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How integrating process mining with workflow and automation creates responsive, efficient organisations

“Change is not a matter of convenience. It’s now a matter of necessity.”

These are the words of Matt Calkins, co-founder and CEO of Appian, a low-code automation platform that helps companies respond to the demands of customers, employees and regulatory bodies as they navigate today’s turbulent business environment.

“Over the last two years, we have all learned that change is a necessity and getting good at making change and being efficient in adopting a new pattern is really important,” says Calkins. “And process mining is like the front door of Appian’s change engine.” 

Process mining is a diagnostic that reveals what’s really happening in your organisation in terms of actions, sequences, and patterns. 

“Some people liken it to an x-ray because it sees inside the patterns of your workplace to tell you what’s truly going on,” Calkins explains. “Who’s doing what? What happens after action X happens? And how long do you have to wait? And how expensive is that? And did you keep your customer waiting?”

Calkins says that companies often think they know how their organisation operates, but they often have little insight into how work is actually being undertaken across the business. 

This makes it challenging to identify the root cause of process inefficiencies, forcing businesses to use assumptions and intuition instead of data to solve process challenges.

“Process mining produces this beautiful flow chart that tells you what happens, and then what else happens, and then what happens after that. It’s like arrows in boxes. And you can look at that and ask: ‘Why are we doing this?’ or ‘Why did we wait so long to do that?’ or, ‘Why is this being done by a person when it could have been done automatically by a robot or by an API?’”

Matt Calkins, co-founder and CEO, Appian

Process Mining makes it easy for organisations to:

  • Identify bottlenecks by visualising process inefficiencies, identifying key variants, and going deep into analysis
  • Improve performance and results through automated root cause analysis, out-of-the-box analytics, and customised dashboards
  • Achieve continuous optimisation by creating proactive alerts, ensuring conformance by automatically detecting deviations between target and actual processes and predicting process behaviours

Appian Process Mining features a no-code module that simplifies the preparation and transformation of enterprise data, removing the single largest friction point in process mining and enabling customers to spend more time improving and automating workflows. 

“You can learn a lot of things from these x-rays,” explains Calkins. “You can learn how your organisation is really functioning and how efficient it is, whether you’re wasting money, whether you’re frustrating your customers. It’s a great way to pose a question, but it’s not a great way to answer it.” 

Linking process mining to workflow and automation

Historically, the process mining industry has been about obtaining a diagnosis. To use Calkin’s analogy, it has been the x-ray, but not the cure.

“By bringing process mining together with workflow and automation, Appian allows the diagnostic to flow right into the cure. And that’s the real magic,” says Calkins.

Once process mining has identified an inefficiency, the Appian platform uses low-code to draw a representation of a more efficient workflow visually.  After the new process has been implemented, the second round of process mining can confirm that the problem has been solved, and this becomes a cycle that delivers continuous improvement.

Reimagining process mining

Calkin says that Appian’s approach to process mining diverges from the rest of the process mining industry in several ways.

The first is in weaving multiple data sources together, so the x-ray is not just of one system. This creates workflows and automation that delivers speed, efficiency and are scalability.

“Perhaps the most important distinction is the way our process mining results feeds into workflow because it means that the diagnostic can become the cure,” says Calkins. “That’s the golden spike that brings together two areas of functionality that are much better together.

“Also, the industry hasn’t always been cloud-focused, but Appian is; we’re thoroughly cloud.”

Although companies must provide resources and expertise to help connect data sources successfully, Calkins says that this results in a quick return on investment (ROI).

“Work is routed in a new direction, and this saves money, is more accurate and faster. So those are your three main vectors of savings: we’re going to make more correct decisions, we’ll make them more quickly, and we’ll save money by routing them to lower-cost means of resolution.”

Another benefit is that it is easy to measure the impact of new workflows on operations. Just like an x-ray, Calkins recommends regular checkups to confirm that any changes made to processes continue to deliver an acceptable ROI. 

He cites businesses that require speed and accuracy as those that experience the best ROI; customer-orientated organisations, service businesses, retail, and industries like financial services that operate within a tight regulatory framework.

While the opportunity to improve a company’s customer experience through faster, more seamless processes is obvious, processing mining can also help with customer retention by efficiently handling customer complaints. It can identify ways that customers want to do business differently and is equally effective in identifying how employees wish to structure their work life. 

But no matter the industry, Calkins believes that the benefits of process mining can only be optimised when it is integrated with the design and automation of more efficient processes. “If you believe that change is important, you can’t afford to not respond to the diagnostic.” 

Click here to learn more about Appian Process Mining.

Clare Loewenthal

Clare Loewenthal

Clare is an author, business commentator and passionate contributor to Dynamic Business. She was the Founder and Publisher of Dynamic Small Business magazine, which became Australia’s largest small business publication.

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