Enterprise operations tend to be full of variations, which arise because of reasons like – regulatory requirements based on the geography of the client catered to, non-standardized execution of tasks, introduction of rework due to errors etc. When pushing for inclusion of automation, it becomes of primary importance to get hold of the nuances that occur in each instance of the process. To aid this, process mining is a powerful tool that analyses the processes running across enterprise systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management(CRM) etc. and based on the information captured in the event logs, comes up with process maps. Subsequently, the mapped processes, with numerous variants, are studied with reference to a standard, with the aim of process optimization and possible automation. Huge success has been seen across industries, but many organizations are still reluctant to adopt the solution due to various factors like lack of awareness, apprehensions related to data security, ambiguity in choosing the right way to go forward with adoption etc. Contrary to the beliefs that these organizations hold, process mining has the ability to improve transparency of the workflow which in turn eases the decision making process & helps to detect any threats to data in the process cycle.
But once an enterprise understands the need and goes forward with this approach, there are certain factors that it should consider in order to reap maximum benefits:
Business Process Management (BPM) maturity
Based on BPM maturity, organizations can be broadly classified as function oriented and process oriented. In function-oriented organizations, business functions such as sales, marketing, finance etc. work as isolated silos and there is minimal coordination among them as the processes are not clearly defined. Process Mining has a huge potential to help define the end-to-end processes and give in-depth understanding of the process flow. Also, cross functional coordination and operations get promoted (as, operations get governed by long end to end processes, it encompasses involvement of different functional units at various touchpoints, promoting collaborations in order to achieve the final goal), leading to improved productivity. But, such enterprises may have a greater threshold to execute as work has to start from scratch, with defining process ownership responsibilities and backing from management (a clean slate approach has to be taken to design process oriented operations, and in doing so proper planning & backing from the management is a prerequisite. Process ownership responsibilities are to be defined so as to have accountability at various checkpoints. All these initiatives call for great amount of efforts).
In case of process-oriented organizations which have a mature BPM, process owners are already defined so implementation is straightforward and changes are easier to identify and implement.
Identification of process exceptions
As per Pareto principle, 80% of the outputs are achieved by 20% of efforts, while remaining 20% outputs call for 80% of efforts. The same is true for enterprise processes, as the 20% exceptions require a major chunk of efforts to execute and manage. Thus, it becomes imperative to identify and eliminate these exceptions which come in the form of rework, long lead times etc. So, the aim here should be to identify such exceptions and help enterprises eliminate them to increase process efficiency and employee productivity.
Application across gamut of processes
Usually, when enterprises go for Process Mining, they focus only on a few processes which they think are subpar and need intervention and stop once those are corrected. But a better approach would be to apply the tool to other processes as well to uncover the true potential and further improve operational efficiency in all sets of processes
Integration across enterprise operations
Enterprises should make Process Mining a part of their regular operations. This becomes quite useful to quick check for any bottlenecks. Once bottlenecks are identified, the process optimization activity gets expedited. The tool can also be utilized for development projects which are aimed at delivering certain specific objectives.
Ability to deliver process excellence
The success of a process is determined by the impact it creates across the various touchpoints during the flow. Therefore, Process Mining should be deployed keeping factors like customer satisfaction, internal efficiency and process automation in mind. Process excellence is achieved only if these three factors are taken care of by the discovery and mining activity. This calls for having a clear vision in terms of what is expected from the Process Mining activity.
Enterprises need to have in depth interactions with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in order to understand where they stand with respect to the above factors and how different Process Mining offerings in the market can help them achieve their objectives and then decide on the right vendor for themselves. As many organizations do not have a strong base of SMEs, a good approach could be to leverage the outsourcing organizations or technology partners who have vast experience in carrying out such evaluations.
To tackle the challenge at the client’s end it is important to start with understanding the current processes first. Process Mining, thus, becomes an integral part from the very beginning of the solution design process. It helps us understand the as-is processes and then once the understanding is established it further guides the transformation & automation initiatives in the subsequent steps.
Keeping the quality & thoroughness of solutions in mind, in-house capabilities in the discipline are developed, strengthened by partnerships with market leaders.
An end-to-end solution which employs a structured approach to help study processes will identify the key benefits of process mining. Knowledge can be captured using a codified approach which helps in easing process identification; then the processes can be studied for variance through the harmonization feature which helps to identify opportunities to standardize and consolidate processes across the organization. An algorithm driven automation feature helps to identify areas with high potential for automation. A process library, which keeps a catalogue of golden processes, is often used as a quick reference to develop challenge specific processes for transformation. There should also be a compliance & governance feature too which ensures risk management & strict alignment.
Key to provide an effective solution depends a lot on understanding the processes in effect. Thus, deeper the understanding one can derive, better gets the possibility of proposing a transformative solution that can benefit the enterprise facing the challenge. Keeping this is mind, process mining can be thought of as the foundation of the transformative tower one wants to create, and thus it becomes imperative to lay special emphasis on its successful implementation.
The author is Amit Vikram, Head of Operations Transformation Advisory – Enterprise Operations Transformation (EOT), Wipro.