What is Process Mining and Why It’s Important in Business

Attributable author: Lari Numminen, Chief Marketing Officer, Workfellow. 

As business leaders look to optimize their operations, they often face challenges related to process inefficiencies and bottlenecks. To overcome these challenges, they need to understand how their processes work and identify how they can improve operational efficiency.

One way to achieve these goals is through process mining, a relatively new technique that helps business analysts visualize and analyze their processes in order to gain insights that drive continuous process improvements.

What is Process Mining?

You can think of process mining as the use of data mining techniques in business process management with the goal to discover, monitor, and improve real-world business processes. 

More technically process mining is a data science methodology that extracts process data from event logs in enterprise resource systems such as the customer relationship management system (CRM) or enterprise resource planning platform (ERP). 

How exactly does process mining work?

Process mining uses data mining algorithms and advanced statistical models to analyze event logs and visualize tasks and process flows, enabling business analysts to identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and other process-related challenges. This helps businesses to identify opportunities for improvement, optimize their processes, and make data-driven decisions.

Process mining involves three main steps:

Data extraction: Collecting data from various sources, such as enterprise databases, systems, and business applications.

Data cleaning and harmonizing: Transforming data into a format that can be analyzed by process mining tools.

Data analysis: Using process mining algorithms and models to analyze the data and visualize the process flows.

Process mining tools use various techniques to analyze the data, such as process discovery, conformance checking, and performance analysis. These techniques help businesses to identify process variations, monitor compliance, and measure process performance.

Why is process mining important in business?

Today, process mining is an important aspect of business process management as it solves the need for automated and accurate process intelligence. 

Process mining helps business leaders to:

  • Optimize processes: By identifying inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and other process-related issues, businesses can optimize their processes and improve their overall efficiency.
  • Cut costs: By identifying areas for improvement in tasks and processes, businesses can reduce costs associated with process inefficiencies.
  • Improve customer satisfaction: By improving processes, businesses can improve the customer experience and improve customer satisfaction.
  • Enhance compliance: By monitoring processes, businesses can ensure compliance with regulations and standards.
  • Improve decision-making: By providing insights into processes, process mining helps businesses to make data-driven decisions and achieve their goals.

Benefits of process mining

Businesses most often utilize process mining to gain a competitive advantage in operational efficiency. 

The benefits of process mining include:

  1. Improved efficiency: By identifying inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and other process-related issues, businesses can optimize their processes and improve their overall efficiency.
  2. Lower costs: By identifying areas for improvement, businesses can reduce costs associated with process inefficiencies and reduce wasted work.
  3. Enhanced compliance: By monitoring processes, businesses can ensure process compliance and conformance.
  4. Increased productivity: By optimizing processes, businesses can improve their productivity and achieve their goals more efficiently.
  5. Better decisions: By providing insights into processes, process mining helps businesses to make data-driven decisions.

Process Mining: Build or Buy?

As organizations increasingly recognize the value of process mining, the question arises: should you build your own process mining solution or buy a ready-made one.

Here are the key considerations for building or buying a process mining solution.

1. Budget and Resources

Building a process mining solution in-house may require a significant investment in software development, data integration, and ongoing maintenance. On the other hand, buying a ready-made solution can be more cost-effective, especially for smaller organizations with limited resources.

2. Technical Expertise

Building a process mining solution requires a deep understanding of both your organization’s IT systems and the process mining domain. If your team lacks the necessary expertise, buying a solution may be the best option. 

3. Customization and Flexibility

One advantage of building a process mining solution in-house is the ability to customize the tool to your organization’s specific needs. However, this configration can come at a cost in terms of development time and resources. 

4. Scalability

As your needs grow, your process mining solution must be able to scale to handle increasing volumes of data and users. When building a solution in-house, consider whether your team has the expertise and resources to ensure scalability across the full business organization. 

5. Support and Maintenance

Ongoing support and maintenance are critical to the success of any process mining initiative. When building a solution in-house, consider the long-term commitment of resources required for updates, bug fixes, and user support. 

6. Time to Value

The faster you can implement a process mining solution, the sooner you can begin realizing its benefits. Building a solution in-house may take longer than buying a ready-made tool, especially if your team lacks experience in process mining. 

In summary, process mining solutions can be developed by an in-house team but increasingly businesses are opting for dedicated process mining solutions developed by expert vendors.

How to choose the right process mining software for your business

Today there are over 35 process mining software vendors available worldwide servicing different types of industries and business types.

How can you pick the right one? Here is a short checklist.

1. Identify your business objectives and requirements

Before you start evaluating process mining tools, it’s essential to define your business objectives and specific requirements. Consider factors such as the processes you want to analyze, the level of data analysis required, and the expected outcomes. This will help you identify the features and capabilities that are most important to your organization.

2. Evaluate the software’s features and capabilities

When comparing process mining solutions, look for the following features and capabilities:

  • Data extraction and integration: The software should support seamless extraction and integration of data from a wide range of systems, such as ERP, CRM, and workflow management systems.
  • Process discovery: The tool should automatically identify and visualize your processes, including variations and exceptions.
  • Process analysis: The software should provide in-depth analysis capabilities, including performance metrics, root cause analysis, and bottleneck identification.
  • Simulation and optimization: Look for a tool that allows you to simulate and optimize process changes before implementing them in the real world.
  • Reporting and dashboarding: A user-friendly dashboard with customizable reports is essential for communicating insights and driving data-driven decision-making.
  • User experience: The software should be easy to use, with an intuitive interface and clear visualizations.

3. Assess scalability and performance

As your organization grows and your process mining needs evolve, your software must be able to scale accordingly. Evaluate the tool’s ability to handle increasing data volumes and user numbers without compromising performance.

4. Consider customization and flexibility

Your process mining software should be flexible enough to adapt to your organization’s unique requirements. Look for a solution that allows for easy customization, including the ability to add new data sources, modify existing process models, and create custom reports.

5. Investigate the vendor’s support and maintenance offerings

Robust support and maintenance are critical to the success of any software implementation. When evaluating process mining vendors, consider factors such as their response time, availability of support resources, and commitment to software updates and improvements.

6. Analyze total cost of ownership

In addition to the initial purchase price, consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the process mining solution. TCO includes factors such as software licensing fees, implementation costs, support and maintenance expenses, and the cost of training and onboarding users.

Bottom line

Process mining is one of the most active areas of enterprise software development because it helps competitive businesses maintain operational excellence.

You can build a process mining solution yourself but more commonly businesses are taking advantage of dedicated process mining software.

To choose the right software solution, start by evaluating your expected benefits and goals – and remember to evaluate different types of vendors based on your needs.

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