RST Software
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Magdalena Jackiewicz
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Process mining explained

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In today's fast-paced business landscape, the quest for operational excellence seems never-ending. Amidst the intricate web of organizational processes, there lies a promise - a promise to unlock the key to optimizing workflows and enhancing efficiency. This promise comes in the form of a technology known as process mining, a novel approach that offers a comprehensive view of your organizational workflows.

In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at process mining, examining its intricacies and exploring the transformative potential it holds. So, join us as we dive into the world of process mining and discover how it can benefit your business.

What is process mining?

Process mining is the art and science of extracting valuable insights from the complex maze of business processes. It serves as the X-ray for organizations, revealing the bones that make up their operational anatomy. Applying business process mining allows you to not only zoom in on individual mechanisms but also connect the dots within, creating a comprehensive map of how these processes interplay.

So, how does process mining work? To break it down further, it involves the analysis of event data to understand and visualize the end-to-end processes within an organization. This information, often generated by IT systems during routine business operations, becomes the raw material for the process mining journey. The approach employs specialized algorithms to sift through this data, identifying patterns, deviations, and bottlenecks that may otherwise remain concealed.

The point of it all is the desire to answer fundamental questions such as: How do processes truly unfold in our organization? What are the key touchpoints, decision nodes, and handoffs? Where do inefficiencies lurk, causing delays and impacting overall performance?

Think of process mining as a detective attempting to reconstruct the sequence of events within your organization. It goes beyond theoretical models and assumptions, providing a real-time, data-driven snapshot of how work gets done. By leveraging this methodology, businesses gain a holistic understanding of their operations, enabling informed decision-making and targeted improvements.

Process mining is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It adapts to the unique fingerprint of each organization. Regardless of whether you're in the realm of finance, healthcare, manufacturing, or any other industry, the principles of process mining remain universal. It's the compass guiding businesses towards efficiency, transparency, and, ultimately, excellence in their operational endeavors.

Process mining vs. data mining vs. business process management

Among the many modern business methodologies, terms like process mining, data mining, and business process management are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion about their actual roles and contributions. Let's clear things up and discuss the unique attributes that define each of them.

Source.

Process mining

Process mining is a specific subset of data mining that focuses on extracting insights from event data related to business processes. While data mining encompasses a broader spectrum of techniques aimed at discovering patterns in large datasets, business process mining hones in on the sequences of events that constitute the entirety of a process from start to finish. It aims to understand the 'how' of operations, visualizing workflows, and identifying areas for improvement by analyzing the actual execution of processes.

Data mining

Data mining, on the other hand, is a broader field that involves the exploration and analysis of large datasets to uncover hidden patterns, correlations, and trends. It extends beyond the scope of business processes to include diverse domains, including marketing, finance, and healthcare. Data mining applies various techniques such as statistical analysis, machine learning, and pattern recognition to extract valuable knowledge from raw data. Unlike process mining, which zooms in on the specifics of workflows, data mining seeks to unveil overarching insights applicable across diverse contexts.

Business process management

BPM, while related, takes a distinct approach. It's a holistic management discipline that involves designing, modeling, executing, monitoring, and optimizing business processes. BPM focuses on the entire lifecycle of processes, from their conceptualization to ongoing refinement. It's the orchestration of people, mechanisms, and technology to achieve organizational goals efficiently. While process mining provides a lens into the actual execution of processes, BPM is about their systematic and strategic control.

All in all, process mining, data mining, and BPM are complementary rather than conflicting concepts. Process mining offers a granular view of how things work, data mining uncovers broader insights from diverse datasets, and BPM provides the strategic framework for managing and optimizing these processes. Together, they form a powerful trio, allowing organizations to find their way in the modern business environment and drive continuous improvement.

Types of process mining

Process mining techniques come in various shapes, each zooming in on different facets of business processes. Each type serves a unique purpose, offering a specialized lens through which organizations can gain insights, optimize operations, and achieve continuous improvement. Together, they form a comprehensive toolkit, empowering businesses to better understand their processes and take them to new levels of efficiency.

Discovery

Purpose: Uncovering the actual process.

How it works: It analyzes event logs to create a visual representation of the as-is process. It's like a journey into the unknown, revealing the true paths and deviations in processes as they naturally occur.

Conformance

Purpose: Aligning theory with reality.

How it works: It compares the discovered process with the predefined model to identify variations. It's the Sherlock Holmes of process mining, detecting where reality diverges from the planned ideal and pinpointing areas for improvement.

Enhancement

Purpose: Boosting process efficiency.

How it works: It goes beyond discovery and conformance to suggest optimizations. It's the advisor, offering insights into how processes can be streamlined, bottlenecks removed, and overall efficiency enhanced.

Operational support

Purpose: Real-time guidance.

How it works: It monitors ongoing processes, providing real-time insights and alerts. It's the co-pilot, ensuring that businesses navigate their operational flights smoothly by offering timely course corrections.

Bottleneck analysis

Purpose: Identifying constraints.

How it works: It focuses specifically on detecting and mitigating bottlenecks within processes. It's the traffic controller, preventing congestion and ensuring a smooth flow of operations.

Compliance

Purpose: Ensuring regulatory adherence.

How it works: It examines processes to ensure compliance with regulatory standards. It's the legal advisor, ensuring that every step aligns with the rules and regulations governing the industry.

Variant analysis

Purpose: Understanding process variability.

How it works: It analyzes different process variants to identify commonalities and diversions. It's the storyteller, revealing the multiple narratives that processes can take.

Social network analysis

Purpose: Exploring interactions.

How it works: It investigates the social aspects of processes, analyzing interactions between users or departments. It's the sociologist, deciphering the social fabric that influences how work gets done.

How process mining works

Now that we've discussed the various types of process mining, let's have a look at the mechanics of this transformative technology. In short, process mining is piecing together the puzzle of business processes via a systematic analysis of event data. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you understand its workings.

Step 1: Data collection

Source: Event logs generated by IT systems during routine business operations.

What's mined: Every action, decision, or transition within a process captured in these logs.

Step 2. Preprocessing

Refining raw data: Cleaning and filtering the data to remove noise and irrelevant information.

Structured format: Transforming the raw event data into a structured format suitable for analysis.

Step 3. Discovery

Unveiling the unknown: Utilizing specialized algorithms to analyze event logs and create a visual representation of the actual process.

Visual maps: Generating process maps that showcase the true flow of activities, decisions, and handoffs.

Step 4. Conformance checking

Reality vs. model: Comparing the discovered process with predefined models to identify variations.

Deviation detection: Highlighting where the actual process diverges from the expected or planned model.

Step 5. Enhancement

Optimization suggestions: Going beyond discovery and conformance to propose improvements.

Efficiency boost: Offering insights into how processes can be streamlined, bottlenecks removed, and overall efficiency enhanced.

Step 6. Operational support

Real-time insights: Monitoring ongoing processes to provide real-time guidance and alerts.

Proactive correction: Offering timely interventions to ensure smooth operations as they unfold.

Step 7. Bottleneck analysis

Identifying constraints: Focusing on detecting and mitigating bottlenecks within processes.

Flow optimization: Ensuring a continuous and optimized flow of activities without hindrances.

Step 8. Compliance assurance

Meeting standards: Scrutinizing processes to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.

Rule adherence: Providing a thorough check to ensure that every step aligns with industry rules and regulations.

Step 9. Variant analysis

Understanding diversity: Analyzing different process variants to identify commonalities and diversions.

Narrative unveiling: Revealing the multitude of paths that processes can take based on various factors.

Step 10. Social network analysis

Exploring interactions: Investigating the social aspects of processes by analyzing interactions between users or departments.

Collaboration insight: Deciphering the dynamics of collaboration and communication within the organizational framework.

Process mining benefits

Process mining yields a number of advantages for organizations striving to embrace a culture of continuous improvement. Here's a number of ways it can benefit your business.

Operational transparency

Process mining offers a panoramic view of how operations unfold in real-time, providing stakeholders with a transparent look into their organizational workflows. This clarity extends beyond visibility, offering a holistic understanding of each step, decision, and interaction within the grander scheme.

Efficiency amplification

Detailed process mining analysis serves to pinpoint bottlenecks, redundancies, and delays that impede operational efficiency. Armed with these insights, organizations can undertake an optimization journey, streamlining processes, removing obstacles, and finely tuning workflows for peak performance.

Data-driven decision-making

Process mining turns raw event data into actionable insights, providing decision-makers with a data-driven compass. In a world inundated with information, organizations equipped with process mining capabilities can make informed decisions based on real-time observations, enhancing their ability to proactively respond to challenges and seize opportunities.

Compliance assurance

Functioning as a vigilant guardian, business process mining ensures that organizational processes align with regulatory standards. By flagging deviations and ensuring strict adherence to compliance requirements, organizations can mitigate risks and foster a culture of trust and integrity.

Continuous improvement culture

Process mining acts as a dynamic feedback loop, creating conditions for continuous improvement within organizations. By providing ongoing insights into operational performance, organizations can adapt swiftly to changing circumstances, evolve their processes, and stay at the forefront of innovation.

Resource optimization

Understanding the intricacies of processes allows organizations to allocate resources more effectively. By fine-tuning resource utilization, eliminating inefficiencies, and optimizing workflows, organizations can achieve significant cost savings and enhance overall operational efficiency.

Enhanced customer experience

Process mining ensures that customer interactions are as efficient as possible. Insights gained from process mining allow organizations to tailor their services, creating a personalized and delightful customer experience that exceeds expectations.

Strategic alignment

Process mining serves as the bridge between operational workflows and strategic business objectives. By balancing these elements, organizations can measure their performance against predefined goals, ensuring alignment with overarching strategies and driving a sense of purpose throughout the entire ecosystem.

Process mining use cases

The versatility of process mining extends far into a myriad of real-world scenarios. Let's explore several process mining examples in actual business contexts.

Order-to-cash process optimization

In the retail and ecommerce niches, the order-to-cash process is an essential part of operations. Process mining can meticulously map each step in this journey, revealing areas of inefficiency, delays, or bottlenecks. By optimizing this critical mechanism, organizations can streamline transactions, reduce order fulfillment times, and enhance overall customer satisfaction.

Procure-to-pay visibility

Efficient procurement is vital for cost-effective and smooth business operations. Process mining sheds light on the procure-to-pay process, offering insights into the lifecycle of purchasing, from requisition to payment. Organizations can identify opportunities for savings, negotiate better terms with suppliers, and ensure compliance with procurement policies.

Customer journey analysis

Understanding the customer journey is key for businesses across industries. Process mining traces the end-to-end customer experience, uncovering touchpoints, pain points, and opportunities for improvement. By enhancing the customer journey, organizations can build lasting relationships, boost loyalty, and differentiate themselves in competitive markets.

IT service management optimization

Process mining delves into ITSM processes, identifying areas where incidents, requests, or changes may cause delays. By optimizing IT workflows, organizations can enhance service delivery, reduce downtime, and ensure smooth functioning of critical systems.

Compliance monitoring in healthcare

In healthcare, adherence to regulatory standards is an absolute must. Process mining plays a crucial role in monitoring compliance within healthcare processes, ensuring that each step stays in line with industry regulations. By providing a real-time view of compliance status, organizations can mitigate risks, enhance patient safety, and maintain the highest standards of care.

Employee onboarding streamlining

The onboarding process sets the tone for an employee's journey within an organization. Process mining can dissect this workflow, identifying areas where delays or confusion may occur. By optimizing this process, organizations can create a positive first impression, enhance employee satisfaction, and accelerate time-to-productivity.

Fraud detection and prevention

Financial processes are susceptible to fraudulent activities, and identifying anomalies is crucial. Process mining analyzes transactional data, flagging deviations from standard processes that may indicate potential fraud. By leveraging these insights, organizations can implement preventive measures, safeguarding financial integrity and reputation.

Logistics and supply chain optimization

In the complex business of logistics and supply chain management, process mining offers visibility into the movement of goods and materials. Organizations can identify inefficiencies, optimize routes, and enhance overall supply chain performance. This leads to lowering of operational costs and improved responsiveness to market demands.

Human resources process enhancement

HR processes, from recruitment to performance management, benefit from the precision of process mining. Organizations can identify areas for improvement, streamline HR workflows, and ensure that talent management aligns with business objectives. This contributes to a more agile and responsive human resources function.

Compliance in financial institutions

Financial institutions operate in a highly regulated environment, where adherence to compliance standards is of utmost importance. Process mining provides a robust framework for monitoring and ensuring compliance with financial regulations. By continuously analyzing processes, organizations can mitigate risks, avoid regulatory penalties, and maintain the trust of stakeholders.

Best process mining tools

Here's our selection of the leading process mining tools currently available on the market:

Workfellow Process Intelligence

Workfellow pioneers advanced process mining without the need for direct access to enterprise system event logs. Utilizing generative AI event log technology, it extracts insights directly from the user interface. Specializing in uncovering inefficiencies and automation potential, Workfellow offers both process and task mining solutions. Ideal for knowledge-intensive digital work, it caters to sectors like financial operations, insurance, and banking, revealing significant process waste savings.

Celonis Process Mining

Established in 2011, Celonis is a process mining giant with a comprehensive suite, the Execution Management System (EMS). Beyond traditional process mining, EMS incorporates cloud-based real-time data extraction, analysis, task mining, process modeling, and simulation functionality. With over $2.3 billion in funding, Celonis is a global player, especially prevalent in industries reliant on SAP ERP infrastructure, despite being independent of SAP ownership.

UiPath Process Mining

UiPath, a global RPA specialist, acquired ProcessGold Process Mining in 2019, integrating it into its Business Automation Platform. UiPath excels in task and process mining, empowering intelligent automation. The task mining tool uses AI to identify and aggregate employee workflows, while the Process Mining solution optimizes processes. UiPath offers a free Community Edition license, allowing students and developers to explore its capabilities.

IBM Process Mining

A powerhouse in enterprise solutions, IBM ventured into process intelligence with the acquisition of MyInvenio in 2021. IBM Process Mining seamlessly extracts, monitors, and optimizes business processes by tapping into enterprise system data. Alongside process mining, IBM offers an extensive Business Process Management platform and AI-driven robotic process automation, delivering an end-to-end AI-powered business automation platform.

ARIS Process Mining / Software AG

Originating in 2000, ARIS Process Mining, by Software AG, integrates seamlessly with enterprise architecture design. The suite extends beyond process mining to include process modeling, customer journey modeling, task discovery, and RPA functionality. With a legacy of over 10,000 enterprise customers across 70 countries, Software AG's ARIS Process Mining stands as one of the earliest and most comprehensive commercial process mining tools.

Begin your process mining journey with RST Software

Good news is that the journey to streamlined operations and heightened efficiency at your organization is within reach. RST Software is ready to guide you through the implementation of process mining technology, offering expertise adjusted to your unique business needs. Whether you're delving into process discovery, optimization, or compliance assurance, our team is adequately equipped to set your company on a path towards success. Connect with us, and let's utilize the power of process mining for the benefit of your business.

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