Process Mining Comes to the Surface

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Businesses need real-time insights to help executives understand and improve the execution of a complex web of processes.

Businesses are flying blind, a recent survey reveals. With the rise of digital channels and intelligent networks, many of their key processes on which they depend for delivery of services and products are simply out of sight. Visibility is hindered by the complexity of multiple systems and processes. Sixteen percent of businesses say they have complete visibility into their processes. And only a handful, seven percent, report complete, real-time process visibility. This is driving a need for process mining.

The findings stem from a Forrester Consulting survey of 800 executives commissioned by Celonis. Process data can be buried under the complexity of today’s IT operations, with precious little visibility to understand where bottlenecks or other issues are arising. For example, the survey shows, 71% of businesses use ten or more applications to execute a single process, and 72% still use manual methods that limit process visibility.

Organizations have historically struggled to develop, document and track processes, but on top of this, companies now wrestle with challenges such as inflation, supply chain disruptions and hybrid system environments, making process visibility even more critical now. Only 56% of decision-makers feel they’re able to incorporate all systems involved into their department’s processes to create an end-to-end view of those processes. Almost half of the survey participants, 44%, said they are spending more due to lack of process insights.

Real-time process visibility via process mining is a necessity in today’s disruptive economy. “Imagine if Uber took more than a day to process requests,” the study’s authors suggest. Yet, 53% of businesses report using process visibility data that is more than one day old. Only 12% of businesses report using process visibility data that is greater than one minute but less than 10 minutes old.

Needed are greater real-time insights to help executives understand and improve the execution of a complex web of processes. These include supply chain and customer service processes that function across a vast range of systems, such as ERP, supply chain management, and IT service management. The findings also show a range of business issues that are created when companies lack insights into how their processes are executing including increased cost, decreased efficiency, missed new business opportunities, lower productivity, high employee turnover rates, missed KPIs, loss of revenue, lower customer and employee satisfaction as well as loss of strategic vision.

See also: Balancing the Utility of Process Mining and Privacy Rights

The survey’s authors offer the following suggestions:

Identify processes to track and baseline before assessing which to improve, or automate. “Understand, reengineer, and automate processes” — in this order.

Invest in process skills. “Emphasize an end-to-end process mindset – not functions.”

Combine process mining with task mining. “This provides the full picture of process weak points and employee pain points from the applications they’re using along a process.”

Emphasize cross-system discovery. “Processes covered by a single system (such as ERP, SCM or CRM) tend to benefit less from process mining than those that span a multitude of systems.”

Throwing more automation at complex processes tends to lead to disappointing results. It’s important to identify process inefficiencies and gather real time understandings of their inner workings at scale, the survey’s authors emphasize.

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About Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is RTInsights Industry Editor. He is a regular contributor to Forbes on digital, cloud and Big Data topics. He served on the organizing committee for the recent IEEE International Conference on Edge Computing (full bio). Follow him on Twitter @joemckendrick.

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