What is Task Mining and How Does it Work?
In today’s fast-paced landscape, automation is critical to revolutionizing your operations. It helps you save costs, increase efficiency, achieve operational excellence and stay competitive. But, in most cases, finding opportunities to automate is easier said than done.
Automation takes time and the right resources, which can be even more challenging for larger, more complex organizations that are spread across several departments and verticals.
Enter, task mining.
Task mining offers you a unique window into the intricate, complex world of how employees interact with tasks. It also does so with speed, accuracy and precision. While traditional methods of uncovering automation potential involve manually tracking and collecting data, these tactics are often slow and hard to maintain.
Meanwhile, task mining allows you to connect the dots between people, tasks and systems automatically. It reveals the independencies and bottlenecks that may have gone unnoticed through manual means and empowers you to resolve them through the right automation.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- Everything you need to know about task mining
- Where your organization can benefit from it
- Starting with SS&C | Blue Prism® Process Intelligence (BPPI) powered by ABBYY Timeline
What is Task Mining?
Akin to coal or gold mining, task mining also extracts and processes valuables. But instead of minerals, we’re discovering data insights and refining them to improve specific processes and business productivity.
It takes a very granular look at how your business carries out work, drilling into every aspect of a task, down to the small details, processes and subprocesses. For instance, seeing how the content in a document is created, how long it took to create and changes made after through different individuals involved. It then presents the data visually, so you can easily understand the flow of a task.
Other data that task mining can collect include:
- Mouse clicks
- Copying and pasting activity
- Time spent per application
- User inputs
These tasks are usually performed on an individual employee’s computer. We can then compare this information to different users to see how different tasks are done. And by looking at this information in such detail, we can understand the consuming and repetitive tasks that take up most of the employees’ time. At the same time, task mining recommends possible candidates for automation in the right places to resolve them. Think of it like creating a ‘digital twin’ of your organization.
Task mining vs process mining
Process mining and task mining are both essential parts of your automation strategy. Often, they are confused, and while they share similarities, they serve different purposes.
As we’ve discussed, task mining is more granular in approach. It looks at the specific tasks conducted by employees in daily work, essentially giving insights into how an employee performs.
In contrast, process mining is much broader. It considers how well the wider system (in which those tasks work) flows. It gives you an end-to-end, realistic view of your combined process performance.
For example, task mining will analyze a user’s activity and keystrokes on the desktop, but process mining will primarily explore the system logs at the back end. When used together in a complementary way, process mining and task mining serve to help transform the way businesses operate.
A summary of task mining vs. process mining:
Area of analysis
|Granular, task-level||End-to-end processes|
Source of data
|Clicks, keystrokes, copying and pasting activity on an end user’s PC||Extracts data from information systems’ event logs on core IT systems|
|How a form is filled out||Process map of getting document approval|
|Simpler, more effective tasks undertaken by users||More efficient, automated end-to-end processes|
SS&C | Blue Prism® Process Intelligence deeply integrates best-of-breed process mining and task mining with intelligent automation and business process management to facilitate decision-making and deliver a unified workforce with the ability to monitor, respond and predict future outcomes.
Task mining and process mining are often used alongside each other as part of a process intelligence platform. Process Intelligence blends both to provide a highly detailed overview of your processes and tasks across the organization. It helps you identify the repetitive and inefficient tasks — which slow processes — so you can allocate the right resources to them. All of this is a fundamental part of hyperautomation and intelligent automation (IA). We’ll cover more on that later.
Benefits of Task Mining
Since task mining is similar to process mining, its benefits are also comparable. Here are a few key highlights:
- Improved productivity: Task mining supplies unique data to analyze the productivity of each employee’s task. You can see the time spent on each task and where it was spent, helping you understand where employees are most productive during work — and where support is needed.
- Cost reduction: By eliminating inefficiencies and discovering more tasks for automation, it will help you significantly cut costs and waste. You also aren't sinking labor costs, as human workers are free to perform more high-level tasks.
- Process violations: Seeing how each task is done helps you identify the gaps between steps. You’re able to see what tasks are being done wrong, missing, being repeated, etc.
- Improved compliance: When combined with process mining, task mining helps create more compliant operations. This can be done through root cause analysis, process discovery, performance analysis, business process analysis etc.
- Identify automation opportunities: You can see which tasks are unproductive and repetitive to be put forward for automation.
- Less automation redos: Task mining gives you accurate recommendations about where automation can make a positive impact. This means less chance of automation redesigns that take up significant time and resources.
- Return on investment (ROI): With accurate and in-depth data, you can build a good business case for automation and generate a positive ROI.
- Improve customer satisfaction: Uncovering the tasks holding up processes can lead to better customer satisfaction. You can reduce wait times and mistakes and free up staff time from repetitive, tedious tasks to focus on client care.
- Continuous improvement: Task mining is not finite. It can run continuously as part of your process improvement strategy across your organization through automation opportunities.
How Does Tasking Mining Work?
Task mining works by gathering data on individual tasks to provide accurate and quality automation recommendations. A typical task mining process goes through the following steps:
- Recording: This involves recording user interactions on the desktop about how they carry out tasks. It captures all variations between different employees against data security rules. The data capture can be very detailed, such as recording specific keystrokes.
- Analysis: After collecting the data, it’s then analyzed to identify patterns and opportunities for automation, seeing which tasks repeat, slow, complex, etc.
- Recommendations: Based on your business needs and criteria, it recommends the best possible automation candidates. Task automation can also be more advanced and recommend a transformation plan to scale automation across your business.
More advanced task mining tools can utilize additional capabilities, such as natural language processing (NLP) or optical character recognition (OCR), to draw correlations from more complex business metrics in real-time.
Process Intelligence enables organizations to undertake four key steps:
- Records user interactions to collect data.
- Deploys on an employee’s desktop.
- Takes screenshots and captures information at intervals which are sent back to the software.
- Identifies patterns of user interactions
- Detects variables in task execution.
- Detects all user interaction data during the recording process and is converted into structured data using OCR technology.
Advanced Custom Recording
- Takes advanced custom recordings to get more detail.
- Can be approached in different ways in terms of steps performed, time spent and time lost.
Task mining examples
Task mining is a great tool for analyzing various tasks, from back-office to customer-facing, across various industries. Let’s look at a few common task mining use cases:
Banking and finance
Task mining uncovers the non-compliant tasks to be improved. In banking, it supports the completion of know-your-customer (KYC) checks as effectively as possible. Customers can easily open a bank account or apply for additional products using automated KYC checks, making critical decisions faster and more accurately, and improving the customer experience.
Insurer networks are complex and require different interdependent tasks to complete claims. Task mining can help identify the bottlenecks in the steps of a claims cycle. Insurers can also pinpoint where tasks are deviating, skipped or repeated — which automation can fix. This ensures a more streamlined delivery of insurance solutions.
Task mining can ultimately improve patient experience and clinical effectiveness. You can see common variants in how care pathways are conducted, checked and followed through. When staff faces blocks, automation opportunities help prevent the same problems from recurring. This frees up staff’s time from manual, repetitive admin work to spend with patients.
Discover how your procurement process really works by analyzing it down to the task. See how employees interact with inventory systems, monitor stocks and trigger deliveries — looking specifically at any bottlenecks that could potentially slow down the efficiency of supply chains and locating opportunities for automation to take over.
How Does Task Mining Fit Into My Intelligent Automation?
Process Intelligence, inclusive of task mining and process mining, plays an integral role in IA. It helps solve one of the most significant blockers for business:
- Difficulty identifying hidden process insights that could unlock excellence.
- Limited understanding of the potential of automation.
- Hard to scale automation quickly and clearly with guesswork.
- Lack of prioritization, process automation projects become time-consuming and resource intensive.
In a nutshell, Process Intelligence helps you assess how eligible overall processes are for automation so you can overcome these blockers and keep scaling your IA strategically. Its importance lies in being the first step towards transformation and harnessing the full potential of IA. Just like constructing a building, you’d lay the concrete foundation first to have solid ground to scale up. Process Intelligence provides the key to unraveling the intricate workings of your enterprise systems as it navigates real-world scenarios. So, you can build a well-informed approach to any undertaking.
Getting Started With Task Mining
Before starting with task mining, decide what area of your business you want to experiment with first. We recommend a small test project to help you build a larger business case and understand the full potential and limits of task mining. If you can, focus on tasks that take up most of your employees’ time.
It’s also vital to involve the right individuals in your project. Access to different employees and their ways of carrying out tasks will make task mining more successful. Here’s where you should also set up a center of excellence (CoE), which involves a team of skilled knowledge workers whose mission is to provide and embed best practices for task automation.
Finally, set goals and decide on your key performance indicators. Without defining these, you may struggle to assess the results from your task mining and process mining endeavors.
Depending on your business needs, you’ll also want to consider whether full Process Intelligence is the better investment.
Task mining considerations
If implemented incorrectly or misunderstood, task mining can become challenging to carry out and maintain. That’s why getting it right from the onset is essential. Here are some considerations for successful implementation:
- Training and education on task mining, including what it is and what it’s here to do. From the employees’ perspective, task mining can seem like a scary monitoring tool. This needs to be cleared up immediately.
- Implement strategies for secure task mining. Task mining has access to and gathers users’ personal data. You’ll want to ensure you protect user privacy and confidentiality.
Accelerate Automation Value: Process Intelligence
SS&C Blue Prism’s Process Intelligence powered by ABBYY Timeline offers tight integration between process mining, task mining and intelligent automation. It also combines business process management (BPM) capabilities to facilitate decision-making and deliver a unified workforce with the ability to monitor, respond and even predict future outcomes.
You have a 360-degree view of all your business processes — including visibility into what people, processes and tasks are happening in your business, what bottlenecks are present and how well automations are performing. In a rapidly evolving landscape, this helps you stay on top of your automation and identify opportunities to improve with minimal effort.
Key Takeaways — Task Mining
We’ve just shared a lot of information about task mining and Process Intelligence. Here’s a quick summary:
- Task mining is an essential part of your IA and digital transformation plans.
- It drills down exactly how tasks are carried out in your business and provides a detailed analysis of where automation can help.
- In combination with process mining, task mining can become a powerful tool to give you a thorough understanding of your processes.
- Its applications are comprehensive in all industries.
Tasks have the potential to slow the progress of your business, hindering its growth and efficiency. The challenges persist, from the need to process content swiftly and accurately to entering data and routing documents for approval. Within each task lies a web of subtasks and processes where opportunities for errors, oversights and non-compliance can grow.
Fortunately, task mining can help alleviate these challenges and spot automation opportunities. By leveraging task mining, you can understand the intricacies of task executions. Coupled with process mining and advanced further with Process Intelligence, you can pave the way for enhanced productivity and optimized processes to ultimately accelerate and scale the success of your business.