Episode 8 – Process Mining
Another Monday, another interview 🙂
In his current role as Director Product Management ARIS at Software AG, Julian helps customers achieve operational excellence by shaping the future of our ARIS Process Mining solution – the ideal tool for integrated process mining with business process management. The close collaboration with key customers, global market analysts and his spirit of innovation enable him to define and implement the right product strategy to ensure customer success and contribute to the profitability of our company.
Before joining Software AG, Julian worked for the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI GmbH) as a researcher and project manager on innovative projects that combine AI and BPM. In this area, he had several speaking engagements worldwide, published research papers in high-ranking scientific journals and completed his doctorate (PhD) summa cum laude.
We are talking about the following topics:
- Get to know Julian
- What a product manager does
- What is process mining and how is it different than other process improvement methodologies
- History of process mining tools and how things changed from experts to business users
- Future of process mining tools (omnipresence)
- Key features to look out for when looking for a process mining tool
- Why Software AG’s Process Mining is different than the competition
Julian can be reached via LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliankrumeich, and if you like to give us a follow there, we can found at https://www.linkedin.com/company/whatsyourbaseline.
Ep. 8 – Process Mining: Julian Krumeich – What's Your Baseline? Enterprise Architecture & Business Process Management Demystified
- The super expensive coffee that we mentioned at the beginning of the podcast: Kopi luwak (but also read this article here for the not-so-cool side of it, or listen to this Filter Stories podcast episode)
Music by Jeremy Voltz, www.jeremyvoltzmusic.com
- CP1 (Welcome)
- Wurly (Interlude 1)
- Wish You Knew Me (Interlude 2)
- Industrial Beat (Interlude 3)
- South Wing (Outro)
(The transcript is auto-generated and was slightly edited for clarity)
Roland: Hey J-M, how are you doing today?
J-M: I’m doing great, Roland. I’m really enjoying the last days of summer. I know when this episode comes out, it’ll be a little bit later, but I gotta tell you, keeping the temperature hot and getting out and enjoying nature, that’s my jam.
Roland: Well, I can tell you I’ve got a treat for you today. Because today is our second episode where we have an interview guest and our interview guest today is Julian Krumeich, who we are happy to have here. He is the product manager of the ARIS process mining tool at Software AG. Welcome, Julian. How are you doing?
Julian: Yeah, thank you guys! I’m doing pretty good. How are you?
J-M: Having a good time, yeah, it’s a pleasure having you on the show. It’s funny we’ve had a lot of conversations back and forth over our professional times together, but there’s so many questions that I’ve really had in my mind that I’d love to ask you. And particularly, I’m really excited to hear your thoughts about where you do your stuff, why you’ve made the decisions that have driven the product that Roland and I use quite a lot forward. And how you think the industry is going to evolve and change over time. So this is really exciting for us to get a chance to get your thoughts, get your thought leadership and thank you so much for joining us.
Roland: Yeah, and before we get to the most important heavy questions that J-M brought to the table, maybe some lighter stuff. Julian, where in the world do we catch you right now?
Julian: Currently I’m based in Saarbrucken, Germany, so that’s 1 1/2 hours drive to the Ramstein air base. So this is what most of you might know, so it’s close to Frankfurt Darmstadt, but actually I’m also living quite close to the French border, so that’s maybe 10 minutes drive by car, and then I’m in the French cities.
Roland: So that just means red wine and cheese every evening?
Julian: Yes, and some German beer, so you can decide what to take.
J-M: Ah, I feel like you’re making all of our viewers really jealous. You’ve got French wine and cheese. You’ve got German beer or all right in the middle of beautiful, beautiful Germany. Well, it’s a pleasure to have that life experience. Tell me a little more about yourself. Where did you get started, and how did you get into this life?
Julian: No for sure. I mean I have a background in research, so I worked a couple of years for the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. So there we did a couple of great and innovative projects on how to combine artificial intelligence. For example machine learning and the discipline and technology of business process management. And I think that was a very good starting point for me to join. Also to position as a product manager. Because basically it’s also a little bit of research that you have to do all the day so you have to figure out what are new market trends, what are new technologies that you would like to incorporate into your product of course. Also doing some research in order to interview customers, which leads to new opportunities to get basically what they want to see in the product coming up in the next couple of months. So I think it was a pretty good path for me to go from research into product management.
J-M: Yeah, I see you’ve got a PhD after your name. I don’t want to big-up you too much. But to say that hey listen, this is a doctor you’re speaking to. So what was your doctorate all about?
Julian: So my doctorate was about redesigning or transforming your reactive processes to be become more proactive, so also using predictions and complex event processing. So in order to handle big data, streams of data, and then also predict OK, what could be next and then also trigger and change the process accordingly on the runtime.
Roland: So now I have a lecture of Julian’s to the developers in front of my eyes, like hey you stupid guys, why didn’t you get it?
Julian: We’re almost there!
J-M: And you didn’t end up as a professor, but you did end up teaching the world how to make things better. That’s wonderful. Isn’t that wonderful? Well, you know the world, and I guess the next generation. I hear you’ve got a fairly new child that’s come along.
Julian: Right, so I have my 6 month old daughter, so growing up pretty fast – even too fast for me. Each day is basically an entire year for her, so that’s really great to see how she’s growing up. Yeah, really, really fascinating.
Roland: Enjoy it while it lasts. As you know, I just shipped out both of my boys, who are 19 and 21 now. And now I’m officially an empty nester, which is a nice change of scenery.
J-M: And I’m not an empty nester, and never will be. Our cat is staying home every day, all day. She is our baby and we love her very dearly.
Roland: So Julian, talk a little bit more about you as a person so that the audience gets to know you a little better. What are your hobbies – what are your interests besides obviously giving lectures to your developers.
Julian: Yeah, teaching my daughter actually. I mean, that’s currently my next full time job besides my product management position. But what I also like to do is, I’m kind of a hobby barista. So I have a nice espresso machine. And yeah, during all the breaks I have during my business day, I enjoy taking an espresso, sipping it. And yeah, it’s really relaxing and now you know what my salary is or my fee is for this podcast. So I think we agreed on one kilo of Kopi Luwak. So this is this famous coffee you might have heard about it, and that’s maybe also the link to you, J-M. You love cats. For those of you who are not familiar with Kopi Luwak, just Google it and then you see the relation to cats.
Roland: So to make it a little bit easier for you, I did that homework. So I checked it when Julian came with that request, and a pound of that coffee is like $67. So now he wants to have a kilo, which is more than 2 pounds. So we might want to renegotiate your salary for this podcast here.
Julian: A pound is good enough.
J-M: Well, see now. I figured it out. So besides your qualifications, Roland has brought a coffee friend onto the show. Wonderful, wonderful. Well I gotta say, and as I sort of alluded to before, one of the things that really fascinates me about what you do is you do product management. You help to shape the future of the platform that a lot of our clients experience and work in. Tell me: what is that like? What specifically is that job? What does it do? What are your dailies, and what kind of decisions do you make? And how do you make them?
Julian: I quite often compare a product manager with a spider spinning a web. So why is that the case? Because I mean as a product manager, at least how it is lived within our organization, you have that many connections to a variety of people. Also, I have regular conversations, for example with you guys from presales and so we together we are heavily involved in opportunities with new customers all together. And I can also roll out the new features to you so that you are able to demo that to our customers and clients, so that’s one part. But there are a couple of other departments that I have regular connections to. That may be different to other organizations. I mean, product management is a broad job description, so I think in essence it’s about a close interaction between the product manager and the R&D unit. So the people who are developing products. And it’s about rolling in requirements and then rolling out the new functionality. So I think in essence that is what the product manager is doing all the day, or at least at Software AG. But I think it’s also common in other organizations that you are playing or acting as that spider that I mentioned.
Julian: So it’s not just R&D and product marketing, but it is like I said, it’s pre sales. It’s about consulting business. It’s about customer success managers. So also the people who are not just involved in the pre-sales stage but also later on when a project is implemented at customers. It’s about interacting with Corporate University, so building up new training materials for our customers, but also in house material. It’s about all these interactions with our partner management, so partner managers taking care of our consulting partners, but also technology partnerships, which essentially also shaping our product road map. And of course a lot of other departments like legal, finance, and analyst relations. And of course, last but not least, we have a lot of interactions with our loved customers, obviously. And you can see there is a lot to do and a lot of communications that are happening. Right, but let’s say the job is quite different, different day by day, not the same. And yeah, it’s highly diverse and that makes it a lot of fun.
Roland: That sounds so much more interesting than my day-to-day job. Maybe I should have a look at the internal job postings.
Julian: We may have an open position, so feel free to apply.
J-M: So we’re using What’s Your Baseline now as a new interview technique for jobs? I get it. It sounds like really it’s kind of the connective tissue. I love that. You are talking about all these different consumers, all these different producers of information that you’re bringing together in or through the same lens. The lens is your product. But how does it affect the market? How does it affect our internal resources? How does it affect our partners in our external resources, as in customers and developers and the whole community that comes here? That’s really cool. And when you’re looking to build those relationships, you’re looking to forge a new way forward. What are you doing in terms of the business requirements and market leadership versus technical requirements and supporting the internal development of that leadership as a functionality?
Julian: I mean, obviously it’s also kind of a trade off. You have to be ahead of what our customers expect from you to be implemented in the next release for example. But of course, it’s also listening to what your customers are heavily missing nowadays in the product. If you only listen to your customers (I mean you should, obviously), but if you only do that then you might also be stuck in the innovator’s dilemma. Because then there might be a new vendor coming into the market, really disrupting what the market is currently looking for. I think there’s a saying or example from previous days where we didn’t have cars, we had horses. And your customers or the drivers of the horses are looking for a new feature. Maybe the horses should become faster but eventually with the development of cars or the engine that drives cars has shifted the entire landscape of that market and it’s the same also for product managers.
Roland: Which brings me to the main topic of our show today. So process mining seems to be the new car to stay in your analogy. How do you see that Julian? What is process mining for those of you who haven’t heard about that?
Julian: So process mining essentially is a data-driven technology. So it’s not based on any gut feelings, so it’s about data that we extract out of application systems like ERP systems to reconstruct what you are doing in your business day by day. So in simple words, we are extracting process traces out of your application systems. And then automatically derive and discover what is happening in your business operations. Also take for instance, we take data out of your SAP system to know what you are doing when you handle an order of your customers. You first do this, then this, then this. Quite often you may have an assumption about how something works, so you have a good gut feeling. But with process mining it becomes really data driven. So based on facts based on evidence. So the system, the process mining system tells you how your process works.
Roland: Alright, so before we go into a break, I have one more question for you because that sounds like you need a different profile of people than you might have seen before in process improvement. Because what you typically see is workshops and you try to cat-herd the people who you could get and chase their calendars. Or you have the Six Sigma and Lean folks who do workshops and stand in the footsteps (I forgot the Japanese term for it) in the factory itself and all those things. But it seems you have a different type of person. Is process mining completely different or is there an overlap with other process improvement methodologies?
Julian: I mean, obviously you need to have domain knowledge, so this kind of knowledge you should have in your job description or in your profile. But of course what has changed is you additionally need to also have some data background, because I mean it’s a data driven technology. You need to know where the data is stored in your application systems. You need to know how to extract it out of those systems and also how to bring it all together in order to make some meaningful outcomes out of it. And of course I mean with process mining you also need to learn a new tool. You need to learn how to make your decisions based on process mining.
J-M: Well, that sounds like that’s a really great way of bringing things forward, and leads to our question for this first segment. You know, it’s fascinating to hear that people are moving towards an evidence-based system, and I want to ask our listeners: if you’re thinking about understanding your process today, what are you using to gather that information? Think about using time and motion studies. Are you using best practice knowledge or are you just going out and talking to people and asking questions? Or are you guessing? Think about that over the next couple of seconds and we’re going to come back with some thoughts on how you might do it better today and in the future.
Musical Interlude: “Wurly”, Jeremy Voltz
Roland: Alright, and welcome back. Hey Julian, the one thing we spoke about what process mining is. But the one thing that I’m very interested in as a little geek is what do you need for process mining? What do you need to get started?
Julian: Yeah, all you need is data. Because it’s as I mentioned before, it’s a data driven technology. So what do you need? First of all, you need data extractors, so you need a way to get data out of the application systems. Like the SAPs Oracles, Microsoft kind of ERP applications or new cloud applications like SalesForce and so on. So you need the data and then you need ways to discover your processes out of the data that typically what a process mining tool is doing for you.
Roland: And I assume Software AG has one, otherwise we wouldn’t have you on the podcast.
Julian: Yeah, I heard about that.
J-M: Well, when I think about this, I think: we have the data. And that’s why I feel like a lot of people coming into process mining are really scared. They say: “Oh well this we couldn’t possibly know this because this information is unattainable”. It’s some sort of sage specialized technical buried data in some back end system. Or we just don’t capture it. And how often, Julian, how often do you actually see people with zero data available for mining?
Julian: Never. I mean there is sometimes the fear that there will be no data. We heard it in the past quite a lot, but nowadays, process mining is more and more known to the market and we know from many many projects that data is typically not an issue. So the data is there. You have that in your application systems for many many years. I think we will talk in a minute or so about the history of process mining. It’s there. There is a new trend regarding task mining. So to get even more data into the space of process mining. But I heard that there is another podcast coming on pretty soon around task mining, right?
J-M: Yeah, we’re planning on talking about that a little more. So tell us the history. Where did process mining come from? And in particular, I know there’s been a very quick evolution, even in the last two years. So tell us: where did it start, how did it get here, and what’s changed?
Julian: That’s interesting, so actually Software AG or the former IDS Scheer organization was the inventor of the commercial form of process mining. So there was a tool called the ARIS Process Performance Manager, which was brought to market in the early 2000s. And that was even before the term process mining was invented. Or maybe it was invented already in academia, but in the industry the term was not that present. And in former days, I already mentioned the name, it was called the Process Performance Manager. It was more about calculating the performance of a certain process and less about a structural discovery or the mining of what a process looks like. So it was more about calculating process performance, measures and indicators, and this has changed quite a lot. So, the focus of the tool changed. It is more now a visual tool and also the audience has changed. So in the early days it was more an expert tool. There were a couple of people even in a big organization that took care of the process mining, or process performance manager back in the days. And they got data. They did their analysis and then came to some results and outputs / reports and distributed it across the organization, but it was typically a PDF file for example.
Roland: Yeah, I remember that, and back in those days I was working on that infamous German Armed Forces project that I pull out on every podcast episode, not realizing how up front they were. And they had a Process Performance Manager pilot that took a year. And IDS Scheer had a big benefit from it, because obviously it’s public sector and they had a lot of time to write up concepts and hone the product. Having said that, I think it was way too early back in 2005 for this. I think the renaissance or breakthrough – that came around 2014/2015 where our competition made a splash.
Julian: We always had a challenge back in the day, or at least that’s what I heard from a lot of colleagues was that the market was not aware of this technology. And we always had to fight or argue to say that you need a process mining tool in addition to your business intelligence tool. Because the awareness was not present at our customers that process mining or process intelligence is something different than standard KPI tool. Like all the dashboard tools that are out there. But there is a significant difference because it typical BI tool is only output-driven. So you can see for example how long you need to process your orders. Or how many orders are you able to handle per day? But it’s not process driven, so we don’t know how to get to this output and hence you don’t know where to treat a process that is obviously always underlying in order to improve your KPI at the end. And this is exactly what process mining is doing. It’s not just focusing on the output. It shows you how. What is the process behind it? There is no black box anymore. From input to output, it really tells you how to get from input to the output.
J-M: So again, we’ve talked a little bit about how this was kind of an expert technical tool for people who are monitoring KPIs and even doing a little bit of data science on this kind of thing. But tell me how the evolution to a more business-user-centric system has been going, and what has been driving this evolution. And ultimately, what can business users expect to be able to get out of a system like Process Mining.
Julian: I think it was triggered by making a process mining tool much more simple. Lightweight. So what a business user is expecting is a light user interface, where they could get started without a one week of training for example. So the tool really needs to guide them from step A to step B. So when I have some data, how to import the data, how to trigger the process mining algorithms and then how to make my analysis. So this is what they expect a tool to provide to them. And this is fundamentally different to, let’s say, an expert tool that provides you with a lot of complexity, which is good. I mean for this audience or user group, that’s exactly what they want to have. But for a more business or line of business user, they expect something different.
J-M: Right, so you want to be able to put this in the hands of people who could actually make the change. Rather than the people at the strategic level, or the people in the research department trying to figure out what’s going wrong, right?
Julian: Essentially, you need both. But the driving force from a market perception has come from the business users. So nowadays they are making the decision. Customers and users are expecting a lean and lightweight user interface. But it’s not only this. So what customers are also expecting nowadays is an easy getting started. So they don’t want to buy software then buy a server and install the software before they can actually start this process mining. So they just want to have a process mining service. Which is also why we made a decision, OK, if we build something new from scratch, in order to address the market that we described before. A more business user driven market. We also need to have a software as a service solution which you can start right away whenever you want to explore process mining. And this is what we decided on two years back. And yeah we actually launched last year our first version of our entirely new SaaS or cloud native product. And the great thing is, we also bundled our product in different editions starting from what we call a basic addition to an advanced to an enterprise edition to make our customers as easy as possible to get started no matter on which maturity level they are from a process mining perspective. So they can start right away with basic and whenever they are ready, get all the full potential of the enterprise edition.
Roland: Yeah, that’s a typical thing we see with the other process mining tools as well. The hurdle of entrance is pretty high because you have to learn all those concepts and that weird language and all these sorts of things. And I hope that in the future, this will be even simpler for end users. But Julian, give us an outlook of where you see the industry going. Not only process mining, but process management in general.
Julian: Process management in general will become more data-driven. This is why process mining is becoming more and more relevant. How did you do process management in the past? You had several workshops with the experts in a domain. You came up with some process designs. Then you improved on what you heard from the experts in the interviews. Now, in addition to that, you get the data in. So what is actually happening in your day-to-day operations. But I think it’s not either-or – you need both. I also sometimes hear: “if I have process mining do I still need to take care of process modelling, designed in a BPMN language for example”? And I think clearly you have to have both in place. Because even though you get your transparency using process mining, you need a way to describe how your process should look once it’s been improved. And also use this to communicate your new way of working to your entire workforce in your organization. And especially for this case, a process design tool and a process portal (like we offer in ARIS) is the ideal combination with process mining. So essentially you need both – it’s not either-or.
Roland: I agree because at the end of the day a lot of use cases are not covered with that. If you think about system implementations where you need a blueprint that people can agree upon, or if you think about simulation where you want to have very different detailed scenarios being modeled out in the future. Or just as simple as we spoke about in the podcast before, you need something like an enterprise baseline, a repository that shows what runs. So that you can make informed decisions on where to improve. I was listening to one of your competitors, Julian and he made the analogy about the car. You know, if you drive a car, you obviously want to know how fast you are going. So you obviously could look out of the window and have a good guess. You know, do I drive 60 miles an hour or less? Or you can take the easy way and you just look at your speedometer. So in my opinion, I think process mining becomes something like the speedometer of process management where you still have your modeling, your requirements management and all that analysis that you would do to identify: where do I get the biggest bang for my buck to improve. But you also have the control to see, OK, how are we doing in executing our process?
J-M: I love what you said, Roland, but I wanted to touch on Julian’s point about communication. If all this knowledge gets sucked up and put into just expert hands, the executors, who are going to change their way of working – who are going to act on the insights and decisions made by people. They’re left out of the picture. I feel like the more that you can bring people into the process as contributors, collaborators and bought-in stakeholders – that will make it so much easier to execute on enterprise changes and change that “baseline”, Roland, that we talked about, to make things into the new way of working that we determined is better through the mining and the data that we’ve collected. How much was that a part of your design decisions, because, looking at some of the new products (particularly in the new ARIS Process Mining SaaS), there is very-much a guide-wire for how you have to ingest data. It’s very simple versus what I would expect, compared to the complexity of the tasks actually being executed.
Julian: Absolutely. This is typically what the user is expecting nowadays. They don’t want to read through documentation: they just want to get started. That’s why we put a lot of emphasis on guiding the user, starting from getting data into the tool, but also later on to analyze what you’re actually seeing. What we also recently launched is the ARIS Root Cause Miner, which is an automatic way to get to the root causes of what we call “symptoms” in your process.
J-M: Yeah, that seems like that reduces a lot of that barrier to entry which we’ve been talking about a lot, and I did want to get into the more detailed features you think are important about process mining tools and just about what people are going to need in the industry. But before we go any further, I did want to take a moment to digest all these incredible insights that Julian has been providing to us and ask all of you, our dear listeners, some important questions for you to think about. Number one is: think about your organization. Who in that organization would have the best benefit from the kinds of insights that process mining can afford, and what value would those insights offer to them if they had instant access to them wherever they were? And ultimately, how can you think about introducing this capability to your organization and your people? What would that take? We’ll give you a couple of seconds to think about that and come right back with our next phase in the future of process mining features.
Musical Interlude: “Wish You Knew Me”, Jeremy Voltz
J-M: Hey folks, thank you so much for taking a couple of minutes to think about that and we are back again with Julian, our wonderful product manager from ARIS Process Mining and of course a process mining thought leader himself. We want to talk about the future and particularly the future of individual components of a process mining solution that you think are going to be valuable, important, even essential to deploying a solution that will help people truly transform their businesses in the future. So not just what we have today, but where is it going and why is it important? And I’d love to pass that back to you, tell me. What do we need?
Julian: Thanks, J-M. Maybe before we deep-dive into the features, what I wanted to say about the future is that process mining will become more omnipresent. From two perspectives. First, from the process domain that we are covering with process mining, because nowadays it’s predominantly driven by the typical ERP systems. So we are analyzing the typical Order-to-cash process, Purchase-to-pay process. But we see that other domains will also be considered by process mining. I think about production processes. So here, the data is typically not stored in a SalesForce system, but maybe in a manufacturing execution system, for example. So that’s one part. The second reason I think it’s becoming more omnipresent is also in line with the history we touched on in the past. It went from an expert tool to become a more business-oriented tool. But I think it will also become an automated technology so that the process mining tool itself will work by itself and provide the outcome to you, and you won’t know there’s a process mining tool behind it. I think that’s an important direction that we will see in the next couple years.
J-M: I feel like it’s one of those things where the feature becomes the “table stakes” becomes something that’s not even talked about. I know we talked about the analogy of a car, but I think about the introduction of power windows. If process mining is your “Power Windows”, at first it was this new technology, then it was a feature – “hey, our cars have power windows”, but now you don’t see a car where they talk about power windows. And you don’t even think about it.
Julian: But it’s essential, so you need to have it.
J-M: That’s an interesting part of the evolution of the practice around process mining. It goes from becoming technology junkies and saying, “oh yeah, we need to know how to run the process mining thing” to becoming process experts just doing their thing and process mining is by nature the way in which they engage with the practice. That is very cool, I love it.
Roland: And Julian, what would the features be for the omnipresent tool going forward, compared to what we have today?
Julian: One thing that’s heading in that direction is a feature we just released – the Root Cause Miner. So basically, whenever you see something suspicious in your data, you just have to define what we call a “Process Symptom”. It’s like when you meet a doctor and you tell them “I have a fever”, then the doctor will go and make a root cause analysis. So what is actually the root cause that led to your fever. We do the same thing with the Root Cause Miner – you define a symptom within your analysis dashboard, then the Root Cause Miner comes up with a well-sorted and prioritized list of root causes, then you can analyze step-by-step those root causes and get closer to the actual issue. So this helps you to not have to focus on spotting the issue, but instead solving it.
J-M: I feel like there’s there easy question that comes after that from a lot of folks is: “does that mean I’m going to lose my job if my job was trying to figure out what the causes were?”. And the answer that I always give back to folks is that if you’re spending all of your time trying to determine what the root causes of something that we could give you an easy answer for, then you could become so much more valuable by spending your time fixing the root causes. And so it’s quite the opposite. You’re now getting a ton more value off of the same amount of hours. And your job, your profile, you as an individual gets a huge elevation of prestige because now you’re known as a problem solver, not just a problem highlighter.
Julian: This is also a frequent question or concern, so to speak, that we hear. Well is process mining just about cutting some costs down? I mean, obviously it’s also about becoming more efficient, but what process money can also deliver is to make best practices more transparent. Lots of what customers are doing with our process mining technologies as well, is they spot good workarounds. Best practices. Maybe not from the workers who were onboarded to the process just a few months ago, but maybe from the real experts doing it day by day for many many years. Process mining discovers this. And then what we can do is we can transform or transfer this knowledge back to our ARIS process portal and can roll out this valuable information across the entire workforce so that many people learn from a few experts. So also this positive connotation is really important to deliver when we talk about process mining.
J-M: We talk a lot about both bottom line savings, right, better operations. But one thing we want to highlight is that top line revenue is also a possibility particularly when you combine process mining with customer journey and customer experience. Because you can bet that if you have a customer that’s waiting days and days for an order to be fulfilled, they’re going to go to another provider. So now you’ve got a path to better customer retention, because you’ve got a better customer experience. And now you’ve got higher profitability of a process, not just because it costs less, but because it’s making more. Roland, have you worked in a situation like that where you’ve got processes that are causing problems for customers that you’re trying to mine out and understand?
Roland: Yeah, I’ve seen that. The challenge is (and this is interesting that actually no process mining provider pitches that) that people see a difference between customer journeys and the internal processes. So the outside in versus the inside out perspective that we spoke about in the past. So I think that would be one thing to have a look at. And Julian you just mentioned it. The integration between the process mining tool and the design platform. Where one could go and say no, it’s a process. It has a different focus than the internal process. What you do. But then having the opportunity to take those discovered processes, not just bring him over into your tool as process models, but bring them in as customer journeys because that’s the language that they speak. I think that would be pretty valuable. But that is one direction – to go from process mining to the design platform. Julian, I know you do have a feature that goes the other direction as well – from the design platform to the process mining platform. What is that all about?
Julian: Yeah, it’s called conformance checking. So basically in your design platform you have a well defined to-be process, or your reference. So this is how you should operate your business. And obviously, process mining discovers the reality. So then it’s a no brainer that you also do a check between how it should work versus how it actually works. And this is basically conformance checking and process mining does that in an automated fashion for you. So what we do is we take such a reference process as an input and then our conformance checking algorithms tell you exactly where you deviate from this reference process. They also make it clear: what is the impact? For example, if you’re not following or sticking to the rules, do you lose some time? Do you have other impacts on your KPIs? So this is what our conformance checker tells you.
Roland: Yeah, but that is the analysis. I know (because you and I spoke about this offline) you have more in the queue for this. Think about alerts, think about predictive analysis and all these types of things. What are the plans you have for the tool in the next releases?
Julian: Right, so I mean we just talked about getting to insights. So, that could be just that process mining discovers a certain KPI or an insight that you deviate from the reference process. And then the question is what’s next? So the first direction that you can do, and I think that’s our particular strength in ARIS, is you can use that information to transform your process. So not just tweaking it, but really transforming it. So this is exactly what we do with ARIS, because in order to transform something, it’s not just about changing some systems, it’s really getting everyone involved, so it’s really an organizational task. And this is what process mining is an excellent tool for.
J-M: Just to piggyback onto that, and I do want to dig into this. Tell me about how this fits into a lifecycle of process improvement. Because process mining – I think you’re alluding to it, and I would agree – it’s only one component of the practice of process improvement.
Julian: Right. I mean there’s a couple of competitors out there just offering a process mining capability. That’s really important, but it’s just the first step in order to transform your business and optimize your business, because it just provides transparency. Instead, in my mind, you would then need to decide: OK, what are we doing next? What does it mean from a process perspective? Am I automating a certain step? Am I changing the entire process? Or maybe do I just need to send my folks to new training so that they are aware of how to operate that process. But a lot of tools are just providing this transparency, just process mining capability, or just thinking that fixing the issue is just a technical step. So automating a step. But I think what we’re doing with ARIS – our entire ARIS suits, is also to include the organizational picture. So what I need to do in order to make this new process really work in our organization, everyone needs to know about it. But of course, it’s also that it’s technically implemented, of course, so this is important, but just wasn’t one piece or one side of the matter.
J-M: Yeah, that seems like a big part of how to “make this stick”, rather than simply throwing up a flag and saying “something’s wrong” or rather simply saying “let’s automate stuff and see what works”. Because I feel like a lot of people in different places go with half the solution and hope to get all the value.
Julian: Right, and I think Roland mentioned it already in our conversations we had before. What we’re also about to release pretty soon is what we call “Insights to Action”. So I just tapped more into this organizational piece to really transform your business. But obviously what we’re going to release is a way to improve or increase your business. So whenever you see something not working the way it should to automatically raise an alert or trigger the right actions to either mitigate the outcomes of it, or be even more proactive by predicting what could be the outcome. So, for example, if we predict that the customer order will arrive late at our customers, it could be already a good idea to inform them proactively: look we had maybe an issue in our supply chain, which is why it will be delayed. Or even better, we could already create a new purchase order to our vendors to ensure that the customer order is delivered on time. And these kinds of things we are about to release in early 2022.
Roland: Yeah, I think this is very important because most customers I deal with are obviously interested in analysis and seeing how things go. But if you talk to people outside of the process improvement group, outside of the architecture group, they just don’t care. So I think the challenge is how do you make it relevant for those. And I think if you have that alerting, that triggering of actions, that is something that is very very powerful because then you go and affect people’s lives. It’s interesting to see how you will implement it because it’s obviously more than just a pop up on a screen.So that’s another area to have a look at.
Julian: Right, but do it step by step? I mean this is also why we are just about to release that functionality. You are not going to start with predicting how your process works at the first step in your process mining journey. The first step is getting data into your process mining platform. Get transparency of your process, spot bottlenecks, get rid of them and I think then it’s the right time to predict your process. Trigger some actions in real time. And this is the journey that you also should take if you are new to process mining.
Roland: I agree – it’s the crawl, walk, run approach. And I see a lot of clients who come with the requirement of running the 100m dash, but they haven’t even put their shoes on. So that is all ok. Take a step back, guys, and see if you are ready as an organization – are you ready from a data perspective? Are you ready for that major change that you’re going to introduce to your organization. But, Julian, let’s take a step back. This is the moment where you can do a pitch for your product, of course, because that’s the reason why we invited a product manager on. So talk to me a little bit about why you think ARIS Process Mining is different from the competition.
Julian: Well, first of all, I think we offer you the right tool (or what we call the right edition) no matter in which maturity level you are at the moment. So starting as a beginner with our basic edition or continue your process mining journey with our enterprise edition. So that’s the first thing we guide you with the right tool at the right time. The second thing is that we are not just providing process mining but we are covering your entire process management lifecycle with our ARIS suite all nicely and seamlessly integrated altogether. And I think also a big advantage is that we are application vendor agnostic. So we see a lot of vendor convergence in the market. Some application vendors acquired process mining vendors etc. But I think we are pretty flexible and agnostic as I mentioned, and we can get data from any of your application systems into our platform. Also, thanks to our strong integration platform called webMethods.io that we’re also offering in our Software AG product stack.
J-M: I think it’s been a huge boon to see a lot of organizations driving the value to the people at different levels of maturity that they come from. And I know that’s also dependent on industry. I wanted to get your thoughts about this, because you’ve seen the implementation of ARIS around the world, across industries. Where are you seeing it get the most bite – the most bang for the buck. By industry, by geography? What’s driving value out for our customers, and driving your insights for the next phase of process mining for what you’re designing?
Julian: Generally, I think we’re seeing the mining market booming across the globe, but obviously also when you take a look at the history. So starting at the beginning of our podcast it was, or it emerged more into the EMEA, the European region. So their market is already pretty mature. But in particular, in the North American region, Latin America, but also the Asia Pacific region, there are a lot of organizations that haven’t heard about process mining at all or are really at the very, very first steps to get started with process mining.
J-M: Why do you think that is?
Julian: Yeah, it’s just I think, the emergence of the technology started in the EMEA region and now is shifting across the globe. So I think that’s the foremost reason for that.
J-M: And they just haven’t had the chance to adopt that quite yet?
J-M: Well if you’re looking to adopt it, Julian, how do I get started? What’s the first thing that I can do to introduce my organization or even just myself personally to process mining? And I know you have a very easy-in, right?
Julian: Absolutely. I mean it’s just a couple of clicks ahead of you. So just visit arisprocessmining.com and you can sign up for free to our basic edition. So it’s basically free forever. And yeah, then we also offer you a nice onboarding within the tool. We also offer you with some demo data that you can download directly. So even if you don’t have any data from your organization available, you can get started with exploring the tool using our data. We have free training that you can register for. Yeah, I think the entry is pretty easy – just get started, and happy mining!
J-M: “Just get started and happy mining”. I love it, I love it.
Roland: Well, that brings me to a set of other questions for our listeners now. We heard what process mining is, where you get started, where the future is going. So think about what your next steps would be to introduce Process Mining to your organization. Who do you need to involve to evaluate the value of the solution? What more do you need to know to make the decision on a process mining practice? So we’re gonna leave you alone for a couple of seconds. And when we come back we will close out our interview with Julian and we’ll see where we go from there.
Musical Interlude: “Industrial Beat”, Jeremy Voltz
Roland: And we’re back. So that was a very interesting 45 minutes or so chatting with Julian about Process Mining. Where did it come from? Where is it going? What does it take an organization to implement process mining? So thanks, Julian, for being the guest today. But before we let you go, we have one question. Where can people find you if they’d like to reach out to you and have questions and want to be involved in your work and be part of your process mining journey?
Julian: Ideally, connect with me via LinkedIn.
Roland: Alright, and we’re going to put Julian’s LinkedIn page in the show notes if you’re interested in that, and maybe that drives a little bit of more traffic to our website as well.
J-M: He’s going to get a bunch of InMail now. Hello, I heard you on the podcast. Can I connect? Oh boy, I don’t know how LinkedIn works. But in the meantime, well we’re talking about LinkedIn, there’s lots of ways you can reach us. So first and foremost, everyone: thank you for listening to this wonderful podcast. Thank you for being our beautiful community of people who are helping to build up more love, more care for architecture, process management and best practices. Now, if you’d like to reach out to us, besides connecting with What’s Your Baseline on LinkedIn, you can hit us up by voice message on Anchor so we can hear your thoughts over audio or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now please as always, leave us a rating and review in your podcatcher of choice. That really helps. And of course, visit the website for all the show notes and even a full transcript of this show at whatsyourbaseline.com/episode8. In fact, if you haven’t been to whatsyourbaseline.com. you’re missing out on some amazing articles and best practices, talking about all the topics you might want to know a little more about. Well once again, thank you so much, folks. For the last hour or so, I’ve been J-M Erlendson.
Julian: This is Julian Krumeich
Roland: And I’m Roland Woldt
J-M: And we’ll see you in the next one.
Roland Woldt is a well-rounded executive with 25+ years of Business Transformation consulting and software development/system implementation experience, in addition to leadership positions within the German Armed Forces (11 years).
He has worked as Team Lead, Engagement/Program Manager, and Enterprise/Solution Architect for many projects. Within these projects, he was responsible for the full project life cycle, from shaping a solution and selling it, to setting up a methodological approach through design, implementation, and testing, up to the rollout of solutions.
In addition to this, Roland has managed consulting offerings during their lifecycle from the definition, delivery to update, and had revenue responsibility for them.
Roland is the VP of Global Consulting at iGrafx, and has worked as the Head of Software AG’s Global Process Mining CoE, as Director in KPMG’s Advisory, and had other leadership positions at Software AG/IDS Scheer and Accenture. Before that, he served as an active-duty and reserve officer in the German Armed Forces.