Disco 1.9

Software Update

We are happy to announce the immediate release of Disco 1.9!

This update makes a lot of foundational changes to the platform underlying Disco to pave the way for future developments that are in the works, but it is also a productivity release that will make your daily work with Disco even more of a breeze than it is right now. The power of process mining, and of Disco in particular, is the capability to explore unknown and complex processes very quickly. Starting from a data set that you don’t fully understand yet, you can take different views on your process – in an iterative manner – until you get the full picture. This update will help you to get there even faster.

Disco will automatically download and install this update the next time you run it, if you are connected to the internet. You can of course also download and install the updated installer packages manually from fluxicon.com/disco.

If you want to make yourself familiar with the changes and new additions in Disco 1.9, we have made a video that should give you a nice overview. Please keep reading if you want the full details of what is new in Disco 1.9.

Case Analysis

An important aspect of process mining is that you not only discover the actual process based on data, but that – for any problem that you find in your analysis – you can always go back to a concrete example. Inspecting individual cases helps to understand the context, formulate hypotheses about the root cause of the issue, and enables you to take action by talking to the people who are involved and can tell you more.

Quickly show Case Details

Quickly inspect case details via right-click on case statistics table

One typical scenario in this exploration is to look up some extreme cases in the Cases table of the Overview statistics. For example, by clicking on the different table headers, you can bring up the cases that take the longest time (or the most steps) – or the ones that are particularly fast (or taking the fewest steps) – to the top.

In Disco 1.9 you can now quickly inspect cases from the case statistics overview in the following way: right-click the case you are interested in and choose ‘Show case details’ (see screenshots above). You are immediately taken to the detailed history for that case.

New Case Filter (click to enlarge)

Select case IDs via the Attribute filter

In addition, you can now also filter for specific cases based on their case ID.

In most situations, you want to filter cases based on certain characteristics (such as long case durations). However, sometimes it can also be useful to directly choose a set of cases you want to focus on.

A new entry below the other attributes in your data set brings up the list of all case IDs in the Attribute filter and you can select the ones that you want to keep (see screenshot above).

Variant Analysis

Variants are sequences of steps through the process from the beginning to the end. If two cases have taken the same path through the process, then they belong to the same variant. Because there are often a few dominant variants, for example, 20% of the variants covering 80% of the cases (indicating the mainstream behavior), the variant analysis is useful to understand the main scenarios of the process. However, at the same time there are typically many more variants than people expect, and the improvement potential often lies in the less frequent variants (the exceptional behavior of the process).

Because the variant analysis is such a useful tool, it is easily one of the most popular functionalities in Disco. And now with Disco 1.9 the variant analysis has become even more useful.

Quickly Show Variant Details

Quickly inspect the variant details via right-click on variant statistics table

You can now quickly inspect the variant details from the variant statistics overview, much in the same way as you can jump to a particular case shown before in the Case Analysis section.

Simply right-click on the variant that you want to explore and choose ‘Show variant details’ (see screenshots above). You are immediately taken to the variant with all the cases that follow that variant.

New Variant Filter (click to enlarge)

Select variants via the Attribute filter

Furthermore, you can now also explicitly filter variants. Previously you could already filter the variants based on their frequency with the Variation filter, for example to focus on the mainstream or the exceptional cases. But what if your ideal process consists of variant 1, 2, 3, and 5, because Variant 4 is quite frequent but represents an unwanted path that you do not want to include?

With Disco 1.9 you can now explicitly filter variants in the following way: Similar to the new Case ID filter shown above you find a new entry at the bottom of the attribute list in the Attribute filter. Simply select the variants you want to keep and apply the filter (see screenshot above).

Filter Short-Cuts

Filter short-cuts are already a great source of productivity in Disco. For example, you can already directly click on an activity in the process map, a path between two activities, or the dashed lines leading to the start and end points. These short-cuts allow you to jump to a pre-configured filter that focuses on all cases that perform that activity (or follow that path, or start or end at the chosen endpoints), which you only have to apply to inspect the results.

Now three additional short-cuts have become available with Disco 1.9.

Attribute Filter Shortcut

Add a pre-configured Attribute filter directly from the Statistics tab

Imagine that you are analyzing a customer service process, where refund requests can come in via different channels. You want to focus on the process for the Callcenter channel.

You can now simply right-click on the attribute value that you want to filter and choose the ‘Filter for Callcenter’ short-cut (see screenshot above) to automatically add a pre-configured filter, which has the right attribute and attribute value already selected.

CaseID Filter Short-cut (click to enlarge)

Variant Filter Shortcut (click to enlarge)

Add pre-configured Case ID and Variant filters directly from the Statistics overview

The same filter short-cut functionality has also been added for the new Case ID and Variant filters, which were introduced in the Case Analysis and Variant Analysis sections above. Simply right-click on the case or the variant you want to filter and the filter will be automatically added with the right pre-configuration.

Search Short-Cuts

There is an even faster way than filter short-cuts in Disco: Searching. A search can be incredibly useful if you just want to inspect some examples, where a certain activity occurs, or where a particular organizational group or any kind of custom attribute value is involved.

Disco features a lightning fast full-text search in the upper right corner of the Cases tab. As soon as you start typing, Disco will search live through all your data and highlight where it finds cases that contain your search text.

Search Short-cut

Automatically search for attribute values via right-click

The search short-cut makes it now even easier to benefit from Disco’s search capability. For example, let’s say that we are looking at the BPI Challenge 2015 data set of building permit process data and we discover a less-frequent activity ‘partly permit’. We are wondering in which context that step typically happens.

With Disco 1.9, you can simply right-click the activity name and choose ‘Search for partly permit’. Disco will enter the search text for you, and you will be immediately taken to the Cases tab and see the searched activity highlighted in the cases, where it was found.

Automatically Search Data also from Cases  view

Search for anything directly from Cases view

This works for any attribute value – and also while you are inspecting cases in the Cases tab itself. For example, assume that in one of the cases you see another activity ‘by law’ that occurs on the same day and you want to see some more examples, where that happens. Simply right-click and use the short-cut to trigger the new search.

Variant Export

Process mining is a tool that fills a piece in the puzzle, by providing a process view on the data at hand. Data scientists or process improvement analysts often use additional tools, such as statistics tools, traditional data mining tools, or even Excel, to complement their process mining analysis with different perspectives.

All analysis results can be exported from Disco – The process maps, charts and statistics, individual cases, and the filtered log data. However, until now the variants could only be exported in the form of the variant statistics.

With Disco 1.9 you can now not only export the variant statistics (including the actual activity sequences for each variant) but also the raw data including the variant information. This opens up new possibilities, such as running correlation analyses with data mining tools or using the Disco output to create a custom deliverable.

Export Variants with Case Statistics

Export the variant information with the Case Statistics overview via right-click on the table

Export Variants in Data

Exporting your data set will now include variant information

You can now export the variant information from Disco with your raw data in two different ways:

  1. Export the case statistics (which now include the variant information) via right-click on the Cases table,

  2. Export your log data, now enriched with variant information, via the Export button in the lower right corner of Disco.

Improved Formatting for Large Frequencies

Disco is highly optimized towards the kind of data that process mining needs and can process very large data sets very quickly. But especially if you have imported a data set with many millions of records, then inspecting the frequency statistics can become a game of counting zeros to understand what numbers you are looking at.

Thousands Separator makes reading large numbers easier

The new Thousands Separator makes large numbers easier to read

To make reading large numbers easier, a thousands-separator has been introduced in Disco 1.9 across the board. For example, in the above screenshot you can see a data set with 100 million records, whereas the ‘start’ activity was performed 3.9 million times.

More Powerful Trim Mode in Endpoints Filter

Disco’s powerful set of filters allow you to quickly zoom into your data in many different ways. By working directly from the raw data, Disco’s capabilities extend way beyond simple drill-downs that you see in BI tools based on prepared queries and aggregated data cubes.

For example, the Trim mode in the Endpoints filter allows you to focus on arbitrary segments of your process by cutting off all events that happen before and after the indicated endpoints.

The trim filter in Disco allows you to cut off unwanted parts of your process (click to enlarge)

The Trim mode in the Endpoints filter now allows you to focus on either the first or the longest subset based on your endpoints

With Disco 1.9 the Trim-mode becomes more powerful. It lets you determine what should happen if you have multiple end event markers in your selection (or if your end event appears multiple times in the same case). You can now choose between:

  • Trim longest: Cuts to the sequence between the first occurrence of one of your start events and the last occurrence of one of your end events (previous trim-mode).

  • Trim first: Cuts to the first sequence between your chosen start and end events.

New Audit Report Export

Next to process improvement teams also auditors increasingly use Disco to analyze processes for their audits. Their focus is typically less on performance (like detecting bottlenecks) but more on compliance questions like detecting deviations from the allowed process, violation of segregation of duty rules, or the missing of mandatory steps. All of these compliance issues can be easily analyzed with Disco and you can get a nice overview about typical auditing questions in this presentation given by Youri Soons at Process Mining Camp 2013.

One thing that is really important in the work of an auditor is that they need to document their work. They document the original data, the findings of the audit, but also the steps that they took to arrive at those findings to make it possible to verify and re-produce them after the fact.

Disco already allows you to re-use and export filter settings via recipes (you can watch this video demonstration if you are not familiar with recipes in Disco yet). However, as an auditor you need to document all intermediate steps of the analysis (and the outcomes of the analysis) in a way that is human-readable as well.

New Audit Report export in Disco (click to enlarge)

New audit report export in Disco

Therefore, we have added a new audit report export in Disco 1.9. The audit report bundles the machine-readable (and re-usable) recipe with a human-readable filter report and the resulting data set in a Zip file, ready to be attached to your audit documentation.

Audit report can be exported from the Empty Filter Result screen

Audit report can be exported from the Empty Filter Result screen

Another problem is that, as an auditor, you are often checking for compliance rules that are not violated. For example, you may find that there is not a single case that remains in the data set after you apply your filter to check for a segregation of duty rule violation.

That’s a good result, but how can you document it? With Disco 1.9 you can now also export the audit report directly from the empty filter result dialog (see screenshot above).

Process Map With Fixed Percentage

The last feature will be useful if you want to repeat analyses based on new data sets. For example, after an improvement project you want to look at the new process and see how effective the improvements actually were.

While you can already re-use your filter settings via recipes from the previous project to quickly re-run the analyses on the new data, you sometimes also want to re-create the process maps based on exactly the same level of detail (you can learn more about how the detail sliders in the Map view work in this article). And moving the sliders is a cumbersome way to hit the exact percentage point that you want to see.

Fixed Percentages for detail sliders in map view (click to enlarge)

Explicit Percentages for detail sliders in map view

With Disco 1.9 you can now explicitly set the desired percentage points for the Activities and the Paths sliders in the map view, by clicking on their respective percentages below the sliders (see screenshot above).

Other Changes

The 1.9 update also includes a number of other features and bug fixes, which improve the functionality, reliability, and performance of Disco. Please find a list of the most important further changes below.

  • CSV Import: Improved accuracy and reliability of CSV auto-detection.

  • CSV Import: Improved timestamp parsing and timestamp pattern auto-detection.

  • CSV Export: Enhanced CSV Export Format for better Excel compatibility.

  • Bug fixes: Fixes several minor issues and user interface inconsistencies.

  • Stability: Fixes a stability issue observed with some newer Java versions.

Thank you!

We want to thank all of you for using Disco, and for providing a continuous stream of great feedback to us!

Most of the changes in this release can be directly traced back to a conversation with one of our customers, a support email, or in-app feedback submitted from Disco. Without that feedback, it would be impossible for us to keep Disco so stable and fast. And, even more importantly, your feedback enables us to concentrate our efforts on changes that make Disco even better for you: More relevant for the problems you try to solve, and a better, more efficient, and just more fun companion for your work.

We hope that you like Disco 1.9, and we keep looking forward to your feedback!

Christian W. Günther

Christian W. Günther

Product, development, and everything else

Christian creates software which is easy to use, performs great, and is easy on the eyes. He also handles most things design or AV around Fluxicon.