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Standardizing event logs

Michael zur Muehlen from the Workflow Management Coalition has been driving the standardization process of the new Business Process Analytics Format (BPAF) for quite a while.
Read his post to see what the new format will look like, and to join the discussion.

It is really good to see event logs receiving more and more attention. They are not just perceived as dumps of debugging information anymore, but recognized as valuable sources for business process transparency and analytics.
For example, 2 out of the 21 questions in Keith Swenson’s list of questions to ask a BPM vendor relate to the logging capabilities of the system:

Question No. 10:

What kind of historical data is available? Can you see past values of process variables? Virtually all process engines maintain some form of history, since one of the key benefits of process technology is to give you insight on how things are running. It is important to know what kinds of information are held in history. Many products allow you to track the values of process variables over time, but others do not.

Indeed, in my work I continue to see logs (e.g., from Siebel) where—although performed activities are logged separately (including timestamp etc.)—relevant process variables are simply overwritten all along the way. If this is the case, the mining of historical information becomes difficult (extra audit trails need to be considered to recover the information), or even impossible.

Question No. 11:

Is there a way to send log events to an external analytics engine (Business Activity Monitoring tool)? WfMC defined interface 5 in recognition of how important it will be to externalize this monitoring data, and to be able to consolidate this information from multiple runtime engines into a single analytics engine that can give you an overall view of your processes. Many products today can do this, but others can not. […]

Today, the logging capabilities of existing systems vary a lot. But there is a lot of useful data out there, and tools such as ProM_import_ can be used to convert them relatively easily.

However, having recognized the importance of log data, the adoption of standards is the logical next step. Imagine a world with high-quality event logs in standardized formats from every system. This would be the dream for every process owner! She would have the choice between a huge number of analytics tools in the market (and the tools would get better due to the competition). I wish BPAF all the luck it can get.

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