Overlay errors between two layers can be caused by non-lithography processes. While these errors can be compensated by the run-to-run system, such process and tool signatures are not always stable. In order to monitor the impact of non-lithography context on overlay at regular intervals, a systematic approach is needed. Using various machine learning techniques, significant context parameters that relate to deviating overlay signatures are automatically identified. Once the most influential context parameters are found, a run-to-run simulation is performed to see how much improvement can be obtained. The resulting analysis shows good potential for reducing the influence of hidden context parameters on overlay performance. Non-lithographic contexts are significant contributors, and their automatic detection and classification will enable the overlay roadmap, given the corresponding control capabilities.