Conformance Analysis in 2024: Identify Process Deviations

Business processes are the lifeblood of any organization. Well-designed processes ensure efficiency, quality, and consistency in operations. However, even with the best laid plans, actual processes inevitably deviate from the ideal. This is where conformance analysis comes in.

Conformance analysis, also known as conformance checking, is a crucial process mining technique to identify deviations and improve business processes in 2024 and beyond. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore what conformance analysis is, how it works, its benefits, and why it is becoming indispensable.

What is Conformance Analysis?

Conformance analysis compares an organization‘s actual processes to its predefined ideal processes to uncover deviations. The ideal or reference processes represent how activities should be carried out under optimal conditions.

By comparing event logs of real process executions against reference models, conformance checking reveals:

  • Activities not executed as desired
  • Additional unplanned activities
  • Activities executed in the wrong order
  • Violations of business rules and regulations

In short, it highlights where reality differs from intent.

Armed with these insights, organizations can pinpoint areas for improvement, rework processes, enforce compliance, and achieve operational excellence.

Real-World Examples of Conformance Analysis

To understand conformance analysis better, let‘s look at some examples:

Order Fulfillment Process Conformance

An e-commerce firm defines a 5-step order fulfillment process:

  1. Order placed
  2. Payment processed
  3. Item picked from warehouse
  4. Item packaged
  5. Order shipped

By analyzing event logs, they uncover that 10% of orders skip the packaging step. This failure to package items properly leads to damaged goods and customer complaints.

Identifying this deviation allows them to fix the fulfillment process and prevent issues.

Loan Approval Process Conformance

A bank specifies a loan approval process with credit checks and income verification required before approval.

Conformance analysis reveals that for VIP customers, these steps are frequently bypassed, leading to risky loans. The bank can now enforce compliance for all customers.

Software Development Process Conformance

A tech firm outlines a development methodology requiring prototypes before full-scale builds. Conformance analysis shows that under time pressure, prototypes are often skipped.

This deviation leads to costly rework when products miss the mark. The firm can now optimize its process.

These examples demonstrate how conformance checking spots deviations hindering operational excellence. Next, let‘s dig deeper into how it works.

How Does Conformance Analysis Work?

Modern conformance analysis leverages process mining techniques. It works by comparing event logs against reference process models to measure alignment. Follow these key steps:

1. Define the Reference Process Model

First, model the ideal step-by-step process flow based on subject matter expertise. Mapping out the optimal process is crucial.

2. Record Process Execution Event Logs

Capture detailed event logs of actual process executions, including:

  • Timestamps
  • Activities
  • Users
  • Systems involved
  • Other relevant data

Event logs provide the reality to check against.

3. Compare Event Logs Against Reference Model

Feed event logs into process mining software. Algorithms compare events against the reference model to uncover deviations.

Common deviations include:

  • Missing activities: Required steps not executed
  • Additional activities: Unplanned extra steps
  • Wrong sequence: Activities in the incorrect order
  • Rework: Unnecessary repetitions of activities
  • Violations: Breaches of rules and constraints

4. Quantify Deviation Frequency and Impact

The next step is measuring the frequency and impact of deviations. Focus on high-frequency and high-impact deviations first.

5. Drill Down on Root Causes

Analyze the types of deviations to determine why they occur. This allows pinpointing fixes.

6. Improve Processes

Finally, address root causes to improve process conformance. This is an iterative cycle of continuous improvement.

With this understanding of how conformance checking works, let‘s examine some key benefits.

Benefits of Conformance Analysis

Conformance analysis offers organizations several advantages:

Increased Efficiency

Deviations waste time, effort, and resources. By eliminating them, processes become streamlined and efficient.

Improved Quality

Conformance to proven reference models ensures activities are executed consistently and correctly, enhancing quality.

Lower Costs

Less rework, fewer mistakes, and higher productivity reduce operational costs.

Reduced Risks

Compliance to regulations and business rules is enforced by checking for violations.

Better Decision-Making

Data insights from conformance analysis inform better process improvement decisions.

Competitive Advantage

With optimized processes, businesses gain a performance edge over rivals.

These benefits demonstrate why conformance analysis is becoming a must-have capability.

Conformance Analysis Criticality Rising

Multiple factors underscore the growing importance of conformance checking:

Remote and Hybrid Work

With remote work, verifying process compliance is harder but even more critical. Conformance analysis provides visibility.

Digital Transformation

Digitization creates complex, interconnected processes demanding rigorous conformance checking.

Process Automation

Before automating processes, they must be analyzed and optimized for maximum ROI.

Agile Organizations

In fast-changing Agile environments, continually checking process-product fit is essential.

Compliance Mandates

Strict regulations in banking, healthcare, and other sectors require provable conformance.

Customer Expectations

Meeting today‘s high customer expectations depends on consistent execution of flawless processes.

Competitive Pressures

To achieve operational excellence, businesses must optimize processes better than rivals.

As these realities reshape the business landscape, conformance analysis becomes pivotal.

Real-World Conformance Analysis In Action

Seeing real-world examples reinforces the value of conformance checking:

  • Telco provider Vodafone used conformance analysis to uncover process inefficiencies, saving over 8 million euros per year.

  • KBC Bank employed conformance checking to improve and automate their mortgage application process, reducing processing time from 22 days to just 4 hours.

  • Maersk Line, one of the world‘s largest container shippers, leveraged conformance analysis to improve cargo delivery and vessel turnaround processes at numerous international ports.

  • UNOPS, the UN‘s project management arm, applied conformance checking to enhance their project delivery processes in over 80 countries.

  • DHL utilizes conformance analysis across their global logistics network to optimize supply chain processes.

These examples showcase the far-reaching benefits of conformance checking for both private and public sector organizations worldwide.

Conformance Analysis Best Practices

To maximize the value of conformance checking, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Involve process owners in defining reference models to gain insights into ideal workflows.

  • Map processes at an optimal level of detail – too high-level misses steps, too low-level gets noisy.

  • Use event logs judiciously – balance level of logging with performance.

  • Focus on high-impact deviations with the biggest efficiency gains.

  • Funnel insights into action by connecting analysis to process redesign.

  • Update reference models periodically as processes evolve.

  • Monitor conformance continually to sustain improvements.

Following these best practices will drive better results from conformance analysis.

The Future of Conformance Analysis

As processes grow more complex across industries, conformance analysis will become integral to business success. Key developments on the horizon include:

  • Wider adoption across more industries and geographies

  • Integration with robotic process automation to prevent automated processes from deviating

  • Real-time conformance dashboards providing actionable insights

  • Enhanced algorithms to detect deviations more intelligently

  • Combining conformance analysis with process simulation to test improvements before deploying

  • Emergence of conformance analysis apps and tools for business users

  • Cloud-based conformance analysis enabling anytime, anywhere access

These innovations will empower organizations to achieve new levels of operational excellence through heightened conformance.


In today‘s challenging business climate, top-performing processes are imperative for competitive survival. This makes conformance analysis essential for identifying deviations obstructing process excellence.

As thought leaders forecast, the next decade will see conformance analysis become as vital as financial reporting. Leading enterprises will embrace it to optimize processes, reduce costs, strengthen compliance, and drive growth.

Those relying on conformance checking will gain a distinct advantage over laggards. As processes underpin everything businesses do, maximizing conformance pays huge dividends. The time for conformance analysis is now.