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What is conformance checking?

Lari Numminen

June 13, 2023

Conformance checking, also known as conformance analysis, is an important element of process mining and business process management. In this article we go through what it is through definitions, examples and best practices.

What is Conformance Checking?

Conformance checking is a method of comparing the execution of a business process against a predefined set of conditions, such as a business process model. It is used to assess the real state of processes and to identify any variations between the should be and the as-is behavior outlined. It is a key component of process mining software, which is the application of data mining techniques to discover, monitor, and improve processes.

Conformance checking can also be called conformance analysis or business process conformance checking.

How conformance checking works
How conformance checking relates to process mining

Conformance checking in BPM

Conformance checking plays an important role in business process management (BPM), which is the systematic approach to managing and optimizing processes in business organizations.

Conformance checking involves analyzing the actual data from a process execution and comparing it to the expected behavior, or process 'happy path.' The analysis can be done based on expert interviews, surveys or increasingly through dedicated process analysis and modelling software. The observed data is analyzed to determine if the process was executed correctly and if it was completed in a timely manner. It can also identify any errors, deviations, or inefficiencies that may have occurred in the process.

The benefits of conformance checking are numerous. It helps to ensure that processes are performed accurately and efficiently. It also allows organizations to identify areas where processes can be improved, thereby increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations.

Examples of conformance checking

There are many real-world examples of conformance checking across different types of businesses and business units. It can also be used to identify any errors or deviations in the process that may lead to inefficiencies or delays.

Logistics -  it may be used to monitor the performance of logistics processes in a supply chain.

Customer service - case management evaluating how different customer service records have followed the agreed path and support.

Procurement - tracking how different business units or transactions follow the agreed purchase-to-pay processes.

Claims processing - review of insurance claims processes, whether the claims manager has followed the modelled process.

Conformance checking in process mining

Conformance checking is closely related to process mining, which is the application of data mining techniques to discover, monitor, and improve processes. Process mining uses data from event logs to create a graphical representation of the process. It can also identify any deviations or inefficiencies in the process.Business process management (BPM) is the systematic approach to managing and optimizing processes. It involves the use of methods, techniques, and tools to monitor, analyze, and improve processes.

Example of conformance checking in process mining
Example of conformance checking in process intelligence software

In conclusion, conformance checking is an important tool for process mining and business process management. It helps to ensure that processes are executed accurately and efficiently and can identify any areas where processes can be improved. By using conformance checking, organizations can gain valuable insights into their processes and optimize their operations.

Conformance checking Q&A

What is conformance analysis?

Conformance analysis is a method of verifying whether a system or a process aligns with a set of predetermined rules, standards, or models. It assesses how well the actual behavior corresponds with the expected behavior. In different fields, these standards could be defined by law, regulatory bodies, industry best practices, or internally by an organization. This analysis is critical in a variety of contexts, such as quality management, regulatory compliance, and software development, as it can identify deviations, noncompliance, and opportunities for improvement.

What is conformance checking in process mining?

Process mining is a method used to visualize and analyze actual business processes based on event logs from information systems. Conformance checking in process mining involves comparing the recorded event log (i.e., the actual process as evidenced by the data) with a pre-defined process model (i.e., the ideal or expected process). This comparison allows for the identification of deviations or discrepancies between the actual and expected behavior. This is valuable for diagnosing bottlenecks, identifying compliance issues, and finding opportunities for process optimization.

What is a conformance model?

A conformance model is a pre-defined representation or pattern that serves as a standard against which actual behavior or results are compared. The model defines what is considered to be the "correct" or "expected" behavior, process, or outcome. This could be based on legal or regulatory requirements, industry best practices, or internal standards set by an organization. In the context of process mining, a conformance model would typically represent the ideal or optimal process flow. The model provides a basis for conformance analysis, which can identify discrepancies between the actual data and the model.

What is an example of process conformance?

An example of process conformance can be seen in the banking sector, specifically in the process of loan approval. A predefined process model might stipulate that every loan application must go through certain stages: initial application, background and credit checks, risk assessment, approval or rejection, and finally communication of the decision to the customer. Each of these stages must comply with certain internal policies and external regulatory standards. By comparing the actual loan approval process as recorded in event logs with this predefined process model, the bank can identify deviations, such as skipped stages or non-compliant activities. These deviations can indicate potential compliance issues, inefficiencies, or areas for process improvement. This is a practical example of how process conformance analysis can be used in a real-world context.

Written by

Lari Numminen

Chief Marketing Fellow