Who's afraid of Process Mining?
Process Mining can sound a bit unsexy - but once you understand the value of it and how it can benefit your bottom line, it can begin to look a lot more attractive.
What's the problem?
First, you might not realize you even have a problem - but those business processes that just seem to work may be more complex and wasteful than they need to be. If you want to improve your processes you need to understand them, and if work disappears into a process black box, you need to get to grips with it, even if the end result is good.
Enter Process Mining which, supported by data, will give you an overview of the processes being used in your organization. Once you have the overview you can stramline and improve the individual parts of the system, keeping the things that work and getting rid of everything that's surplus to requirements. Is it adding value? If not, it can usually be eliminated. Deep in your computer is all the data you need, and how you turn that data into genuine business intel is - Process Mining.
Think of Process Mining as a cross between Business Process Management and Data Mining.
Once you understand how a process works you can start to break it down into units:
- Are there any parts of the process that can be automated?
- Are there any parts of the process that can be given to a lower-skilled worker?
- Are there any parts of the process that should be in the hands of a higher-skilled worker?
- Is there anything within the process that can be eliminated altogether?
- Is the process working as intended?
- Does the process flow in a logical order?
- Are there any bottlenecks or U-turns?
Once you have an understanding in this level of detail, you can begin to see the real benefits of Process Mining. First, to make changes to the processes, ensuring they are done in the most efficient manner possible, and by the best person. Second, by having understood how the input becomes output, you are in a much stronger position to institute changes quickly and effectively.
What's in it for me?
As with many things that are good for an organization, Process Mining has a barrier to entry: the initial phase can be time-consuming and the answers you get from an audit of your processes may not be good news to everyone who is involved. But the benefits are clear:
- Objectivity: you are not changing things on a whim - there should be demonstrable benefits to the proposed changes. Data is going to give you the ability to remove downtime and figure out what does and doesn't add value.
- Greater efficiency: over time, resources are freed up as wasteful practices are eliminated. The rate of change picks up as early and easy gains demonstrate that the streamlining process is working, and trust is built between the process analyst and the people carrying out processes.
- Full overview: you can see more clearly what's going on and take steps to monitor that all parts of the process remain fit for purpose as regulations and specs evolve.
If you have the data, you need to understand it. The benefits should pay for themselves - though every organization is different. Making a cake at home can be fun - but unless you're an expert the results aren't going to be the same each time, and it would be no way to mass produce cakes to the standard demanded by a supermarket. Process Mining can take something like making a cake and standardize, refine, and streamline each step of the journey from raw ingredients through mixing and baking to finished product, enabling scalability and a predictable outcome.
The key component of Process Mining is understanding - and from understanding comes the ability to drive valuable lasting change.