Process Mining in Excel Sheets? These 5 Reasons Prove There Is a Better Way
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"I can use Excel sheets instead of Process Mining for that,“ they sometimes say. Here‘s why it‘s not necessarily the case.
Table of Contents
The knowledge of Excel’s rows, columns, and sheets is a must-have for everyone working with data. No doubt about that.
Process Mining (PM), however, is a bit of a different – and more complex – ball game than data mining.
Process Mining: 4 Success Stories
Find out the real numbers behind the application of Process Mining within the most common use cases.
Can You Run a Process Analysis in Excel?
From time to time, we come across the belief that the findings observed in a Process Mining (PM) tool can be found simply in Excel. Well, in some cases it might be true. But when working with really big data - as most companies are, it would be like getting blood out of a stone.
It’s exhaustive, time-consuming, and prone to mistakes.
Why you would you make your life more complicated when you have a sophisticated tool at hand?
These 5 advantages make PM a more powerful “weapon of choice” for every business than tables in Excel sheets.
1. Process Data Relevance
Probably the greatest challenge when using just Excel for PM is data relevance.
Let's take a simple example of 3 cases within a process with 3 activities - A, B, C, which should be performed in this order, including some resources. We also have all three mandatory attributes for PM - Case ID, Activity and Time Stamp.
In Table 1, you see a basic format where every case has one row. Such a format, however, creates an impression that every case is performed in the correct order. Which, of course, does not need to be true.
The data is transformed into a 'column' format and sorted by the date - Table 2. By the way, this is the format necessary for uploading data into a PM tool.
What you miss here, though, is the information about Rework LINK, darker-colored rows in Table 3. The real process looks like this:
In Table 2, it looked like User X in case 1 started Activity B after finishing Activity C. Yet, as we have a look at the real process, he went back to Activity A and then to Activity B.
And that's just 3 cases!
2. Faster and Easier to Use
When analyzing processes, you usually look for deviations and bottlenecks.
This kind of information is very difficult to search for in Excel. With a PM tool, it is a matter of a few clicks, since easy-to-use filters can identify the main violations of the standardized process right away.
No doubt that, at times, you'll need to refresh the already uploaded event logs. That's the point in which data manipulation can become complicated.
If you want to repeat all the steps performed on one data set with whatever new dataset, it can become a challenge when working with Excel sheets. Creating filters and analysis again from scratch is time-consuming and mistake-prone, while in a PM tool, it is a matter of a few seconds.
4. Process Investigation
Exploring your processes is limited by the questions you ask.
When you run PM in Excel, you have a question, and then you look for an answer. For example, you want to know which department handles the orders for longer than 3 months. You'll find it in Excel and that’s it.
With PM, however, you'll have the opportunity to see far more and investigate deeper questions that wouldn't probably otherwise even pop up in your head. The thought process then could go something like this:
“Why does it take so long? -> Are there any reworks? -> No. -> Are there any extra steps in the process? -> Look at the process variants in this department. Oh, we observed that we have some cases with invoice receipt but without goods receipt -> Why is that? -> Look at the supplier statistics. -> Look who handled these invoices. And so on.”
Now, this is the real PM!
Surely, you can create charts in Excel. But can you create something like this - a graphic representation of the process, so-called process map, giving you a quick and easy-to-understand the overview of the whole process.
Oh, and did we mention that Minit has also integrated Qlik Sense, a tool for interactive graphs and dashboards?
Analyzing and using a simple process and not-so-large dataset, you are able to run the PM analysis in Excel.
Working with big datasets with a great deal of records and attributes?
Try a Process Mining tool instead. Really, it's worth it as these success stories prove.
Photo by Rishi Deep on Unsplash