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Process Mining Camp 2014 — Fireside Chat with Antonio Valle Salas

As a warm-up for Process Mining Camp, we have asked some of the speakers for an up-front interview. Previously, we have already spoken with Frank van Geffen from the Rabobank, with Johan Lammers from the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, and with Shaun Moran from Customer Dimension Analytics.

Antonio Valle

Today, you can read the interview with Antonio Valle Salas. Antonio is director of G2 and heading the itSMF division of Spain.

At camp, Antonio will give a workshop on ‘Process Mining and Lean’.

Interview with Antonio

Anne: Hi Antonio, thanks for doing the ‘Process Mining and Lean’ workshop at Process Mining Camp this year. I know this is a topic that is interesting for many people. What is your own history with lean? Do you still remember how you came in contact with it?

Antonio: Hi Anne; first of all, let me thank you and the rest of the Process Mining Camp organization for the opportunity to conduct this workshop.

Lean has been a hot topic in different areas for at least the latest 20 years, but in the ITSM industry it all started just five to seven years ago. Back in 2008 when I founded G2 intending to work around new ideas and technologies, Lean was one of those concepts I wanted to apply to IT Service Management practices. Then I was invited by Jan van Bon to attend the Best Practices in ITSM conference in Ede, NL and there I met Ian M. Clayton. He was presenting his developments around Lean and the Service Management practices (he had recently published his USMBOK reference guide and he was working to incorporate lean thinking to it). In 2009 I had the opportunity to collaborate with the team who organized the itSMF Catalunya conference and I invited Ian M. Clayton as a keynote speaker. That was my first contact with Lean Service Management and the concepts that would be coined later as Lean-IT.

Ian had created a complete set of practices adapted from Lean to the service sector, what he calls Lean Service Management. Those ideas deeply impacted me so I managed to convince him to stay a few more days in Barcelona to teach a small group of about 15 people in LSM. We were the first Certified Lean Service Professional certificates in Europe. But knowledge cannot be transmitted just by teaching: you must do it before you can learn it (as Taiichi Ohnno once said: “Teaching means to teach something unknown. Training means to repeatedly practice something you know until your body remembers it”) so we added Lean to G2’s portfolio of services and started helping our customers to adopt Lean concepts…

And that’s the beginning of the story…

Anne: Nice! I like the distinction of teaching vs. training. Teaching the concepts is important. At the same time we are constantly thinking about how we can help people practice their process mining skills in the best possible ways.

But back to lean: I am curious how you see the adoption of lean at the moment. Is it everywhere? Or just at the big companies? And does everyone know about the concepts? It’s one of the challenges for process mining that you still have to explain first what it is practically everywhere you go.

Antonio: Well, it depends on which sector you are considering. In manufacturing it is very common, but not so in offices or services. Keep in mind that the first books related to Lean applied to IT services are dated on 2005 so it is a relatively new industry for Lean. But even in IT we have a very special case: during the 80’s and the 90’s a new kind of development methods appeared and gained traction in the community; in 2001 they were given the name of agile methods. Now these methods are used everywhere and are in fact an implementation of the Lean thinking and its core values to the development teams. Exactly in the same way it happened to the manufacturing sector, developers have started to see the flow of value towards the customer through a wider perspective and now we are seeing the rise of a completely new application of Lean principles to IT: the DevOps movement.

So, to answer the initial question: if you want to talk Lean, you must explain the concepts almost everywhere you go outside the manufacturing sector, especially in IT. But if you use Lean core principles in your conversation, people quickly map them to their current practices.

Anne: Interesting. Now, how do you see the relation of process mining and lean, and what can people expect from the workshop?

Antonio: That is where the magic starts. Lean is all about value and flow and flow means value moving from the beginning of the production process towards the customer. No matter if you are working in a manufacturing plant, a hospital or an IT service provider: flow represents the movement of value towards the customer.

Then comes process mining, a technology specialized in discovering and analysing what I call “change over time”: no matter what an entity is changing, process mining can discover it and then map and analyse how it is changing over time.

And how can you define “movement”? 🙂 As as “change over time”, so process mining is the perfect technology to discover, represent, and analyse flow if the required conditions are met.

During the Lean workshop in the Process Mining Camp I expect to create a dialogue environment where we can discuss about the main challenges that attendants are finding in their lean initiatives and how process mining can help, so everybody can go back home with a set of new ideas to apply from the first day. It will be a guided but participative workshop where all attendants can share ideas and experiences.

Anne: Thanks, Antonio! It will be great to have you here next week!

Come to Process Mining Camp!


Process Mining Camp takes place on 18 June in Eindhoven! Tickets are sold out right but you can still sign up and be notified if more ticket should become available…


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