Data Warehouse, Process Warehouse

In a previous post I wrote down some thoughts about the parallel between moving from structured data to unstructured data, and from structured process to unstructured process. That lead me to start thinking about the notion of a process warehouse – something to akin to a data warehouse but for processes. This would seem to be the next thing up the food chain (from a business perspective) from a data warehouse. It would essentially be a system-of-record of actual business process usage in an organization. It would keep actual data on process execution (in other words not just a static process catalogue). That would provide the actual business context of data usage – valuable stuff especially in this day and age of increased regulation (and with the increased focus on Business Intelligence and Operational Excellence).

If you take Bill Inmon’s definition of a data warehouse: “A (data) warehouse is a subject-oriented, integrated, time-variant and non-volatile collection of data in support of management’s decision making process.” Essentially a process warehouse would be the same thing for business process  “A (process) warehouse is a subject-oriented, integrated, time-variant and non-volatile collection of business processes execution information in support of effective business management”.

You would think with all the “noise” around BPM – companies would have at least thought about the notion of a “process warehouse” – at least for structured processes managed by a BPM system. Surprisingly – I couldn’t find any literature on process warehouses (though I have seen process catalogues). I wonder if (unlike with data) – a process warehouse has limited value unless it has a true end-to-end information on process execution – something that is missing unless you also handle unstructured, ad-hoc, human processes.

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