Regarding business process optimization, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and other automation technologies have been getting much attention recently, and it’s easy to understand why. Companies that have implemented RPA report multiple benefits:
- increased productivity (reported by 86% of companies),
- improved accuracy (90%),
- higher compliance (92%),
- cost savings (59%), and more.
No wonder increased RPA adoption is one of the predominant current automation trends.
But what many automation enthusiasts don’t talk about is how RPA adopters get to the point where they can benefit from these advantages. Or, more specifically, how they know which tasks to automate. This is a crucial question, as recognizing proper automation candidates can make the difference between an RPA success and an RPA failure.
Luckily, leading-edge RPA platforms offer the tools to support organizations in discovering and selecting the best processes to automate. One of them is task mining. Today, we’ll discuss the task mining capabilities of our RPA tool of choice—UiPath—and how they empower its users to find the tasks that will benefit the most from automation.
What is task mining?
Before tackling anything else, let’s look at the definition of task mining.
Task mining automatically captures and analyzes user interactions to uncover and map all steps within the workflows these users perform. In practice, task mining involves recording or logging user behavior, such as mouse clicks, keyboard inputs, and screen transitions, to gain insights into the sequence of actions that make up specific tasks.
And why bother recording all these actions meticulously? Because task mining helps identify patterns, bottlenecks, variations, and inefficiencies in workflows, enabling organizations to streamline processes, improve productivity, and identify areas for optimization.
Indeed, more and more organizations realize that potential, stimulating the growth of the task-mining tools market. In the coming years, the task mining software industry will grow by 75-85%.
How does task mining work?
- Data collection from user devices. The first step in task mining is collecting data from users’ machines. The records captured can include keystrokes, clicks, scrolls, user inputs, recordings, screenshots, and more. Task mining tools often use OCR (optical character recognition) and NLP (natural language processing) to extract additional context details from this data.
- Segmenting and dividing collected data. Next, machine learning algorithms break down this data into specific tasks such as purchase order creation or customer service ticket submission. The data can be combined with event log data to help contextualize performance. This view of the data allows businesses to discover and fix bottlenecks accordingly.
Task mining is particularly beneficial from the standpoint of RPA. Through monitoring user interactions with applications, task mining allows organizations to identify repetitive, rule-based tasks that are the best candidates for automation. With that, businesses can pinpoint and prioritize areas where RPA can be applied most effectively to reduce manual effort and free up valuable human resources for more strategic tasks.
By automating mundane and repetitive tasks through RPA, organizations can significantly boost productivity and reduce error rates. All in all, task mining acts as an automation enabler, guiding organizations toward unlocking the full potential of RPA to drive their digital transformation.
Task mining vs. process mining
If you’ve heard the term “process mining” before, you’re probably wondering how it differs from task mining. The two are related and often performed together. Still, they aren’t the same.
Process mining focuses on optimizing business processes as a whole, e.g., supply chain or customer service. Task mining, on the other hand, aims to improve individual tasks that may be parts of larger processes.
The two also rely on different metrics. Process mining uses business data pulled from systems like CRM or ERP, while task mining uses desktop activities and interaction data such as clicks, keystrokes, screenshots, and recordings. Put shortly, process mining focuses on the large picture, and task mining is concerned with the individual parts of each process.
Task Mining & UiPath
We’ve already said that we’ll be explaining task mining using the example of UiPath, which we usually choose to work with for these types of projects. It’s not just a matter of our preference for the tool that makes us go with it most of the time.
Among the top RPA platforms, such as Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, Power Automate, or Google Cloud Platform, UiPath has consistently been named the industry leader. It’s also the tool we decided to use due to its features and capabilities, both on the side of the developer and the end-user.
When it comes to task mining capabilities, UiPath has its own tool called simply UiPath Task Mining. It’s an AI-based solution that leverages machine learning to investigate user desktop activity and identify automation opportunities.
Assisted and unassisted task mining in UiPath
What is also worth knowing regarding the combination of the UiPath automation platform and task mining technology is that UiPath offers two types of task mining: assisted and unassisted.
- Assisted task mining is concerned with analyzing known tasks for potential improvements. For that, users need to capture the steps that make up the sequence using UiPath’s recorder or build a diagram independently. Then, they can tweak the process by adding, removing, and labeling each step, creating an accurate task mapping.
The collaborative process can be shared with other team members to reflect better any task variations that will later be merged into a top-down workflow overview. Once the overview is complete, users can export it as a document that will inform automation development.
With Task Mining, UiPath users can map all stages of any task into a clear diagram. (image source: UiPath)
- In contrast, unassisted task mining aims to discover new insights and repetitive tasks by recording user activity. Normally, this analysis would involve weeks of interviews, workshops, and guesswork without the guarantee that it’ll identify any new automation candidates. Unassisted task mining allows users to gather that information automatically without disrupting your team’s work.
First, invite your colleagues to participate in the task mining project. The task miner will then monitor activities in the specified applications. After enough data is captured, the records are processed by UiPath’s machine learning algorithm, which provides users with a per-app overview of activities, time spent on individual tasks, their occurrences, and the number of actions needed to complete them. Each task can be presented visually, with screenshots of all actions taken to understand the workflow better.
Integrations between Task Mining & UiPath tools
UiPath offers users a complete suite of discovery and automation tools by integrating other systems with Task Mining.
As mentioned earlier, task mining is an integral part of process mining, and the same holds for UiPath. UiPath has its own Process Mining tool that gives you a birds-eye view of all your workflows. From there, you can zoom in on individual sequences using Task Mining to understand better how users interact with applications when working on specific tasks on a desktop level.
UiPath Process Mining gives you an overview of all end-to-end business processes. (image source: UiPath)
Once you identify automation opportunities using Task Mining, UiPath Automation Hub helps you automate inefficient manual sequences. Automation Hub is a one-stop management center for all your UiPath automation projects. You can export any traces found using UiPath Task Mining to Automation Hub, complete with screenshots, descriptions, relevant links, and documentation. With that, you can set priorities for your RPA ideas and collaborate with other stakeholders to streamline the development of automation projects.
Task mining & UiPath: what are the benefits?
Better task understanding
With UiPath’s task mining capabilities, organizations can gain a comprehensive, granular understanding of how their employees handle their tasks and how it varies between employees. For instance, managers may understand how and why real-life task execution varies from the set standards and whether it’s more or less efficient. This analysis serves as a solid foundation for process improvement and automation initiatives.
Identifying automation opportunities
Since enabling automation is one of the primary goals of task mining, UiPath also gives organizations the tools necessary to spot RPA opportunities. By dissecting each task into a sequence of steps and automatically mapping them onto clear diagrams, Task Mining helps reveal inefficiencies. With this knowledge, businesses can prioritize their automation efforts and focus on the highest-impact areas.
Enhanced process optimization
While automation is a significant step toward maximizing the effectiveness of business processes, it’s far from the only one. In addition to implementing RPA, businesses can streamline their workflows by removing unnecessary steps, simplifying the remaining ones, and consolidating data. UiPath Task Mining enables all these improvements by helping organizations identify bottlenecks, find task variations, and increase transparency.
Employee experience and engagement
Assisted task mining makes it easy to get all team members involved in the optimization process. With that, managers can ensure everyone’s voice is heard and that the entire team works together to simplify everyday duties. And if you’re looking for new insights, unassisted task mining will allow you to get them without forcing everyone to participate in long and potentially redundant workshops.
Integration with UiPath RPA Platform
As a part of a larger UiPath RPA suite, Task Mining connects seamlessly with other tools such as Process Mining and Automation Hub. This allows organizations to use a single platform throughout the entire automation implementation process, from research and discovery to deployment, eliminating friction.
What to keep in mind before implementing task mining?
Despite all the benefits of task mining, there are a couple of factors you need to consider before you get down to implementation.
- Assess the benefits: Weigh the costs and time it will require against the potential benefits. For instance, processes in smaller organizations are normally less complex and easier to understand, so task mining may not be necessary. (If you aren’t sure how to balance that, our UiPath implementation specialists are here to help).
- Get employees’ buy-in: Some people resist change, and others may feel that task-mining tools are being used to spy on them. To remove these roadblocks, make sure that you communicate the benefits of task mining and automation to your team members.
- Configuring the task mining tool: Setting the Task Mining UiPath tool for end users can be complicated and may require the assistance of experienced UiPath developers. Once set up, creating and managing task-mining projects can be done without programming skills.
- Ensure data privacy: Task mining involves recording user actions, which may raise privacy concerns. To dispel these worries, you should inform your users, get their approval, and protect their data through anonymization.
- Get the full context: The key to successful automation is prioritizing the tasks that have the greatest impact on your business relevant to the implementation effort. Running tasks and process mining is a good idea to ensure you get the full picture.
From our own experience, we know that any successful RPA project starts with finding the right automation opportunities. Task mining is the first step toward making that discovery.
If you want to hear more, let us know—we can help you with everything related to task mining, UiPath, and RPA and set your businesses on the path to process understanding and optimization.
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