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Process and Task Mining: A Story of Successful Combination

by Ant Sh
Process and Task Mining: A Story of Successful Combination

Process and task mining tools can be combined in different ways. Some organizations apply process mining first, to map current processes and identify the high-level pain points in their operations, pinpointing key inefficiencies and “breakdown” points. Then they apply task mining in those areas, to create a granular view of where employees are spending their time, which tools they are using, and how activities differ across business units, teams, and individuals.

Alternatively, some companies start with task mining, to gain an understanding of the tasks that absorb the largest share of employee time. They then apply process mining to create a more granular view of the specific activities that drive delays, mistakes, and inefficiencies in those tasks.

A global distributor of industrial products used the latter approach to improve its customer support model after a major acquisition. With more than 100,000 customers and thousands of suppliers, the analysis had to be comprehensive and large scale, but the company also wanted a transaction-level view of the work done by its sales teams for actionable insights.

It began by applying task mining to analyze the activities of around 100 sales employees across the business. That work showed that salespeople spent approximately one-third of their computer time on order entry activities, with more than half of that time used to double-check and correct basic information such as pricing and availability.

To understand the root causes of all that rework, the company then used process mining to analyze 1.5 million transactions across the three major systems that operated its quote-to-cash process. Process mining showed that 65% of orders required manual updates by sales employees, even though many of those orders were routine stock-and-flow transactions with regular customers. Downstream, manual interventions were also required on up to one-third of invoices.

This two-pronged analysis enabled the company to implement a suite of measures to transform efficiency in its order-to-cash process. By increasing automation and adjusting processes it dramatically reduced the need for manual intervention in order and invoice creation. In addition, it implemented coaching for teams on the best way to use the tools available to them. These changes unlocked $30 million in efficiency savings, freeing up significant sales employee time to focus on the company’s growth goals.

The process mining initiative also revealed several hidden sources of value loss. Reducing lost sales due to write-offs and invalid customer credit information boosted revenues by $18 million. Stronger discipline around payment terms delivered a $5 million reduction in working capital requirements. Most importantly, process improvements helped the distributor address a key pain point for customers, increasing on-time, in-full shipments by 10% to 15%.

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