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Do you really need process discovery software?

You and your team might know your workflows better than a process mining tool

Process discovery and process mining software are types of tools that map and monitor company systems and computer tasks. These tasks record, extract data, and process events to model processes, analyze their efficiency by finding repetitive actions and variations.

This category has been popular since the 2000s, especially coinciding with the introduction of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) around the same time. Since then, process discovery software has been used to identify the best processes to automate and how to reengineer and improve those processes in conjunction with automation technologies. 

But automation has come a long way, no longer requiring fragile bots or screen automation for many tasks, favoring a data-based and API-led approach. The average business person’s understanding of operations and technology has also advanced along with no-code tools with built-in operational intelligence.

While process discovery tools can provide extensive data and quantitative analysis on your workflows, is it really always necessary or practical?

Your employees are the experts on their own processes

Who better to map out how processes work and how they can be improved than the people who work on them every day?

One promised benefit of process discovery tools is that they claim to use technology and AI to unearth the “truth” about your processes. However, in most cases it’s your employees who are most likely to know the full truth of their workflows with their nuanced implications on customers, employees, other departments, external stakeholders and other systems. 

Automation no longer needs to be a consultant-led or IT-only project. Neither does process discovery. With the right internal stakeholders, an in-person (or virtual) process discovery workshop can glean insights about your workflows that are just as valuable, if not more practical. 

Using a people-centric approach to identify inefficiencies and their most repetitive, error prone work, your list of automation use cases will practically write itself. Every employee and every department has those few processes they know aren’t as efficient as they could be. 

A better way to choose what processes to automate might be to take this list, run the potential ROI numbers for each, and prioritize them to create the largest impact.

Automation journey and process discovery workshops

When choosing an automation provider, they should have a proven implementation playbook that you can follow. One of the first things along the way is often a discovery workshop and training to start to understand the current state of your workflows, map them out, identify improvement opportunities, potentially remapping along the way, then prioritizing and automating. 

In certain cases, it can make sense to bring in some extra guidance at this stage. In a 2020 Forrester survey of process professionals, more than 29% planned to increase the use of Lean/Six Sigma to support process improvement efforts.

However it’s worth engaging your internal stakeholders in your own discovery process from the beginning to get the real-life scenarios, process problems and needs on the table, which process discovery software can’t uncover.  

Automation with built in process documentation and insights eliminates duplicative tools

With a no-code tool that can digitize your workflows from end-to-end, automation looks a lot more like a process flowchart, standard operating procedure outline or runbook than scripts and complex programming. This is what makes process mapping and discovery practically built into modern automation platforms.

As you are building and testing various automations, you are also documenting your processes. A data-based tool can standardize, digitize and automate almost anything. Then, as your workflows run live, it gathers all real-time operational data.

"Automation no longer needs to be a consultant-led or IT-only project. Neither does process discovery."

Many process discovery tools will also provide the benefit of collecting this process data, promising a layer of visibility over your operations. With workflow automation, it’s embedded. 

With this self-documenting technology comes the ability to get intelligence and insights from every workflow to make identifying bottlenecks, errors and necessary fixes easy. Then, a flexible, no-code tool will allow you to make changes on the fly for continuous improvement.

Instead of being stuck in analysis paralysis with process discovery software, consider a more qualitative method that gives more power to your employees to identify their needs and use no-code automation to solve them. Treating them as the subject matter experts when it comes to their processes can help you with faster automation and more practical solutions in the long run.



Take a deeper look at the implementation journey, success plan, tips, and checklist items to expect when building your plan of attack for automation.

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Written by Catalytic