Nadeem Malik, Head of UK and Ireland at Software AG, on the transparency that process mining can bring to corporate management
Process mining can help companies cope better with change.
There is a growing – and well-established – evangelism for operational excellence. Much like Team Sky of cycling and its now famous “marginal gains” approach, small improvements to key processes can have big business benefits. Business intelligence has evolved over the past decade, helping companies of all shapes and sizes refine the way they operate using actionable data and insights.
However, there is an important next step that can put this insight into context. Process mining is the investigative side of corporate transformation that enables companies to analyze processes and uncover inefficiencies and their causes. We use process mining to discover and visualize the type and impact of processes, be it digital or physical – from stocking supermarket shelves to online management of insurance claims.
Significantly, business process management (BPM) providers are recognizing the benefits of process mining for their users and are integrating these capabilities into their platforms. In many cases, this represents the best of both worlds: Companies can use the transparency and insights that process mining offers to optimize process automation.
What does the problem seem to be?
What success looks like varies from company to company, but the basics of process mining are always the same. We cannot improve a process if we do not understand it. With full transparency of the process reality, the effectiveness of the process implementation can be assessed – is a process working or not?
Process mining solutions can identify process variants and deviations through a conformity test that compares the “future” process design with the actual “actual execution”. Once these variants have been identified, process mining tools can analyze their impact on the KPIs. This includes benchmarking everything from cycle time to the number of manual cycles or interventions that need to be performed.
From there, process mining can dig deeper into the causes of this type of behavior. Only then can measures be taken to counteract this. On the basis of the knowledge gained, you can identify a so-called “happy path” in process flows and take measures to establish it as a new standard. In this way, the variants with their negative effects for the future can be cut out of the process execution. This has enormous advantages, because according to the Pareto principle, 20% of the causes lead to 80% of the consequences; when variants that cause problems are removed, their influence is also disproportionately noticeable.
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See the bigger picture
Pure-Play Process Mining is a powerful tool when used in isolation by an analytics or IT team, but it can be even more effective when embedded in a company’s broader approach to process management. In this way, process mining is integrated into the way companies coordinate people, information, systems and other aspects of operations, inform these structures and unlock benefits that cannot be achieved in a stand-alone scenario. By looking at the big picture, organizations can improve accessibility, performance, and compliance.
Simplicity is a big advantage of an integrated approach to processes. In part, this is simply the case that you have everything in one place – no more jumping between windows to view Process Mining and the process itself. A single platform means less complexity for IT departments as well as business end users and process owners. Teams who may not have used this toolset before can take quick snapshots of processes, document results quickly, and even push the base model to the process mining engine for efficient compliance checking.
This integration also has an impact on performance. BPM platforms already offer impressive process automation that can be optimized over time with analyzes from process mining. The impact on ROI can be significant by reducing lead times and costs associated with core processes.
Compliance is the last area where companies will benefit from this approach. Here, too, process automation is at the heart of better risk and compliance solutions. In an area where set rules and standards are everything, developing consistent, automated processes can ensure compliance and reduce the risk of human error. This is where process mining plays a key role in identifying variants that may deviate from standards and showing ways to address them directly.
A connected approach is the way forward
As more and more companies recognize the need for digital transformation, process mining should not be overlooked – it should even become a central part of change management. Not only is it an important tool for IT departments and analytics teams, but it can also be used to inform process management across the company. Whether a company wants to simplify the management and analysis of its processes, improve ROI or ensure compliance, process mining can be the answer.