How to Prepare Your Data for a Process Mining Project
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Process Mining software has the astounding ability to mine nearly any type of data from almost any system.
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If you hunt for a shortcoming, you’ll find it only in data which goes undocumented or exists outside a system — paper logs, word of mouth, scribbles on a notepad — which essentially do not exist at all! Even data from call centers, which covers voice related data, can be mined with process mining software.
Imagine a cave with valuable mineral veins. A miner must chip away at every single bit of rock surrounding the gold, silver or ruby. This rock is to a gold miner what hundreds of thousands of event logs are to process mining. The gold vein found by the miner is the true process, but it takes a lot of data (rock) to get there!
The power of process mining software is that it takes in all this data, in multiple formats, across multiple systems and mines for the process flow. Where data lives, process mining lives.
In order to understand how to prepare data sources for a process mining project, it is best to approach the topic from two perspectives: systems (ERP, CRM, BPM, etc.) and data types (CSV, XES, SQL, Excel, etc.). By looking at data preparation from this dual angle, your team will be able to apply this framework to specific systems, platforms and data types used in your organization.
System perspective - which systems work with Minit Process Mining?
Let’s begin by addressing the most common “home” for process data — ERP systems such as Oracle, SAP, NetSuite, Sage, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.
Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) software is extensive, complex, and acts as the hub of operations. Formerly home to only back office functions such as administration, legal, and support, today’s ERP systems cover front office activities as well, including customer relations, marketing and sales.
To start preparing systems for process mining, a first step is to understand which systems are being used in day to day business operations. Talk to various department heads and get a list of all systems used. You might be surprised to find a team relying on a niche platform outside the commonly used ERP network.
As robust as they are, ERP systems — particularly those which operate on-premise as opposed to SaaS or cloud — can become antiquated and rigid over time. This makes an agile approach to new business models and techniques challenging, which in turn drives teams to deviate from the main ERP platform just to get the job done.
Here is a quick checklist of the most popular and ubiquitous information systems used in business organizations which work with Minit process mining:
- Microsoft Dynamics
- Sage 100 / Sage Intacct
- Infor M3
- Deltek Vision
- SYSPRO ERP
- Ecount ERP
- Focus 9
- Sugar CRM
- SAP CRM
- Oracle Engagement
- Sage CRM
- BPM Online
- Marketing & Marketing Automation Systems
- Google Analytics
- Project Management
- Atlassian JIRA
Data type perspective - which data format is needed for process mining?
For most process mining projects, thinking about data preparation in terms of systems will be the priority. People correlate processes with the systems in which they work. But when you get down to the actual way in which process mining software mines data within these systems, it’s all about import formats.
Process mining software is so diverse because of its ability to work with nearly any type of data source. This makes custom built, antiquated or niche systems just as accessible to data mining as the biggest ERP system on the market.
Import formats include CSV, XEX, MXML, SQL Server, Excel, Access and ODBC. Thanks to ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) compatibility — a driver interface by Microsoft which allows applications to access data using SQL — the sky’s the limit. Through ODBC drivers the list of systems which can be mined for process data extends to QuickBooks, Zendesk, AdWords, Twitter, Instagram, MailChimp, Dropbox, Evernote, and so, so so much more.
Post data prep for process mining — time for POC
Congratulations, you’re so close to the plug ‘n’ play part of process mining. You’ve already built the business case for process mining, assembled the team for process mining software selection, and now you’ve prepared the data. Next, you get to see business process flows come to life in the Proof of Concept stage.
Do you need help in determining if your business systems and data sources are compatible with process mining software? Get in touch with our team of process mining experts or book a live demo session with them to guide you through data preparation and business advantages that Minit offers.