Why process mining is a game changer for process optimisation

  • Now on Now
  • Mark Abramowitz
  • Solutions
  • 2023
02 May 2023

Process mining: 3 workers in discussion over a conference table

In a rapidly changing economic environment, business growth comes with challenges. As organisations grow, some processes become complex and unwieldy, which makes it hard to be agile. Siloed processes create inefficiency and risk.

Optimising processes through purposeful automation can improve employee productivity, boost efficiency, and accelerate time to value—as well as enable a company to change direction rapidly. Vital to the push for automation is investing in process mining, part of ServiceNow Process Optimisation, which has been expanded in the Now Platform Utah release.

At ServiceNow, we recognise that process mining can help us do more with less, transform our operating model to increase revenue, and innovate to compete. It gives us precise insights into the bottlenecks and delays in our processes so that we can address them quickly and easily.

I sat down with Vijay Kotu, our senior vice president of analytics, to explore the power of process mining and what makes it a game changer, especially in times of uncertainty.

What exactly is process mining?

I love maps. They’re a visual representation of our world. On maps, you can see paths and places. You can zoom in and zoom out. You can overlay traffic on top of the map and find the bottlenecks, the shortcuts, and the most efficient way to get from point A to point B.

Now, imagine if you could do that level of visualisation for a business process. You could

begin to see different paths from start to finish. All the process variances and inefficiencies—bottlenecks, checkpoints, wait times, loops in the steps—suddenly become visible.

Once you know that, you can start optimising the process. That’s what process mining can do.


Process mining answers the question of why, which KPIs can’t do. - Vijay Kotu, SVP, Analytics, ServiceNow

How are you applying process mining?

At the core level, ServiceNow executes a set of processes as a business. In our case, it’s 900 and growing. Together, these processes form our operating model.

We relied on key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor all these hundreds of processes. KPIs are useful because they answer questions about what happened, what is happening, and what could happen.

Process mining answers the question of why, which KPIs can’t do. Why is it happening that way? What are the inefficiencies in the process? Once we could identify the inefficiencies, we could launch initiatives to fix the process through purposeful automation or redesign.

We use process mining in conjunction with KPIs, analytics, continuous improvement management, and process automation so that we have a comprehensive understanding of our processes and can quickly deliver value.

What gets you most excited about process optimisation?

The first big win is the joy of discovery. For example, we identified a process that took a long time. The main bottleneck was a four-layer approval process, which was not very effective. We were able to streamline the process, significantly reducing the execution time and the number of stakeholders involved.

The most common outcome is efficiency. One of our technology processes where we first configured process mining is now 30% faster. Our customer- and employee-facing processes are continually improving in mean time to resolution. This, in turn, influences customer satisfaction and employee productivity.

Agility is another big benefit. When we digitise and launch a new process, we don’t have to worry about getting the process right the first time. We can launch the process and use process mining to constantly improve it over time. That also means a faster path to innovation.

Still another big benefit is cost savings. Because we can identify the root cause of process inefficiencies and implement corrective actions, we can reduce our discovery and mapping costs, process tool costs, and manual monitoring/reporting. According to an estimate by our value consultants, discovery and mapping efforts can be reduced by four weeks per year. That changes the game for any business.


Process mining is an easy decision for any company that wants to gain a competitive edge as part of its digital transformation. - Vijay Kotu, SVP, Analytics, ServiceNow

What are you excited about in the Utah release?

I’m excited about the new multidimensional mining feature in ServiceNow. Here’s an example to show how it works: When you onboard a new employee or a customer, you may have one process with lots of subprocesses, or one process dependent on other processes.

In the past, we had to look at each process independently. With multidimensional mining, we can look at them together and optimise the whole process. That helps us refine our processes as a whole, which in turn improves our onboarding process. The result is happier new hires and an HR team that can focus on other, more important tasks.

How do you get started with process optimisation?

Ask yourself and your leadership one fundamental question: Do you want to improve your processes? For anyone who says yes, process mining is the most effective way to do it.

In our case, our focus on process optimisation started with some urgency. As we scaled the company, some of our processes became cumbersome and convoluted and, hence, slow. The question to the leadership team was: Do we want to be known as the IT team or the organisation that slows things down?

Process mining became the solution for that need. We analysed our processes and generated real-time data. We gained precise insights into how to speed things up, then acted on them.

Process mining is an easy decision for any company that wants to gain a competitive edge as part of its digital transformation. It will help us continuously improve our operations as we grow and enable us to adapt more easily to changing market conditions.

Find out more about the benefits of process mining and process optimisation.

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