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Transparency — The Greatest Benefit of Process Mining

Imagine the situation of a manufacturing company which needs to handle the repair and exchange of faulty products with its customers. To save costs, the process should be as efficient as possible. But as a customer-facing process, the speed and convenience for the consumer is also important.

If the customer service process is handled poorly, the consumers might badmouth the manufacturer in the internet and among friends, which can lead to significant brand damage and a loss in future sales. But if repairs and exchanges are handled very well, the consumers might be delighted and actually increase their brand loyalty.

Customer service example

In the picture below you see an anonymized, simplified example of the planned process for the shipment of replacement products (left) compared with the actual process (right). While the goal is to complete each case within 3 days, in a fairly sequential process, it actually takes 6 days on average (and in several instances much longer than that) and the real process is much more complicated.

But the main problem of the company is not the inefficient or complicated process.

The actual problem

The real problem is that the actual process is not visible to the service manager in the company in the first place. It is impossible to improve when there is no insight into what is actually happening.

Process mining

Because you can’t improve what you can’t measure, the biggest benefit of process mining is that it can make the real processes visible based on existing log data in the IT systems. Only when you can see what is happening, you can get to the root causes of problems and take action.

Conformance and Performance

The gained transparency can be used for both improving the conformance and the performance of the process.

Conformance. Deviations from the intended process can reveal hidden activities or process flows (see below). Deviations do not need to be a problem. But if these deviations are not visible in the first place, then it is impossible to detect illegal workarounds that are a serious problem for an organization.

Performance. The same holds for inefficiencies. For example, if the overall product replacement process takes too long and the customers are unhappy, then one needs to be able to see where exactly time is lost, where more resources should be assigned, and so on.

Process mining can help to make that first step: Creating transparency about what is actually happening.

Where do you wish that processes would be more transparent? And how would it help you? Let us know in the comments.

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