Process mining is an analytical method that can be used to improve business processes. It has been applied at hundreds of organisations across many sectors, including banking, manufacturing, telecommunications and health care. In each case, organisations have found that they have been able to reduce the time required to run processes. This has resulted in reduced costs and better customer experience.
Exploring process mining
Just one example of a business process shows how process mining could help both staff and customers. Suppose you apply to your bank for a credit card. You might order it in a branch or request it online, but either way, the request has to move from there to the people responsible for managing applications. They verify the application while a risk manager checks your credit rating. If both those two checks come back with acceptable results, then the card is issued and sent. That process takes up to nine days in 90 percent of cases.
In that time, however, some customers will have got tired of waiting and gone elsewhere.
Bottlenecks, diversion or duplication
Using process mining techniques, this waiting time could almost halve. These techniques use existing data from within organisational systems and extract information to understand more about the process. In particular, process mining looks for bottlenecks, diversions or duplication within the process because all these slow down operations. Once these elements have been identified, they can be eliminated, speeding up the process – often to around half its original time.
Process mining works by analysing event logs with data mining tools. Event log data is not often analysed, especially not together with broader company data. Instead, this data is used only for control and security purposes, which is a pity, because it is exceptionally useful. With more and more of this type of data being accumulated, analysts are increasingly looking for creative ways to use it to improve businesses.Process mining works by analysing event logs with data mining tools. With more and more event log data being accumulated, analysts are increasingly looking for creative ways to use it to improve businesses. Click To Tweet
Internal processes matter too
When trying to improve customer experience, it can be tempting to focus on marketing or advertising, but that can sometimes mean missing a trick. Equally, businesses often focus on reducing costs, but again, this is only part of the picture. Internal processes can also have an effect on customers – often more so than the more obvious “customer-facing” processes – and on costs.
It is therefore well worth analysing the data that comes from internal processes to see if there is room for improvement. Identifying and reducing inefficiencies and bottlenecks can improve both customer experience and staff satisfaction. This will, in turn, have a further impact on customer experience. Process mining is therefore a very powerful analytical tool for businesses.
There are three main steps to process mining:
- Process discovery is the exploration of the processes and paths that are being analysed. It can include visual representations of these processes, but always needs to result in a clear understanding of what is expected to happen at each stage.
- The second stage is a compliance check to detect all events that have not followed the expected process. This is followed by an assessment of how, and how far, each actual process has deviated from expectations, including in its duration, and why.
- The third stage is to improve the business processes using operational research algorithms. This makes it possible to minimise the time between activities, within defined constraints.
The big advantage of process mining is that it can be done very quickly. In just a few seconds, you can visualise the whole process from end to end and recognise where there are inefficiencies or bottlenecks.
In the future, we expect to see the use of private blockchain process mining techniques, and I think this will be the next frontier of this technology. This development will allow entire supply chains to be mapped, monitored and improved. This will be particularly useful in the field of food traceability, where private blockchains will enable companies to trace information about raw materials, processing and transport right from the field to the point of sale to the final customer. Process mining will enable any inefficiencies to be identified and removed. In an area such as food, where hours can matter, this is vital to ensure freshness and longer shelf life.
Identifying inefficiencies and bottlenecks does not necessarily mean that they can be addressed, either instantly or at all. However, this use of analytics can help companies to reduce costs, speed up time to market and improve customer experiences.
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