There are subtle differences between process mining and task mining that may be puzzling when a team is starting out. While the tools are linked and often completed together, they provide unique information pieces needed to build automation with value.

Robotic process automation (RPA) can be complex at the best of times. Grasping the idea of virtual assistants working on desktop software from within a computer can take a while. It’s often not until people see a cursor magically moving on a screen or numbers being copied and pasted, seemingly by magic, that they get it.

Once past this lightbulb moment, the opportunities for automation begin appearing everywhere. The challenge then becomes one of knowing where to start and how to build a stable robot that works efficiently.

This is where process mining and task mining come in. Put simply, they’re the ways in which a business can map out all the work people do on their computers to complete projects, functions, and tasks.

Here, the two tools are defined:

Process mining

In any team, department or across a whole business, there are processes that make things happen. The level we’re looking at the process here is through the lens of the invoice itself.

Understanding the activities from start to finish through process mining is important for two reasons. Firstly, it is a longer-term and ongoing piece of work that needs to be continuously monitored to map out exactly what happens, providing an extensive guide for how a process can be improved and its automation potential. Secondly, it uncovers the actual truth about the process. Discovering these details impart intel on what may be completed more efficiently with automation and in turn provide cost savings.

Task mining

If process mining discovers what is done across a department or business, task mining discovers how people do it on their computers – the smaller components of a process that are manually completed. It shows how staff use their software to complete tasks in a process. If we consider the example of paying an invoice, there is a part defined as ‘data extraction’.

To do this, there are smaller tasks done at an individual level. For example, open the invoice document, find the fields that show the PO number and value, copy the data, open the ERP system and begin pasting.

Task mining records user activities such as clicks of a mouse, scrolling, typing and other actions, all recorded with timings and screen shots as it happens. It’s simple, can be done once and offers an insight that allows automations to be built from the bottom up. It’s also perfect for citizen developers, those staff tasked with creating simple robots for themselves and others.

In tandem

Taken together, process mining and task mining give a macro and micro view of how things happen in a business. With this understanding, it’s possible to build automations that understand the why behind these actions and how to complete them. Both pieces are incredibly important to provide automation teams the information they need to achieve their goals.

 

Curious to know more?

Our team of experts are equipped to assist your team in the nuances of process and task mining. If you’re interested in hearing more, we’re happy to chat. Schedule time with one of our experts here.

About the author

Tomas Galle has over 15 years of experience in business process management and optimization.  He is the Head of Process and Task Mining at Tquila Automation, a Lean & Six Sigma practitioner, and has led multiple key projects and extensive programs for companies like Microsoft (Minit), AT&T, Amazon, and Johnson Controls.