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The Process Mining Glossary

With the power of cutting-edge technology, process mining enables you to streamline workflows, boost productivity, and save costs. This glossary equips you with the key terms and concepts you need to embark on your process automation journey.

  • Activity

    In business process management, tasks or actions taken by humans or machines that result in a process.

  • Actual process

    A process as it actually takes place in a company, generated from event logs during process mining. It is the counterpart to the target process or reference model.

  • Analysis

    An examination of the process and individual process steps that provides detailed information on process performance, identifies weak points or bottlenecks, and reveals optimization potential.

  • Bottleneck

    The scarcity of resources such as manpower, machinery, (partial) products, or manufacturing materials that worsens or delays the process or its performance.

  • Business process discovery

    A process mining technique used to create a data-based visualization of process workflows using data found in event logs.

  • Case

    A business case that runs through a particular process variant reflecting exactly one process cycle. A case can be identified by its individual case ID and can have attributes with different values.

  • Case ID

    An often alphanumeric representation of a case that serves to uniquely identify it.

  • Conformance checking

    A technique used to check process compliance by comparing event logs for a discovered process with the existing reference model (target model) of the same process.

  • Continuous improvement process

    The ongoing monitoring and enhancement of business processes to improve the quality, purpose, and value achieved.

  • Cycle time

    The time required to complete a process, process variant, business case, or activity; it is used for analyzing a process to determine process performance.


    Define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) is a continuous improvement cycle that provides a structured way of identifying, analyzing, improving, and controlling processes or other issues.

  • Direct follower graph

    A graphical representation of a process used in process mining and other process analysis techniques.

  • Event log

    A representation of one or more cases of a business process that can also be used to document several related business processes.

  • Extract, transform, load (ETL)

     A process in which data is extracted from one system then transformed and loaded into another system.

  • Idle time

    The time between the end of one process activity and the start of the next.

  • Performance

    The efficiency, effectiveness, or success of an activity or a process. 

  • Process controlling

    The ability to monitor and adjust a process to give a desired output and ensure that business processes are running optimally.

  • Process cycle

     A path that is followed during a process with a time required for completion. Individual process cycles within the same process can be different, for example, if the process contains an “or” decision. 

  • Process deviation

    A change from the normal activity path in a process that negatively impacts the process's operation. 

  • Process documentation

    The recording of existing actual processes and target processes, often saved as a process model in a standardized format.

  • Process engine

    The mechanism for executing process activities in sequential order, which can be performed by either humans or machines.  

  • Process enhancement

    A process mining technique that’s used to extend or enhance a target model or reference model using discovered information about the actual process, sometimes referred to as model enhancement.technique that’s used to extend or enhance a target model or reference model using discovered information about the actual process.

  • Process execution

    The part of a process management lifecycle where the target process is executed and becomes the actual process.

  • Process implementation

    The complete implementation of a company’s target processes. In most cases, the target processes are the result of a previous process optimization, but they can also be developed without reference to a previous optimization. 

  • Process loop

    The return to a previous activity or step in a process, which repeats the process path.

  • Process management

    A structured approach to evaluating, improving, and automating business processes.

  • Process management lifecycle

    A model for the continuous implementation and improvement of processes and business process management in a company. 

  • Process mining

    A technique for discovering, monitoring, and improving processes used to make those processes more transparent and efficient.

  • Process model

    A graphical representation of a process. With the help of the model created or generated from process mining, process modeling uncovers optimization potential.

  • Process modeling

    The creation of a graphical representation of a process or system generated according to different notations and schemes, such as BPMN 2.0, EPK, and etc.

  • Process transparency

    Clear insight into business processes and how they operate. 

  • Process variant

    A sequence of process activities with a start event and a final event.

  • Processing time

    The time required to process a work item, which can be assigned to a single activity, a group of activities, or an entire process.

  • Reference process

    A process that represents a desired ideal state for how a process should run, also called a target process. A reference process can deviate from how the actual process is run and is compared to the actual process during conformance checking.

  • Root cause analysis (RCA)

    A technique for finding and analyzing process errors and their causes. With process mining software, root cause analysis can be automated.

  • Target process

    A representation of an optimized process that has not yet been implemented or a desired ideal state for how a process should run, also called a reference process.

  • Transport time

    The time it takes for a work item (such as a workpiece or document) to be physically or electronically transferred to another location.

  • Waiting time

     The period of time in which a work item, like a document, is waiting for further processing. 

Learn why Appian is the leader in process automation.