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BPSimpy: a Python library to programmatically create business process simulation models in BPSim standard.

Fostering research

ESTECO chose the Lanner L-SIM software as the basis for the process simulation capability in their Cardanit product. Cardanit is an innovative BPM SaaS platform aimed at advancing BPM development and analysis.

Previously the companies had worked together showing how WITNESS could be linked to modeFRONTIER, the ESTECO Engineering Design Optimisation tool. The Cardanit roadmap has been designed to differ from the other players in the well-established BPM software market, with the introduction of new groundbreaking features, including how simulation features are provided for users. 

Innovation requires state-of-the-art scientific techniques, and this is why both companies have always worked together with universities and research institutes all over the world. More recently ESTECO contacted prof.  Massimiliano de Leoni at the University of Padua (Italy), a major expert in Process Mining and related fields, and a series of joint research projects were launched. One of them focuses on building accurate simulation models by reasoning on the transactional data of past process executions (a.k.a. event logs), and has recently resulted in BPSimpy, a Python library to facilitate the integration of process-mining libraries with business Process simulation through engines that support the BPSim standard, such as L-SIM.

Lanner were a major contributor to the original development of the BPSIM standard which extends the BPMN standard to include simulation parameters and scenario definitions. The BPSimpy library was showcased at the 19th International Conference on Business Process Management ( BPM 2021) in Rome.

BPSimpy Library

One of the hurdles to widespread use of simulation by business process analysts has been the development of simulation models with the appropriate levels of details and valid data. The BPSimpy research is aimed at supporting the user in preparing models for simulation using information from different sources, including Process Mining. BPSimpy is a business process simulation Python library to programmatically generate simulation ready files. BPSimpy supports the building of simulation models compliant with the Business Process Simulation Specification ( BPSim), a standard format by the Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC). This use of a common standard enables integration with the L-Sim simulation engine provided by Lanner.

The BPSimpy library takes a BPMN process model and the simulation parameters as input and generates a BPSim simulation model file. This file is specifying simulation scenarios, each of them setting the initial conditions for the scenario and all the simulation parameters necessary to create a valid simulation experiment. Parameters are connected to the elements of the BPMN process model (events, tasks, gateways, sequence flows, etc.) to configure their behavior. BPSimpy supports all the simulation parameters defined in the BPSim standard related to the various process perspectives: time, control, resources, cost, priority, and properties.

BPM2021

The library was presented in the demonstration track at the  19th International Conference on Business Process Management (BPM 2021) with the following publication: C. Fracca, A. Bianconi, F. Meneghello, M. de Leoni, F. Asnicar, A. Turco. BPSimpy: A Python Library for WfMC-Standard Process-Simulation Specifications. The demo forum provided an opportunity to present and discuss emerging technologies and relevant knowledge sources with researchers and practitioners in the BPM field. The presentation attracted interest from the audience, especially regarding the use of the library and the case study presented in the paper.

2936-bpmn_paper.PNG

Example of simulation parameters that can be set with BPSimpy

The case study refers to a real business process improvement project, and the team proceeded as follows:

-The team began with an event log of a digitalised process and using Process Mining techniques they discovered the underlying business process model.

-They estimated simulation parameters with a refined analysis using an approach adopted from the results of a related research project undertaken by the team.

-The BPSimpy library was used to automate the creation of the BPSim model, which was then simulated through the L-Sim engine developed by Lanner.

This allowed the team to uncover the critical aspects such as bottlenecks, waste, utilisation of resources, and to verify the consequences of proposed process modifications before implementation.

Future steps

Business Process Simulation is a well-established technique and there are several good products on the market supporting it. Many people also speak about the power and added value of Digital Twins and Industry 4.0. However, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and Process Mining seem to receive great attention (and funds) perhaps because they are easier to adopt. Why? ESTECO saw a similar pattern in the automotive industry when digital prototyping started to grow. There are no shortcuts with simulation modelling and you must have the right support to produce reliable models.

Lanner's L-Sim simulation engine can handle many scenarios, huge models, and the complex interactions between elements. Cardanit will implement the best possible user experience to facilitate Business Analysts' work, but it won’t hide the complexity of the task. Therefore, we team up with universities and we look for innovative approaches that can assist you - knowing that they cannot substitute you and your expertise. The BPSimpy library is a piece of a large puzzle that is sketched in the companion paper, but that requires further research.  Visit Cardanit website to keep abreast of this venture's next steps.

ABOUT ESTECO and Cardanit

ESTECO is an independent software company, highly specialised in numerical optimisation and simulation process and data management. With over 20 years of experience, ESTECO supports over 300 international organisations in excelling in their digital engineering experience, accelerating the decision making process and reducing development time.

Developed by ESTECO, Cardanit is the next generation collaboration tool for shaping business processes and the decisions that guide them. Based on BPMN and DMN standards, Cardanit offers a dynamic and flexible modeling experience. With Cardanit business analysts, consultants and managers can map their processes and simplify decisions with a powerful and easy-to-use business process management editor. For more information visit cardanit.com

For more information about ESTECO, visit esteco.com, follow ESTECO on Twitter: https://twitter.com/esteco_mf, and on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/esteco-s-p-a.


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