The goal of Process Discovery is to make explicit an existing process in order to make it known, understood and shared by everyone involved. Process Discovery serves to clarify and document the current situation (often called the as-is process). As-is definitions are generally used as the starting point to a process improvement effort.
There are 3 common approaches to process discovery:
- Facilitated Sessions
- In the facilitated approach, a facilitator is charged with gathering from subject matter experts (SME) and end users point of views of the process under study.The collection of these points of views can either be carried out on an individual basis during interviews or collectively during a facilitated workshop. During discovery everyone describes in his own words; how they are involved in the process, why they are doing it, what they are using to support their work, where they are doing the work, and when the work is required. Upon completion of the discovery, the facilitator is responsible to assemble and correlate all the gathered information in a coherent and unique description.
- Existing Documents
- In situations where documentation of the process exits within the organization it is possible to streamline the extraction and collection of relevant information from the documentation. The Discovery exercise then consists in identifying in the documentation various activities, actors, artifacts, events, systems along with the goals pursued. Some common sources of documentation for this type of discovery are the standard operating procedures (SOPs), governance or standard conformance documentation, internal policies and handbooks.
- Event Logs
- Automated discovery tools are also being explored. This new approach is often referred to as Process Mining. In this approach, logs produced by information systems supporting daily operations of the organization are interpreted by software looking to extract patterns of processing.
The challenge of all discovery approaches is to try to ensure completeness of the analysis. Simple analysis techniques such as HW5 (How, Who, What, Where, When, and Why) questioning may help in ensuring coverage. Typical questioning in identifying “how things get done” includes: who is involved in getting things done, what is involved in getting things done, where are things getting done, when do things get done and why are these things done.