Process Drift

Businesses face hidden problems due to gradual changes in how work gets done. This can lead to outdated documents, ineffective training, and challenges with automation. Skan, a process intelligence tool, uses AI to uncover these hidden variations and helps improve efficiency.

Enterprise Process Drift is an inevitable consequence of the ebbs and flows and pulls and pressures of operations over time.  While process drift happens and is mostly unavoidable, the consequences can be material and impact wide-ranging outcomes.

The process drift and the consequent variations in how workflows transpire are what we at Skan call the Invisible Enterprise.

First, let’s examine why process drift happens and how it impacts the future operating model of large enterprises.

Reasons for Process Drift in Large Enterprises:

Mergers and Acquisitions:

The classic reason companies merge is for so-called synergies, and yet at a ground level, when two companies combine their operations, remnants of legacy processes persist.  For example, the account payables may use two different systems and follow two different procedures – the vestige of a separate past. Process drift or process deviation, the outcome is the same, in that there are several ways of getting the same thing done.

Compliance-driven Process Patchwork:

In most companies, when new regulations or internal compliance mandates change, the typical response is to throw people (mostly consultants) at the problem and figure out a way to fulfill the immediate need, rather than streamline the entire process and re-architect supporting systems.  This results in process deviations that do not follow the so-called golden process. And over time, as various rules and regulations impact the process, it results in a patchwork of process variants.

Tribal Knowledge and Local Conventions cause process drift:

The centralization of knowledge and conventions that govern particular groups, geographies, or business units result in process drift and plenty of process variants.  From inventive associates who find a way to get things done to conventionalists who stick to “We have always done it this way,” to slackers who circumvent and skimp on steps to not exert energy, there are many reasons that process drift occurs.

Inadequate Systems Support and Shadow IT:

In most large and complex companies, systems that do not conform to the way people work and consequently homegrown Excel Macros, Access Databases, and other non-approved apps are a way of life.  In most cases, the unauthorized applications and shortcuts influence how the processes function and generate process variants that are not part of any official playbook.

Now, let’s examine the impact of process drift on various enterprise initiatives:

Documentation and Standard Operating Procedures:

When companies document processes and create standard operating procedures, they do not capture most of the process drift and the resultant variants and instead focus on a standard process and perhaps one or two exceptions.  Any documentation and/or an SOP that ignores the elephant in the room – the diverse and distinct process variants and the process drift – will not be optimal or effective.

Training and Onboarding:

Typical corporate training is akin to peanut butter spread. This approach may be appropriate for general topics and broad education but fail to address the individual disparities of process knowledge and the specificity of training needs. This is where cognitive engines such as Skan can help in identifying instances of personalized and precision training opportunities.  Think of this as precision and targeted medicine. The precision learning need not be in a traditional classroom or a web video but can happen at the point of action and interaction with a specific application.

Imagine the power of targeted and personalized learning and guidance for individual employee morale and growth?

Automation:Process Automation

or take several iterations and time to harden the operation to accommodate the variances.

Instead, computer vision and machine intelligence-enabled process mining and discovery will unveil the hidden process variants and paint the real picture of the underlying process.

The resulting design documentation will accommodate the diversity of options and innumerable permutations and allow for fit-for-purpose automation.

Operations Rationalization:

Streamlining operations is a pre-requisite for many enterprise efficiency initiatives.  Process mining and discovery provides insights into not only the processes but the participants and the systems and the entire set of interactions.

For example, is the fastest execution of a process run the most accurate?

Are process variants a result of inefficiency or case complexity? What variants are necessary due to structural options and paths and which variants are due to general drift.

What steps are missing or causing most challenges in a process flow?

Are there bottlenecks and choke points in the flows?

What is the actual usage of applications? What is the concurrency of usage? Is the enterprise using the available licenses effectively?

How can Skan help in identifying and addressing process drift?

Skan is a new generation process mining tool.  Skan CPX is a cognitive engine powered by computer vision and machine intelligence.  Skan AI engine makes possible observations of work at a vast scale and high precision.

The resulting process picture is akin to a PET/CT Scan that provides more than a still image of the enterprise and in fact captures the pulse of the processes.  We call it unveiling the invisible enterprise.

To learn more, please contact us.



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