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Process intelligence drives radical operational transparency

By Michael Engel - Intelligent Automation & Process Intelligence Leader, PwC and Rudy Kuhn - VP & Head Ambassador, Process Mining, UiPath | Published: January 4, 2022 | Read time: 8 minutes

How upskilling in process and task mining can lead to business management transformation

Businesses are chasing ways to implement automation to drive efficiencies, reduce errors and create more time for value-driven activities. But how do you identify the best places to implement automation objectively? How do you determine which departments and functions will deliver the highest ROI from automation and a citizen-led program? 

You can start by upskilling your people in automation technologies so they can learn to build these digital solutions and improve upon them over time to increase efficiencies.

The ongoing process intelligence revolution can help organizations push the boundaries of what automation can do for them. It can go further toward data-driven transformation by giving you a path to identify the most time and cost effective places to apply automation in your business objectively—and in real time. And once you know where to focus, you can upskill people in those areas, enabling them to contribute in ways that can help transform your business.

What is process intelligence?

Process intelligence continuously, and automatically, assesses your process data at scale to give you data-driven insights about how employees and systems are performing in your organization. These insights are essential to envisioning a future state—a vision that can inform where automation will boost efficiencies and accelerate transformation. 

Process intelligence can involve process mining, task mining and task capture. Process mining gives you visibility into how your business processes play out so you can see the bottlenecks, fix applications and then move directly to automating repetitive tasks. Task mining and task capture get granular. They can drill down—even to keystrokes and mouse clicks—on individual steps in a larger process. That gives you hyper-visibility into just how much can be automated. 

Think of process mining like recording video footage of every movement workers make on an automobile assembly line. And then having thousands of the world’s top engineers evaluate those movements, making recommendations on how to be more accurate and efficient.

Task mining is like zooming in on how each car part was created at individual work stations. You can leverage task mining to understand a holistic view of an end-to-end process by monitoring, identifying and then analyzing user actions at the desktop level. 

Task capture zooms in even further by recording individual user interactions to add context to where a process starts and stops. Ideally, this involves recording subject matter experts (SMEs) walking through processes so they can set the bar for leading practices. In the finance function, for example, a SME could digitally capture how they execute accounts payable or accounts receivable. This provides a template that defines the ideal steps for a task. 

The end results can provide you with system logs as well as read outs of all the steps, and their variants, an employee has to take to complete a task. 

The benefits of process intelligence

Combining task mining and process mining gives you an x-ray of your business processes and spot opportunities for automation. It gives you a solution that’s scalable, accurate, fast, unbiased and continuous. 

By combining data science software and process management, process mining analyzes your business’ event data and figures out how your processes are being performed within your systems, people, systems and existing automations. These powerful analytics on your current state can help you create key performance indicators for individual processes. 

Task mining can further refine your findings—right down to individual steps performed by small groups of employees. You can get a breakdown of all the small steps that go into a process, giving you the ability to pinpoint repetitive tasks with high automation potential. 

Process and task mining can also help you cut costs. They lend transparency to how teams use time and tools. For example, if you’re paying for a whole suite of applications, but discover your employees only use two of them, you can cancel some subscriptions and save money.

Process intelligence can essentially deliver an objective roadmap for what—and where—you can improve. The insights you can glean from this kind of event data analysis are invaluable. They give operational leaders, and the enterprise as a whole, the radical transparency to drive improvements with shorter timelines to ROI. This is about building a better future state—quickly.

How do you get started in a way that delivers the most ROI?

If you’re a big company and you want to start process automation, process discovery via task or process mining is the first step. This kind of technology can help you get targeted in your efforts so it’s not overwhelming. Process mining can identify where you need automation the most, which people to train, which function to start in and where you’ll get the most ROI out of the gate. 

PwC upskilled and digitally transformed the finance function first. This tends to be true for a lot of organizations due to the sheer number of administrative and transactional processes rooted in the finance function. Within PwC’s first year of implementing RPA, they automated over 30,000 hours. What did they do with all that extra time? They doubled the time spent on generating business driving insights. These are the kinds of wins you can go for. 

To further increase your ROI, you can even go beyond centralized, enterprise-driven automation with a managed automation marketplace. PwC’s ProEdge, an upskilling and citizen-led innovation platform, has a built-in automation marketplace, called Share. In Share, people can make automation suggestions based on what process and task mining revealed. It’s also a repository of peer-built digital assets employees can use to solve your business’s unique challenges and scale the benefits of automation.

Process intelligence helps citizen-led automation programs evolve

Citizen-led automation programs can empower the people closest to problems to figure out what to automate and how. While these kinds of programs have seen success, they're limited. They only allow your employees to identify priorities and save time at a micro level—one task, and one citizen, at a time. 

Process intelligence gives the business a view into inefficiencies across an entire organization—especially in systems. Process and task mining and task capture discover inefficient points in your processes and identify what can be automated. 

So, if process intelligence gives you this kind of visibility—and helps you scale the benefits of automation faster—what does that mean for the future of citizen-led automation programs?

They’ll need to evolve. 

Citizen-led developers can adopt facilitator roles, leveraging process intelligence to inform their decisions about when, and where, to run automations—tweaking them as needed. Process mining can be used to continually check whether or not processes are fully optimized. And process mining can manage and monitor the efficiency of citizen-led automation programs.

PwC and UiPath take the guesswork out of upskilling your people in process intelligence

To get the most out of process intelligence, you need ways to share how other people solved problems and used—and improved—an automation asset. And you need to train people on how to leverage the process and task mining tools that can give them these insights. PwC ProEdge and UiPath offer the training and the platform to help you do just that. 

ProEdge Learn gives your people access to UiPath courses that walk your people through how to conduct process and task mining: 

  • UiPath Process Mining uses the data from your back-end business applications (like ERP and CRM) to give you a detailed understanding of complex business processes. It uses the digital footprints left behind in your systems and applications to show you everything that happens in your processes, helping to identify process inefficiencies and automation opportunities. 

  • UiPath Task Mining helps you identify and aggregate employee workflows, then applies AI to identify repetitive tasks to add to your automation opportunity pipeline. You’ll know how work gets done and what to automate.

Once your people are upskilled through these courses, they can better leverage ProEdge Share. 

Process intelligence, combined with automation know-how, empowers an organization and its citizen-developers. There’s no longer any guessing about what automations make the most sense or where to use them. This winning combination provides a targeted, accurate way of making sure users get real value from ProEdge on day one—as well as measuring the ROI of automation efforts.

UiPath training delivered through ProEdge can help your people quickly and easily develop bots around the processes they do every day. ProEdge Share helps your people disseminate the automations they build, as well as see how other people solved problems, use peer-built assets—and improve them. And if an employee doesn’t have time, or the know-how, to build an automation themselves, they can submit an idea via the platform and a citizen developer with the right skills can bring it to life. 

The future of process intelligence will be human-led, tech-powered

Process intelligence is a powerful tool that gives us an objective, holistic picture of how we’re spending our time in the workplace and delivers valuable insights into how we can be more efficient.

In execution, this should be a human-led and tech-powered endeavor. Humans will always be the ones who decide if how they’re spending their time is justified and worthwhile. Time is a finite, and arguably all-important, resource. Being empowered to use it in the most effective way possible can be transformational for individuals and entire organizations.

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