Digging into Process Mining: What is it (and Why Should You Do it)?


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Friday, October 7, 2022

Find out why your business could benefit from adopting process mining to streamline its mission-critical activities.

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Digging into Process Mining: What is it (and Why Should You Do it)?
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Ensuring a business is operating as efficiently as possible is vital to success. It's no use pushing sales and marketing campaigns to drive new revenue if you're losing money on inefficient and slow processes that mean you can't react quickly to changing environments or leave you struggling to keep up with competitors.

Therefore, being able to closely analyze your activities to identify any issues and put in place the right fixes is vital. And one way that firms can do this quickly and effectively is through the use of process mining.

What is process mining?

Process mining refers to a range of techniques that use existing data within the company to analyze, monitor and improve business processes and workflows throughout the enterprise. It looks in detail at exactly what's going on in order to understand how each process works, spot where any inefficiencies or bottlenecks lie and suggest improvements.

In the past, this type of analysis was a very tedious, manually-driven process. It would typically involve going through workflows by hand with the aid of spreadsheets or whiteboards. This method is not only far more time and resource-intensive, but may provide incomplete or inaccurate results, as they’re prone to human bias and errors.

Automated process mining tools, however, eliminate these issues, while also greatly streamlining such activities. By looking at data businesses already possess, such as event logs from enterprise resourcing planning and customer relationship management software, process mining tools can provide quick and easy insight into what's actually happening.

How does process mining work?

There are a few ways in which process mining can be applied to workflows in order to derive insight. These can offer a range of perspectives related to what resources are being allocated to various processes, how long they take and where any delays occur, and the sequence in which events occur.

In general, there are three types of process mining activities. The first is discovery, which involves building a new model from scratch in order to gain insight into what's happening. The second, which should follow on from discovery, is called conformance. In this case, you're looking to compare an existing model with what's actually happening to determine if they align.

The final type of process mining is called enhancement, or occasionally extension or performance mining. In these activities, extra information is used to improve existing process models. It may, for instance, take the outcome of a conformance check, such as a newly-identified bottleneck, and apply fixes to optimize the existing process.

Whatever method you're using, a few key aspects remain the same. In general, process mining works by analyzing all the data related to your processes, turning these into digestible event logs and presenting the results in a visual format to help you understand and improve what's happening.

Having this clear insight into what's going on is vital is building systems such as robotic process automation (RPA) tools, as it gives clear illustrations of what every step involves and in what order they take place. That's why more than three-quarters of people who implement automation (78%) say process mining is the key to enabling their RPA efforts.

What are the benefits of process mining?

Process mining offers a range of benefits. One of the key advantages is, if done correctly, it can help increase return on investment for projects by cutting waste and speeding up time to market.

Among the main outcomes that firms can expect to see from a good process mining strategy are:

  • Identifying bottlenecks: Delays, deviations from the original plan and inefficient processes that are holding up a project can all be zeroed in on using process mining
  • Standardizing processes: The technology can be used across businesses to ensure every project is following the same processes
  • Continuous monitoring: This will help measure the effectiveness of any optimizations and improvements
  • Simplify compliance: Process mining can generate complete, end-to-end audit trails
  • Reduce human efforts: Automating these processes frees up employees to work on more engaging, productive tasks

Where can process mining prove useful?

There are a wide range of applications you'll be able to optimize and improve with process mining, regardless of the type of sector you operate in.

For example, manufacturers are particularly well-placed to reap the benefits of these technologies and much of their operations depend on clear, repeatable processes. Effective data mining can help gain visibility into production times, amounts of resources required - in terms of both raw materials and labor - and ensure they can allocate these in the most efficient way.

But this is just one example. Retailers, for instance, may be able to use process mining to better understand the customer buying journey and behavior, showing them where they can make improvements to boost conversions.

In software development, process mining can help organize processes into clearly documented steps and then monitor activities to ensure plans are being followed. In areas that can be highly susceptible to delays and distractions that can lengthen the process, being able to refer back to these processes can be hugely useful.

Other areas where processing mining can prove beneficial include - but are not limited to - finance, healthcare, education and public works. In these industries, the technology may be useful in managing inter-organizational projects that have multiple stakeholders, as it can help clearly indicate what everyone's role in the process is (and when it's required).

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