Process Mining Technology For Data Analysis And Visualization Of Business Processes

Process Mining Technology for Visualization and Analysis of Business Processes. In this tutorial, Coding compiler decided to talk about Process mining in simple words: what kind of technology it is and how it is used in practice, what are its key objectives. Let’s start with the definition. Process mining is a technology for visualizing and analyzing business processes based on the study of information system logs.

Process Mining Technology for Data Analysis & Visualization

If the company processes are quite well automated, the process mining gives a realistic picture of what is happening. This picture can be very different from the ideal picture (those business processes that were designed).

Example. One of the standard IT outsourcing processes : Incident management. The business process diagram, according to the standard, looks slim and clear (picture from the book ITIL Service Operation):

Process Mining Technology for Data Analysis & Visualization

The model of the same business process, but reconstructed from real data and visualized, looks like this:

Process Mining Technology for Data Analysis & Visualization

The difference is obvious. And it becomes clear that the theory is quite strongly at odds with practice.

The first picture shows the “ideal” business process diagram, which “ideally” should correspond to all incident handling processes. The process mining technology recreates one copy of the business process one at a time (the actions for processing each individual incident constitute a separate copy of the real business process) and combines them into the general diagram shown in the second figure.

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There can be a lot of differences between real business processes and planned work:

  • Strange routes for performing business processes (see the right-most route: the incident is open and immediately closed);
  • significant deviations (omitting mandatory steps, such as approval and confirmation);
  • returns the process to previous steps;
  • repetitions, process “hangs” on one operation, etc.

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Process mining makes it possible not only to look inside the business process, but also to manage it, exploring deviations and bottlenecks and taking actions to eliminate them. The technology has many different applications.

Capability 1. Process Audits

Who is useful.  Auditors, compliance professionals and information security specialists.

The bottom line:  

The recovered business processes are compared with the reference ones, special attention is paid to the omissions of the mandatory stages of the process (authorization, approval). Deviations from the standard implementation scheme may indicate serious violations, especially in the processes related to finances (budgeting, procurement) and in processes affecting security (including information).

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Our experience:

In big companie,  process mining is regularly used for internal audits. This is a requirement of ISO standards (9001, 20000, 27001).

Option 2: continuous process improvement

Who is useful for: everyone involved in process improvement, including:

  • teams using different quality management methods (TQM, Lean, Six Sigma, theory of constraints …);
  • business process owners – to optimize “their” processes;
  • business consultants – for services to optimize customer business processes.

The bottom line:

Process mining technology allows you to visually identify bottlenecks in business processes, collect statistics and analyze in different sections (time ranges, performers, contractors, etc.). This is the basis for making decisions on process optimization.

Our experience. We use Process mining, for example, in the Service Desk teams, to search for trends in incoming calls (incidents) and solve problems.

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Possibility 3: customer journeys and testing usability programs

This is useful for:  developers of sites and IT systems.

The bottom line:  

Website developers and other information systems can use process mining to verify the developed customer customer behavior scenarios, i.e. to see how users actually interact with the information system (which buttons are used and which are not, the order in which the pages of the website look, etc.). Some process mining tools allow you to do this in real time.

Opportunity 4. Selection and preparation of business processes for robotization

This is useful for:  consultants, developers of robots using RPA technology, as well as RPA customers.

The bottom line:

One of the most advanced automation technologies is the robot process automation (RPA): a developer writes a robot program that replaces the user in conjunction with the information system when performing routine tasks. Process mining helps to find a place in a business process where the use of a robot can have the greatest effect. Some process mining tools allow you to simulate business processes with robotic operations, based on the collected statistical data, calculating the potential economic effect of connecting a robot.

Our experience.  

Robots can be run from employees’ computers or from a server. A robot working on an employee’s computer cannot replace it with 100%. He is only capable of performing the tasks that the employee will assign to him. That is, he acts as a digital assistant. At the same time, the robot can significantly relieve a person, because the robotic module is installed on the user’s computer in addition to the installed applications.

And when a task appears for a robot, a person simply starts a program that automatically performs the task. However, it must be remembered that at this time the computer is occupied by a robot and the user cannot perform other tasks on it. But in the time released, you can make a phone call to a client or discuss a joint project with colleagues.

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Ability 5. Process mining and data science (data mining)

This is useful for:  data mining analysts.

The bottom line:

Data science techniques and tools work with data and, as a rule, do not pay attention to the processes that resulted in these data. For example, there is a CRM database with detailed information about customers, their contacts with the company and transactions. With data mining, you can extract useful information about products and consumers: segment consumers.

But if you understand that each transaction is the result of the process of customer interaction with the company, and by studying these processes themselves, you can get a deeper understanding of what is happening: information about how customers appear, how they make decisions about working with the company, which affects the company it is a decision, and, in the end, why customers are leaving.

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Limitations of Process Mining Technology

Although the process mining technology is based on verified mathematical algorithms, it does not have magical properties and will not force the company’s business processes to work more efficiently. One of the main limitations is the adequacy of displaying the progress of a real business process with data from the information system logs. If some steps of the business process are performed manually or recorded in the information system after an arbitrary time after execution, the process mining tool can give a distorted picture of what is happening.

The second limitation is the need to interpret the results of the analysis. Deviations of business processes from regulations or bottlenecks in the processes should be investigated by the analyst, is there really a loss for the business or the possibility of improving efficiency.

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Despite obvious technical limitations, process mining is one of the advanced technologies of the  fourth industrial revolution , which are already used in large companies with a developed IT infrastructure for managing processes and in the future can become a standard technology for advanced companies.

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