Process Management 4 mins read

The JWST-approach for Business Processes 

The James Webb telescope has been delivering impressive images of the universe since July 2022 and has already provided completely new insights into many aspects of the cosmos in this short time. Does it make sense to compare this gigantic engineering feat with the possibilities that process mining offers for analyzing and optimizing business processes and performance?

Dr. Helge Hess Dr. Helge Hess

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a remarkable feat of engineering and technology. As the world’s largest, most powerful, and most complex space telescope built to date, it offers an unprecedented view of the universe and its wonders. 

There is no such thing as the unknown. Only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.

James T. Kirk

JWST is positioned at the outer Lagrange point L2 in the Earth-Sun system, where it orbits at a speed of 727 km/h, about 1.5 million km above the night side of the Earth. Its technical precision enables it to provide new views into the solar system, peer inside star-forming regions, and analyze the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres in greater detail. 

Compared to the Hubble telescope, JWST is partially one hundred times more sensitive to electromagnetic waves. It uses its four main scientific instruments to observe a wide range of wavelengths, from the near-infrared to the mid-infrared, and is capable of studying every phase in the history of our universe, from the first galaxies to the formation of stars and planets. 

However, the potential of JWST goes beyond its scientific achievements. In fact, it serves as an inspiration to explore the potential of other technologies that can push the boundaries of our understanding and capabilities. One such technology is process mining, which follows a ‘deep field observation’ approach, but in a completely different context. 

Process mining aims to shed light on business processes whose details have remained hidden until now. It does this by collecting all process-relevant traces in the IT systems, such as event logs, and reconstructing the individual sequence and structure of activities for each process execution. This data makes it possible to perform a number of extraordinary analyses, which we will explore in more detail below. 

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Top 5 capabilities of process mining

One of the most surprising findings in process mining is the fact that every process in operational reality does not follow the same structure over and over again. Instead, there are usually many different variants, with some processes having between 20 and 50 different structures. Process mining makes it possible to analyze these variants and understand which ones occur and have their justification. This knowledge is crucial for companies that want to reduce the number of variants in their processes to cut costs through standardization and achieve reliable service quality. 

Another capability of process mining is the ability to analyze both leading and lagging indicators to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Leading indicators (looking forward and showing the progress towards your goal) and lagging indicators (that measure the actual business impact that has been achieved) are much more useful for understanding and improving performance. With process mining, it’s possible to investigate the processes themselves and intervene early, rather than just looking at sales figures or balance sheets. 

Process mining also allows for root cause analysis, which is crucial for identifying weaknesses in processes with large volumes of executions. With sophisticated filtering capabilities, benchmarking, and smart root cause analysis, it’s possible to identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks, and redesign processes accordingly. 

Furthermore, with the ‘insights-to-action’ capabilities of process mining, it’s possible to intervene directly in ongoing processes and, for example, trigger workflows to steer them in the right direction. This capability addresses the criticism that the pure mining approach helps identify problems, but not solve them. 

Finally, the analysis of process conformance has proven to be almost as important as optimization. With the steady growth of compliance requirements in nearly all industries, it has become indispensable to know all legal requirements and to prove their compliance. Process mining allows compliance management to be raised from a laborious manual procedure that only takes sections into account to a level that sees all transactions and processes, performs the analyses automatically, and can intervene in the event of violations while they are still being processed. 

In conclusion, the James Webb Space Telescope and process mining both represent what is possible when we push the boundaries of our technological capabilities. While JWST is a marvel of scientific exploration and discovery, process mining is a powerful tool that can help businesses uncover the hidden details of their processes and optimize them to have a greater impact on the bottom line.