Appian Process Mining (Image Credit: Appian)Last year, Appian acquired Lana Labs to add process mining to its suite of products. At Appian World, CEO Matt Calkins told attendees that process mining is now fully integrated into the Appian product suite. Process mining, workflow and automation are now a single solution with more features to come.

Matt Calkins, CEO, Appian
Matt Calkins, CEO, Appian

This announcement is notable because of how Calkins sees the relationship between process mining and workflow. “Process mining describes the past and workflow the future. Process mining shows the state where you are now and workflow shows where you are going.”

Where this gets interesting is that while Calkins says workflow allows you to say what should happen in the future. He now sees process mining as influencing that not just recording it. To achieve that, process mining should use what it knows to edit and tune workflow. Identify the fail points and bottlenecks and from there, tune and change the workflow.

It sounds simple but is it really as simple as it sounds?

Why do we need process mining?

Perhaps the best starting point to answer that last question is to look at why we need process mining.

No matter how well you think your organisation works, there will always be things that you can make more efficient. Many processes, says Calkins, “take too much time, cost too much and make customers wait too long. It is important to find those processes and improve them.”

The problem is that finding those inefficiencies is not easy. Workflows say how they should work but the reality is that execution can be affected by many factors. To get the truth, you need to trawl through logs, find the data on each part of the process and then assemble it together. As a manual process, it is hugely time consuming and difficult.

This is where the investment that Appian has made into Lana Labs to acquire its process mining technology comes into play.

According to Calkins, Appian is now capable of finding all those records in log files and assembling them into a process diagram. It shows the performance of the different parts of a process making it easier to identify those parts that are not performing. More importantly, the process can be compared with a workflow diagram. It will help show where the right tuning and change will improve the performance.

Importantly, this is where Calkins says Appian is delivering something unique. It is joining diagnostic (process mining) with action (workflow) and allowing users to edit from the same screen. This is, according to Calkins, a breakthrough. It means that process mining translates into workflow evolution.

At present, this is still a manual process. Looking forward, Calkins says that Appian is working to automate this.

Finally, KPIs to show RPA payback

One of the challenges of RPA is how do you assess payback. Most KPIs will show what a process is saving. But no process lives in isolation. It is impacted by other processes and, in turn, impacts other processes.

Calkins claims “You will use process mining to determine workflow then determine how much improvement you have made.” What makes this exciting is that it means there is a quantifiable mechanism to show the saving from automating processes. It means that the value of the investment into tools and training can finally be shown.

For many organisations, this is good news. It means that IT can demonstrate to the business that it is delivering on its promises.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean?

From a process mining perspective, this announcement from Appian should not be underestimated. The coherency of making processes and workflows available in a single product is good news. That you can now edit from the process mining view to improve the workflow is exciting.

Just as exciting is the ability to calculate cost and savings. To date, some KPIs have delivered some of this but looking across multiple processes and seeing the savings is new.

The next thing to look forward to is the full automation of this. We are seeing databases and other systems becoming autonomous. If Appian can deliver a process mining and workflow management that is a fully automated, autonomous solution will be a huge game-changer for the continuous transformation of IT.


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