My last article (“Process Intelligence Exists!”) introduced the incredibly powerful process insight technology that leverages existing IT systems to reveal how business processes really operate. It exposes process “blindspots” , and makes it easy for virtually anyone to figure out whats going right – or whats going wrong. Every time I show somebody this capability for the first time, thier answer is always punctuated by the exclamation – “I had no idea!”
But lets give credit where credit is due: It was advanced Business Intelligence tools that introduced the idea that anyone – not just analysts – could develop actionable information with the right application. Sophisticated, easy to use dashboards and analytics introduced a bunch of new ways to look at data. But BI has one key drawback – it’s designed to facilitate analysis at a particular point in time. It was not designed for “temporal” analytics – or how a series of events relate to one another across time. Which is of course, the very definition of process. Incorporating “time” into our design enables fresh insight into step-by-step business processes and allows you to visualize complex (customer) journey mapping.
Intelligent process mining traces the digital footprint of business processes. It connects multiple records belonging to the same business entity (patient, online order, insurance claim, etc.) and puts them into the context of the process using these records. This delivers some unique and tangible benefits not attainable through Business Intelligence – essentially you get an “x-ray” (if you will) of every and any variation of any process. Once you see how processes are really being executed; what they cost, and what is driving different behaviors – then you can start to zero in on how to optimize your business. This depth and breadth of information makes it possible to solve for a variety of outcomes: efficiency (time and money), risk mitigation (compliance), or even the customer experience (service levels). More importantly, this technology enables true near-real time automated montoring and alerting for unsanctioned behaviours.
That brings me to the point I wanted to make in this article. I’ve spent a lot of time in the technical world – it is easy to forget that other folks don’t have suffecient context, or understand the jargon we commonly use. With that in mind, here’s my countdown of the top 10 questions that Intelligent Process Mining answers — and why that should matter to you. I believe these will resonate as questions many of you still struggle to answer. Well, now you can get answers…
- Can I visualize how current processes actually operate?
- NO NO NO – not the way they are supposed to operate… not the way somebody says it does… not the way a few cases (which grabbed your attention) worked – but how it works in every single case, including all of those wild and wonderful variations.
- Can I identify “special” process cases?
- For example, what about cases where the same task was repeated 20 times? Or 100 times? In my experience you may be surprised how oftewn this occurs. These “special” cases are typically invisible on reports with “averaged” metrics — however they are likley contributing to high costs and unhappy, very vocal, customers.
- Can I visualize work flow of an entire end to end business process, or just a subset of the process?
- Yup – now there one single place that you can see how your business processes are operating, regardless of how many back end systems it transcends, highlighting all of the delays, bottlenecks, outliers, and even items moving in the wrong direction!
- Can I measure the time separating any number of steps in a process?
- We got it. What makes getting this answer especially challenging is the very complex correlations possible between the “starting step” and the “ending step” Think multiple payments for the same invoice or multiple invoices for the same order. Both would require you to specify the time between the last invoice and the last payment. And nope, you can’t do it with SQL.
- Can I determine the cost profile associated with any particular process?
- This one is cool because we can calculate time-related costs. For almost any process cost includes fixed amounts, the per unit amounts, and the time related costs. Once you can measure the time, you may calculate the cost and tie the cost to the specific business process or customer. This could completely change your profitability picture.
- Can I fully understand what happens in any workflow queues?
- No worries. Queues – represented by documents, tasks, incidents, or tickets – typically number in the hundreds to thousands in any orgnaization. Do you know how long the tasks are sitting in the queues? What it be useful to know how many queues it takes to complete a task? Or which employee continually places items in the wrong queue?
- Can I compare process execution paths based on both duration and cost?
- We took care of that for you. Its pretty obvious that when your goal is to optimize, the natural question is “what has the most impact?” So chances are, giving you insight into the fact that when a process skips step “D”, it takes 25% longer to complete and costs 15% more might be appreciated.
- Can I search by process patterns?
- Now your talkin’ our bread and butter. While search is a key functionality of any IT system and most applications allow you to search by attribute values, process flows presents a level of complexity that can make this really hard to quantify – unless you have the right technology. For example, find me all cases where A and C happened within 12 hours of each other but there was no step B inbetween them? THINK ABOUT THAT. Process Query / Search is incredibly powerful and allows you to easily answer questions that you never thought possible – well at least with out huge amounts of effort and a large amount of code!
- Can I solve for a process compliance problem?
- A resounding yes. Moreover, you can solve it for 100% of your business process rather than relying on random spot checks or statistical inference. Intelligent Process Mining uncovers any particular sequence of events as well as required time intervals. Can you categorically state that there have been no process compliance risks – and can you prove it? Sorry, no more excuses.
- Can I receive alerts about important process violations right after they happen – in time to recover?
- Perhaps the most powerful capability this technology introduces is thye ability to constantly monitor SLA’s and compliance risks in ‘near real time’. No more depending on the next monthly report. Real time monitoring and alerting lets process owners fix problems before it’s too late. Put that document back in the right queue, check the policy behind the claim, verify customer credit etc.
If I’ve captured your imagination – good. The excuse that “we didn’t know” is now a thing of the past for any organization that conducts business on IT systems. Ring me up and let’s see if I can get you to say, “I had no idea!”
About the author
Joseph Rayfield is an accomplished business professional with a proven domestic and international track record of delivery in aggressive growth environments. Joe has an extensive background in technology – ranging from Data & Hosting networks through to Enterprise SaaS Software Solutions, most recently spending time focusing on Business Process and Business Intelligence solutions, providing value for Enterprise customers and partners. Joe has worked in senior management positions in EMEA, Asia Pacific and the US – currently focusing on Global Business Development for TimelinePI.