Process mining: What it is, how to apply it and its benefits
Blog: Auraportal Blog
You have most likely heard of process mining more than once, but you still may have many unanswered questions about what it is and what competitive advantages it can provide a company.
If you want to clarify all these doubts, the following post goes into detail about what process mining is, how to apply it and what its benefits are.
Today, companies carry out their activity in a constantly changing and increasingly complex environment. This is due to a conglomerate of factors such as increased competition, increased globalization, internalization, the speed in the development of information technologies, the increase in the level of uncertainty in the analysis of the organizational environment and the reduction of product life cycles.
All these factors have led to information becoming a cornerstone within organizations, since it enables not only its proper functioning, but also its development and survival in the market.
However, when we talk about the concept of information within a company, it is unavoidable to think about Information Systems (IS). A much broader concept, but one that is closely linked to the information that is generated and shared in a company on a daily basis.
Is can be defined as a set of processes aimed at collecting, elaborating and selectively distributing, the valuable information that is generated in the organization’s
environment. In other words, the function of the IS is to capture the facts as soon as they occur, whether internal or external, process all the data obtained and communicate it to the corresponding parties within the organization, so that they can react and make agile decisions.
Therefore, the importance of IS at the business level is vital to improve the functionality, effectiveness, efficiency and quality of daily operations.
Process mining: What is it?
Now that we have broadly explained the importance of information within a company and what an IS is, we can begin to talk about process mining.
The starting point to understand the concept of process mining is to know how the event log is carried out by the IS available in an organization.
We can define the event log as the execution history of the different processes that are carried out in a business. These records store information related to activities, times, executors and other data that are part of any process.
Also, this information can be stored in multiple formats such as tables, databases, email files or transactional records.
Event logs consist of the following elements:
- Process cases: Every process is made up of different cases that are associated with an identification code, also known as the case ID. Example: 1987 sales request.
- Process activities: Each case is made up of activities, tasks and decisions; and, is related in turn to other cases. Example: Processing a sales request and sales request approval.
- Executors: Refers to the employees who develop and execute each of the process activities. Example: Anna, sales representative.
- Additional data: Cases may have additional information, such as the start and end time of the activity, department that performs the activity, type of product and / or service, estimated delivery date, etc.
Therefore, the quality of the information collected in the event log will directly influence the quality of the process mining results. So what is process mining? Process mining is a discipline used to discover, monitor and improve business processes, through the extraction of knowledge from each of the event records.
These event records are found in most IS, such as the TPS (Transaction Processing System or Transaction Processing System) that are responsible for recording basic and routine activities, generated from commercial transactions and business operations. Two examples of specialized TPS are CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning).
Process mining application phases
The detection of opportunities or areas for improvement is one of the main purposes of process mining. However, this is the last phase of a process that begins with the extraction and subsequent analysis of the historical data stored in the IS, followed by the identification of the real process model that is being executed; and, finally, the compilation of information that will make it possible to suggest improvements to current processes.
1. Data extraction
In this first phase, the IS data will be extracted, in order to carry out the desired analysis.
2. Data import and analytics
In this step, a detailed analysis of the information will be carried out, applying specific filters.
3. Discover the process
Through the use of different algorithms, process models will be identified, with their respective activities, tasks and decisions.
4. Analysis at the organizational level
This phase is used to try to discover the interaction relationships between the executing elements that have intervened in the process activities.
5. Suggested improvements:
In this last phase, all changes deemed necessary will be proposed and implemented to achieve business process optimization.
Benefits of process mining
Discover the real and objective process execution model
The algorithms used by process mining will analyze the event records and reveal the real process execution model. This is completed without taking into account subjective evaluations, such as those of the people involved in the business process or the documentation relating to how a process should be carried out.
On the one hand, the data analysis carried out with process mining will detect possible bottlenecks or problems that have arisen during process development and caused delays
Verify that the process complies with all the established regulations
Process mining will allow a company to compare the real process execution model with all the documented procedures and regulations, in order to ensure compliance with the established regulations and protocols.
Control human resources productivity levels
By registering process execution start and end times, it is possible to know the exact productivity levels of all participants.
Help to understand the relationship between different variables of the same case
Process mining analyzes how different variables linked to the same case can influence the process cycle or execution times.
Forecast the case cycle time
Thanks to data mining it is possible to know the remaining process execution time. Very valuable information for organizations, since it has a direct impact on controlling productivity, setting KPIs, reducing costs, etc.
Generation of knowledge in the organization
Monitoring the different business processes will contribute to their optimization in a timely manner and drive knowledge share among the company’s employees.
Process mining contributes to improving business resilience, that is, the organization’s ability to adapt to adverse situations. This is possible thanks to the analysis of the real process execution model, which allows to identify unstable aspects and, later, apply the necessary corrective measures that empower the organization to overcome and achieve the objectives set.
In conclusion, the main purpose of process mining is to analyze and share the real execution data of each of the business processes which are stored in the IS, with the aim to optimize said processes, thus contributing to knowledge generation within the organization.
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