduce the time required for a process. For example, in the procurement process, a task following the receipt of a purchase application would be to run different processes for amounts over 10 million and below.
Conversely, if the complexity is compounded by too many sub-processes, you may want to consider consolidating some of them.
It’s an improvement method for the order of tasks, not just a single task.
Re-sequencing is about reviewing the flow of tasks and rearranging them in the order that is most efficient and requires the least amount of work.
For example, if the procurement process includes two approval tasks, A and B, then on average 1% of the A task will be set back and 10% of the B task will be set back. In this case, bringing task B, which has more regressions, before task A will result in a relative decrease in the number of approvals for A, which will be more efficient and reduce the workload overall.
5 Parallelism enhancement
In some processes, where sequential processing is used, where the next task starts only after the previous task is completed, if the process is changed to one where multiple tasks are processed in parallel instead of sequentially, it is expected to reduce the time required for the entire process.
Changing sequential processing tasks to concurrent processing often has a significant effect on throughput reduction.
It is an improvement based on another perspective besides the individual tasks and the order between them.
6 Specialization and standardization
Specialization aims to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction by dividing a process into multiple processes and assigning a person in charge to each sub-process to increase the expertise. For example, it is possible to divide a process into VIPs and general customers and provide a speedy and courteous service process especially for VIPs.
On the contrary, standardization is an attempt to unify multiple processes in the case of the same business because they are separated by product, etc.
7 Resource Optimization
When multiple people are running the same business process, the amount of work is concentrated on a particular person while other people are playing around, or when there is a bottleneck due to the lack of people in charge of the same amount of work, it is necessary to “optimize resources” by devising the assignment of people in charge or reviewing the shifts of people in charge.
8 Communication Optimization
If the process flow is driven by some kind of communication, such as a phone call, fax, or email, you may be able to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction by changing the timing of receiving or processing communication, for example.
For routine tasks where there is a clear set of procedures, automation with RPA can be effective. There are also multiple options for automation, such as developing an application that makes automatic decisions based on the input information.
Let’s first consider whether these nine rules of thumb can be applied to your own process improvement/innovation project or DX (Digital Transformation) promotion project when guiding a solution to an individual problem or issue.
As mentioned at the beginning, 29 rules of thumb for process redesign are presented in the “Fundamentals of Business Process Management”.
In addition, please take a look at the MOOCs (e-learning), which is based on the book, for detailed explanations of the nine process redesign methods introduced in the book.
Process mining is an “analytical method”. The mere introduction of a process mining tool doesn’t start anything. You will need to plan a series of steps as an “analytical project” and manage their execution.
However, if you have not done any research or analysis projects in the past, it does not seem to be easy to understand the steps of an analysis project. Therefore, I would like to explain the flow of process mining analysis by contrasting the flow of cooking.
First, let’s see the flow of the food. The assumed location is the kitchen of a restaurant. The first activity is “purchasing foodstuff” and the last is serving dished-up food to customers’ tables.
1 Purchase of foodstuffs
purchase a variety of food from all over the world through food wholesalers.
The foods to be cooked are now available. Check to see if there are any insects eating or rotting.
prepare the food by chopping it with a knife or boiling it in a pot of boiling water to remove the bitterness.
Cooks food using a variety of cooking utensils.
5 dishing-up and serving
dish up cooked foods and serve the finished dishes to the customers.
Role of Master Chef
Note that the role of the master chef is to oversee the entire cooking process of the restaurant.
Next, let’s explain the steps of the process mining analysis, corresponding to the above cooking steps.
process mining procedure
1 Extraction of data = Purchase of foodstuff
extract data from various systems that record and accumulate event logs that are the target data for analysis, such as ERP represented by SAP, CRM systems such as Salesforce, or proprietary business systems.
As a method of data extraction, it is common to extract data directly from a DB by SQL.
Data extraction is basically done by system engineers or system administrators, and when the database structure is complex, such as ERP, it is necessary to determine where the data to be analyzed is located, for example, with the assistance of SAP experts who have good knowledge about SAP.
2 Data to be analyzed = Foodstuff
The data extracted from the system is collectively referred to as the “event log. This is because the history of operations on the system is recorded on an event-by-event basis with a time stamp.
As a data format, it would be easier to pre-process the data in the post-process if it were provided in CSV format. In some cases, the event log may be provided in JSON format and the pre-processing of the event log in JSON format can be a bit cumbersome.
3 Data preparation = Precooking
The event log data extracted from the system is often composed of multiple files, often ten or more. It can be a file that records activity and time stamps, etc., as well as a file that contains the master data.
Basically, all the files must be combined into a single file in order to analyze by a process mining tool. In addition, the original files contain a lot of data that cannot be analyzed as it is, such as garbled parts and empty cells that should have contained some kind of value.
Therefore, it is necessary to remove or adjust for those noisy data, that is, perform data cleaning similar to the removal of unfavorable parts of food. Data preparation is the process of processing the original data into clean data that can be analyzed by a process mining tool
Data preparetaion is done by data scientists who know how to process data to make it clean, using ETL tools, Python, and other tools, languages.
4 Analysis = Cooking
Once the data has been pre-processed and the clean data is ready for analysis, it can finally be fed into process mining tools for various analyses.
The process mining tool is a very versatile tool. It takes some training and experience to become proficient, but it’s fun to visualize business processes as a flowchart from event log data that looks like nothing more than a litany of numbers to uncover inefficiencies and bottlenecks.
Analysis with process mining tools requires tool experts who are familiar with the tools used, but it is the process analyst who gives the analytical perspective on how to do the analysis. The data scientist also has a better understanding of the original data through pre-processing of the data, so they can assist in the analytical work.
5 Reporting = Dishing up and serving
create reports using graphs, tables, etc. on the issues and problems of the target process identified from various analysis results with process mining tools. Since the people receiving the report are not necessarily familiar with data analysis, it is necessary to keep in mind the visual presentation that makes it easy to understand what the issue or problem is.
Ideally, the report should be written by a process analyst, with the assistance of a process consultant with process improvement know-how (Lean, Six Sigma, etc.). It’s also good to have the support of a data scientist or tool expert, as additional analysis may be required.
Role of Project Manager
It is the project manager who correspond to the master chef of the restaurant who runs the entire process mining analysis project. A project manager does not have to be familiar with the entire process. However, you must have a good understanding of each step of the process and above all, you must have the skills to execute the project smoothly.
So far I have used the culinary metaphor to explain the standard procedure for process mining analysis. Each process is a highly challenging one that requires a certain level of skill and experience, so it is necessary for experts in each field to work well together to advance the project.
現在のやり方を強化するアプローチです。ここには、TRIZ、制約理論、リーンマネジメント、シックスシグマ、BPR（Business Process Re-engineering)が含まれます。革新（Innovation)というよりは、主に改善（Improvement）のための手法です。現在の業務プロセス、業務内容を把握し、非効率性、ボトルネックなどの問題点を発見し、改善施策を講じます。組織再編も含めた、全社的に根本的な改善を行うのがBPRです。