Ultimate Guide to Process Mining


Process mining is a pivotal part of business process management that helps maintain operational efficiency and helps business owners understand their operations at a deeper level.

Process mining is a fairly new strategy that has been implemented in business over the past few years and it is a very valuable tool. It helps businesses bridge that gap between their processes as they exist and their processes as they should be. In this guide, you’ll learn what process mining is, what it can do for your business, and how to effectively implement it as a strategy.

Process Mining Terms to Know

Process mining is a system that has several different moving parts. When you’re learning about how to implement this type of strategy, you may come across some terms that you’re not familiar with that are key components of process mining as a whole. In this section, you’ll get familiarized with some of those terms.

Activity: Tasks that are performed for a process instance.

Data Attribute: Additional data or information related to the process such as demographic information or purchase order amounts.

Event: This can refer to an activity (described above) or an event instance as it relates to a process instance; events happen at a specific time.

Event Class: This typically refers to all of the different types of events that are contained in the log.

Event Instance: Event instances are the types of recorded events or activities in the event log.

Event Log: The event log is a recording of a set of events, where all of the information is stored.

Event Type: Event type refers to the state of each activity such as “to be started” or “completed.”

Log: The log refers to the log that contains all of the things that have happened. This is a record of all of your activities, events, processes, and so on.

Process Instance: This refers to the specific object that events occur on or for. A process instance could be a patient (medical), a client, a specific machine, case, etc.

Resource: Resource is the term used to describe any person, system, or service that can execute an activity.

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What Is Process Mining?

Process mining is defined as a “process analysis method that aims to discover, monitor, and improve real processes.” It doesn’t look as assumed processes but processes that are actually occurring in your business. This is a very bare-bones definition of it.

Looking deeper, process mining is more of an umbrella term that encompasses multiple components of process management including methods and technology. Any process that relies on accessible data can be analyzed through process mining. In today’s world, almost every process is digitized in business so this is a broadly applicable method of tracking the individual activities and overall processes in your business.

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Process mining, since it is centered on real processes, allows you to look at how individual processes transpire in your business instead of looking at how your processes should be transpiring. It gives you a true picture of how you’re operating and allows you to analyze that information to make changes or simply monitor how things move in your business. Not only is it an effective tool to use on its own, but it also can effectively integrate with other process management techniques to improve your operations and ensure efficiency, compliance, and progress.

One thing that is important to note about process mining is that it goes beyond just looking at the data and operations as they are. That is the core of it; however, it also examines the context in which these processes occur which allows for more effective analysis. The biggest benefit of process mining is that it doesn’t force you to make business decisions based on projections. Everything is completely based on facts and the reality of your business.

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What Is A Process?

Before diving deeper into process mining, you should have a more solid understanding of exactly what a process is. The term process refers to a series of steps (also known as actions in process mining) that make up a single task and take it through the initial starting point to the clearly defined state of being complete. Defining business processes in a solid way allows you to establish a flow of how each task should be completed. Having a definite flow makes it easier for your employees and you to make sure that everything is happening as efficiently as possible. It also helps keep things consistent.

Process efficiency is critical to the success of your business. There are so many variables in terms of who is completing each task and what departments contribute to each process. Because there is so much room for error with all of the variables, having an established flow helps minimize that chance for error. Defining the flow of a task from start to finish also allows you to see where any weaknesses may be in your business as a process takes place.

Processes are also not static or constant. They will change as your business changes because you are likely to be innovating and adapting to the way that your industry and the technologies used in business will change over time.

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What Is Mining?

Process mining gets its name from data mining. In data mining, you are mining data in order to use that information to solve a problem or answer a question. You’re extracting information from wherever the data is stored when you conduct data mining. Process mining is similar. Instead of mining for data, you’re instead mining all of your processes for information on how they flow and each individual activity or task that makes up the process. Mining, in a sense, is just discovery.

The data that is mined in process mining is what is stored in the event logs. It gives you a perspective on the entire process and the way that it runs instead of being zeroed in on a specific incident. This allows you to discover the details of the process, examine patterns, identify trends, and more.

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The History of Process Mining

Process mining has existed in at least some form since back in 2008. Gartner first began reporting on the topic as Automated Business Process Discovery. ABPD is sometimes just referred to as business process discovery and it refers to the techniques that allow a business to identify its processes and examine their variations. This usually is relegated to the major processes within a business’ operations rather than all of the processes.

Process mining was largely an academic topic for the first few years that it was being discussed. Wil Van der Alst, a computer scientist, was the first person to really dive deep into the concept. In 2011, a company called Celonis was founded and Van der Alst is the Chief Scientific Advisor. Celonis makes process mining software. It was after the emergence of Celonis that process mining became more relevant as a practice for businesses to adopt.

It didn’t truly start to get the attention that it is now until Gartner published a market guide for process mining in 2018. This guide explained more about how process mining could be applied in business and analyzed the current software that was on the market. Afterward, process mining became center stage.

Historically, businesses had to manually keep track of all of their processes. Even the first iterations of ABPD tools focused on the bigger picture when it came to processes. Now, process mining allows businesses to get a more granular look at their processes and the most recent predictions assert that process mining is going to become the standard way to examine what goes on in the overall operations of a business.

Now that business process management is understood to be truly valuable, mining those processes to understand every corner of your workflows is extremely important. Process mining has significant impacts on how effective your process discovery is and the amount of time that it takes. Even though process mining is not a particularly new concept, it still holds up to today’s standards in the world of business.

Now, through process mining, things like process discovery and analysis are simpler. The depth at which businesses can understand their operations has expanded and that means that the ways businesses can optimize and streamline operations have improved. Process mining fits easily with business process management software, robotics process automation, and more.