Productivity and process mining:

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3 ways to solve the productivity puzzle with process mining

By Marcell Vollmer

According to the Office for National Statistics, workplace productivity in the UK has fallen at the fastest rate in five years.

Continuous transformation has added unwanted complexity to the business infrastructure. While the proliferation of digital tools was supposed to help streamline and automate business processes, it has actually had an adverse effect. Competing tools are fighting each other, making it difficult to obtain actionable information and making processes unnecessarily time-consuming.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. In recent years, new technology has emerged that allows you to understand how work really works in your organization and take decisive action backed by real data.

This technology is process mining: a process analysis methodology that aims to discover, monitor and improve business processes in real time by extracting knowledge from event logs in an organization's digital systems.

So how can process mining help you improve your company's productivity?

Bring all your digital tools together for more agility:

Companies around the world are striving to optimise, innovate and accelerate their core operations in order to drive efficiency, productivity and excellent customer service.

But in doing so, they have - slowly but surely - added layers and layers of complexity to their operations: with each digital transformation project, they are creating more friction, complexity and less transparency in their processes as they expand their share of software and technology providers. Sound familiar?

Rushing into an abstract notion of transformation without fully understanding the environment you are trying to change or the results you hope to achieve is a mistake. To be effective, analysis must be done at the enterprise level, not in silos. Integration across systems and technologies is not only beneficial, it is essential to help your business optimise critical operational pathways and increase internal productivity.

Process mining can help answer this challenge. By gaining insight into the overall complexity of your digital infrastructure, you can easily see the entire process flow and streamline it to make it more efficient.

One of the benefits of integrating all your digital tools into a single platform is that it helps you identify which of your processes are most suitable for automation. Indeed, process discovery allows you to easily select the right ones, and even discover processes that you may not have known could be automated. This forms the perfect foundation for any RPA (robotic process automation) initiative, if you are looking to use "software robots" for manual, repetitive and error-prone tasks.

This can lead to significant productivity gains. A recent Gartner study suggests that robotic process automation (RPA) could save finance departments, in particular, around 25,000 hours of avoidable labour each year.

Identify process bottlenecks that cost your company money:

As a business leader, it is important to gain full visibility of your organizational processes, which can be optimised and improved, to provide the agility and focus needed to deliver value to your customers on a sustainable and continuous basis. This is why you often end up hiring expensive and time-consuming consultants to help you identify one or two areas for improvement, but never get into the reality of the matter.

The problem with this scenario is that your organization needs to be constantly evolving and agile. And your processes with it. But manual process mapping is slow and cumbersome, and your processes end up being out of touch and out of step with the direction you want your business to take.

Now imagine this: a visual map that shows you the reality of all the activities taking place during a particular process, with all the variations and complications, highlighting exactly what is going wrong or what could be improved. In real time.

By connecting to all your ERP systems and creating a single source of reliable data in just a couple of minutes that identifies all the steps in your processes and how they can be improved, process mining helps you eliminate duplication of effort, waste and inefficiencies that hinder business productivity - without any (consultant) sweat equity!

Help your teams focus on what matters most:

Technology has revolutionised the way we work. However, despite these extraordinary changes, there is still a lot of "work about work". Recent research has shown that employees spend up to 28% of their time at work doing administrative tasks, which bring no value to the company. Now that's a productivity killer.

In this digital age, it's about working smarter, not harder. By visualising the steps in a process and understanding their effect on process duration, it's easy to identify redundant or time-consuming tasks that are holding back your employees' productivity. This means eliminating repetition, reducing manual interventions and spending less time diagnosing and resolving delays.

When your employees can see where these processes are consuming time, taking different paths or simply not delivering, they can reclaim attention, time and energy that can be reinvested in more creative, value-generating activities that tangibly improve the customer experience.

And it works across the board: lower-skilled staff will be able to focus on higher value-added tasks, while leaders will have a more complete view of the company's operations, helping to drive positive impact towards business goals rather than micro-managing day-to-day activities.

About the Author: Marcell Vollmer Director of Innovation

Marcell Vollmer leads Celonis' partnership and commercialisation teams as Chief Innovation Officer. A former business process owner, Vollmer evangelises the power of process mining and is a key executive sponsor for some of the world's largest companies. Vollmer is a 14-year SAP veteran who held the position of Chief Digital Officer at SAP Ariba, where he drove strategies to help the world's leading companies remove complexity from procurement and supply chain. Prior to that, he was Chief Procurement Officer at SAP, where he led more than 200 professionals who managed billions in global spend volume and built a shared services team. Prior to that, he held strategic project and finance positions at SAP.

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