Task mining: stop guessing and start knowing
Task mining: stop guessing and start knowing By Kai Ahrendt, Chief Sales Officer, UltimateSuite
The pandemic has dramatically and rapidly changed working practices across a range of industries. The challenge that many companies now face is how to bring productivity back to previous levels, which is particularly challenging when the employees are working from home, some never having been in the office and never having met with the supervisors. This results in potential gaps in training and a lack of visibility into how processes are being executed.
Alongside this, the growing shift to automation has continued, saving time, increasing efficiency and improving ROI as more and more processes are handled by bots and agents. But while automation (and even hyper-automation) is promoted as the answer to increasing efficiency of processes, it isn’t as simple as plug and play. There are far more layers of complexity involved than are obvious. The key is making sure the right tasks are automated and in the right way, to do this effectively it’s critical that they are identified and their impact measured correctly.
To help solve both of these challenges, we must first understand what those processes comprise and how they are being undertaken. Deploying automation without the visibility or knowledge of what needs automating, where why and how often will result in increased inefficiencies rather than benefits and at the same time, improving the efficiency of remote or hybrid workforces also requires insights into how they are working. Companies need to take a step back and start with understanding what works for their businesses and staff, and what doesn’t.
Stop guessing and start knowing
Many business leaders are ignoring the elephant in the room and therefore failing to engage with the problem. To gain valuable insights, it’s critical to drill down and analyze not just processes across the enterprise, but the processes undertaken by each individual in every department. By gathering data from the processes and tasks at both a macro and micro level businesses gain a view of what processes or tasks are currently being undertaken, how long they take, whether they work and whether it can or indeed can they be automated if this makes sense from an ROI perspective.
Once businesses understand operations, they can then move towards aligning this with strategic objectives. For example, at UltimateSuite we have a number of banking clients, one of which wanted to make client meetings for loan applications more effective. To do this, they first needed to understand current client meeting factors, such as how long it takes to complete applications and meeting duration. Once presented with that information, the bank was able to change that process so that it better serves its customers.
But we can drill down even deeper to have further impact. Identifying processes is one approach, but there is opportunity for leaders to get even more granular, detailed information to better inform operations and meet organizational productivity targets and this is where task mining comes into play.
Process mining vs. task mining
We have talked about both tasks and processes and these two terms are often used interchangeably. However, when it comes to the technology, process mining and task mining are indeed two quite different things that are often confused.
Let’s start with what they have in common, both discover opportunities to optimize operational efficiencies, but they do this in different ways.
Process mining informs leaders about what they need to transform. It highlights what activities are happening at a macro level across the enterprise, and when. It analyzes end-to-end processes to optimize the business operating model. As it requires a view of the organization, process mining needs to be implemented enterprise-wide and integrated into an applications and database portfolio.
If process mining informs leaders about what needs to be transformed, task mining tells them how to transform it. Agents can analyze steps within a process based on individuals department-wide rather than enterprise-wide. The individual analysis subsequently focusing on different departments allows for more granular detail into how individuals work and how to support them to do their best work. With the data made visible through task mining, organizations can focus on optimizing task execution. Opening the opportunity to reduce business costs through automation and deliver the most value.
To show how this works, take just the example of raising a PO in a P2P (Purchase-to-Pay) process using SAP. With traditional process mining this would show up as a single process, but does this tell us the whole story? How is the process really executed and where are the opportunities for efficiency or streamlining? By using task mining it is possible to drill down from this one process into the individual tasks that are involved from opening an email, reading a PDF, entering the data into excel, copy and pasting back into an email and then entering the data into SAP. The granularity that task mining provides means that a business can look at each of these steps individually that make up the process to identify the bottlenecks and inefficiencies which can then be reduced or removed.
Through task mining, organizations have the chance to investigate hidden potential and significantly improve resource management from the employee upwards. By using data executive leaders can support employees to sharpen task execution and streamline their daily output and up-level their roles. This impacts all areas of business by allowing senior staff to focus on making data-qualified, strategic decisions, that result in continuous improvement. It also supports a healthier work culture where staff are freed up to focus on personal development and on tasks that stimulate them.
While ‘efficiency’ and ‘automation’ are certainly the end goal, operational excellence only happens when strategic decisions are rooted in transparency and data-driven insights. Enhancing our businesses today for the climates of tomorrow takes more than guesswork. A deep understanding of how your organization does what it does is the only way to elevate it to a place of excellence.