Process Mining for IT and ERP Development

As the business landscape transforms constantly, organizations face the need to deploy new ERP systems in some parts of the business, while continuing to use old ones in other parts. In the situation of a merger and acquisition, a complex IT landscape is inevitable. These changes often lead to confusion and misalignment between business and IT: instead of working towards the same goals, time is spent arguing about misconceptions. 

Thankfully, even the most complex IT landscapes can be managed. One way to reduce the complexity is to gain insight into the as-is processes and user habits, identify problems, and optimize through process mining (read: what is process mining). 

This blog is for you who are wondering:

  • "How can I ensure a smooth and risk-free ERP migration?"
  • "How can I meet business needs with the given resources and get everyone on the same page?"
  • "How can I complete the complex ERP projects with sufficient end-to-end testing on time?"

These are among the many questions that businesses face when developing their ERP systems. In this blog post, I'll discuss and demonstrate how process mining can help you solve these challenges from an IT and ERP development lifecycle point of view.

Blog content:

Current IT & ERP development challenges

1. IT & ERP development life cycle: Design

2. IT & ERP development life cycle: Implementation

3. IT & ERP development life cycle: Deployment

4. IT & ERP development life cycle: Maintenance

QPR ProcessAnalyzer Demo: IT and ERP development project

IT & ERP development challenges

According to Gartner, one of the biggest challenges regarding IT and ERP development in large organizations is that they have too many systems in use. Based on the 400+ process mining projects we've completed with customers worldwide, we've identified several reasons for ending up with too many systems.

As the business landscape transforms constantly, organizations face the need to deploy new ERP or workflow systems in some parts of the business, while continuing to use old ones in other parts. In the situation of a merger and acquisition, a complex IT landscape is inevitable in the end. 

Even within one system itself, there's a challenge of diverse usage. In business processes such as purchase-to-pay or order-to-cash, companies have corresponding blueprints and instructions. However, in different regions, with different vendors, end customers, and products, one version of the process may look substantially different from the next. This causes a huge number of variations per system, which increases the demand for support from IT.

Digital transformation trends also have a significant impact, as well as burden, on an organizations' IT and ERP systems. As business leaders race to implement new technology to improve the end-consumer experience, more effort is required in IT and ERP development projects. 

When you start an IT or ERP deployment initiative, it's often difficult and time-consuming to understand business requirements. A common way to gather these insights is to have dialogues and discussions with employees. However, this method can only paint some parts of the picture, as everybody is explaining their own process variations, problems, and best practices.

The sad truth is that it's not uncommon for IT and ERP development teams to face high maintenance costs, expensive and chaotic migrations, and unhappy users, leading to low productivity on the business side.

Today, I will approach the topic of IT and ERP development from the ERP life cycle viewpoint, highlighting problems within the Design, Implementation, Deployment, and Maintenance phases.

In each step of this lifecycle, you will find out how Process Mining can help you to successfully solve the challenges that you are facing in IT and ERP development.

IT and ERP development lifecycle


1. Design

One of the biggest challenges in designing your IT and ERP system is to meet business needs with the given resources. With process mining, you can easily understand how well your business is currently using your IT and ERP solutions, as you get both a holistic view of your processes as well as a detailed analysis of top process variations and bottlenecks.

With process mining, you can easily understand how well your business is currently using your IT and ERP solutions, as you get both a holistic view of your processes as well as a detailed analysis of top process variations and bottlenecks.

The diverse usage of your IT and ERP systems can cause you constant
headaches. By showing you all the process variants and highlighting the most common ones, process mining will help you easily analyze your current ways of working.

From this analysis, you can select the best practice variants, and build your process models as a guide for your business. As QPR ProcessAnalyzer works with data from your own systems, you'll get fact-based insights in order to make - or convince someone else to make - the significant, fundamental decisions required for well-functioning systems.

Tip: This functionality is extra helpful in situations when you wish to improve your current ERP system, or plan a migration from the old system to the new one.

2. Implementation

When you implement your IT and ERP development project, a critical question that lies ahead is how to complete the project successfully on time with sufficient end-to-end testing.

How do you know what's going in the right direction in the implementation stage of your project?

Normally, it takes a lot of time to complete the end-to-end testing for your processes. Process mining is the best solution to this problem: You can easily and quickly see from your development data how your testing goes, how much time is spent in different steps, and what problems occur already in the testing environments. See our customer success story about L&T, a large electric services company in Finland, to see how QPR ProcessAnalyzer helps them achieve a successful and risk-free ERP migration, and analyze data from the very early stages.

Process mining also lets you create the best practice examples for your intended use cases. This application is especially helpful for you when you need to communicate with the stakeholders and colleagues from other parts of your organization and instruct them about the intended ways to use the system. You can even compare the testing environments with other ways of working.

During the implementation phase of your project, process mining also supports the continuous monitoring of how well users are getting benefits from the system. 

Tip: Note that QPR ProcessAnalyzer can be beneficial for your RPA and IA projects - check out 7 ways in which process mining adds value to intelligent automation (blog).

3. Deployment

In the deployment stage of your IT and ERP development project, process mining helps ensure that your system users quickly learn the new processes, and you get the chance to fix the unseen problems then and there.

From many process mining projects with our customers, we've seen that you can make ERP deployments 50% faster with process mining, as you can track in real-time how well your users are using the new system.

Starting from the first day of your system going live, users will gradually get used to the new functionalities, and some of them will create manual workarounds. It's possible that some people are not aware of the intended ways of working, or they don't consider something beneficial, or simply want to keep their old ways of working. How can you deal with these types of behavior and speed this step up?

With process mining, you can detect those old habits of users' manual workarounds, and then immediately help the users to take advantage of the new functionalities.

Furthermore, you will see the root causes for these workarounds very easily with the software, and use these findings to either educate users or fix the complexities in the system itself (if it doesn't actually allow the users to go with the intended ways of working).

In a nutshell, you can effectively detect the problems and understand their root causes in order to fix the problems in your deployment stage with QPR ProcessAnalyzer.


4. Maintenance

In order to maintain the newly developed system, you should understand its performance, fix the potential problems, and constantly monitor and improve it by e.g. dropping support from unused modules.

A good indication of how well your ERP system works is the number of manual processing steps needed to complete one end-to-end process. From these statistics, you can tell if your ERP system is neatly aligned with your business needs. Based on data and root cause analysis in QPR ProcessAnalyzer, you can continuously detect and fix errors, manual workarounds, deviations, and unnecessary rework.

Based on the holistic view of the ERP system that process mining provides, you can detect functionalities that are not in use anymore. This is the basis for dropping the support for unused modules, and an effective method to lower your ERP maintenance costs.


QPR ProcessAnalyzer for IT & ERP Development: On-demand Webinar

It’s a good time to take a look at Process Mining if your company hasn’t already. The capabilities and usability of Process Mining software are improving rapidly, and the market is quickly becoming mature, although there’s still much work to be done.

If you think your company is ready to step it up with the future of as-is process modeling and process efficiency maximization, the fastest way to get things moving is to follow these steps:

Written by
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Teemu Lehto

Doctor of Science (Technology) and Process Mining evangelist active in marketing, sales, consulting, product development and research. Teemu has been involved in 200+ end customer process mining project from order-to-cash, purchase-to-pay, plant maintenance, auditing and service. Teemu is also an active speaker delivering the process mining message as well as writer for several process mining and machine learning scientific articles. Book a meeting with Teemu using the link:

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