Discovering interacting artifacts from ERP systems

Article

Lu, X., Nagelkerke, M.Q.L., Wiel, van de, D. & Fahland, D. (2015). Discovering interacting artifacts from ERP systems. IEEE Transactions on Services Computing, 8(6), 861-873. In Scopus Cited 7 times.

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Abstract

 

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are widely used to manage business documents along a business processes and allow very detailed recording of event data of past process executions and involved documents. This recorded event data is the basis for auditing and detecting unusual flows. Process mining techniques can analyze event data of processes stored in linear event logs to discover a process model that reveals unusual executions. Existing approaches to obtain linear event logs from ERP data require a single case identifier to which all behavior can be related. However, in ERP systems processes such as Order to Cash operate on multiple interrelated business objects, each having their own case identifier, their own behavior, and interact with each other. Forcing these into a single case creates ambiguous dependencies caused by data convergence and divergence which obscures unusual flows in the resulting process model. In this paper, we present a new semi-automatic, end-to-end approach for analyzing event data in a plain database of an ERP system for unusual executions. More precisely, we identify an artifact-centric process model describing the business objects, their life-cycles, and how the various objects interact along their life-cycles. This way, we prevent data divergence and convergence. We report on two case studies where our approach allowed to successfully analyze processes of ERP systems and reliably revealed unusual flows later confirmed by domain experts.