Why Process Intelligence is a critical addition to the analytics stack

Baseball coach instructing player

Why Process Intelligence is a critical addition to the analytics stack

We have all felt the hype around the digital and data driven organisation. Analytics has ridden this wave to become standard business practice under one or more of it’s several buzzword mantles – Business Intelligence, Data Visualization, Corporate Performance Management etc.

This is great news, because decisions based on data are better decisions. But the current crop of analytics solutions are all primarily focused on measuring and tracking results business outcomes in terms of units sold, packages delivered etc. While knowing these numbers is important, it doesn’t empower the majority of decisions a business actually takes. The only decisions taken based on results are strategic evaluations – to close a store, kill a product line etc.

This leaves a huge gap in most analytics solutions, because the majority of business decisions are not at the strategic level. While absolutely important, the dramatic kill-or-let-live type decisions taken in the board room are less critical to overall performance than the regular tactical and operational decisions that goes into producing results in the first place.

Focusing only on measuring results is like trying to run a baseball team only by the GM selecting players. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Moneyball, but if you looked closely you’d notice that even the Oakland A’s had a coaching staff as well – people that work closely with the players to help them maintain and improve their performance, day after day.

Measuring performance is great, but in order to improve performance we need to understand the specific strengths and weaknesses of the team tactics and players

Process Intelligence fills this gap by helping organisations discover, understand, improve and monitor the operational activities that produce the desired outcomes. This is critical, because unlike the end results, these activities are in our direct control.

Taken together, these activities form our business processes – chains of events that (when working) lead to a desired outcome. Any attempt at improving business performance is a change to the underlying process, so understanding and analyzing processes is a critical business capability.

This is why we invest in functions for operational excellence, quality management and continuous improvement. At present, these practices are performed in a very manual way where information is gathered via interviews or workshops, performed either in-house or via management consultants. This is time consuming, inaccurate and risky, because of potentially biased inputs, as the people being interviewed are often responsible for the investigated process and may hence feel they are personally being evaluated. When accurate and unbiased information is actually obtained, the manual nature of capturing this information means it is quickly outdated as the organisation evolves and adapts to new challenges and opportunities.

Process Intelligence shortcuts this information gathering by going directly to the data. This removes a lot of the hurdles in working with operational improvement, meaning costs can be saved on any existing such initiatives and the practices of operational excellence, quality management and continuous improvement can be scaled to cover new areas. This is the key to improving business performance, and Process Intelligence is the shortcut to doing it faster, smarter and more efficiently.