In an increasingly digitized world, opaque processes are a no go. The problem is that the larger company, the more complex their processes — and the more difficult it is to really get to grips with them. “That’s why we identified Process Mining as a transformative technology back in 2018,” explains Gerrit Wiezoreck, Head of Data & AI Strategy and Transformation at E.ON Digital Technology. “Process Mining allows you to drastically improve efficiency and reduce costs — and not just in individual units, but throughout the group as a whole. After all, digital processes are now part and parcel in all of the company’s business units — in customer service as well as in accounting, network infrastructure maintenance, or product sales."
With the help of Celonis’ Execution Management System (EMS), E.ON put its group-wide Accounts Payable to the test in 2019, and quickly saw promising results. “It meant we could identify and eliminate specific process deficiencies,” recalls the transformation expert. In addition, “setting up a new KPI reporting in Celonis allows us to control the entire process almost in real time,” confirms Dr. Sabine Roth, who is responsible for implementing Celonis in Accounts Payable (EBS Regensburg). Overall, this saves the energy group a high six-figure amount every year.
But that’s not all. Process Mining can also be used to detect compliance violations and check process functionalities on an ad-hoc basis. “When the first COVID-19 lockdown saw a huge number of employees move to working from home overnight, we used Celonis EMS to analyze whether and how this would affect existing processes, such as in Invoice Release,” emphasizes Dr. Thomas Spura, Data Scientist and Technical Project Manager for Celonis. Capabilities like these were vital in an increasingly flexible working world, so it’s not a surprise that the individual business units within E.ON already had Process Mining on their agendas, albeit in deployment models and versions.
That’s why when the time came in 2020 to integrate innogy, the energy supplier they acquired, E.ON decided to strategically anchor Process Mining in the group. “The goal is to make the technology centrally accessible to every business unit and thus create synergies,” Wiezoreck emphasizes. A central group contract and the EMS provide the foundation for this, which allows the different companies to use an identical process mining tool in the cloud. The energy group is relying on what’s known as a “glocal” model as part of this. “What that means is we purchase centrally, provide the cloud infrastructure globally, and manage the authorization concept centrally, but allow the individual business units to analyze and optimize their processes and data themselves locally,” explains Wiezoreck.
Wiezoreck and his team took enough time to convince the seven business units of the “glocal” Process Mining model. The central solution was planned down to the last detail together with the regional business units over the course of six months. According to Wiezoreck, “having maximum transparency, communicating at eye level, and cost benefits,” ultimately ensured that the cloud-based, “glocal” Process Mining concept convinced them it was the right move.
In the future, a central cloud EMS will gradually replace the various different decentralized Celonis solutions that have been in use up to now, and provide efficient analyses and maximum scalability. “The idea is that every business unit operates in an unbundling-compliant, highly secure cloud environment, and uses a similar extraction infrastructure, as well as a similar support network,” clarifies Dr. Spura. Each business unit will decide for itself which processes and data should be put to the test. In this context, glocal means that “we bundle topics we can standardize centrally and support them centrally, but at the same time, that the expertise and technical implementation must be built up and implemented independently and locally.” A key advantage of this approach is that cross-departmental processes can also be investigated — and optimized — easily via the central cloud platform.
This is because the EMS goes far beyond simply just analyzing processes —its Action Engine uses machine learning to identify in real time where processes can be improved and send next-best-action recommendations to the responsible employees. This enables them to be proactive and drive the company’s business transformation in a targeted manner. The various E.ON business units will be connected to the central EMS in a gradual rollout that has started in January. “It’s remarkable how we can work together across the group to embark on this Process Mining journey,” says Wiezoreck.