Executives know their business always has more room for operational efficiency. No matter how big or small, an operation can be improved by management’s examining unbiased data and making better decisions.
Some executives may have read recent leading business publications explaining the benefits of process mining and artificial intelligence (increased revenue, streamlined processes), or be familiar with the use cases proven by their European competition. But some remain skeptical of process mining, as they try to balance the risks of early adoption against the cost of falling behind the competition.
In discussions with current and potential clients, with business consultants and data scientists, we uncovered five barriers expressed by executives, and suggested potential solutions to overcome them.
Adjusting to transparency
Bringing in a tool that highlights and quantifies the areas of waste or rework may be risky. Job security or a bonus/incentive package may be threatened. Managers may worry that after seeing the benefits process mining software brings, company leadership will blame them for not finding the problems earlier. They also fear being penalized for their success by having less department funding and/or unrealistic goals set the following year.
Process mining creates a clear view of a process from the vast amounts of data the businesses generates. Executives must focus on letting the tool find the problems and provide unbiased recommendations. Then, process owners can focus on implementing solutions and the “human” side of change management.
Executives who reward increased efficiency, focusing on what more can be done (not what wasn’t done) create a company culture that highlights success in identifying and correcting problems. This positive culture will foster the acceptance of process mining software and recommended change.
Making a case for a new software tool could be a barrier for some managers and executives. A core process such as procurement or accounts payable may not be considered “innovative” and may therefore have a less flexible budget.
Overcoming this barrier requires a thought leader within the organization willing to seek potential opportunities in new or not-fully-understood technologies. Executives may not realize how quickly process mining can provide a return on investment; the payback period can often be achieved in a matter of weeks or months. Because process mining focuses on broad core processes, a single change has a broad impact on overall operational efficiencies and the ROI is often dramatic. The business case becomes an “easy sell” once executives see how directly and significantly process mining contributes to their bottom line, and how quickly the impact is felt through the organization.
Process mining looks across business units and visualizes the entire process. Distributed ownership of a process, however, reduces accountability to change the status quo. Getting everyone’s cooperation is a struggle.
Executives need to take the lead in cutting across organizational boundaries and working with other executives. Encouraging cross-functional focus groups and taking advantage of existing “process improvement” groups allow business units to work together towards success.
Traditionally US executives think that action “A” leads to action “B” and “B leads to C.” But changing “A” can affect a broad spectrum of action and with process mining, the linear process becomes a spider web of opportunity. Instead of being excited by the possibilities, many executives feel overwhelmed and can’t move forward.
An executive doesn’t need to jump in with both feet at the start. The value of process mining can be proven in a small pilot using the company’s unique data. Business leaders gain confidence in their decision by assessing a sample of data and then determining if a business case can be proven.
Adopting a new big data technology
Europe-based companies are on the forefront of process mining, demonstrating improved revenue, touting streamlined operations and increased team effort. Why have they been so quick to adopt? Is it because:
- European business cultures are more prone towards detailed analysis?
- Europe houses the key process mining education centers, thought leaders, and most recent graduates, helping to evangelize the discipline?
- The US business culture has a more short-term, result-oriented focus, making them risk-averse to things unproven in their own market?
- The US culture is less trustful of data analysis tools? As Mark Twain popularized in the US culture “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
How to Move Forward?
All of these factors undoubtedly play some role. On the other hand, the US was built upon a spirit of innovation and competition, and the corporate earnings statement remains key to business success. While process mining adoption may be slow now, as the use cases and benefits are recognized and published, companies will quickly need to know more about how process mining can benefit them.
Process Mining combined with AI, the executive’s secret weapon for success, pinpoints operational bottlenecks and provides data-based recommendations and solutions. The US companies bold enough to be first to market – and ready for the potential corporate culture changes – will soon be those touting success in the leading business publications … instead of reading about their competition in those same journals.
We invite you to join our new US Process Mining Group on LinkedIn to participate in additional conversations.