November 18, 2021

Increase margins on hard and soft services with Process Mining

Tight margins on both hard and soft services pose a major challenge for facility management (FM) service providers. Those providers that optimize their services – and therefore their margins – will have greater scope to secure a favorable market position. Process Mining enables you to translate analyses into specific actions, which can then provide interesting opportunities to expand services and improve margins.

White Paper - How to grow your business and improve customer satisfaction with hyperautomation
White Paper - How to grow your business and improve customer satisfaction with hyperautomation

Read this white paper to learn more about the crucial role of hyperautomation for FM service providers and discover how to implement a valuable hyperautomation strategy.


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Process Mining is a success story initially developed in the Netherlands. The concept of Process Mining is the brainchild of Prof. Wil van der Aalst and has been further developed over the past fifteen years at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and RWTH Aachen University.

Every organization is familiar with workflows and automation tools. Processes, however, cannot be managed conclusively with workflows, as the chain is never completely closed. Process automation developers are often willing to accept a margin of error, whereas an accountant responsible for bookkeeping does not have such liberty. If 1,000 orders are entered into the system, 1,000 orders must also come out the other side.

Close the gap between the accountant and process manager

Process Mining closes the gap between the accountant and process manager. The solution to this sounds straightforward, as processes are followed from start to finish, enabling you to reveal where there are errors. Main roles are set aside for timestamps and a case ID, with the case ID being an object that you track within the organization. The timestamps indicate where that object was at any given time within the process.

You could, for example, create a case ID for every car that is registered to reserve a parking space in a parking garage. A first timestamp is created when a parking space is registered for the car, a second timestamp when the vehicle enters the parking garage, a third timestamp once the car is parked in its parking space and a fourth when the car departs.

Using the same example, you could also register that the car reserves a parking space but does not use it. How long does it take for the reservation of this parking space to expire? When will the space become free for another car to be parked? How long was the line at the parking garage when there was an unused space available? And could this have been resolved differently?

Provide immediate insight into both optimizations and the customer journey

Spaghetti diagrams are made in the process of operational service provision, among other things. A thread (so to speak) is attached to an employee who carries out a set of tasks for a job. Once the set of tasks has been completed, we see that thread as a plate of spaghetti. This plate shows which movements have been made and where optimization is possible. Process Mining connects a thread to every conceivable process and thus provides insight into inefficiencies in the same way. Metadata – such as location, customer, type of service and parties carrying out the work – is linked to the case. This makes it possible to produce detailed analyses and therefore to observe possible optimizations.

FM service providers can use Process Mining to get a clear picture of the customer journey. Every touchpoint is registered and the subsequent workflows and processes are mapped out. This enables service providers, for example, to further optimize their response times for ad hoc services. Various measurement points can also be linked to the case ID within every other conceivable process. How compliant am I with the agreement I made with my customer? How long does it take to process the administration of an additional cleaning assignment? How does this affect customer satisfaction?

What is the essence of your services?

The secret of Process Mining lies in the preparation. Conventional automation does not take into account the start and stop times of a process. For Process Mining however, this is essential. Process Mining requires organizations to determine the essence of their services in advance and to link this to the case ID. Timestamps can then be attached to enable measurements to be made.

The quality of the timestamp is crucial to ensure the reliability of the analysis. It is therefore also important to keep the threshold for registering the timestamp as low as possible, or even to automate this with a suitable supporting operational system . A good example of this is the use of a mobile app for employees that monitors, either automatically or semi-automatically, the start and end times of journeys. Moreover, you will also benefit from the work of TU/e, where data scientists have developed algorithms that monitor the quality of timestamps. In practical terms, this means that once the measurement has been set up, your software ensures that the results are reliable. You can easily perform your analyses from the management side.

The potential of Process Mining is really the icing on the cake. The software translates analyses from an academic tool into specific actions. As an organization, you can determine whether you manage these actions centrally (quota assignment), enable those directly responsible to do so (show parking garage operators how many spaces are available) or even completely automate the process (a robot raises and lowers the barrier).

Possibilities for expanding the service provision

Process Mining applied to a system likePlanon Universe for Service Providers is reliable and fast. A proper data history structure provides opportunities for long and short-term analyses. Data from the previous hour can help you take action in the next hour. That provides possibilities for optimizing the implementation of the services, but also for expanding the range of services offered. 

The biggest disadvantage to Process Mining is the age of the technology. Utilizing an academic analysis tool in the form of a practical business tool is something quite new and innovative. That said, this ‘disadvantage’ would appear to be only advantageous. The use of Process Mining is currently gaining momentum and this provides opportunities for early adopters. Those looking for a tool that can remove the sharp edges of tight margins would be wise not to ignore what Process Mining has to offer.

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