The most common automation challenge across industries is knowing where to start – and how to scale. Enter process mining: the concept that fuels transformation initiatives, providing enterprises with essential insights to identify, monitor and improve business processes.
This article zooms in on process mining and why it’s the secret weapon for companies looking to launch or accelerate their automation program.
What is Process Mining?
Our recently published eBook; The Process Mining Bible defines process mining as a set of techniques to capture, understand and monitor business processes. On a more practical level, process mining is a technology that learns and visualizes how employees interact with different applications by analyzing the event logs of IT systems. Its capabilities include identifying and recognizing patterns and trends by capturing the detail of how a process is executed by each user. It’s important to understand that for a process to qualify for mining, it should already be digitized.
Why is Process Mining a Hot Topic In Business Right Now?
At heart, process mining drives deep analysis and insights of digital operations. It visualizes a road to achieve automation excellence and ultimately, drives business performance.
By mapping digital footprints and pathways, process mining reveals the active steps of a given process. The derived data makes it possible to transform complex processes into easy-to-absorb visualizations, providing the foundation to optimize operations — companywide.
Process mining provides many benefits, such as discovering pain points, streamlining efficiencies, and cutting operational costs. But perhaps the biggest value of process mining is its enhancement of RPA and other Intelligent Automation technologies.
In this short clip, Coenraad van der Poel, SVP of Emerging Products at UiPath sums up the value of process mining.
Why the urgency?
Automation has moved past its initial ‘staging’ to become an essential pillar of digital operations. As enterprises are adopting more attended robots, their pipeline continuously increases. With that, they need to target and prioritize better. Subject matter experts from UiPath describe process mining as the true ‘door opener’ to RPA, fuelling automation strategies across four key fields:
Richard Mitchell, Chief Technology Officer at SYKES Digital Services, explains the connection between RPA and process mining, and why it’s taking center stage in digital transformation.
Accurately targeting areas of higher impact
A typical barrier to the success of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is not choosing the right processes to automate. Without the right insights, businesses will struggle to understand what they should be automating and why.
Many start their journey without understanding where the technology is needed the most, where the scaling opportunities lie, or how the solution will achieve significant ROI. ‘Not knowing’ is the cause and effect of automation programs being implemented with limited results.
By accurately capturing user interactions, process mining reveals essential metrics such as throughput time and costs of a process, enabling businesses to rigorously target areas of greater impact.
Besides, process mining offers a zoomed-out view that makes it easier to pinpoint high-value or problematic areas, enabling businesses with greater awareness of where and why automation is needed. By leveraging a magnified map from the outset, scaling opportunities will be much more evident.
Reinforcing operational transparency
With increasingly virtualized operations, processes have become less visible, buried between layers of distributed operational change. This has made it difficult for executives and managers to have a clear operational overview.
Process mining overcomes this challenge by injecting transparency into the work that’s done, revealing all process variants and thereby uncovering bottlenecks, rework, delays, cost drivers, and other inefficiencies. It also helps by visualizing a given process in real-time and in turn, exposing inefficiencies and cost-drivers instantly.
Moreover, the transparency enforced by process mining often reveals operational hurdles spanning across departments. These roadblocks would otherwise be left undiscovered, and typically, box your RPA program to one department. By identifying barriers beyond departments, process mining opens doors to further process optimization (e.g. standardization, process re-design, robotics, simplification).
‘Diagnosing’ existing process and the ‘treatment’ to follow
Rudolf Kuhn, Cofounder of Process Gold; VP, Head Ambassador of process mining at UiPath compares process mining to an X-ray – a tool used to pinpoint the exact location and damage scope of a broken bone. Process Mining functions as a digital X-ray, used to assess the ‘as is’ process and from there, assign the ‘treatment’ (RPA) to achieve process excellence. Once you understand the core of a problem and why it’s occurring, it’s much easier to find a solution.
In this short clip, Kuhn explains why process mining is the X-ray to show you where operational problems exists and where they come from.
It’s important to recognize that some processes, in their current state, are not fit for automation. While some can become eligible with minor adaptations, others must be completely re-engineered or optimized in other ways. Process mining can break-down automation eligibility for each step of the process, creating a much more definitive business case and efficient process targeting.
With a similar approach taken to analyze the event logs of users, process mining can be used to understand RPA logs and analyze a robot’s performance. It can provide key insights as one compares a manual As-Is process with the results of the ‘To-Be’ automated version.
Taking biased opinions out of your automation journey
Making accurate decisions is essential to build and continuously evolve your automation journey, but this is easier said than done due to the complex nature of and the number of people involved in an automation program.
By providing the boardroom with one source of truth, process mining streamlines decision making and ensures the right action is taken throughout a program, defining current and predictive outcomes based on a robust set of data rather than biased opinions. In the end, this helps give way to prioritizing the right activities throughout the automation journey.
Process mining is the ultimate compass to your automation program, allowing for continuous monitoring and understanding, and driving deep insights to always point the needle in the right direction.