Process Management 3 mins read

Process mining and Bart’s comet

Too much information can ruin a beautiful day, but closing your eyes to process issues is not an option when it comes to managing the next crisis.

Dr. Helge Hess Dr. Helge Hess

What does process mining have to do with a popular TV cartoon series?

In the 14th episode of The Simpsons’ sixth season, Bart accidentally looks through a telescope and sees a comet heading straight for Springfield. After the devastating impact fails to occur, bartender Moe makes a proposal to avert such dangers to the planet in the future.

He said: “Let’s burn down the observatory so that nothing like this can ever happen again!”

Do you see any analogies to your business? Certainly, too much information can ruin a beautiful day, but closing your eyes is not an option. So, what is the “telescope” that you need to use and for your business line, and what should you aim it at?

Core processes

First, it is essential that you know the performance and issues of your relevant core processes, end-to-end:

  • Order-to-cash, procure-to-pay, customer service (General)
  • Credits/loans/mortgages (Banking)
  • Claims processing (Insurance)
  • Provisioning, Billing (Utilities, Telco)
  • Returns-/complaints handling (Manufacturing)
  • Shipment & transportation (Manufacturing)

In many of these processes your customers are directly involved – individual process steps are “touchpoints” with customers. This means that long reaction times or poor quality can impact your customer satisfaction directly.

It is necessary to identify threats (comets) that either exist for a specific individual case or are even of a structural nature. In other words, it is not enough to calculate averages of the relevant KPIs. You need to monitor each individual process execution in order to be able to intervene directly if problems occur. As the inhabitants of Springfield can tell you, it is of little help if comets miss the earth in 99.99% of cases, but this one belongs to the 0.01%.

Structural problems

Second, you should identify structural problems that repeatedly lead to problems, such as:

  • Unclear responsibilities in the customer service center lead to ping-pong effects and long ticket processing times
  • Frequent order changes and complex approval policies in purchasing lead to loops in the process and long lead times
  • In processing applications for life and health insurance, insufficient coordination with the medical service can result in recurring queries and long response times to customers, who often then will turn to a competitor.

Process mining provides the solution to these challenges across all industries: Analysis of all end-to-end processes and identification of problems that can be addressed immediately.

Don’t burn down the observatory. Make sure that all your business managers have access to the process mining observatory instead.