Process mining: How does it work?

Most operational systems record every detail of what happens in a process. Think of these activities as โ€œdigital footprintsโ€ people leave behind as they move through a process. Process mining captures the digital footprints from any number of systems throughout an organization and organizes them in a way that shows each step of the journey to complete that process, along with any deviations from the expected path.

On this page youโ€™ll find answers to these and other questions:

  • What are the โ€œstagesโ€ or main components of process mining?
  • How can you โ€œseeโ€ a process?
  • How much can you learn about the details of your process?
  • What can you do with your new insights?
Process mining: How does it work?

Event collection in process mining

Leave no trace unturned

Everything you do in your operational systems leaves a trace. Date, time, user, activity and more are all captured and can be found in an โ€œevent logโ€โ€“a record of what happens to perform a task. Event Collection, as its name implies, gathers the event log data from your systems so it can be analyzed for process performance.

Before process mining technology, the information stored in event logs was rarely used to analyze the underlying processes. Now process mining is used extensively to gain control over business processes by eliminating the need for hypotheses or guessing and identifying opportunities in places you might not even think to look.

Discovery in process mining

Enjoy your โ€œeurekaโ€ moment

Process mining doesnโ€™t simply pull data together into an organized sequence; it creates a rich dynamic visual representation of that sequence. For anyone unfamiliar with process mining technology it inspires a true moment of clarityโ€“an unparalleled look into the functioning of your process.

How does it work? By applying algorithms to your data. An algorithm is a set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations. Thatโ€™s what distinguishes process mining from other process discovery methodsโ€“it shows you, based on your own data and fact-based rules, exactly how your process flows through your organization.

Analytics in process mining

Find the answers to core questions

Once you see how your process flows, itโ€™s time to answer those questions that are key to any investigation: who, what, when, where, why and how. Because process mining uses the event logs from your systems, that data is already available.

Using AI and machine learning technologies to analyze your process data, process mining quickly uncovers the root causes of undesirable actions as well as those that are working well.

  • Are employees sufficiently trained in a process area?
  • Do they spend valuable time circumventing obsolete internal restrictions or accommodating unreliable suppliers?
  • Why is one location more productive than another, and can it be used as the new standard?

Process Analytics turns the transparency of Process Discovery into truths about where you have opportunities for improvement.

Automated insights in process mining

Turn insights into action

While most process mining solutions software offers discovery and varying levels of analytics, Celonis is the only company to build a cloud-based, comprehensive solution for business transformation powered by process mining technology.

Different process mining solutions offer different levels of innovative features to improve your processes. A key component of Celonis innovation is the Action Engine. The Action Engine acts autonomously to monitor ongoing process performance. It can also see all connected processes and their impacts on each other, making it a powerful link between human and digital workforces (i.e., automation). To that end, Action Engine proactively communicates improvement opportunities and triggers certain actions to ensure that the insights youโ€™ve gained using process mining are put into practice for maximum benefit.

Process mining explained: an example

One fictional companyโ€™s process mining journey to satisfaction

Super Start-up Inc. has big coffee needs. Their employees are highly driven and fueled by caffeine. Successful company operations depend on a reliable coffee supply at a competitive price. But lately the coffee-to-cup process hasnโ€™t been running smoothly.

Due to storage limitations Super Start-up prefers to purchase coffee once a week. Sometimes less coffee is delivered than was ordered. And the average delivery time is now nine days instead of the agreed-upon five days.

This frequently leaves Super Start-up employees without an onsite supply of coffee. As a result, managers have noticed a decrease in productivity and an increase in employee frustration.

Process mining to the rescue

All the order and delivery data is stored in Super Start-upโ€™s purchasing system. Using a pre-configured connector it takes them only ten minutes to link their system to process mining software.

Now purchasing employees can see all the purchase process steps. They focus their view to the problem at handโ€“choosing only coffee purchase cases. And the answer is immediately visible: roughly 50% of all coffee purchases take 3 days longer because of quantity and price change approvals.

After doing a root-cause search, employees learn the company at the center of delays is Suboptimal Coffee Vendor LLC. By contrast, in cases where they used FastCoffeeCo the throughput time was two days faster than average.

Further analysis reveals that even though Suboptimal appears to be the less expensive option, their quantity and price changes cost more in lost productivity and employee satisfaction. Now Super Start-up can use their new insight to prioritize FastCoffeeCo for future coffee orders and restore employee happiness and productivity levels.

Is this real life?

While the above example is imaginary and overly simplified, it touches on some of the real-world benefits of process mining technology. No matter the process or industry, there are opportunities for things to go awry and thus opportunities for improvement. The scalability of process mining makes it an appropriate solution no matter the size of your enterprise.

Get Started with Process Mining

Sign up for a Celonis Snap account to get started with process mining in minutes, for free, with no installation required.

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