What is Process Mining?
How efficiently is your accounts payable process performing? Why is your supply chain having difficulty delivering to customers on time? Are we actually following the global standard processes that were designed? In the past, getting answers to process-related questions like these was often time consuming and frustrating. Typically, you would find the process experts and get their opinion on the matter, but you often end up with as many different answers as experts. Checking these opinions against the facts was either tedious or downright impossible as there was no succinct way to get an objective view of how the process was actually working.
Process Mining extracts information about your process from the log files in your systems and reveals what is really happening on a massive scale. Process mining exposes in what order your process steps take place, how long it takes between steps, who performs the steps and the business context surrounding those activities. Think of process mining as a video replay of your process, but rather than looking up the activities for a single case (e.g. a sales order) you can simultaneously explore the different paths that all of your cases took through the process. Process Mining transforms the entire experience of process discovery and transformation from one of opinion and guesswork to an empirically supported science.
Enter the Process Excellence Flywheel
Having an objective view of your process is the first step to entering into a cycle of continuous process improvement, but to keep the cycle moving you need to establish a solid framework for translating that insight into business value. Using process mining as a map, you can embark on the journey of Process Excellence.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.” – Will Durant summarizing Aristotle
Indeed, much like a habit of personal self-improvement, process improvement is something that needs to be infused into your organization’s every-day operations. The real work comes in identifying, analyzing, changing and controlling the process improvement opportunities which are revealed by process mining. In our experience, the most successful process excellence initiatives enter a rhythm of continuous improvement that we call the “Process Excellence Flywheel”.
In the “Connect” phase, you connect your process mining tool of choice to your systems and get the first look at what your process is doing. Once connected to process mining, the “Discover” phase takes place in which you identify process challenges such as throughput bottlenecks, deviations from the expected process, repetitive steps, etc. that are revealed through the process mining analyses. In the “Plan” phase, these challenges are analyzed more thoroughly, and an empirical business value assessment is made for each improvement opportunity. These value assessments then enable you to prioritize which opportunities to tackle first. In the “Enhance” phase the identified opportunities are actioned, and the process improvements are made. After enhancing the process, you can “Monitor” the actual impacts the improvements have had on your process. Finally, “Refining” the process mining model will enable you to dig deeper into your process and start the process excellence flywheel on another cycle. In future blog posts, we will dive deeper into each of these specific phases and explain exactly how to implement the Process Excellence Flywheel in your organization.