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Business processes exceptions in relation to operational performance

Remco Dijkman (Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
Oktay Turetken (Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
Geoffrey Robert van IJzendoorn (Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
Meint de Vries (Teradata, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 12 October 2018

Issue publication date: 19 August 2019




Business process models describe the way of working in an organization. Typically, business process models distinguish between the normal flow of work and exceptions to that normal flow. However, they often present an idealized view. This means that unexpected exceptions – exceptions that are not modeled in the business process model – can also occur in practice. This has an effect on the efficiency of the organization, because information systems are not developed to handle unexpected exceptions. The purpose of this paper is to study the relation between the occurrence of exceptions and operational performance.


The paper does this by analyzing the execution logs of business processes from five organizations, classifying execution paths as normal or exceptional. Subsequently, it analyzes the differences between normal and exceptional paths.


The results show that exceptions are related to worse operational performance in terms of a longer throughput time and that unexpected exceptions relate to a stronger increase in throughput time than expected exceptions.

Practical implications

These findings lead to practical implications on policies that can be followed with respect to exceptions. Most importantly, unexpected exceptions should be avoided by incorporating them into the process – and thus transforming them into expected exceptions – as much as possible. Also, as not all exceptions lead to longer throughput times, continuous improvement should be employed to continuously monitor the occurrence of exceptions and make decisions on their desirability in the process.


While work exists on analyzing the occurrence of exceptions in business processes, especially in the context of process conformance analysis, to the best of the authors’ knowledge this is the first work that analyzes the possible consequences of such exceptions.



Dijkman, R., Turetken, O., van IJzendoorn, G.R. and de Vries, M. (2019), "Business processes exceptions in relation to operational performance", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 908-922.



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