Process Mining: A Key To Intelligent Procurement Operations

Annie Vaseekaran

I was recently thinking about how speed and precision are so important to professional teams in sports such as women’s soccer. These traits don’t come to athletes easily. They are continually enhanced through repeated practice and refinement by those who diligently want to improve their skills and expertise.

I think of procurement processes in a similar way. Procurement teams are always refining their skills and processes in an attempt to make game-changing goals, with objectives such as reduced spend and improved compliance. As with soccer, speed and precision are the traits that will help procurement teams achieve their ultimate end goals – and this is where process mining comes in. 

Taking procurement processes to a new level

In an ideal world, procurement organizations would run at optimal efficiency, performance, and speed to deliver reduced corporate spend and risk management. But that’s not the day-to-day reality in today’s business world. Strategic priorities such as automated processes that boost productivity, increase negotiation power, and improve supplier management to reduce spend are sometimes hard to achieve with existing procurement processes.

Process mining is beginning to change all that. In fact, in a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, the authors identified the capabilities of process mining as important “…for anyone whose job it is to oversee, improve, or troubleshoot operational business processes.”

Why process mining is a must-have tool today

Procurement in any large enterprise involves a complex set of processes that are often riddled with deviations from standardizations, errors from manual inaccuracies, and inefficiencies from duplication of efforts.

And up to now, that has been accepted as just the way things are. However, forward-thinking companies are seeing the benefits of using process transformation to create intelligent procurement operations that drive better business value. They are recognizing that process mining can help them rapidly transform their core procurement processes so they run at peak levels of performance with optimal efficiency.

The fuel behind process mining: data, visualization, and analytics

Process mining is a data-driven capability that collects procurement events for process discovery and uses powerful analytics to create customized, intuitive visualizations that can help you assess and understand your end-to-end procurement operations.

With this technology, you can gain visibility into how your procurement processes work, where they need improvement, and how they can be optimized to become more intelligent. You can drill down to understand the business impact of hidden process deviations and identify root-cause issues that create delays, increase costs, and hinder agility. With these kinds of insights, you can begin to resolve problems and create standardized best practices for enhanced transparency and intelligent procurement processes.

Today, the benefits that companies are experiencing from process mining are wide and varied. For instance:

  • Process mining can help companies discover what is involved in their procurement processes each step of the way, which can lead to the identification of critical issues that result from erroneous manual processes.
  • Companies can also use process mining to analyze operational procurement processes to identify deviations and exceptions to standardized operations. This can help improve the transparency of workflows and eliminate manual reporting efforts.
  • Process mining can also help organizations simplify and automate processes while clarifying roles, creating greater cross-functional collaboration and integrating views of end-to-end procurement processes.

A path to continuous, intelligent improvement

As companies begin to use process mining to ensure that core business processes are running at optimal levels of performance and efficiency, they are experiencing:

  • Reduced spend from uncovering hidden inefficiencies, deviations, and bottlenecks
  • Increased speed from the fastest process paths and targeted optimizations that speed throughput times
  • Heightened productivity and increased efficiency through improved automation and the avoidance of manual reworks
  • Quality assurance and better customer satisfaction as a result of high precision in planning and delivery, with fewer incidents and clearer roles and responsibilities
  • Optimized working capital thanks to the negotiation of the best payment terms and ideally timed payments

To learn more about process mining, view this Webinar, Process Mining: Your Ticket to Intelligent Source-to-Pay Processing, and see how it can start benefiting your company today.

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About Annie Vaseekaran

As a product marketing manager on the SAP Ariba Portfolio Marketing team, Annie Vaseekaran handles product marketing for the SAP Ariba Spend Analysis, SAP Ariba Sourcing and SAP Ariba Contract Management solutions. She has over 11 years of experience in the IT products and services industry. Prior to SAP Ariba, she was with Oracle in marketing and business development roles. Annie holds an engineering degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Visvesvaraya Technological University, and an MBA in Marketing and Human Resource from Mount Carmel Institute of Management, India.