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Getting a Microscopic View of Your Business – The How and Why

Process Mining, Robotic Process Automation, Business Process Management

In our daily lives, we’re all faced with situations in which we don’t have enough information to make a logical decision. In other situations, we may have all the information, but our brains cannot process it, since it hasn’t been presented in a particular way. This problem can occur for really small situations such as completing a grocery list based on a recipe or larger ones like navigating through an unfamiliar city.

Trying to make management-related decisions while running a business is somewhat similar. Needless to say, the processes in a business are way more complex than going to the grocery store and buying a couple of items. There are multiple people, departments, processes, collaborations, and styles involved in managing a business. To top it all, the responsibility of making the correct decisions for the business’ growth and prosperity adds an additional layer of difficulty. Add to it a lack of information, complexity of situations and the need to have unique solutions, and you find yourself in a rather intricate maze.

Business process management is often like looking at the map of a country while trying to find your way in a city. Having an eagle-eye view of the business and its operations is rarely enough to make complex operational decisions. Business managers need to breakdown every action down to its nitty-gritty, using a microscope of sorts.

Put on your lab coats, grab the microscope.

Process Mining has been deemed the modern solution to Business Process Management (BPM) issues. While business managers can’t physically keep track of the wide range of processes being conducted or each of their details, software solutions that aid them in doing so have become increasingly common. Process Mining is one such enterprise solution.

Put very simply, process mining software digitally logs all of the events (isolated actions) happening on a daily basis to create a data-based process map, usually depicted pictorially. These depictions are factually accurate since there are no managers supervising employees. Employees are not consciously altering their behavior to follow protocols and the logs capture naturally occurring actions and events.

The process maps that are created as a result of this surveillance can be extremely detailed. Essentially, one could zoom in to identify a single task performed by a specific employee at a specific time. Having this microscopic view of business processes enables detailed knowledge which in turn improves business intelligence and decision making. While this kind of extreme focus on isolated events is not the norm, it can be done. Process maps automatically discover and categorize processes, and simultaneously highlight bottlenecks, redundancies, and areas of weak performance.

Enterprises that use process mining have also commented on the time-saving aspect. Normally, it would take process managers several days, or even months to chart a process or data map. This often meant that more time went into observation than optimization. Process mining solutions on the other hand, can log a larger number of events, locate patterns and relationships, and formulate process maps in a fraction of that time.

This characteristic also makes them a continuous solution. If the event logging is happening much quicker than normal, more assessments can be made in a shorter period of time.

What this means is – while traditionally, evaluation of the workflow took 6-8 months, process mining makes it possible in 1 month. Therefore, with a process mining solution in place, the workflow can be evaluated, redesigned, and revaluated at least twice in a span of 6 months.

Why is this evaluation necessary?

Apart from being a BPM solution, process mining has become an essential tool for companies setting out to automate processes. With Intelligent Process Automation, one of the most basic rules is – automation doesn’t just happen, it has to be carefully planned. Some of the prerequisites to automation are –

  • Data Acquisition
  • Process Discovery
  • Process Mapping
  • Opportunity Identification

All of these steps are components of process mining. Therefore, process mining forms the base of most automation efforts. In order to be able to automate a process, companies need to know exactly what processes there are, which processes have potential of automation, and also which processes can be eliminated completely. Detailed information related to data and process journeys also provides insight towards optimization opportunities.

More advanced process mining tools depict process maps in extremely descriptive forms, with colors and figures used to depict different aspects of process management. Related specifically to process automation, some tools use color gradients to show processes with highest to lowest automation possibility. Other tools use line diagrams, flowcharts, process pyramids or even tabular representation to provide the information managers need in an easy-to-understand fashion.
Additionally, in order to automate a process, RPA engineers need to know what exactly the process is. Bots generally do exactly what they are told to do, hence, what information is programmed needs to be accurate. Process mining creates a step-by-step guide that can be used to create the command set and triggers for the digital workforce.

An example of a process heat map. Source of image – Jolt Advantage Group [Webinar] Streamline RPA With Process Discovery & Optimization (joltag.com)

Source of Image – Jolt Advantage Group [Webinar] Process Mining: Design Your Robots With Scientific Precision So They Are Right The First Time (joltag.com)

Characters that Process Mining can highlight that are indicative of RPA opportunity –
  • Manual, non-skilled, repetitive tasks
  • Stable and rule-based tasks
  • Tasks have little variations or exceptions
  • Tasks that have data-centric input
  • High-volume tasks
Final Thoughts 

Process Mining presents a detailed view of a business and provides significant contribution to digital transformation and automation efforts. It is the crutch that enterprises can use to support themselves while learning how to automate. It provides valuable information that makes the initial milestones of automation more achievable.

Intelligent Process Discovery
, which is the next trend in the Process Mining space, is bound to make automation even simpler and effective with capabilities like AI-enabled decision-making and real-time process logging.