This is the third part of a series describing a really exciting analysis I’ve just finished.
Part 1 described how we can turn simple log files into a Sankey diagram that shows real-life process flows (not just a theoretical diagram drawn by BAs and SMEs), like below:
Part 2 described how the logs are broken down into a design tree and how we can assign weightings to each branch based on the data stored in the logs, as below:
I’ve already had lots of great feedback in relation to the Part 1 blog, especially from people who’ve had challenges capturing as-is process. The feedback has been greatly appreciated so I’m looking forward to helping them draw up their flow-charts on the way to helping optimise their process flows.
But that’s just the starting point. Today’s post is where things get really exciting (for me at least). Today we build on part 2 and not just record weightings, but use them to assist future decisions.
We can use the decision tree to “predict forward” and help operators / algorithms make optimal decisions whilst working towards process completion. We can use a feedback loop to steer an operator (or application) down the most optimal branches of the tree (and/or avoid the fall-out variants).
This allows us to create a closed-loop, self-optimising, Decision Support System (DSS), as follows:
Note: Diagram sourced from https://passionateaboutoss.com/closing-the-loop-to-make-better-decisions, where further explanation is provided
Using log data alone, we can perform decision optimisation based on “likelihood of success” or “time to complete” as per the weightings table. If supplemented with additional data, the weightings table could also allow decisions to be optimised by “cost to complete” or many other factors.
The model has the potential to be used in “real-time” mode, using the constant stream of process logs to continually refine and adapt. For example:
- If the long-term average of a process path is 1 minute, but there’s currently a problem with and that path is failing, then another path (one that is otherwise slightly less optimised over the long-term), could be used until the first path is repaired
- An operator happens to choose a new, more optimal path than has ever been identified previously (the delta function in the diagram). It then sets a new benchmark and informs the new approach via the DSS (Darwinian selection)
If you’re wondering how the DSS could be implemented, I can envisage a few ways:
- Using existing RPA (Robotic Process Automation) tools [which are particularly relevant if the workflow box in the diagram above crosses multiple different applications (not just a single monolithic OSS/BSS)]
- Providing a feedback path into the functionality of the OSS/BSS and it’s GUI
- Via notifications (eg email, Slack, etc) to operators
- Via a simple, more manual process like flow diagrams, work instructions, scorecards or similar
- You can probably envisage other methods
Note: We’re now offering a service that uses this technique to document, benchmark and optimise operational processes directly from activity log files.