Process Mining with Power Automate with Ilya Fainberg

Process Mining with Power Automate with Ilya Fainberg

Ilya Fainberg


  • An introduction about Ilya Fainberg, a senior program manager at Microsoft 
  • What’s life like now that he lives in Belgium? 
  • What is process mining? 
  • How to use process mining to understand the usage patterns of apps 
  • Why are companies investing a lot of time in process mining? 
  • A conversation all about Process Mining Advisor and how it works 
  • Ilya shares his thoughts on different ways process mining can be achieved based on the data.  
  • Where do bottlenecks come from and how do you identify them? 
  • A way to make processes more transparent for the team management people 
  • How much of a role does AI play in process-advisor? 

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[mark]: today's guest is from brussels in belgium beautiful country he's a senior program manager at microsoft you can find all his details as would be linked into the u tube et cetera are all in the show notes for this episode so check those out welcome with the show ilya

[ilya]: thank you much more happy to be here

[mark]: good to have you on the show you've been pretty active lately it seems out on the various social media channels with your videos and things what sparked this for you

[ilya]: well you know you do a lot of work for different different customers and you have a lot of ideas to solve the poblems that they have but typically of course i mean you have can have one two three customers five and whatever man a lot the things that you discuss a lot of the solutions that you discuss stay somewhere on the table because you know they're not adopted for whatever reason and they just get lost so i thought you know why do that why not just to share that with other people of people who might you know use that stuff for some something else if i compass for a solution for some situation on solution doesn't work for that particular customer maybe it will work for someone else and that's kind of what i want i started doing kind of my main focus on what i share is i try to share kind of i mean i also share like announcement things like that but most i try to think about creative solutions for different situations different use cases and yeah deliver them to the community essentially for the benefit of the community

[mark]: I like it i like it

[ilya]: that's kind of the mutilation behind that list

[mark]: so in this episode we really want to focus on process mining and what are the tools sets available to us particularly in relationship to power automate and pro this mining is one of those areas that actually i don't know a lot about but what i do know is i'm seeing it mentioned more and more in the in the business domain i'm seeing it come up from you know our competitors in the space there's been a lot of talk about it in recent times so i really would love to unpack that but before we jump in there just to tell us a bit about life and belgium family what you do when you're not doing microsoft

[ilya]: well life in the indulgements it's pretty nice it's kind of not not my my place of ovoision so to say i lived in several places in the past you know a few years the past like a twenty years haven't lived in one place for too long have a wife and two kids i've been kind of traveling a lot i think basically until the pandemic i don't think i ever spent more than like two you know in one place we not traveling anywhere for business or pleasure or whatever else uh so life was kind of very very chaotic in that sense although you know it was kind of the life that i liked in terms of a lot of trouvel and a lot of new things a lot of excitement to things like that and now it's since i moved to belgium a kind of switch gear is very drastically in a sense that i'm mostly walking from home i don't travel that that much on i also enjoy life now it's it's it's different and i mean it i guess in a way new to me but i really enjoy that that kind of life home um outside of kind of work i still like to like to travel when i do have the time we set travel a little with the kids when they were smaller i think when when my son was two years old by the time he was in like six or seven countries we used to take him everywhere since he was six months old and my daughter was well opened when she was born now they are kind of older five and seven the attend school obviously that's less possible but we used to travel a lot with them now when my wife and my wife and i want to travel we kind of you know dumped them on one of the grand parents and travel without them especially if it's kind of for long or um longer roll trips i like doing a lot of lot of differ different stuffs stuff a lot of different interests that i kind of at one point or another two semi professionally like graphic graphic design which i taught for the years like flying which i also learned to fly i mean i can only fly single engine planes but still something i kind of took on um i love building stuff kind of trying to get my son into that the whole area i'm trying to get him into you know programming and building rowboats and things like that going fairly well

[mark]: good

[ilya]: so far we built we built a smart watch together over a few weekends so that that was a nice project uh yeah so traveling building stuff that's kind of the main hopes i would do outside of work for the most part flying whenever i can

[mark]: i like it i like it you've given me some inspiration i've got a eighteen month old and a and soon to be born new born ving in the next six weeks and we're planning within the year to go to italy and greece um the which is for us now because we live in new zealand at the bottom of well it's it's a major trip and hearing that you've taken your kids on so many trips like this fills me with confidence that i'll be able to do the same thing and

[ilya]: yeah yeah that's i mean hat's a great thing i mean for them as well i think even at fairly small age that they were quite excited about it excited about you know traveling on plains and trains and whatever else and being in different places i mean that's a great experience i think

[mark]: totally so let's jump into process automation okay so can you tell me about what process mining is and why organizations are considering this as a priority at the moment

[ilya]: right so in everygrnization you have some kind of a process and most likely multiple processes by which they work right it can be in voice management case management count management wherever else really no matter what kind of a cisation you are you do have some kind of process that you work by and right now there's a subset of those processes which are i would say traditionally more looked into than others for example if you have a call center or any kind of case management scenario where you have to be very efficient then typically you would have some kind of a claes or keep your eyes that will try t speed of execution of those cases and general efficiency of all those those cases but normally when we look at other processes like i say invoice management there's very little organizations that look into efficiency of that particular process only i will say no efficient manufacturing that look at at the efficiency of those processes you can do that but you have to develop some some kind of a customer athletics in order to um build a reporting and understand what's going on inside and how to improve that process so this is where process mining esectually comes in process mining is a way for you to understand the efficiency of really any process and even beyond based on the data that is produced by the process so you don't have to do any additional work right then don't have build reports or adore to complex oliticolitics or dashboard or whatever else all done for you all you need to say is that esenialy what you need to define is that you have a process you have an instant of insence of a process you have an event that happens with

[mark]: okay so tell me about process mining what is it and and why are companies investing a lot of time resource et cetera into process mining these days

[ilya]: well i think that these days companies are not yet investing in a lot of time interposes mining it's i think i wouldn't say that it's a new area but it's something that is still doesn't have as much exposure as let's say other things in business applications as you know um like like poltomatepower up or you know no cold local things like like that so i still kind of fairly new space but if we talk about what that is right i guess let's that make sense to start from so in what case you can you can you can use it and what for so if you are an organization you probably have some kind of processes that you work by you can do case management you do base management you do ffisheman manufacturing whatever else you probably have some sort of processes that that you work by and in some of those processes you typically do have kpisoslasto trug the efficiency and the performance within that business process but in others often you don't as a very very common example if you can look at the case management especially in call hunters it is very important to have a certain you know length for call for some organization or a cela to cover a certain case for support cases and so so there's a lot of a lot of more work being done on supporting the efficiency of those kind of processes others on the other hand if you look for example at invoice processing there's not a lot of conversations that invest actively invest time in developing important and analytic and kars ou understand how efficiently our accounting accounting department process in voices you know it takes time and okay that's fine so process mining is a way to enable um manton of efficiency for really any process without investing that time and money into developing new analytics new caps new sales and so on so it's a way to understand he efficiency process or early any process based on the data that is produced by the process right so within each process you have at least at least four main elements the process itself say you don't now invert processing right within that process you have in voices so you have invoice one two three for a song and within inch invoice you have events or actions that are done by different people say john accepts the invoice and then fred passes the invoice to a different department for approval and then someone else passes that approves that that in voice and soon n so every such event is tied into a specific invoice or invoice ID and every such event has a time stamp so wend happened i can have either one time time or so when that happened or even two times times so the start date and the end ate of the of the activity of the action depends on what kind of succes in new york we work with it records your activities in the indus system but any system doesn't matter what it is if its dynamic cap sells force even some kind of a customer system probably has those three data points and the night thing is that process mining specifically the implementation by microsoficalle process advisor can take this date those three basic four basic data data points and build reporting build a flow diagram will show you the efficiency of the process overall across multiple situations so you have you can have look over how your entire company works like and then filter down by departments by specific people by specific processes by specific invoices whatever kind of slicing you want to do you can if you have data to do that kind of i think right so that what puss my mind esectally does in it uses a i to make the understanding of the efficiency of your processes easier and really we would say minimum investment um i showed a few few few examples for ample how it's done on my YouTube channel and you can literally set up process mining in line ten fifteen minutes to with simple data to undestand or example how an invoice invoice processing process works and is it efficient and if it's not efficient then how to find the inefficiency so it's really that simple um and actually i've bebee doing some time some work recently to take it even beyond that usage for processes uh in using process pining to understand the usage patterns of Apps so let's say you build an App and open App or power Apps whatever else and i have the solution which is fairly simple but it relies on possess minding to understand the usage patterns and the general kind of usage statistics of europe so to say you built an App which has five different sgnifferent screens and you add a new functionality in new screen number number six so how would you as a developer know if someone is using defnictso you're not someone is going to screen not you can ask im right you can ask you can you send sunday out of survey or ask cripple directly and then you will get a response from one to ten p fifty people i don't know but you don't really know for sure and especially don't know across all users but with that approach if you collect the data and you put that into the process mon and you can know for sure so you would actually get a diagram that will show you how all users in general use the up and if they use the fuctionality or not and if they is it then how much time to spend on it and in what case it's like from what screen would you go to get that new functionality you know you know in order to use it and how much time you would spend on that

[mark]: well that that's incredible you know and i'm involved in a lot of situations where enterprises are implementing the power platform right multiple ap developers and things like that and i could see this would be such a useful tool to see that the app was being used as intended or it needs improvement

[ilya]: exactly and i've built that that i've built a very fairly simple solution that demonstrate how that works so there's them up there's i'm writing the usage statistics you data verse currently there is the process mining model model itself and there is a model driven up that allows you to kind of view and edit the up traces you know just for additional another specific if you wanted to and actually preparing to what is the video that on your tube probably tomorrow well that you can you can watch and see how that works and also obviously the solution will be available and get help for everyone to to leverage if they want to

[mark]: i like it i like it send me the links so we can get that in the show notes when when we look at where the product surfaces for microsoft people want to go out and start using this weird the typically find it in the ecosystem the actual the ability to carry out process mining

[ilya]: right so right now it's part of our Power Automate so we have in part mate we have something called process advisor and in process of adviser you have two options you have to do process mining based on recording essentially just looks at how people literally looks like at a video of how people use certain process or whatever else and gives insight or there's the new option which allows you to do the same but based on data and that's kind of the point time i was talking about about earlier that's kind of the real i would say process mining at a large scale right if you want to look not just usage pattern over a specific person or persons but in mass across the organization across your users let's say that's really the the way to to do it i guess in most entreprise scenarios and for most possesses um so that's the way that you get to it configuring that is fairly easy for for ample if you ever build any kind of power report b i or really ample important data from say from data source you would have this kind of u i to select the data source and then you can can consivutthe query so can figure the columns that you want to use filter data that you want to use and especially that's it so if you have the skills to use excell then you probably have the skills to use for mining which i think uh probably the biggest difference from how can we do it microsoft in platform and how it's done across other solutions where look im at new in the ind kind of it field right ben been around the block for for a while but looking for example some other solutions i don't know if you have to be data scientist know to understand them but it probably wouldn't hurt uh in platform the nice thing about it is that we are following this low cold now cold philosophy and uh process mining build on that philosophy be essentially so you don't have to be they designed this in order to build at you might want to have some more advanced skills for example like if you if you know how to build more complex porter report does kill definitely help you to also build perhaps a more complex posmining model just you know to be able to e able to filter out the data that you need in a more efficient way but the other than that if you just want to take all the results from a process and analyze that that really takes very little effort and i said that you can literally set it up in ten fifteen minutes if you want to

[mark]: so there's a lot of the visualization happening in power b i mentioned power b a few times and when i've looked on line i see companies offer process mining oos and one of their claim to fame is as that it's all visualized in power b i being it's you know the number one um analytic type platform now that organize tons are using so is there a tight leak is it you know tightly linked to to power b i and how you would use process advisor

[ilya]: yeah so i mean the result that that you get essentially looks like pobypob dashboard so you guys get the process flow where you can see how different events are connected each other you have that shows you the different variants over process so in in how many different ways can can one process be achieved based on the data you have information about timing so how much time it took to in average to go through each case let's say invoice in july or in august or whatever else you know the the ability to drill down to look into the say specific users or specific departments or an drill down based information that you have in data that you have imported you have a channel analysis which allows you to show to see how much time each action she then takes an average and be able to kind of get get additional insight based on based on that so so you can look at the time of analysis and understand that you have one step in your process which takes way longer than every other step and you can i think you either it's normal and this is what you expect or it's not normal and that can be something that happ it's only in some of the cases or for ample only some departments or only for some people for some reason you know so you can really drill down and understand where this anomaly comes from be able to handle that and when you re applaud the data again let's say next month or next quarter or however you want to so that the cadence you can compare if the change that you made the process have actually affected the efficiency of the process over all or the efficiency of the process where you wanted to improve it for specific events let's say a specie departments or even specifically a specific people that work on your process

[mark]: m so so you know what jumps to mind for me is that this would allow organizations to potentially find the bottle necks that are happening inside the organization doesn't make those bottle necks really clear that the difference between what's an anomaly and then what's a it's always you know this is always an whatever the processes this is the point for whatever reason and the way the process is designed everything slows down and if we could fix this part of the process perhaps we could create efficiencies that whenever efficiencies are created it means you know cost savings you're taking cost out of a business is that you know one of the chief aims of of process mind

[ilya]: i would say so so i mean it depends on your goal so we have discussed to i would say very different cases one when you use use persesponin and the efficiency of business processes and the other one when you use poses to understand the usage patterns oven up so in the first case yes for the most part you would try to understand if there are bottle next in your process case management i invest management whatever else um and you would try to understand where does bottle next come from so do they come from let's say maybe there is some kind of an event that happens and it takes long but only for some rason reason takes long in july ay what's up with that you can drill down and understand why it happens on in july or maybe it happens only in specific department why it happens only there for example it only only happens in or branch in amsterdam but does not happen in your branch in dublin why is that do you have a different process or they just work in a way that is maybe less efficient for whatever reason right so we can really use that to identify those kind of bottle necks

[mark]: you know with very large organizations um process has been built over years right and it seems that sometimes in the larger organizations the process has become more i wouldn't say complex but i would say more there's checks and balances and stuff put in in play because of may be technology limitations at the time that the process was developed but for whatever reason now you have a process there potentially takes a month to do there's no reason why it shouldn't be done in hours but the actual if you you know i play at the start and hit approval at the end or completion or we can move ford there can be a month time frame and when you look at the moving parts which often can span multiple systems and this is my concern here is what do you do when you know for example one of the key neck steps in a process is uploading a file to somewhere or sending an email for confirmation or you know getting five people to approve it how do you m you know i is this an application for organizations like that that you know what we're probably wasting millions and millions of dollars a year on our process that was built over a fifteen year period but no one's gone back and said why are we doing it this way why you know this in the world and where technology is advanced now things need to change we could make massive improvements save millions of dollars if we addressed it is this one of the aims of the goals of process mining even though in that scenario i think there need to be a lot of people investment in discovering where those the next were happening and whether they were still needed within the organization

[ilya]: yeah definitely it can it can be a way to make processes more transparent for say management people to really understand how processes work across their organization and across different departments i've been in consulting for many many years and i've been working with organizations in you know many many sizes and if you work with organizations like at the global scale like you know have persons in multiple countries or even a national national scale with the half persons in multiple large cities then you would often come cross situations where you come to new branch from tnsandyouknow how they work you know that you help them to automate the process and i tell you well this is how they do it in Amsterdam but in dublin we do it in a different way okay and there's there's often absolutely no reason from corporate at some point to do it in different way just a you know culture or whatever else they just decided that they do it differently for whatever historically and those kind of subtle subtleties can make a big difference in terms of how people work but they are not visible to people who are kind of at the level at a national level or the global level managing managing the organization and its at information that well obviously will come voluntarily from local subs um but it is information that can be understood from the data that they produce because data that they produce is well it is there in available for you know for everyone in organization and if you take this data and you understand how the processes actually work you can really compare how the same process work across multiple multiple branches or multiple countries or you know multiple different cities and if the process really does work different then you need to ask question why is the really good reason for that is that you know maybe there's some kind of compliance say if it's a globe organization there's some kind of compliance in switzerland that doesn't exist in germany that may well be the case and that's why the process in switzerland takes longer than than in germany perfectly fine but if it's something that is unexpected that is definitely something you can look into and take care of and be able will have at least to have the opportunity to understand that it exists and that you can influence that if you want too and that that in turn can save a lot a lot of money you have that level tonchbalancy

[mark]: yeah so my last question is around a i how much you know can i feature in particularly process advisor in really pro actively uncovering those issues and going hey you know somebody needs to actually look at this area because there's a major bottle neck that is happening as you say it could be infrequent it could be frequently it could be you know geographically et cetera how much does it play in process advisor and then is it extensible

[ilya]: well um so at this point don't think we are yet at the point where you know you get a call from a robot which tells you when the patent works as officially as you expect um so we are at the at the stage where you are presented with insights and you can make decisions based on those insights and this is a process that you can initiate whenever you want yourself you can take the data from from pose mining and take it forward to some other system for in our additional this is some kind of a model which is specific to your business for the analysis that that's definitely possible but i don't think we are yet in the stage where you know there's a continuous kind of into for the efficiency of your processes and then you know you get a message in teams from from about saying that something went wrong but i if i look kind of in into the fu and i would say into the near future i can imagine that we will be in that situation where that would be possible so when a i would productively tell you that something happens in your organization based on the data data that you produce um i would say that there's there is and probably will be some issues recording you know to production and compliance in other two to get there i mean that that would be a bit of a difficult thing to achieve but technically i think we are not that far away from that from this reality

[mark]: ah thank you so much for coming on the show

[ilya]: thank you mark happy to be here

Ilya FainbergProfile Photo

Ilya Fainberg

For the past 17 years, Ilya Fainberg worked on designing mission-critical business applications for different industries, from banking to automotive, from telecommunications to sports. Today, he is proud to be part of the Microsoft 365 R&D team, working on making the cloud better for our customers with Microsoft Power Platform and Dynamics 365.