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Author's profile photo Kazuhiko Takata

Use SAP Build Process Automation data for process mining

This blog post is written for post of 2022-12-15 in an advent calendar created by Japanese SAP users

Introduction

Hello. I was implementing process mining solution in recent years and came back to SAP community. Now I am challenging to SAP Build Process Automation and I found the affinity between Process Automation and previously working process mining.

Both Process Automation and process mining are started from Business Process Management, so basic concept is quite similar. When Process Automation is processing workflow and produce event data, it is possible to consume this data by process mining.

I understand Process Automation already has great Process Visibility capability to analyze and monitor the working process. It is better to use Process Visibility to monitor the error and delay in real time situation, on the other hand after some time passed and try to improve the current process built by Process Automation, process mining technique is uniquely and powerful to visualize full picture of the process (success, error, rework etc.)

Fortunately I had some of experience of SAP Signavio Process Intelligence, process mining solution of SAP, so I would like to share how to extract Process Automation data then pass to Process Intelligence to do process mining.

Create process data by SAP Build Process Automation

As prerequisite, I used standard plan of SAP Build Process Automation, and create service instance of process automation (standard) and service key. I tried to use free plan, but this is not available because I could not get process data (refer to Push Events to a Visibility Scenario | SAP Help Portal).

To simplify explanation, I used pre-build package from Build Store to run process. From Store, find Sales Order Approvals – Sample and click Create form Template.

Order%20Processing%20process

Order Processing process

In the default status of pre-build package, there is no setup of process visibility, so below steps are required.

  1. Go to Order Processing artifact in the project, then click Visibility tab in right pane, then add all attributes of Order Processing Form.
  2. Create Visibility Scenario artifact to project, then add Process of Order Processing.

Now it is ready for running process. Release and Deploy project. And start entering and approving some of data.

After that I can see process data in dashboard of Visibility Scenario.

Process%20Visibility%20Dashboard

Process Visibility Dashboard

Extract data from SAP Build Process Automation

This time I use SAP API Business Hub to extract data from SAP Build Process Automation for explanation purpose. If periodical integration is required in production system, I should use SAP Integration Suite etc.

Go to Try Out | Processes & Workflows | SAP API Business Hub then extract task instances (event log) by GET /v1/task-instances REST API. To Do this I need to find credential (Client ID, Client secret) and my domain from service instance in BTP cockpit, then set to environment of API Business Hub.

Copy the response body as below for next step, transformation.

SAP%20API%20Business%20Hub%20%3A%20Try%20Out%20API

SAP API Business Hub : Try Out

Transformation

As I mentioned before, both Process Automation and process mining are started from Business Process Management, so data structure of both are almost all same. This means both structure can be mapped key columns like below.

  1. workflowInstanceId is mapped to case ID
  2. activityId is mapped to activity name
  3. completedAt is mapped to end timestamp

In my previous experience of process mining projects, transformation is most time consuming (80% around) task. So I am surprised at no transformation is required for this case.

Finally SAP Signavio Process Intelligence allow CSV file upload, so I converted above API response (JSON) to CSV data. I used JSON To CSV Converter (convertcsv.com) website, but there are many tools that are available for such a format change.

Load to SAP Signavio Process Intelligence

In SAP Signavio Process Intelligence, I created new process and import CSV file above. In the next few screens I will click three key columns above for process mining then completed the preparation.

I can see the Process Discovery screen below in the new Investigation. Data of Process Automation is displayed (compare with process flow picture above).

Process%20Discovery

Process Discovery

Closing

By the way, what is the difference between Process Discovery and Process Visibility?

  • Process Discovery summarize the path of activity then calculate average throughput time between two activities. Process Visibility can see throughput time of individual workflow instance.
  • Process Discovery can filter minor (lower count) process pattern and concentrate on major process pattern (or filter major process pattern too). Process Visibility cannot filter by process pattern.
  • Both can filter data pattern by attributes of workflow instance to find root cause of unexpected behavior (e.g. which country has more rejection pattern), in combination of process pattern analysis above.
  • Comparatively, Process Discovery can deal with the fact of already happened, instead Process Visibility can deal with currently happening fact too.

I hope this blog help you. Also I hope this integration will be SAP standard function, and everyone can utilize process mining solution more easily.

Please leave feedback or thoughts in a comment. Also please follow above topics and myself.

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