Handbook on Business Process Management 1

Part of the series International Handbooks on Information Systems pp 337-370


Business Process Simulation Survival Guide

  • Wil M. P. van der AalstAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics and Computer Science, Eindhoven University of TechnologyBusiness Process Management Discipline, Queensland University of TechnologyInternational Laboratory of Process-Aware Information Systems, National Research University Higher School of Economics Email author 

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Simulation provides a flexible approach to analyzing business processes. Through simulation experiments various “what if” questions can be answered and redesign alternatives can be compared with respect to key performance indicators. This chapter introduces simulation as an analysis tool for business process management. After describing the characteristics of business simulation models, the phases of a simulation project, the generation of random variables, and the analysis of simulation results, we discuss 15 risks, i.e., potential pitfalls jeopardizing the correctness and value of business process simulation. For example, the behavior of resources is often modeled in a rather naïve manner resulting in unreliable simulation models. Whereas traditional simulation approaches rely on hand-made models, we advocate the use of process mining techniques for creating more reliable simulation models based on real event data. Moreover, simulation can be turned into a powerful tool for operational decision making by using real-time process data.