What is process mining?

Process mining is a data science tool that discovers, validates, and improves workflows, revealing bottlenecks and redundancies in business processes.

Whatever your business or industry, you have certain workflows that keep your operations running smoothly; the more effective those processes are, the more productive the people and systems can be within your company. To boost productivity and bring in more revenue, it’s essential to analyze and optimize your work processes. The challenge? Determining where and how your workflows can be improved. That’s where process mining comes into play.

Process mining is a unique and powerful tool that allows businesses to mine log data from their information systems to better understand the performance of different processes. This allows them to improve those processes through data-backed decision making. Using this and other IT implementations, you can be more intentional with your structure and make every workflow as seamless as possible.

To really understand it, one must first understand event logs. As a fundamental element of IT, event log data is generated every time an IT function is performed; in essence, this data is the primary way that interactions between humans and bots are documented.

An event log can be any number of actions or occurrences that happen within a software system, and each log notes certain information such as when the event occurred, what happened, and the process it took to complete or perform that action. This could be a support ticket a customer opened that must now be processed or processing a recent online loan application. Whatever the event, process mining puts those event logs through an analysis that essentially takes a snapshot of a system’s functionality in real-time.

By exposing the bottlenecks in your workflows using these “screenshots” of your systems, process mining makes digital transformation and automation in your business work. Here is a closer look at the step of process mining.

Data ingestion

When business interactions or objects move through your business process within a system, they leave a trail of breadcrumbs that we call a digital footprint. These events are picked up by process mining technology that visually reconstructs the event logs so that users can better understand what happens from beginning to end.


When the data is accurately collected and reconstructed visually, something called a digital twin is created, an interactive map of the chronological sequence of events. This map details all the paths an event took for the process to be completed; each path is called a variant, and when variants differ from the standard path, they are called deviants.


Your findings of the process map make finding issues or hiccups much simpler so that you can discover the best workflow based on the process map. Where are the bottlenecks? Where are resources overloaded? Are there activities that are often skipped or that create deviations? The process map helps quantify the root causes of inefficiencies that are impacting your cycle time, operational cost, and your bottom line.


You can also use process benchmarking to compare process performance across two different dimensions, such as directly comparing the time it takes for a purchase order to be processed from two separate suppliers. This can help you make your operations more uniform or find best practices for specific locations, departments, etc.

Conformance checking

Finally, you can use conformance checking to help define your preferred path for certain processes and then see where processes are deviating. This is how you see the percentage of events that follow your desired process and those that don’t so that you can make improvements and optimize those processes.

There are many niche benefits of process mining, including how it transforms your operations to be more powerful and productive than ever before. Other benefits include the following:

Push-button discovery

You don’t have to spend extensive time trying to find anomalies or insights; with a push of a button, you can mine a process from an audit log, use filters, and get an email notification when the mining is complete.

Process visualization

Event logs and variants can be difficult to understand, but with the right tools, you can use interactive process graphs, inspect specific paths in detail, and use prebuilt metrics for performance analysis.

Easy collaboration and sharing

Because process mining is such a visual process, it is simple to share data findings, collaborate using process maps, and enable governance and profile control based on certain roles.

Built-in continual optimization

Most process mining software has integrated improvement management technology that tracks existing and new improvement initiatives and the business value of process improvements.

Integrate with performance analytics and benchmarks

To really put your process mining findings into action, you can integrate performance analytics metrics and set certain benchmarks that help track business value achievements based on specific improvement initiatives.

In the modern workforce, business leaders cannot afford to lose any ground when it comes to digital innovation and improvement. Process mining is becoming an essential business step since the data it collects will help identify trends, optimize performance, and make useful predictions for the future. It can reduce the time certain processes take, cut costs and lower investment amounts, minimize waste, and improve the overall quality of your operations, making your business extra competitive.

By reducing costs and eliminating inefficiencies in their operations using data-driven evidence, leaders can make confident, objective decisions about budgets and resources. Ultimately, you cut out the guesswork or subjectivity of human experience and make improvements using fact-based information.

Process mining uses the following features to extract information from event logs so that your business can map that information:

  • Automated process discovery: ensures that process discovery happens automatically so that extracting process models from an event log happens efficiently.
  • Conformance checking: monitors deviations by comparing the process model and logs.
  • Social network/organizational mining: finds patterns and relationships between events within your network/organization structures to improve techniques.
  • Automated construction of simulation models: uses automated simulation models to predict how future trends or changes will impact your processes.
    Model extension: allows for flexibility when it comes to existing models being extended or enhanced when new information is discovered.
  • Model repair: filters out deviant behaviors in the model using conformance checking.
  • Case prediction: anticipates outcomes for cases based on key performance indicators and using previously performed sequences.
  • History-based recommendations: offers recommendations using collections of data and past event logs.

The three main types of process mining techniques are discovery, conformance, and enhancement.


As briefly discussed, this type of process mining uses event log data to create a process model using no previous process models to inform it. This means that whatever model you create is developed with only the data collected for those isolated events. This is the most common type of process mining.


Conformance is another form of process mining, but instead of only relying on incoming data, it compares a process description to an existing process model to identify any variances. This is the primary way to set an intended model or practice and see how certain processes either follow or deviate from the standard.


Also known as extension, organizational, or performance mining, enhancement process mining is used to improve existing process models. This technique extends or enhances a target model using discovered information about the process itself.

Process mining and data mining are not the same thing, though they are both a part of business process management and use data to discover better ways to run operations. Process mining is more specific since it primarily uses event log data to generate models and improve a process. Data mining has a much broader scope and uses all sorts of data sets to observe and predict behaviors in different business processes and models.

Companies that use any repeated digital process can benefit from process mining, and even those that don’t currently use such processes will likely embrace the age of digital transformation to keep up with competitors. That said, practically every industry can use process mining to optimize their operations. Here are a few examples.


Whether you are trying to make your loan application process more efficient or more secure, data mining helps you respond faster to vulnerabilities when it comes to confidential information and discover where both customers and employees run into bottlenecks. It also helps audit accounts, broaden your customer base, and more.

Software Development

It’s possible to optimize the DevOps pipelines, keep data moving where it needs to go, and deliver high-quality software using process mining. It is especially useful for creating a clearly documented process so that IT administrators can ensure their systems and workflows are running smoothly.


By optimizing processes and data flow, you can also expect reduced treatment processing time for patients in the healthcare field.


If you want more buyer behavior insights to better understand the tendencies of your customer base, data mining can help you find those patterns and increase sales.


You can more closely monitor and understand student behaviors and performance using data monitoring and adjust courses and classroom practices in response.


Compliance is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to running your business, and data mining can help maintain software compliance by catching damaging deviations.


Data mining helps keep the supply chain up and running using techniques that process thousands of data points from warehouses and find trends in warehouse performance.

With every passing year, the business world gets more and more digitized and streamlined using advanced technology and software—which comes with a big learning curve. At its core, process mining is about helping companies understand how their processes are interacting and isolating specific inefficiencies so that, as processes are more digitized and automated, business leaders can make improvements using informed decision-making. This means that process mining can strengthen enterprise supply chain management, resource planning, IT infrastructure, and so many other aspects of many industries.

Ready to make each process of your business operate like a well-oiled machine? Take full advantage of process mining techniques and get the best features with ServiceNow.

ServiceNow's native Process Mining delivers value within hours because it is built with context and intelligence of all ServiceNow workflows to drive Continual Process Optimization. Process mining will occur in the background of all your operations so that you can focus on your job while the software does the rest. Then you can use recommendations like automating certain processes or reevaluating areas where your team needs more support.

With a user-friendly interface, pre-built dashboards, and other customization options, you can find the exact set of features you need to optimize your workflows, better serve your customers, and better support your employees. From root cause analysis to conformance checking to process map comparisons, the Now Platform® has everything you need.

When an invisible workflow becomes visible through Process Maps and reveals otherwise hidden inefficiencies and values, so many possibilities open up for your teams and services. Get Process Optimization today and start seeing the difference!

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