Due to the increasingly digital environment of the modern workplace, there is more and more data available from systems that business processes interact with. By adopting process mining – the use of event log data to construct process models and views and derive insights about a given business process – organisations can extract value from this data. Experts from First Consulting reflect on the value process mining can bring, and on the benefits of using ProcessGold’s tool.
Most systems and applications used by modern business process contain logs of the transactions or activities that their users have performed. Because of this, business processes leave behind a digital footprint of their activity, often with timestamps against each operation and a case ID. Process mining software can extract this information and use it to construct a detailed diagram of a given process. Some technologies, such as ProcessGold, also function as business information software and are able to display a variety of views of the process data.
Why deploy process mining?
A process model built in a process mining application is a fact-based view of what activities are occurring in the process in what order, in what volume and at what times, rather than a subjective view of the process. Formal process documentation usually comes in one of two forms. The first is an idealised, prescriptive view of the process based on what the authors would like it to be, which may not be adhered to in reality and may not cover all of possible variations. It is also difficult to know to what extent the real process matches this documentation.
The second is a view constructed from conversations with individuals who work the process, but these individuals do not have a full view of the end-to-end process or of cases other than the ones that they themselves work. While these views are useful and valuable for both operational purposes and continuous improvement efforts, neither is based on the facts of what actually happens in the process itself. A process model by ProcessGold on the other hand, can identify all the variant cases and deviations from the prescribed norm that are available in its data set.
How to make use of process mining?
By itself, process mining does not solve issues within business processes – organisations still need to make the necessary process changes themselves. What it does do is provide a tool for gaining unprecedented visibility of process issues that can be used to drive continuous improvement. First Consulting advises clients to start with a problem process and then generate hypotheses regarding the potential issues. It is important that this is achieved by involving operational employees and other stakeholders and working closely with them throughout. A process mining model in ProcessGold can then be customised and adjusted to display the data that effectively tests those hypotheses and displays information through client and process specific dashboards.
For example, it could be hypothesised that breach of service level agreements (SLA) in a given process is due to continual rework of cases as a result of unchecked errors. Through analysis of the process model it is possible to see how much rework is occurring within the process, and how many case IDs have come through the process more than once. Further, a dashboard view of how many cases breached SLA on a daily, weekly or monthly basis could be provided, for the monitoring of the process going forward.
Process mining technologies like ProcessGold can work with a one-off cut of data, or with a real-time connection to a database, set to an appropriate update cycle (e.g. daily or weekly). The latter option allows users to view the changes made to a process as they take effect, with dashboards automatically updating to reflect the new data. This information can then be used to formulate fresh hypotheses and drive further continuous improvement. Like most business intelligence tools, dashboard metrics are wholly customisable and can be restricted to the appropriate users or user groups for ongoing monitoring of selected processes.
First Consulting has a track record of successfully supporting clients across multiple industries who are getting started with process mining. The advised approach for most clients is to begin with an initial proof of concept before scaling usage across the business. Proof of concept processes should be selected based on (a) having a real business problem to solve and (b) the availability of data for use with the process mining software. A hypothesis-led approach is also critical for correctly targeting the technology and ensuring that it delivers value.
Management consultancy First Consulting recently partnered with software vendor ProcessGold to drive process mining and continuous improvement.