Process Mining Camp: Fireside Chat with Frank van Geffen

As a warm-up for Process Mining Camp, we asked some of the speakers for an up-front interview. Previously, we already spoke with Bram. You can read his interview here.

Frank van Geffen

Today, you can read the interview with Frank van Geffen, a Business Analyst at the Rabobank in the Netherlands. Frank is applying and promoting process mining within the Rabobank. At camp, he will tell you about the added value he has found, and also about organizational challenges, like finding the right people.

Interview with Frank

Anne: Can you still remember where and when you first heard about process mining? What exactly caught your attention and fascinated you about the topic?

Frank: The first time I encountered something like Process Mining was in 2002, when I graduated on a method called communication diagnosis. The purpose was to derive process and communication models from what is actually happening in a work process, and to check these findings against predefined models and (communication) norms. The complete diagnosis at that time was all manual work, so not automated. Only partly supported, concerning the modelling part.

After the graduation, I sort of lost track of this subject to stumble upon it again at the end of 2008. I just finished a risk management course, where I looked at how we at Rabobank manage to reduce internal risk of fraud. I subsequently read an article on Process Mining, where I was amazed at the possibilities it presented to be able to factually adress the problem of violating segregation of duties (SOD's).

Furthermore, it showed me that it was now possible to automatically generate process and communication models on the basis of what is actually happening in a process. It also struck me that the comparison with predefined models and norms for the most part could be done automatically.

From that moment I renewed my interest in the subject…

Anne: Interesting! Indeed, communication is a big part of process coordination. It is often at the boundaries of functional hand-offs, where inefficiencies occur, and process mining can help making these delays visible. Now, there are not only multiple people working in processes, but also multiple people are responsible from different angles. For whom do you think is process mining most interesting? Is it the manager? The process analyst? The IT department?

Frank: I think process mining is interesting for a couple of disciplines from a business process perspective:

  1. The Process manager / Process owner (accountable for all aspects of the complete end to end process)

  2. Process Analyst (responsible for performing the process mining analysis)

  3. Process Auditor (responsible for auditing processes)

  4. IT department (responsible for development/aquisition, delivery and maintanance of the process mining software). The IT Department on its own also has end to end processes and process managers/owners, for example, the service desk processes. Here the company's employee is a customer of the process.

Anne: Yes, exactly. In my experience, it is one of the challenges that the business value of process mining needs to be framed quite differently depending on who you are talking to. How do you usually get started when you talk to someone about process mining of whom you know he or she has never heard of it before? Do you use an example to explain the technology? Or do you start from a business problem and work backwards?

Frank: Interesting question. Usually, I first try to understand the challenges the person is focused on. What is it he/she wants to achieve? When I hear of someone's challenges, I can very easily connect the part that could be addressed through mining the process.

Some examples from my own experience:

  • “We want to reduce costs.”

  • “We know we don't meet our targets and want to improve on that.”

  • “It takes too long to provide a customer with a mortgage offer.”

  • “What is the usage (pattern) of reports we provide to the local banks?”

  • “We meet our targets, but we still think we can optimize our process further. We don't know exactly where to look. Can you visualize our current process flow and pinpoint where we can optimize?”

  • “We want to buy a new IT application to support our current process.”

Subsequently, when I show them what is possible with the aid of process mining, they immediately get inspired. The second step is usually a bit more disappointing and concerns the question, where is my data, and do I log the right data to be able to apply process mining techniques.

Anne: Thank you! We look forward to Process Mining Camp to hearing more about the challenges and benefits you experienced!

Come to Process Mining Camp 2012!

Would you like to hear more from Frank about his experiences? Are you interested in sharing first-hand knowledge with fellow process miners? Register now to reserve your seat at Process Mining Camp on 4 June in Eindhoven. Tickets are free, but they are limited, and they are going fast…

Anne Rozinat

Anne Rozinat

Market, customers, and everything else

Anne knows how to mine a process like no other. She has conducted a large number of process mining projects with companies such as Philips Healthcare, Océ, ASML, Philips Consumer Lifestyle, and many others.