Modern technologies and modern projects

Emerging technologies are set to revolutionize project management. That won’t come as much of a shock to the average reader – there has been plenty of media coverage and marketing coming from suppliers and consulting companies. Calling Process Mining an “emerging technology” is peculiar, it suggests the technology is still in development. In reality, it is already here. The organizational and operational transformations it will initiate, however, have yet to fully emerge.

As the challenges to managing and integrating so-called “emerging technologies” get more complex, the necessary project management for implementing those technologies needs to be straight-forward and clear – and not complex. Many project managers try to fight complexity with complexity, but the future of project management belongs to those PMOs that will identify and adopt tomorrow’s tech opportunities better and faster than the competition. This is only feasible with an aligned and clear project set-up.

Project structure as the strong foundation

Even for high level managers, it is hard to separate the challenges that process mining can solve, and the specific practices it will change. There is the implicit assumption that change will come, but the 'what', 'how' and 'when' of the shifts somehow remains unclear. Project managers want to tackle the challenges, grasp the opportunities and create lasting organizational benefits, but in order to do so they not only need to understand the idea and potential of process mining, but how to use it to best effect. And to use process mining to best effect, a solid and successful implementation initiative is needed as a foundation.

The main two questions that need to be addressed are: how to organize the project phases and how to setup the team. In the next post, we will cover how to carry the process mining initiative forward after the initial project.

How to organize the project phases?

Every project is unique. Applying the same framework and project management rigor to every project is wasteful. And to force a project to fit a given methodology will not guarantee project success.

A project should be broken into specific phases, with every phase having a set of related project activities. Due to the nature of process mining projects, a sequential phases approach is more appropriate than an overlapping one – cleansing data before it’s fully available or doing analysis before the dashboards are finalized is not very expedient. The project's approach should be developed to reflect the aims, requirements and uncertainty that the projects faces. In the case of process mining, 5 (up to 7, depending on project phase split) process phases are usually the perfect approach:

  1. Strategic Planning and Kick-off: Define what the direct outcomes should be in the short-term, what impact process mining should have in the long-term and who is going to be responsible to leverage the insights generated by process mining.
  2. Data Extraction and Processing: Agreement on data to be used or required for the analysis, extraction from the information system and assurance of appropriate data quality
  3. Process Mining & Analysis: Discovery of the real process, analysis of performance and interactions between people involved, check conformity, root cause analysis and more
  4. Refinement & Enhancement: Define business-oriented questions and requirements to create and enhance analyses based on the findings of the previous phase
  5. Realization and Action: Leverage insights by involving relevant stakeholders, e.g. responsible managers or process owners, and enable improvement and change by providing precise information

Especially Phase 4 seems to be a crucial phase to enable value creation. Only a limited amount of information can be generated with “first-generation” dashboards and analyses. In order to generate value-adding and unambiguous insights, enterprises need to create in-depth analyses that are specifically tailored to the organization and process at hand, instead of using pre-made dashboards that display very general information.

How to setup your team?

One of the challenges is that various skills need to come together, so you will need to put together a multi-disciplinary team of people both complementing each other and having the right expertise and permissions inside your organization. The roles can be split up into three groups: IT & Data Scientists, Business Experts and Project Managers.

  • IT Administrators: Strong expertise about Data Architecture and underlying ERP and IT systems
  • Data Engineers and Data Analysts: Know-how in combining different data sources and reformatting or processing data via SQL, ETL tools, or scripting languages, fixing data quality
  • Business Analysts and Process Specialists: Experts with knowledge of the process at hand, process improvements and business process management
  • Project Manager: Project management experience to define scope and milestones, and lead and manage project progress
  • Process Owner: Leadership and responsibility in the beginning of the initiative, so it starts off strong before the value creation part is being started or handed over

 

Process& can help and provide you with the right expertise throughout the whole process mining project, enabling or replacing needed resources in your initiative and ensuring your process mining success.