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How to Identify Automation Opportunities in Order-to-Cash with Process Mining

Kerri Hale, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Process Mining
August 7, 2022

The directive coming from top CFOs is clear: find new cost efficiencies and increase cash flow. Fixing bottlenecks and automating a portion of your order-to-cash (O2C) process can help you get there.

Whether you provide medical devices to hospitals or financial advice to banking institutions, your order processing system is how you turn products and services into cash. From taking an order, through billing and reconciliation, a seamless O2C process can lead to faster collections, increased working capital, significant cost savings, and yes, happier CFOs.

Despite the benefits, most businesses struggle to keep the O2C process running smoothly. Why? It tends to be cumbersome, with many steps handled manually. Invoices get missed, shipments are delayed, and customers complain. Bottlenecks in one area lead to delays in another, and inefficiencies are felt throughout the entire organization.

Automation can help—but you need to know where to start. Let’s see how process mining can help identify automation opportunities in order-to-cash.

Take the guesswork out of process automation.

It's no secret that process automation can deliver efficiencies. Automating transactions and activities with multiple steps and different systems can decrease errors and increase speed. Done right, automation simplifies business processes. But processes are complex – are some activities good candidates for automation while others are not? How do you know which steps in a process to automate?

Introducing process mining, a data-driven approach to uncovering automation opportunities in your order-to-cash process. With transparency into your workflow, you can see how your entire process actually works, as opposed to how you think it works. Data-driven insight makes it easy to see exactly where automation potential lies, along with objective analysis on the problems and bottlenecks that cost you time and money.

Tap into immediate value in order-to-cash with process mining.

Here’s how process mining works.

  • Transform your data for analysis. First you’ll need to get your data into event logs suitable for analysis. Data typically lives in multiple places, and bringing it all together involves extracting and transforming it from external databases like SAP, Oracle, and other ERP applications...
  • Visualize your as-is process flow. Next, you’ll create a high-level visualization of your process flow as it’s being executed (called a discovered model). This shows the actual, not assumed, path your O2C process takes. This model highlights all the variants or deviations from your ideal process flow, represented by your target model.
  • Investigate bottlenecks and automation opportunities. Compare your discovered model to your target model to see bottlenecks and inefficiencies, and identify areas ripe for automation. Using machine learning and root cause analysis, you can quickly see where extra steps were taken, where rework occurs, and where manual processes slow you down. Looking deeper into each variant helps you identify which part of your process is responsible for the largest number of delays.
  • Customize dashboards, act on insights, and monitor over time. Enrich your target model using KPIs and create a customized dashboard for discovering new optimization opportunities and monitoring process efficiency over time. Document and collect insights as you go, including a calculated value for the cost of rework, how often the delivery date was missed, processing time, and  the degree of automation in your process.

As you optimize and make changes to your O2C process, you can reload the data to track and monitor progress. And, because analysis is automated, you can run the process mining software monthly, weekly, and even daily without any additional effort.

Go from insight to action with Appian Process Mining, a unified solution for the modern enterprise.

A healthy order-to-cash process is a competitive advantage. To optimize yours, you need to know where the problems are, understand what’s causing them, and have the ability to make meaningful improvements.

The Appian Low-Code Platform helps you achieve all three, combining key capabilities needed to get work done faster in a unified suite. The fastest solution to take you from process insight to action, Appian integrates process mining technology, workflow, and automation in a single platform so you can discover, design, and automate your way to agility and speed.

Transform customer and employee experiences, reduce costs and technical debt, and accelerate your business today with Appian Process Mining.

Ready to improve order-to-cash processes? Download our 3-Step Guide to Finding and Fixing Inefficiencies in Order-to-Cash today!