Task Mining and Process Mining
Why should we use them together?
Author: Vanessa Straub, Marketing - North American Go To Market of PAF
As many businesses dive into their automation journey, they may find it increasingly difficult to identify RPA (or Robotic Process Automation) opportunities. This means discovering processes which are good candidates for automation and uncovering fundamental metrics about those processes. In turn, we can make simple processes and tasks much more efficient and organized while saving time, money, and valuable human labor. In this case, Process Mining and Task Mining are useful because both identify opportunities for optimization – but how do you decide which one might be most useful? In this article, we will explain the difference between Task Mining and Process Mining, and why they are most beneficial when employed together.
What is Process Mining?
The term Process Mining actually describes a mix of technologies and methods that fall into the broader category of business process management. It uses your actual business data (extracted from IT systems’ event logs) to visualize the process. The main goals of Process Mining are to analyze how digitalized processes actually transpire, how they deviate from the ideal model, when or which problems occur, what optimization measures should be taken, and then ultimately start to improve the process.
Process Mining allows you to optimize your processes at the click of a button, rather than conducting employee interviews and analyzing the results. It allows you to view your real processes in an objective, factual way. By laying out the entire process from start to finish, it becomes easy to pinpoint problems and locate optimization potential. The process flow can show you deviations, skipped steps, and also tasks (which we’ll talk about later).
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What is Task Mining?
While Process Mining aims to optimize and automate your end-to-end processes and subprocesses, Task Mining looks closely at the tasks within those processes – which usually contain a number of steps that are performed manually by employees. Task Mining software works by recording a user’s individual keystrokes and actions with the goal of understanding the action, improving the action, or even automating the task.
Some common business tasks include copying and inputting data, uploading or downloading files, and navigating through business systems. For example – when processing an invoice (which is an end-to-end process), a task would be extracting information from that invoice. This requires the manual work of opening an email, the invoice attachment, copying the total amount, and more.
Comparing the two: Task Mining vs. Process Mining
First, you have to understand that Processes are different from Tasks. Processes are a sequential cluster of logical steps that can be divided into subprocesses. On the other hand, a task is a cluster of related work within the process (or multiple actions that have to be performed in order to execute a step of the process). While Process Mining focuses on end-to-end processes, Task Mining focuses on the individual actions needed to complete a step of that process.
Next, Process Mining data sources differ from those used in Task Mining. Process Mining utilizes data from IT systems’ event logs, or “Business Data”. These reveal every step that make up a business process. Task Mining utilizes “Desktop Data”, which is the analysis of a user’s keystrokes, mouse clicks, copying and pasting, and more. This is done by a software that records the user’s desktop while that task is being performed. Overall, Process Mining is oriented toward optimizing business processes whereas Task Mining is more concerned with making the user aspect more efficient.
Why should we use them together?
Both Task Mining and Process Mining have their places within an organization, and both focus on optimizing and automating their processes. While both can contribute to high-level outcomes like increased automation and efficiency, they serve different use cases – which is why you can’t really say one is better than the other. Process Mining is often used for O2C, P2P, Audit and Compliance Checking, Process Optimization and Management, and more. Task Mining is employed for improving user experience and further discovering automation opportunities.
Process Mining shows you what the business is doing by mining through event logs and showing data maps, whereas Task Mining shows you what the user does by recording keystrokes and mining logs at the UI level. Based on your RPA initiatives, you could implement one or the other to work towards its specific goal. However, employing both Task and Process Mining makes for a robust strategy with the goal of continuous improvement on all fronts. Used together, they can help enterprises discover, analyze, and automate processes that will deliver the most significant results and help you identify imperfect process execution.