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What are 5 working examples of process mining?

Process mining is rapidly establishing itself as a core enterprise technology.

Gartner® published its first Magic Quadrant™ for Process Mining Tools in 2023 and, according to The Process Optimization Report, 70% of businesses across the US and Europe are already either using or evaluating process mining tools.

Its popularity isn’t surprising, and stems from the ability to visualize how business processes actually run (rather than how businesses think they run), based on event data. Using event log data from existing systems, process mining software can find hidden value opportunities in any business process, and then power intelligent, automated action to capture that value. Action can be driven through simple automation, using technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA), or through more advanced forms of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

So how is process mining actually used – on a day-to-day basis – to drive process improvement and achieve business outcomes? Here are five process mining examples, with real-world case studies, to illustrate how process mining software can be used for process optimization across a variety of functions.

Example 1: Eliminating duplicate payments in accounts payable  

Duplicate payments are a considerable issue for accounts payable (AP) teams. It may be that suppliers issue the same invoice multiple times, often via different channels, or that a single invoice is manually entered more than once due to business process errors. Many AP systems are designed to flag duplicate invoices, but just slight variations like a different spelling of the supplier’s name, an amended due date or an updated price can mean these go undetected.

AP teams may not have the capacity to double-check the data on every single invoice before it is paid, and verification is often limited to spot checks on a handful of payments. Paying the same invoice more than once has obvious cost implications, and even if duplicate payments are eventually picked up in an audit, there are considerable costs associated with recovery.

Process mining tools can prevent duplicate payments by increasing visibility into existing process flows and identifying where issues are likely to occur. 

Deutsche Telekom saves €3 million with process mining 

Deutsche Telekom Services Europe (DTSE) is a shared services center for the entire Deutsche Telekom group that processes almost nine million invoices a year. They were experiencing high cash losses due to duplicate vendor payments.

Using process mining, DTSE gained visibility into actual process flows. They established a real-time process analysis that compared all outgoing payments and flagged duplicates for review. This saved DTSE €3 million and enabled them to block future duplicate payments.

In addition to preventing duplicate payments, improved process management also allowed DTSE to maximize cash discounts, improve on-time payment rates, increase no-touch order rates, and enforce contractual penalties. As Christian Unterbusch, VP of Operational and Strategic Steering for Procure-to-Pay at DTSE explained: “By using process mining, we established a fully data-driven organization within the procure-to-pay area.”

Introducing the Celonis Duplicate Checking App 

Our Duplicate Checking App is a pre-built application that uses process data to help you quickly eliminate duplicate payments. Through data mining it can:

  • Detect duplicate invoices (both exact and approximate) 

  • Alert the right people to prevent multiple payments being made

  • Identify the root cause of the duplicate invoice 

  • Quantify the impact of any duplicate payment to the business

Example 2: Prioritizing collector actions in accounts receivable 

Prioritizing customer engagement relating to overdue payments is a challenge due to decentralized customer structures, organizational silos and billing complexity. Most collections teams rely on basic figures like balance age and size to determine where to focus their efforts. Reactive prioritization means teams spend their time fighting fires rather than preventing new ones.

Through process mining, accounts receivable (AR) teams can leverage unique insights such as payment history, credit risk, disputes and last customer contact to:

  • Intelligently prioritize collections

  • Reduce past dues

  • Drive lasting improvements in cash flow and working capital

PepsiCo unlocks millions in free cash flow

Like many large corporations, PepsiCo struggled to prioritize collections. Using process mining software, they discovered that improving Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) would deliver considerable value, and identified actions that would help collect customer payments faster through process improvement.

By identifying delinquent accounts and ranking them by invoice value, PepsiCo can now prioritize collections, clearing high-value overdue invoices faster, and unlocking millions of dollars in free cash flow. PepsiCo have also applied process automation to the creation and dispatch of dunning notes to collect on overdue receivables, which saves considerable time.

Introducing the Celonis Collections App

Our Collections App is a single application that enables you to: 

  • Intelligently prioritize collections efforts

  • Efficiently engage customers

  • Capture developments such as disputes or promises to pay

  • Set customized views for different stakeholders

Example 3: Managing material shortages in the supply chain

A lack of visibility means many businesses lack a real understanding of the impact of material shortages. Highly complex supply chains often depend on siloed legacy systems. This makes it difficult to predict the impact of materials shortages before the ripple effects are felt in other functions such as sales, customer service and finance.

Material shortages aren’t necessarily preventable but, with process intelligence gained through process mining techniques, their fallout can be managed. By increasing the transparency of supply chain processes, process mining helps businesses to prioritize material replenishment based on impact, and to take proactive steps when future issues are identified. 

Freudenberg responds proactively to material shortages

Freudenberg FST is a German manufacturer of specialist high-tech sealing solutions. Up to 18,000 raw materials are used in the 20 million products they manufacture each day. A lack of transparency into material flows made it difficult to cope with materials shortages, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Process mining techniques enable Freudenberg to track material flows worldwide and understand the interdependencies of materials used in their products. They can see which suppliers are unable to deliver, what inventory levels are available at each plant, and when these will reach critical levels. They can see the real-time impact of material shortages on downstream operational processes such as production, and also understand the indirect dependencies on procurement and sales.

This transparency allows Freudenberg to understand what quantities they can produce and which customers they can serve. They can provide customers with more accurate information and also significantly reduce liability risks, ultimately lowering costs.

Introducing the Celonis Material Shortages App 

Our Material Shortages App provides a real-time view of the impact of shortages across the supply chain allowing you to:

  • Prioritize which material to replenish based on stockout risk

  • Understand the impact on dependent products and open orders

  • Take proactive action on material shortages 

Example 4: Resolving order management delays

Getting orders to customers on time and in full (OTIF) is something for which most businesses strive. But with the order management process flow often involving multiple teams and departments, with different systems, it can be hard to ensure it runs smoothly.

Orders might need attention because they are blocked or delayed for a variety of reasons. High order volumes and the lack of a consolidated order view may mean these blocked or delayed orders aren’t noticed or acted upon for some time, which results in a negative customer experience.

A process mining solution can help businesses increase visibility into open orders, intelligently prioritize those at risk, resolve issues, and take targeted actions (automation or manual intervention) to remove roadblocks. It can help them prevent delivery delays and boost productivity simultaneously.

Rational gains full control over open orders 

Rational AG is a German manufacturer, providing high-end cooking equipment to food professionals all over the world. The company prides itself on delivering reliably for its customers so customer-facing processes need to be impeccable.

By using process mining techniques within their order management process, Rational have gained a complete overview of open orders, and are able to view those that are delayed and those with tasks that need attention. This means they can identify bottlenecks and execution gaps, and take action quickly.

Through business process management, the manufacturer achieved a 40% reduction in the sales cycle time for blocked orders. They streamlined the order management process by eliminating 120,000 manual activities, and increased the first-time-right rate by around 30%, ensuring more customers received their orders on time. 

Introducing the Celonis Open Order Processing App 

By providing full visibility into open orders across all your systems, our Open Order Processing App ensures your teams are working with the same view. It helps you to:

  • Prioritize and handle orders based on real-time business intelligence 

  • Operate with a 360 view for open order data

  • Prioritize critical orders at risk

  • Suggest next best actions in real time

  • Assign orders as tasks to resolve 

  • Prevent bottlenecks and boost productivity

Example 5: Eliminating contract leakage in procurement 

Applying the appropriate contract to purchase requisitions (PRs), to ensure the right terms, conditions – and prices – apply, can be a time consuming task. Procurement teams can waste hundreds of hours searching multiple payment systems for contract data. But the contract leakage that results from not referencing the negotiated contract in the PR can mean businesses are leaving money on the table.

A process mining tool can help procurement teams manage their spend under management (SUM) more effectively. This can be achieved by identifying PRs without contract data, suggesting and extracting contracts from source systems, and either updating the PR automatically or notifying the procurement team to take action. Process mining allows procurement teams to boost productivity while ensuring efficient contract usage. 

Accenture halves request-to-order cycle times 

Accenture is a global professional services company. Its internal procurement function – called Procurement Plus – enables the wider business by covering all the transactional aspects of procurement quickly and efficiently, while driving innovation and responsible buying.

As many Accenture projects spring up quickly, procurement needs to be responsive and push through transactions fast, while managing the many rules around risk and controls. Process discovery through process mining enabled them to improve visibility, identify bottlenecks and potential areas for improvement. Ultimately, request-to-order cycle times were reduced by an impressive 50%. This means a faster and more efficient experience for both consultants and customers.

Introducing the Celonis Open PR Processing App

Our Open PR Processing App helps you improve your existing process model and control procurement spend with fewer manual steps.

You can:

  • Gain a 360º view of all open purchase requisitions

  • Flag PRs without referenced contract data 

  • Identify contracts to purchase against  

  • Assign tasks to resolve in real time

Explore some more Celonis customer success stories to see how other businesses are driving process improvement, and get inspiration for your own process mining project.

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Bill Detwiler
Senior Communications Strategist and Editor Celonis Blog

Bill Detwiler is Senior Communications Strategist and Editor of the Celonis blog. He is the former Editor in Chief of TechRepublic, where he hosted the Dynamic Developer podcast and Cracking Open, CNET’s popular online show. Bill is an award-winning journalist, who’s covered the tech industry for more than two decades. Prior his career in the software industry and tech media, he was an IT professional in the social research and energy industries.

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