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Process Excellence Insights: Learnings From 500+ Process Leaders

by Celonis
July 15, 2021
4 min read

Process excellence has been a buzzword in enterprises for decades, since Lean and Six Sigma thinking hit the boardroom (and the factory floor).

So while itโ€™s not the newest concept on the block, itโ€™s definitely having a moment. Thatโ€™s thanks in large part to advances in the technologies that make process improvement more achievable โ€” and provable โ€” than ever before. Technologies like process mining, automation, AI and EMS.

As enterprises strive to reach their maximum execution capacity, process excellence obviously plays a massive part in the bigger project of organizational streamlining, optimizing and reengineering.

We wanted to learn more about process excellence today โ€” about the people who drive it, the technologies they harness, the structures they use to organize themselves and the best practices they adopt along the way.

Weโ€™ve compiled our findings in a new report: The State of Process Excellence, which you can download now.

But if you want some immediate insights from the report, read on.

4 things we learned from process excellence leaders

1. The Process Center of Excellence is here to stay

The formation of a Center of Excellence is a rite of passage that lends a certain seriousness to the function, concept, skill or technology it serves. It signals that the organization in question recognizes the importance of an issue, and is dedicated to approaching it with rigor.

So itโ€™s great to see the rise of the Process Center of Excellence coming through strongly in our findings. 87% of the process excellence professionals we spoke to are part of a Center of Excellence today, or soon will be.

For a deeper dive into how to build your own Process Center of Excellence, check out this video in which Dr. Lars Reinkemeyer, VP Customer Transformation at Celonis, gives a masterclass.

2. Process leaders have a seat at the highest table

Looking further at the structures in place in process-driven companies, we found that the process leaders we surveyed report right to the highest levels of leadership.

77% report to the C-suite, and 35% have the ear of the CEO. A direct line of report to the top is one of many signals that process excellence is now widely recognized as a strategic priority in business.

3. Process mining fuels process discovery and improvement

Our report also explores the โ€˜howโ€™ of process excellence. In order to understand the kinds of technologies in use, we split the work of process excellence in two: process discovery and documentation first, and process improvement second.

Process mining, which effectively gives you an X-ray of your organizationโ€™s business processes, is the preferred tool for discovering and documenting processes. However, as the report shows, thereโ€™s still a heavy reliance on diagramming tools and sticky notes. (More on why thatโ€™s a particularly worrying use of legacy tech in the report.)

On the process improvement side of things, process mining also features strongly, even beating RPA. This echoes a trend weโ€™re seeing among process leaders who recognize that automation on its own is not enough โ€” indeed it can lead companies to simply scale up their existing inefficiencies. But coupled with intelligent technologies like process mining, automation can be used to fix the root causes of inefficiencies, and help you reach full execution capacity.

4. Your process excellence opportunity lies in adopting an outcomes-first approach

Hereโ€™s a finding that surprised us at first. When we asked process leaders to describe their ideal company processes, just 35% of them said their priority is to optimize every step to achieve the best outcome.

What could be more important than driving for the best outcome? Well, it may be less a case of importance and more a case of pragmatism. Almost half (49.5%) said they focus on designing processes that align to pre-existing IT system flows, or that are explicitly aimed at reducing cost.

These are important considerations of course, but it feels like thereโ€™s a huge opportunity for those organizations that can focus unrelentingly on outcomes.

Itโ€™s a chance to be in the new minority of process leaders who prioritize execution as the end goal, and who recognize process excellence (powered by process mining) as a powerful means of achieving it.

Get more insights and lessons from the 500+ process leaders we surveyed. Get your copy of The State of Process Excellence now.


Celonis believes that every company can unlock its full execution capacity. Powered by its market-leading process mining core, the Celonis Execution Management System provides a set of instruments and applications, the Celonis Studio as well as platform capabilities for business executives and users. The Celonis EMS offerings help companies manage every facet of execution management from analytics to strategy and planning, management, actions and automation.

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