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What is Work API and how is it different from process mining and task mining?

Let’s start with the good news. If you like process or task mining, you’ll love Work API. In this article, we’ll go through what it is and how it’s the next big step in business process intelligence.

Work API is a fresh approach to process analysis automation leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced process analytics. Unlike conventional process mining techniques, it does not require the collection of event logs from enterprise data systems. Instead, Work API automatically and securely gathers relevant business data directly from graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

Work API is a process intelligence solution created for operational excellence.

One main advantage of Work API is that it removes most of the data hassle in process analysis. Work API completely bypasses the need to create and maintain integrations to collect data from different sources of enterprise data systems, such as ERPs or Procure-to-Pay solutions. In simple terms, this means less data wrangling hassle for IT professionals and faster access to insights for process management leaders across all workflows, tools, and systems used in business operations.

Process Mining vs Task Mining vs Work API

Process analysis and intelligence software has advanced greatly in recent years. If you’re looking for a summary of the different approaches, here is a quick refresher.

Mining solution Process mining Task mining Work API
In commercial use since 2000 2005 2021
Recognized leader Celonis Uipath Workfellow
Focus Execution management Task automation Operational excellence
Coverage Processes Tasks Processes, tasks and use of systems
Data model / source Event logs inside IT systems Desktop activity records Business data objects from GUI
Typical time-to-value Months to years Weeks to months 7 days
How much pre-work to set it up? A lot Some Zero
How much customization? A lot Some Zero as default
Adoptance Process with IT system Individual employees and teams Team / Unit / Process / System
End-user involvement No interference at all Consent required No interference at all
Privacy Needs customization based on dataset Consent required for monitoring GDPR-free / no personal data processed

Process mining is a powerful process mapping methodology used for end-to-end process analysis and optimization. It uses data from event logs that are available in IT systems, such as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or a procure-to-pay (P2P) solution. Based on that data, it builds the as-is process visualizations and can then compare them to the "desired" process maps. By doing this conformance checking, companies can find process deviations and thus improvement opportunities. 

Definition of process mining

Process mining is a well-established category of enterprise software with origins in data mining science and the academic world in the late 1990s. According to Gartner, there are at least 20 process mining software vendors offering solutions to different kinds and sizes of organizations, both in manufacturing and service-focused industries.

While the methodologies vary, one limitation of many process mining techniques is that it often requires extensive configurations and integrations to collect and harmonize event log data from different enterprise data systems. In other words, you often need to configure process mining solutions for each enterprise system and source of transaction data.

Task mining is a workflow tracking solution focused on employee or user task tracking and optimization on desktops. Much like process mining, it monitors the digital traces of work and processes. Using character recognition, natural language processing, and other techniques, task mining software analyzes the data gathered from employee desktop interactions and finds patterns that could be interpreted as improvement opportunities. 

Definition of task mining

Task mining is great for understanding repetitive task-related activities in detail - for example, a number of manual steps performed by an employee or to give a time-based understanding of worker activities. The end goal of task analysis can be to uncover workflow efficiencies or automation opportunities, for example, by using robotic process automation (RPA.)

One limitation of most task mining tools is that they typically don’t give an understanding of how transactions are processed from end-to-end across different business and web applications. In other words, you can measure throughput time for work effort or for specific tasks but with task mining, you can not analyze total cost per transaction or efficiency per transaction across the total process lifecycle.

Work API is a relatively new technique for automated process analysis. It harvests business data objects from graphical user interfaces based on the configured needs of organizations. In other words - it extracts relevant business signals from employees’ connected devices, executing a process automatically without the need for conventional mining and data integrations.

Definition of Work API in process intelligence

Work API was developed first by Workfellow co-founders Kustaa Kivelä and Henri Wiik as a response to the dramatic changes to work caused by Covid-19 and the global pandemic. Work API tackles the reality of modern knowledge work where experts use various desktop and web applications to solve complex challenges. Work API was envisioned to give effortless and real-time visibility to enterprise work and optimize operational excellence.

The core advantage of Work API is faster and easier process analysis across all IT systems and business applications without the need for IT and integration resources. Another advantage is that it enables broader tracking of work leveraging tasks, processes, and systems insights to give a 360-degree perspective on operational excellence.

Work API enabling intelligent automation

Many technology leaders recognize the benefit of intelligent automation in the enterprise but lack visibility on how it can be implemented across increasingly complex IT architecture. According to a recent study by Deloitte, process fragmentation is the #1 challenge holding back intelligent automation in most organizations.

Work API gives a rapid way to collect previously unreachable business data and visualizes the real state of business processes. In most cases, insights and automation opportunities are identified within days of implementation, and process insights can be measured in concrete business value.

Work API example - Accounts receivable process overview from Workfellow

How Work API works in practice

Workfellow's Work API collects process execution data based on data harvesting of business objects (transactions) from the business application graphical user interface (GUI.) The collection of business process data happens silently in the background, similar to many task mining solutions. At the same time, when people work on processing, for example, invoices, tickets, and claims, and simultaneously create event logs identical to event logs used for process mining.

Each organization can configure Work API based on their needs based on the key business applications and processes they aim to analyze. See examples in the short video below.

To learn how Work API collects and analyzes the data in more detail, refer to our whitepaper.

Work API and data governance

It's important to reflect on data privacy and security. In both areas Work API delivers enterprise-grade reliability.

The solution utilizes a privacy-first desktop plugin that excludes personal private data from source and can be fully configured and reviewed by process or IT leadership.

Individual user tracking is not in the scope of Work API - instead it is aimed for improving team performance, Centers of Excellence and for supporting digital transformation of business operations.

Bottom line

Process and task mining are both well established technologies for process discovery and intelligence. If you're looking for new and innovative technologies, Work API can automate your process analysis without any integration hassle.

If you have task or process mining in use you can also leverage Work API. A data-driven organization can use one or more of these solutions at once to solve different use-cases and business objectives.

If you’re ready to try a fast, easy and automated way to analyze and improve your processes in an excellence-driven organization, then excellence mining may be the best choice for you. Sign up to a 30-day free trial with Workfellow today.

Written by

Lari Numminen

Chief Marketing Fellow

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