As technology advances and pressures mount to drive more efficient, effective, and profitable businesses, many companies are eager to use robotic process automation (RPA), AI, and business process management (BPM) to automate manual tasks and streamline workflows.
While valuable on their own, the benefits of these technologies can be amplified when executed as part of a wider process optimization strategy that drives operational excellence across the enterprise and frees people to focus on higher-value activities like customer service, business development, and innovation.
In this post, we take a closer look at two key components of process optimization – RPA and process mining – and explore their most common applications, as well as the outsized impact they can bring to companies when deployed together.
Setting the stage: What is RPA and process mining?
What is RPA?
Robotic process automation (RPA) is software that can be programmed to manage tasks typically completed by a human, just as a human would do them. In most cases, RPA is used to automate repetitive, time-consuming activities often prone to human error.
Some everyday tasks managed by RPA include compliance reporting, order processing, data transfers between systems, and customer or employee onboarding.
What is process mining?
Process mining is a capability that combines process management and data science to provide a fact-based view of how actual processes and workflows are executed across the organization. This helps companies better understand how the business operates and ultimately identify areas of improvement or mitigate risk.
Process mining is enabled by combining technologies, including AI, ML, and digital twins. Many organizations do not have the internal capabilities to effectively build, launch and operate a process mining initiative or draw out actionable insights from the data produced by the model. For that reason, companies often engage a third-party transformation partner to quickly deploy process mining capabilities.
For example, Navigate is an AI-powered process intelligence platform from Globant that leverages process mining, data science, and intelligent automation to help companies understand, optimize and predict business processes. Navigate is a virtual control tower for business operations, enabling companies to pinpoint inefficiencies and bottlenecks, streamline processes, and optimize resource allocation. By using Navigate, companies can dramatically shorten the development time for such a solution and quickly identify areas for improvement, often without any additional technology investments or human resources.
What is the relationship between process mining and RPA?
Process mining and RPA are two different but related technologies. The simplest way to think about it is that process mining helps companies identify areas that can be automated, whereas RPA refers to the actual automation of those tasks or activities.
What is the value of process mining + RPA?
The value of RPA
The value case for RPA, when deployed independently, tends to be very clear and straightforward. Companies are looking for point solutions that can reduce time or cost. Typically, the value of RPA projects can be easily tracked and measured so that the business can quantify its ROI.
The value of process mining
Process mining, on the other hand, is a tool that companies use to discover, monitor, and enhance their business processes. On its own, process mining provides the organization with complete visibility of its processes and allows the company to find enhancement opportunities. However, the real value is delivered when process mining is combined with intelligent automation or technology that enables the company to execute the opportunities identified.
The value of RPA + process mining
Process mining and RPA, or other forms of intelligent automation, have a symbiotic relationship though not necessarily a direct connection. In other words, having one does not preclude the other – but they work best when deployed together.
For example, when looking at the supply network, process mining will enable the company to examine the entire end-to-end supply chain. Doing so is likely to reveal manual activities that are occurring during the order creation or transportation phases. With these insights, companies can then leverage RPA to automate these tasks, helping the company enhance efficiency and reduce errors.
While process mining and RPA often go hand-in-hand, it’s important to analyze processes and identify improvement points before automating manual tasks. This is because automating inefficient or sub-par processes can hurt the business. For example, simply automating a task within the transportation process – such as scheduling shipments – without fully understanding what critical steps must be completed before this point or what actions need to be taken immediately after that could lead to more inefficiencies and rework, as well as confusion among the internal and vendor teams.
Use cases that require both process mining and RPA tend to be more complex to execute since they require the combination of various technologies, collaboration between teams, and the creation of new processes. However, the benefits are much higher than simple automation alone.
Getting started: Achieving hyper-automation with process mining and RPA
While process mining and RPA are two important tools for enabling transformation, they are far from the only options available to companies. AI/ML, business process management (BPM), BPM software (BPMS), and other technologies all play a role in helping companies achieve hyper-automation – a term used to describe the application of various technologies to help make automation more intelligent.
As with RPA, the value of these technologies can be amplified when combined with process mining. However, many organizations still struggle to identify the optimal tool to use to address their specific issue, as well as how to organize the business to bring together the teams, tools, data, and processes to execute more advanced use cases.
Partnering with an experienced digital transformation service provider like Globant can help companies develop a comprehensive and cohesive process optimization strategy, as well as harness the power of digital technologies like RPA and process mining. Our Process Optimization Studio combines the business, process and technology expertise companies need to pinpoint and automate manual, repetitive, and inefficient tasks through advanced digital technologies – enabling them to not only drive down costs and improve efficiency, but also safeguard against uncertain and unpredictable events.
Ready to get started on your hyper-automation journey? Schedule a consultation with our Process Optimization experts and learn how working with a transformation partner like Globant can help power your reinvention faster.