Hello there! Check out our new podcast - Wonderful Work
Listen on Spotify

What is a happy path?

Lari Numminen

March 6, 2023

The ‘happy path’ is a concept used to describe an ideal process flow. It is the path that a process should take when everything goes according to plan and no problems arise. This article provides an overview of the ‘happy path’ and explains why it is important in business process management (BPM).

What is a happy path

What is the ‘Happy Path’?

In the context of information modelling, a happy path is an ideal scenario featuring no exceptional or error conditions. This concept can be used across different areas, such as business process management or software development, from journey mapping, design to testing.

Within business process management the happy path is sometimes called the "happy flow"  and can be seen as the process that works out in the easiest and best way possible for the business. It is a broadly used term within business process modelling and process mining.

In summary:

• The ‘happy path’ is the ideal path that a process should take when everything goes according to plan.

• It is the path that a process should take when there are no problems or unexpected events.

• The ‘happy path’ is the most efficient and cost-effective process flow.

Why is the ‘Happy Path’ analysis important in BPM?

Happy path as a term is often referenced in business process management. In BPM it is the idealized view of processes that is considered the most effective and efficient.

A few common use cases include:

Process optimization. The ‘happy path’ helps organizations ensure that processes are being completed in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

Root-cause analysis. The ‘happy path’ helps organizations identify and eliminate potential problems before they occur.

Conformance checking. The ‘happy path’ helps organizations reduce the risk of errors and improve accuracy.

Happy path in process mining software

Many process mining software solutions help you benchmark your process flows to a happy path. One of the most typical ways to visualize this is through process variance views. 

Many process mining solutions allow you to plot the happy path as a business process model that you can compare to your actual process variations. This can be helpful in identifying areas where teams are not conforming to agreed processes, and also identify areas where processes can be optimized and workflows can be re-engineered.

Other jargon busting articles

What is conformance checking?

What is intelligent automation?

What is process optimization?

What is process excellence?

What is root cause analysis?

What is a swivel chair process?

For more, see BPM Glossary

Written by

Lari Numminen

Chief Marketing Fellow