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Communications of the ACM

Europe Region special section: Big trends

European Leadership in Process Management

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Credit: Kapinus M / Shutterstock

In the mid-1990s, many vendors, such as IBM, Staffware, Filenet, Lotus, and Xerox, provided workflow management (WFM) software. In fact, WFM systems were expected to become an integral part of every information system. Despite these high expectations, only a few organizations successfully used this technology. After the limited success of WFM systems, the scope was broadened beyond automation, leading to a wave of business process management (BPM) systems.1,7 Many organizations documented their processes using notations such as the business process model notation (BPMN), but few successfully used BPM technologies to create information systems driven by process models.8

One of the main reasons was because traditional process management approaches underestimated the complexity and variability of real-world processes and did not explicitly use the data available in existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Although the first process-mining algorithms8 were developed around the turn of the century, large-scale adoption of process mining is rather recent. Most considered the WFM/BPM field to be "dead" because model-driven approaches did not live up to their expectations. However, the uptake in process mining has radically changed this notion over the past five years.


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