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Improve Operational Efficiency with Process Conformance Checking

Improve Operational Efficiency with Process Conformance Checking

Leveraging Process Mining to improve process conformance and operational efficiency

Authored By: 

Sean Ferguson and Cameron Marro

April 2, 2024

Every great business process should start with a good design. Any time a new employee is hired, an invoice needs to be processed, or an insurance claim needs to be filed, there should be some idea of how that process occurs. The ideal process is typically captured in some sort of process model. A well-designed model outlines the different activities in the process, who is responsible for each activity, what artifacts are generated, decision logic that might lead down various execution paths, and many other useful tidbits of information that provide insight into how the process should unfold.  

This is all well and good in a theoretical world. A process is kicked off and the steps flow in sequence until the process is completed, and the case is closed. Unfortunately, as we are all too familiar with, process failures are a frequent occurrence. Cases get dropped and fall through the cracks. Somebody leaves the company, and the responsibilities aren’t fully transitioned. A customer of the process follows the path of least resistance (which may or may not circumvent controls in the process). For any number of reasons, the process in reality does not match the process in theory. 

In the old days, diagnosing a misbehaving process was a daunting task, typically involving days of interviews with scores of process owners and customers and a downright unhealthy amount of Post-It Notes. Process Mining has completely transformed this experience, providing clear and instant visibility to the most complex processes. For a more in-depth overview of the differences between Process Modeling and Process Mining, click here. In short, though, Process Mining provides the ability to see your actual business process objectively and in near-real-time.  

The magic of Process Mining is the extraction and transformation of transactional data that comes from the systems running your business processes. By identifying unique case IDs, process steps, and timestamps, an event log can be generated that provides an objective insight into what a business process actually looks like.  



Implemented properly, Process Mining allows process owners to see where their processes break down. With the right Process Mining tool, even at first glance, particular pain points present themselves. Identifying undesired activities (e.g., Cancelling an order) is easy and almost instantaneous. Process Miners can see if frequent changes are happening. Activities happening out of order become obvious (the payment due date passes before the payment is completed). Even long lead times or control circumvention is easily identified. In traditional process transformation approaches driven by humans, variations can be missed, and bias can be unintentionally introduced. As an objective science, Process Mining provides the best end-to-end visibility. 

Being able to see your actual business processes is revolutionary. That in and of itself (along with the actionability potential surfaced by Process Mining) can provide immense value to an organization. What is even better though, is being able to compare your current process performance to your desired process or end-state process. This is the beauty of Process Conformance Checking (AKA process adherence). For the purposes of this article, we’ll use the acronym “PCC” for “Process Conformance Checking,” but there are other interchangeable terms that can be leveraged. 

PCC has a host of benefits. The most obvious is the ability for process owners to see very clearly where their processes might not be meeting their expectations. If operational excellence and process conformance are important strategic objectives for an organization, this is a great place for companies to start their Process Mining journeys.

PCC can also be used to convince skeptical stakeholders of the value of Process Mining. There is often resistance within organizations to kick off ambitious programs with new software tools – especially if the benefits are unclear. PCC provides an easy and objective way to highlight value to stakeholders. Unless business process performance is of little or no concern to an organization, the value is obvious in a matter of minutes.

Within the Process Mining industry, PCC is managed differently by different tools. PCC isn’t available with every Process Mining tool on the market, but many technologies – Apromore, BusinessOptix, Celonis, QPR Process Analyzer, Software AG’s ARIS, SAP Signavio, and others – do offer Process Conformance Checking.

Several of these vendors have built in repositories for organizations to manage process models at scale. This makes it easy to do process design but also PCC against the company standard business process models. Some PCC modules list out various conformance violations to make root cause analysis and categorization of process breakdowns much more manageable. And some of these technologies are even adding features to measure business rules in addition to standard features to make PCC even more powerful. This can be done to identify cases where an approval took longer than the standard SLA or where the wrong user approved a case in addition to the standard PCC use cases like identifying activities happening out of order or identifying undesired activities.

               As with any technology project and/or system implementation, there are challenges associated with PCC. In a future article, we’ll explore some of them and how they can be navigated successfully. Nevertheless, if done correctly, PCC can be a powerful and valuable capability to ensure that processes are done right. Operational excellence demands that processes are adhered to, and proper process conformance may help companies ensure there are fewer defects in their products, wait times are minimized, and unnecessary activities are removed. Process Transformation, System Transformation, Audit and Compliance, and even Continuous Improvement are great use cases for leveraging the power of PCC. Without PCC, business process models are still the ideal, but it becomes so much harder to measure our performance and to understand why and where process breakdowns are happening. With PCC, our process models and our process performance should converge over time improving business outcomes and ensuring better process controls.

About The Author(s)

Sean Ferguson and Cameron Marro

Sean Ferguson

Sean began his career at TranSigma in 2018 after earning his master's degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from Sacred Heart University. As a member of the TranSigma team, he has helped clients from the Defense and CPG industries across many functions and disciplines including Cybersecurity, Human Resources, Finance, Procurement, and Accounting. Recently, he has become the leader of TranSigma’s Celonis practice. His expertise and passion lie in implementing new and innovative technologies into organizations so companies and people can leverage the power of technology to unlock maximum potential.

Cameron Marro

Cameron Marro is a dedicated professional specializing in process optimization and increasing efficiency. Graduating with distinction from Southern Connecticut State University in 2021, she joined TranSigma to manage back-office operations and develop their process mining practice. She specializes in improving processes in the Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance industry across multiple business functions.

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