Process Mining: Definition and Value

I discovered the concept of process mining while searching for datasets in preparation for my Master of Science degree in Data Analytics capstone project. Digging into the evolution of process mining leads to Wil van der Aalst‘s work which includes scholarly articles and the book Process Mining: Data Science in Action.


Process mining consists of tools and techniques that leverage data generated process-aware information systems to:

  • discover process models
  • measure conformance between a model and reality
  • enhance process models

Examples of process-aware information systems include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Business Process Management (BPM), Workflow Management (WFM), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and IT Service Management (ITSM) systems.


A commonly applied approach for process improvement efforts consists of capturing the current state, defining a target state, identifying gaps, implementing improvements, and monitoring results. An understanding of the current state provides insight into where performance problems exist and the variability of actual process execution practices across an organization. However, traditional methods primarily involve the collection of process artifacts and interviewing participants and actors. Due to its subjective nature, this time-consuming methodology often results in incomplete and inaccurate capture of actual process activities.

Process mining’s key value lies in automating the capture of the current state through analysis of actual process execution logs.  The use of actual process execution information captured in business process-aware information systems greatly speeds the capture process and results in an evidence-based representation of reality. An article titled Unleash the Value of Process Mining provides an excellent summary of how process mining improves the current state discovery process.

Decisions about which improvement efforts receive organizational investments rely on accurate problem assessments and benefit estimates. Process mining tools and techniques can assist organizations in speeding the capture of a current state understanding with greater degrees of accuracy, thus providing better information for performance improvement decision making.

Effective organizational process and performance improvement efforts leverage best practices from multiple disciplines. Process mining techniques represent a valuable contribution to the field.


Davenport, T. H., & Spanyi, A. (2019, April 23). What Process Mining Is, and Why Companies Should Do It. Harvard Business Review.
Filaire, T. (2017, July 20). Unleash the value of PROCESS MINING. Medium.
Van Der Aalst, W. M. P. (2018). Process Mining: Data Science in Action. Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated.


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