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In-Situ Process Discovery

I was thinking the other day about why it is so hard discover how existing business process actually work.  Well, to be honest there are lots of reasons – butI think there is one that overshadows the rest – because in most cases discovering how the process actually executes is like detective work – after the fact you need to start interviewing possible participants and piece together the story from a set of connected facts. Slowly over time, just like a detective, the real picture unveils itself and can be understood and analyzed. This is hard, painstaking work – as any CSI aficionado can tell you.

Now what if you had a reliable eye-witness, one that actually saw most of what happened? Well in that case everything changes. CSI wouldn’t be a very interesting show if all they had to do is to walk up to Joe (a trained eye-witness) and asked “Hey Joe, What happened?” – of course that doesn’t completely solve the problem (e.g. understanding motive, filling in any missing pieces not visible to the witness) – but it makes everything much, much easier.

The same is true for process discovery – if you have a faithful eye-witness view of how the process works today – much of the pain in process discovery would be removed. That is what I call in-situ process discovery. I think we’ll start seeing a lot more interest in this type of discovery in the BPM space.

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