Businesses have great difficulty in uncovering the worst bottlenecks. They might have a feeling that something is slowing down productivity, but without evidence, it is hard to support these assumptions. Process mining technology allows companies to dig deeper to find those bottlenecks and boost process performance. As today’s processes become more complicated, and actual processes deviate a lot from the ideal ones, the importance of process mining technology increases.

What is process mining?

Process mining is an analytical discipline to gain a deep understanding of a company’s processes. It reflects the actual performance of the business processes by a layer of software that is integrated to the company’s IT systems. Process mining software packages provide visualizations and other output that give a full picture of any bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or gaps in the company’s processes. As a result, companies can better focus their efforts on further improvement.

Here is Wikipedia’s explanation of process mining:

During process mining, specialized data mining algorithms are applied to event log data to identify trends, patterns, and details contained in event logs recorded by an information system.

How does it work?

Short answer:

Process mining tools discover actual process models out of the raw event logs. By extracting event logs from each case and combining them, these tools show companies how their processes perform in reality.

For the detailed answer, you can find how process mining tools work step by step below:

  • The process mining tools integrate with the related software to collect the event logs from the company’s system.
  • These tools extract the activity sequence for each case from the event logs. In this step, variations between cases will become apparent. These variations occur because of manual changes or errors in the process.
  • After deriving the activity sequence of each case, process mining tools start to “merge” these sequences. As variations occur, the actual process will be more complicated than the planned one. This output also enables the company to understand where its process has deviated.

Why is it called “process mining?”

The name comes from the field of data mining , as the technology operates similarly. Data mining analyzes data and leverages different algorithms or methodologies for a specific task. The differences between data mining and the currently more commonly used term, data science, are quite limited. As you can see in the graph below, data science is becoming more popular as a term though.

Source: Google Trends

Similar to data mining, process mining uses event logs and process-related data to “mine” processes and better understand them. The full understanding of processes includes:

  • Identifying process trends, patterns, and deviations
  • Detailed visualization of actual processes
  • Defining automation opportunities
  • Discovering new ways to increase process efficiency

What are the main capabilities of process mining?

Process mining helps businesses understand their processes better by leveraging data. To achieve that, this technology offers the discovery of actual processes and their deviations, performance levels monitoring, and ways to improve these performance levels.

Process Discovery

Source: UiPath
  • Identifying as-is processes: Understanding actual processes is challenging for processes. Although they might have an idea of how their processes progress, they usually don’t have the full picture. Process mining can visualize as-is processes and help companies understand their situation by leveraging event logs and real-time data.
  • Identifying process deviations: Process discovery enables businesses to discover how their actual processes deviate from the desired ones. With process mining tools, they can find unseen process deviations and how often they occur. In the below image by Celonis, you can see how deviated processes can be.
    Source: Celonis
  • Discovering automation opportunities: Process mining is a useful tool to identify the best processes to automate. For example, companies can accurately decide where to implement RPA solutions, thanks to process mining. This is critical, as almost half of the RPA initiatives fail because they choose the wrong processes to automate or not understand actual processes.

If you are interested, feel free to read our in-depth guide about process discovery.

Conformance Analysis

Source: QPR Software
  • Analyzing the share of non-conformant cases: Businesses prefer standardized processes, but it is challenging to achieve high conformance levels. Process mining allows companies to discover different processes variations and discover how much deviated they are.
  • Identifying their root causes: Process mining can detect why processes differ from the desired one.

Process Validation

Process mining leverages real-time data to provide insights for its users. This enables companies to validate their findings of processes and confirm their current situation. Thus, it is also commonly used for auditing and compliance processes. EY shares that they can achieve 100% coverage of all processes and transactions, thanks to QPR ProcessAnalyzer.

Process Improvement

  • Performance monitoring: Process mining provides a user-friendly interface to track KPI measures for users and help them identify the best/worst performing processes. For example, QPR shares that their process mining solution instantly offers more than 1000 standard KPI measures to reduce the time for building reports. 
  • Identifying process bottlenecks: If some processes don’t work in full potential or deliver low-performance measures, businesses can identify the bottlenecks, thanks to process mining. The elimination of bottlenecks will improve the performance levels of business processes.
  • Suggestions for improvement: Although we expect this feature to be more common in the future when AI is more integrated into process mining, this technology can offer businesses specific recommendations to increase the performance levels.

If you are interested, feel free to read our in-depth guide about process improvement.

Here are our other process mining articles, if you are interested:

If you have questions about which process mining vendor to choose for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us:

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