CFOs are increasingly exploring ways to gain insights and streamline basic finance operations through process mining, which pinpoints inefficiencies and helps upgrade a workflow toward its “ideal model,” Gartner found in a survey.
Process mining provides unbiased “X-ray vision into your problems” in such activities as the closing process, according to Nisha Bhandare, VP analyst in the Gartner Finance practice. “Finance leaders are exploring it heavily.”
CFOs during the next two years will probably increase investment in process mining, robotic process automation (RPA) and reporting automation, Gartner said, citing a survey of 400 CFOs about 16 technologies involving process automation and optimization.
CFO Business Insight:
Process mining, although still in an exploratory stage, can yield gains across many functions and industries, according to technology experts. In finance, it can streamline controls and help identify irregularities such as any purchases made outside an established procurement process.
In sales, process mining can spotlight inefficiencies in sales cycles and achieve an improvement in key performance indicators for such metrics as days to close. In healthcare, it can reduce wait times for patients and help providers care for patients more efficiently.
“Despite ongoing investment in RPA, CFOs are realizing they need a broader toolkit to realize their full automation objectives,” Bhandare said. “CFOs are turning to a suite of complementary efficiency technologies, such as process mining.”
A process mining algorithm analyses event logs to reconstruct a workflow, enabling CFOs to review in detail what happened during execution of a process such as procure-to-pay or closing the books.
“It’s very unbiased,” Bhandare said in an interview. In the usual method for process analysis, an employee may say, “‘I do it this way because my process is special,’ or ‘that vendor is special,’ or ‘this customer is unique.’”
“Process mining takes the bias away and shows your process – how you do it based on the transaction log,’” she said. “That’s a big win for finance leaders when they want to see how good or bad their process is.”
CFOs through process mining can learn how many times a company deviates from a process, and find opportunities for automating repetitive tasks in various kinds of workflows, including accounts payable.
CFOs also show growing interest in reporting automation for analysis of closing the books, procure-to-pay and other tasks, Bhandare said. Rather than spend most of their time generating and updating reports, finance executives with reporting automation can pull together data from various systems for the same reports to glean deeper insights.
“You can wake up every morning and the reporting automation would have done several steps for you,” she said.
“You can spend your time actually analyzing the data and start driving it,” Bhandare said. “It’s a big value for finance because we’re trying to move towards value-added work.”
This article was originally published in CFO Dive