Here's why organizations need to use process mining on their journey to digital. Source: Shutterstock

Here’s why organizations need to use process mining on their journey to digital. Source: Shutterstock

What is process mining and how does it help businesses?

TODAY, digital transformation is synonymous with business continuity.

Organizations that neglect to climb the digital maturity curve and accelerate their progress with support for experts and employees are fated to lose out in the medium to long term.

However, this doesn’t mean businesses should simply chase digital projects for the sake of it.

Replacing old processes with new ones is great but businesses must know which processes need an overhaul and the quantum of benefits such a project will create for the company.

Since organizations don’t invest in “process mining”, unfortunately, they seldom have access to data that tells them which processes must be prioritized when it comes to accelerating digital transformation and overall productivity.

Businesses in the APAC seem to be overlooking the idea, and as a result, giving up the benefits such an exercise can accrue to the organization’s overall digital transformation strategy.

Process mining — examining to improve

Process mining is simply the collection of data or logs on how a process was carried out or performed.

Although it starts to sound a lot like big data analytics, it just involves understanding what an organization does in each process, mapping how they’re carried out, how many steps are involved, how long they take, and so on.

Demonstrating process mining on a piece of paper is quite simple.

However, when you factor in the complexities of modern-day business, a mix of paper and digital tasks making up processes, and take stock of the fact that companies often don’t follow the actual flow at some stage — the challenges to process mining start to become apparent.

Step by step: A started guide to process mining

Understanding process mining is easy for companies that understand why it’s being done, how it’ll help them, and how it fits into their overall digital transformation agenda.

In order to help companies get started, here are three key steps that companies need to take:

# 1 | Prepare to gather data

Processes aren’t always digital. True, they often have a digital audit trail but tracking how things actually progress, and making sure that all bottlenecks are captured appropriately is quite challenging.

As a result, organizations need to prepare to gather data. Using tools, usually, they need to log each task appropriately, whether it is performed digitally or on paper.

Consider the replenishment of factory spares, for example. The organization needs to ensure they capture data on what is ordered, how the order is triggered, where the order is placed and who it is placed with, how long it takes to be delivered, and the inward processes with regards to storage.

# 2 | Review what ideal and actual process flows look like

In the world of process mining, professionals understand that there are always deviations from an ideal process flow.

Hence, they concern themselves with thoroughly understanding the actual process flow to capture every single deviation effectively.

It is only when they’re able to map the exact actual process flow that they’re able to understand the full implications of it on the business, and therefore, assess its impact on things that rely on the process but aren’t exactly involved in it.

# 3 | Hone in on regular deviations accepted as standard

An important part of process mining, especially when performed with a view to better focus digital transformation projects, is making an effort to understand regular deviations accepted as standard.

Take invoicing, for example. Many organizations use notes and memos created during the sales process to offering special considerations when an invoice has to be drawn up.

That process neither standard nor ideal but is definitely accepted across the board.

When this is identified and highlighted, it might be easy to digitize the process with more standardized forms (with plenty of flexibility) so that it accommodates the special considerations but also makes invoicing quick and painless.