A Simple Guide to Process Discovery


Shannon FlynnManaging Editor at ReHack

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Process discovery is about facing the reality of a company’s processes from start to finish. Over the years, implementations to account for supply chain disruptions or inflation could have made unexpected long-term changes when they were meant simply as an adaptation to an abnormality.

Article 4 Minutes
A Simple Guide to Process Discovery

However, to move forward in an ever-changing landscape, it’s crucial to understand where businesses allocate resources and where a lack of oversight may have ignored necessary process improvements.

These are the steps to efficient and illuminating the steps in process discovery.

Step 1: Map the goals

Process mapping outlines every task from every department, external and internal. You can also map based on value streams, detailing what it takes to create a product and get it to the consumer. It should describe how an entire company runs, noting the delegation of responsibilities throughout the process.

Companies undergo process discovery because they suspect something can change for the better. There are plenty of reasons behind this motivation, including:

  • Attempting to find ways to incorporate more technology or automation
  • Analyzing competition compared to existing vendors
  • Optimizing for efficiency, whether it’s time, energy or financial
  • Finding inconsistencies or redundancies between stages
  • Improving resilience for specific or all steps

The motivation may reveal itself while mapping. This will guide a company to implement higher-priority changes since businesses cannot execute every process improvement immediately. Even the most minor modification could require finding resources and assigning new roles to adapt them to current processes.

Step 2: Deep dive

Once mapping reveals company priorities, it’s time to dig deeper into each department. This requires detailed knowledge, so gathering this information calls for a lot of time and research. That’s why choosing a specific area may be advantageous, especially if a business is new to manual process discovery.

This is a chance to interview employees about workflow. Don’t assume administrative staff has all the information based on metrics alone — those who know the everyday roadblocks within a department will provide the more intimate and valuable information. Welcome all feedback. Employees must be brutally honest, as the organization will use that insight to implement change.

Here are some examples of how process discovery questions a company to reveal insight:

  • Recruitment: Human resources may not onboard employees promptly. Though the company’s paperwork is thorough, it requires manual data entry. Process discovery could reveal the prioritization of onboarding software to automate information into a database, freeing up time for more high-value tasks.
  • Sales and marketing: A company could allocate a large budget to social media marketing because it’s so popular. Equal funding goes to running ads on TikTok and Twitter. However, TikTok is far more profitable. The process discovery here is redistributing funds — considering the need to market on Twitter altogether — to reinforce the creative team behind the TikTok account.
  • Supply chain: Analyzing a current supplier reveals they are consistently late delivering a specific product, which causes frequent delays for larger clients. Process discovery reveals the supplier is great for some products, but it’s time to seek others to facilitate that specific niche.

Find what’s outdated, redundant and unproductive. Anything sparking these buzzwords will act as an alert that there may be a process discovery opportunity.

Step 3: Execute with realistic expectations

After discovering inefficiencies through process discovery, it’s time to initiate a plan. This may take time and energy, even if the solution to the issue comes to mind quickly. Easing the change into everyday operations may take meetings and more brainstorming, but the company has made the necessary steps to propel them forward — ensure realistic expectations.

To shorten this process in the future, a company may seek process discovery tools such as automation — or automated business process discovery (ABPD). Process mining could provide insights automatically, using data to uncover more chances for optimization, such as locating bottlenecks or outages.

This uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to collect countless data points, which can be compared to industry trends and standards. Implementing technology, such as workflow management systems, could also provide simulations if a company incorporated specific changes — from analyzing ROI for the better or revealing that it’s a massive waste of time, even in the long term.

The steps in a discovery process

Though undergoing a complete analysis of a company’s process can be overwhelming, it also fosters countless exciting moments for the development of an organization. Instead of losing sight of the objective — to improve operations — because of discovering inefficiencies, keep forward momentum. Uncovering ways to decrease costs or increase efficiency are tangible identifiers for future success.

Shannon Flynn

Managing Editor at ReHack


Shannon Flynn is a tech journalist with experience in business technology and consumer IT. She has contributed to sites like International Policy Digest, RobotLab, Finovate and more. Visit ReHack.com for more techie reads by Shannon.


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