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Process Mining and Robotic Process Automation: Made for Each Other

By Hiren Kotak, Global Practice Head, Intelligent Automation

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has become a hot topic for organizations in the last few years. These days, many organizations are embracing RPA to automate their repetitive, high-volume tasks and cut headcounts. Though it serves as a useful tool to optimize business processes, but when used in isolation, it’s more likely to disrupt the processes than improve them.

How to make RPA work for you

One of the biggest barriers to RPA is identifying the right process to automate as automating the wrong process can magnify inefficiency. This is where Process Mining gets into the picture. It is an approach that aims to discover, analyze, monitor, and improve business processes by extracting valuable information from the data to remove bottlenecks and inefficiencies.

While there is wide acceptance of the fact that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and process mining augment each other, many companies have not been successful in putting both technologies to good use in their businesses very effectively.

Challenges enterprises face scaling their automation program

Companies struggle to scale their automation program at an enterprise level for various reasons. Keeping the organizational dynamics aside, many businesses find it overwhelming to analyze enterprise-wide processes and identify the right candidates for automation.

The next challenge firms encounter comes with understanding the processes and estimating the associated benefits and costs to achieve the desired ROI by prioritizing high-value, low-effort opportunities. Studies have shown that 40-50% of the Bot Development Lifecycle is spent on identifying, prioritizing, and documenting the processes, with the rest of the time split among bot design, coding, review, unit testing, integrated testing, UAT, pre-deployment configuration, and deployment activities.

The role of process mining in achieving process excellence

Process mining gives a business a complete picture of their state of processes ‘as-is’, which in turn can be used by our RPA team to turn into actionable automation. Process mining helps you highlight the best automation candidates, enabling you to determine the extent to which RPA can be implemented in legacy processes and systems.

Additionally, process mining tools often provide a capability of executing business-rule-driven automated actions, but they are generally limited in terms of the type of actions such as sending emails, pushing a report, or alerting business users for further actions. Using these process mining tool actions to kick off RPA bots gives you unlimited power of end-to-end automation.

While RPA tools allow you to measure post-automation indicators of accuracy and productivity, process mining software provide pre-automation historical values, as well as the upstream and downstream impact of automation.

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Maximizing benefits by using RPA and process mining together

RPA bots generate detailed logs of each and every data element that they touch or use in decision making. Process mining software can benefit from such detailed logs to provide greater visibility into the process performance. Thus, these technologies truly complement each other to further your business goals. A recent Gartner report on Complemented RPA (CoRPA) even mentioned that: “A significantly improved version of the current RPA development tool known as the process recorder, that has UI interaction record and playback capabilities, will dynamically generate the RPA script based on lessons from process mining and process discovery.”

Recognizing the multiplier effect of combining these two powerful concepts, one major RPA tool provider, UiPath, acquired process miner ProcessGold in 2019. Major process mining tool providers, like Celonis and Minit, also boast their capabilities to augment the power of automation. In addition, Nintex (Process Mapping and Analytics company) bought Foxtrot (RPA company) in 2019, and Appian (Process Management company) purchased Jidoka (RPA company) in 2020 to leverage the power of both technologies. Thus, it is becoming evident that Process Automation projects are more likely to succeed with the addition of process mining.

Robotic process automation (or RPA) is a form of business process automation technology based on metaphorical software robots (bots) or digital workers. RPA systems uses application's graphical user interface (GUI) to perform manual tasks directly in the GUI.

Process mining is a family of techniques in the field of process management that support the analysis of business processes based on event logs. During process mining, specialized data mining algorithms are applied to event log data in order to identify trends, patterns and details contained in event logs recorded by an information system. Process mining aims to improve process efficiency and understanding of processes. The term Process Mining is used in a broader setting to refer not only to techniques for discovering process models, but also techniques for business process conformance and performance analysis based on event logs.