What is Process Mining?

What is Process Mining?

Process mining is defined as an analytical discipline for discovering, monitoring, and improving business processes as they actually are- not as you think they might be.


1:31 min of insights

Short on time? Need a quick wrap-up? Enjoy the video. If want to dive deeper, just scroll down to understand the power and potential of Process Mining.

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Process Mining: The X-ray of your business

Process Mining works by extracting knowledge from event logs readily available in today’s information systems, in order to visualize business processes — and their every variation — as they run. Check out how process mining works for a more detailed breakdown. Celonis Chief Scientist and Professor Wil van der Aalst also offers a course on process mining.

There are many benefits to process mining:

Objective, fact-based insights

It offers objective, fact-based insights, derived from actual data, to help you audit, analyze, and improve your existing business processes.

Faster, cheaper and more accurate

It is faster, cheaper and more accurate than the lengthy and often subjective process mapping workshops.

No rip-and-replace needed

Process mining works on top of your existing systems, helping you to leverage your existing technology investments. There is no rip-and-replace involved.

We'll cover the benefits of process mining in more detail below.

Process Mining: From academia to the business world

Beyond definitions of process mining, it’s important to note that the technology has gone from the province of academia and research papers a decade ago to one of the most important technologies in business.

It’s been widely recognized — by enterprises, analysts, and the media— as the way to get an X-ray of your business processes: a real, living, breathing picture of how your processes work. 

Professor van der Aalst refers to process mining as the bridge between data science, which includes algorithms, machine learning, data mining, and predictive analytics, and process science, which covers operations management and research, business process improvement and management, process automation and workflow management, and optimization.

Process mining is the technology at the heart of the Celonis Execution Management System, enabling users to fully understand how their core business processes run and find the inefficiencies getting in the way of performance, before taking intelligent, automated action to remove process gaps.

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Improve visibility and understanding of the actual performance of business operations and processes, by investing in process mining.
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What is a process?

Let’s get back to basics by defining processes first.

A process is a series of actions or steps repeated in a progression from a defined or recognized 'start' to a defined or recognized 'finish'. The purpose of a process is to establish and maintain a commonly understood flow that allows a task to be completed as efficiently and consistently as possible.

Every business process step leaves a digital footprint in your transactional systems in the form of event log data. It is using this data that process mining software works to create a living picture of what your actual processes really look like — which does not always match the definition of that particular process.

Of course, some process steps don’t necessarily take place in a transactional system either — sending an email or opening a spreadsheet for example. Task mining is the technology that collects that user desktop data. Combined with process mining, it gives the most complete view of how work gets done within an organization.

What are common business processes?

Common business processes include Purchase-to-Pay (P2P), Order-to-Cash (O2C) or Customer Service processes, for instance. And while nearly every company has some version of these processes as the backbone of their business, there are many others that support a company’s daily operations, including:

These are just a sample, of course. Moreover, different companies define certain processes differently depending on their business needs, the systems they use, and other variables.

By their nature, processes are not static — nor do they always follow the path defined for them. Even the best-made plans go awry, and over time these deviations can become the rule without attention to continuous process improvement and business process management.

Dynamic markets also force change: customer expectations, new product lines, acquisitions, changing geographies, and any number of other things can impact a process’ ability to perform at full capacity. This is where process mining comes in, as it enables process owners to find and fix inefficiencies in their business processes by giving them complete real-time visibility. 

Process mining use cases

Process mining use cases are almost infinite given the technology cuts across multiple business functions and industries. For instance, process mining can make the supply chain more resilient by eliminating inefficiencies. Process mining also has a big role to play in sustainability efforts. Any function can be made more efficient and use cases for process mining are continually evolving. Common use cases today include.

  • Process excellence including broad usage across companies to find and fix inefficiencies previously unseen.

  • Supply chain transformation, which is increasingly a boardroom issue.

  • Shared services transformation of central services that can evolve from cost center to an innovation hub. Shared services is also becoming an area for processing digital twins.

  • Systems transformation where process mining is used to modernize IT systems to become more agile.

  • Sustainability, which is an emerging space for process mining. More efficiency means more sustainable and often a lower carbon footprint. These use cases are seen across multiple process mining customers in industries including automotive, consumer, energy, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, professional services, retail, telco and media and travel and transportation.

Great execution lies in your process

Processes are the day-to-day running of your enterprise. That’s why entire departments and teams are dedicated to process excellence — and why process mining is an essential part of their toolkit. Automated process mapping, discovery and analytics enable process excellence professionals to analyze and improve their processes to make sure they’re performing optimally and delivering on the outcomes they were intended to drive.

When everything operates efficiently, a company is agile enough to adapt easily to outside forces, leaving more time to drive revenue through internal innovation, quality improvement and strengthening customer relationships.

Get your guide to Process Mining

Process mining helps you find and fix the inefficiencies hampering the performance of your core business processes. 

It’s like an X-ray of your business, providing companies like yours with the insights they need to not only identify the gaps in their processes, but understand why they’re happening, the impact they’re having on business outcomes, and what they can do to fix them.

There are several benefits to process mining. The technology enables you to:

Get complete visibility over your processes

Get 100% objective, real-time view of your processes based on the data in your IT systems, to find and fix inefficiencies without argument.

Quantify the impact of in your process gaps

So you can demonstrate value before and after implementing a fix.

Get stakeholder alignment

Make data-driven suggestions complete with expected ROI with full, objective visibility into your process gaps and how to fix them — driving stakeholder buy-in and alignment.

Prioritize initiatives effectively

Prioritize and direct energy and resources as needed by quantifying the impact of process gaps on business outcomes.

Get to value quickly and easily

Deliver value quickly and cheaply — process mining is easy to implement and has a short time-to-value.

Drive the outcomes you care about

In other words, armed with objective, real-time data, you can confidently improve processes across the organization, while effectively partnering with stakeholders. So whether it’s increasing productivity, improving compliance, automating business processes or driving strategic initiatives like audits, digital transformation, supply chain resiliency or system migrations — process mining can benefit you. 

There are moreover additional benefits to process mining that are specific to the process you’re working on. Process mining helps you improve the outcomes of a specific process — whether it’s optimizing working capital in Accounts Payable or Accounts Receivable, improving close rates in Opportunity Management, or on-time delivery in Order Management, for example.  To understand the full range of the benefits of process mining and how it can remove bottlenecks, look no further than our solution pages.


Process Mining For Dummies

Here it is. Everything you need to know about process mining in a single book, written in the easy to understand, hard to forget style ‘For Dummies’ manage so effortlessly.


Online Course

Process Mining: From Theory to Execution

Professor Wil van der Aalst pioneered the field of process mining in the 1990s, describing it as the missing link between data science and real-life processes. Enter an entirely new academic discipline, which has since become the industry standard for better business process execution. Learn about the science behind the technology and its real-life applications, including the way it’s being used today by a large number of Fortune 500 companies, during this self-paced, virtual course.

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