What is process discovery?
Process discovery is a series of methods and tools used to define, visualize, and analyze business processes. It provides a measurable understanding of how people carry out daily operations and processes in the workplace.
You can think of process discovery as the exploration of the as is of an organization's existing processes while process redesign is the exploration of the to be state of improved processes.
Discovering processes is one of the most critical steps in understanding how the organization works and, frankly speaking, is a prerequisite for any successful automation project or business process transformation.
Steps for business process discovery in BPM software
Each organization will have their own resources and methods of discovering the state of business processes. You can follow a seven step approach to process discovery within your business process management (BPM) framework.
1. Collect data. Gather all relevant data related to the business process.
2. Analyze data. Analyze the collected data and identify patterns and correlations.
3. Map process. Map out the process by connecting the discovered patterns, activities and tasks.
4. Test and validate. Test the process and validate the results to ensure accuracy and completeness.
5. Optimize processes. Optimize the process by making necessary changes and improvements.
6. Monitor results. Monitor the process and measure results to ensure continued optimization.
7. Automate processes. Automate the process to increase efficiency and reduce manual effort.
What are process discovery tools?
Process discovery tools use a combination of different techniques, including process mining algorithms and task capture technology, to automatically map business processes. They use different methods to monitor and capture user interactions within different information systems and applications, recording the digital traces of work.
Process discovery uses various computational and statistical methods to get valuable, applicable information from the data it gathered into actionable process analysis.
Benefits of process discovery software
Compared to manual or consultant-lead process discovery, process discovery software provides a number of advantages.
- Automated discovery. You can quickly and accurately map the "as-is" state of your processes based on data.
- Faster analysis. When survey or interview based process discovery can take months, software can offer real-time value in seconds.
- Repeatable and scalable. Automated process discovery can be maintained or scaled much more efficiently with software.
- Single source of truth. While surveys can contain subjective views or humar error, discovery software gives an objective truth based on data.
- Accessable for users. You don't need to be a process analyst to get access and benefit from self-service analysis or dashboards provided by process discovery tools.
- Easy configurability. Process discovery tools can be configured to accurately represent the needs of key industries or business functions based on templates and best practices.
Process discovery vs process mining
Process discovery and process mining are related terms that often get confused. Process mining is the technique to gather data related to a business process to uncover important trends and insights, while process discovery is the application of process analysis to discover the current real state of processes within an organization.
Process mining often involves using data mining and analytics techniques to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement. The goal is to improve the process by making necessary changes and optimizations. Process discovery can be done manually or through dedicated process discovery tools. Many process mining tools offer process discovery functionality, but process discovery can also be done through general business process management tools that allow you to map business processes.
List of Process Discovery Tools
#1. Workfellow Process Intelligence
Workfellow is the first commercially available AI-powered hybrid process intelligence solution combining process mining and task mining into one integrated solution providing end-to-end process discovery functionality.
Workfellow is a new VC-funded process intelligence startup founded in 2019 and based out of Helsinki, Finland. Workfellow has customers across different industries from logistics to consumer goods, and especially knowledge-intensive work including banking, financial services and insurance.
Key features of Workfellow
- Effortless implementation: Workfellow does not require access to event logs, instead it generates event logs automatically through a method called Work API.
- 360 degree discovery: Through Work APi Workfellow is able to track tasks and process flows across different business apps, allowing for end-to-end analysis of workflows.
- Automated insights: Workfellow includes ready-made dashboards and provides automated insights within it’s analytics.
- Privacy first: Workfellow is a GDPR-free solution that does not process personally identifiable data.
Who is it for?
Workfellow is a good option for any organization that doesn’t have extensive data science and process mining resources in-house looking for an effortless and fast way to gain process intelligence without data mining hassle.
UiPath is a major process automation and orchestration platform. It provides a suite of tools to help automate processes, including an easy-to-use visual workflow designer, a powerful robotic automation platform, and an AI-powered document understanding component.
UiPath is a pioneer in robotic process automation used by over 10,000 customers ranging from independent developers to large enterprise businesses such as Verizon, Coca-Cola and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. UiPath’s process mining solution has been developed based on the acquisition of ProcessGold in 2019.
Key features of UiPath
- Automation suite: All-in-one platform for automation including RPA, low-code app development and integrations.
- Accessible and scalable: UiPath is relatively quick to start to use, starting from free-to-try UiPath Cloud Platform.
- Trainings: Broad set of training materials for intelligent automation, including the UiPath Academy and certifications
Who is it for?
UiPath is well suited for an enterprise with a strong focus on RPA looking to advance their intelligent automation through a single-suite platform.
Celonis is a process mining and intelligent automation suite that allows companies to improve their business processes through a platform called the “Execution Management System” (EMS). It gives users visibility and insights into the performance of their processes through extracting and analyzing event logs from different data sources, for example, ERP or CMS systems. Celonis EMS also allows users to discover bottlenecks, discover inefficiencies, and optimize processes.
Celonis is one of the first commercially available process mining solutions and is today a recognized market leader in the category. Since 2011 the company has grown rapidly and now has a market valuation over $13 billion. Celonis has over 1000 customers, mostly in North America and Europe.
Key features of Celonis
- Enterprise focus: Celonis provides a deep level of service, security and process data management for the needs of large enterprise organizations.
- Event log extraction: Celonis have a large customer base and broad experience in extracting event logs from different source systems, especially popular ERPs such as SAP and Oracle.
- Partner network: Celonis has over 170 partner agencies that provide implementation consulting services.
Who is it for?
Celonis can be a good fit for a large enterprise with in-house data science resources with most of their workflows and processes within a single ERP system, such as SAP or Oracle.
The Fujitsu Automated Process Discovery (APD) service helps organizations visualize their existing business processes using an evidence-based approach with analytical and actionable insight to maximize the value of process improvement initiatives. Unlike traditional business process discovery efforts, where models are created after a multitude of interviews with task or process owners, the APD service relies on facts and evidence within company application log files to trace the process and render the flow “as it really happens”.
Key features of Fujitsu APD
- Out of the box metrics: ability to measure compliance, inefficiency cost and process optimization opportunities.
- Consulting focus: as part of the Fujitsu APD service experience clients get advisory on areas of improvement and implications.
- Aligned with BPM: aligned with standards-based process modelling techniques.
Who is it for?
Global 1000 companies that have working relationship with Fujitsu or are looking for a integrated consulting + software experience to process discovery.
Nintex is a leader in end-to-end process intelligence and workflow automation with over 10,000 customers. Nintex expanded their process discovery and mining functionality in 2022 through the acquisiton of Kryon.
Kryon's Process Discovery solutions were considered best-of-breed solutions at the time of the acquisition, especially with unique computer vision features for event capture on user interfaces. In addition, Kryon offered robotic process automation (RPA) functionality under Kryon RPA.
Key features of Nintex Process Discovery
- End-to-end visibility. The process discovery element is based on computer vision task capture from users computers and workstations.
- Automation capabilities. The Kryon suite offers complimentary process discovery and RPA functionality to identify and execute automation projects.
- Long-established suite: Nintex has the stability and stature of a long-established automation suite tracing back to the early days of enterprise automation in 2006.
Who is it for?
Nintex has a broad customer base in services, manufacturing and retail industries and can be a good option for any business considering an automation focused, established vendor.
If you’re a believer in “you won’t get fired for buying IBM,” you’ll be glad to know the Big Blue offers its own process discovery and intelligence solution. Added to IBM’s portfolio in 2021 through an acquisition of MyInvenio, IBM Process Mining discovers, monitors and optimizes business processes by extracting system data from enterprise systems.
Key features of IBM Process Mining
- Easy to use. IBM Process Mining has advanced process enhancement features which discovers business rules based on event log data and adds them to a standard BPMN model.
- Visualizations. IBM Process Mining offers a variety of visualization options relevant to process discovery, including process graphs, process variants and conformance analysis.
- Process simulation. IBM Process Mining has process simulation features enabling to-be processes and what-if scenarios.
Who is it for?
IBM Process Mining is a good option for companies looking to build on IBM's data and consulting expertise, especially with the interest to align business process management and design models with standard practices, such as BPMN models.
#7. SAP Signavio
For organizations with an SAP ERP landscape Signavio is a process discovery and mining solution to consider. In the past you may have been more familiar with SAP’s Intelligent Business Process Management Solution or the integration of Celonis Process Mining within the SAP solution. SAP acquired Signavio in 2021 and has worked on integrating Signavio as a prime process intelligent offering.
Key features of SAP Signavio
- Integration to SAP. Signavio has deepened integrations to the SAP data ecosystem and partner network.
- Process management. in addition to process mining Signavio offers broader process design and management capabilities'
- Collaboration Hub. Signavio includes unique functionality to share process models, which is especially helpful to create the should-be state of processes.
Who is it for?
SAP Signavio’s Process Transformation suite can be used for a variety of purposes, including process insights, process automation, process management and process modelling. It's especially valuable for enterprise looking to implement a broad business process management (BPM) approach on the SAP data stack.
#8. Avo Discover
Avo Discover is a niche process discovery solution that enables businesses to transform end-to-end processes into documentation and automation opportunities. The company is based in Cincinatti and is especially growing in the APAC and Middle East region.
Key features of Avo Discover
- Process recording and discovery. Avo Discover includes activity tracking functionality that allows you to discover processes related to a key activity.
- Process documentation. You can combine individual tasks in to end-to-end enterprise processes.
- Integration to automation. Avo Discover is integrated to Avo Automation suite, including automation testing functionality.
Who is it for?
Avo Discover is especially relevant for automation specialists looking for a solution for automated software testing and test automation.
If you have the resources and skills in your organization to develop your own process mining tool, you may consider ProM, which is short for Process Mining framework.) ProM is an open source framework for process mining algorithms. In other words, it is a free and independent resource for users and developers to leverage when building process mining capabilities. ProM can be downloaded and used under a GNU Public open source license and has board adoption in academic institutions, free online training courses and an active online community of developers.
Who is it for?
ProM is available as open source for any developer or in-house data scientist looking to develop process mining and discovery capabilities as a self-built solution.
Process Discovery Comparisons and Reviews
Top 10 SAP Signavio Alternatives [2023 Update]
Celonis vs UiPath Process Mining Comparison [Updated 2023]
Celonis vs Signavio Comparison (2023 Update)
Celonis vs Workfellow Process Mining: 2023 Mega Showdown
Top Process Mining Software in 2023
Top Task Mining Software to Compare in 2023
Process Discovery Tools and Software [2023 Complete List]
15+ Process Intelligence Software and Tools (2023 Update)
60+ Intelligent Automation Tools and Software (Updated 2023)