What is the state of your business processes?
There is often a gap between how business processes are intended to be and what they are in reality. There are many reasons for this: the complexity of business and system landscapes; changes that have occurred over time; exceptions to process blueprints for operational reasons; users with too much freedom within the IT systems; and finally, people who often only see some of the processes whilst missing the complete picture.
Understanding the real flow of your business processes is paramount when you want to improve process effectiveness or efficiency, ensure quality or compliance, standardise, or detect anomalies or fraud.
The traditional approach to understanding processes is through interviews, workshops, observations and document analyses, possibly accompanied by sample analysis. This method requires a lot of resources and time, and does not guarantee that the model which emerges reflects reality, as information may not be fully objective on the one hand, and incomplete on the other.
PwC’s Process Intelligence offering analyses the data from your IT systems as used by your people from day to day, and unveils what really happens in your business processes. The advantages of such a data-integrated approach are manifold:
- It is based on objective information – data doesn’t lie.
- It is based on the complete data set describing all transactions performed by the parties involved.
- It allows you to look at the process from different perspective (e.g., by process, by product, by person, by area, by company code, by team, etc.).
- The results are obtained quickly.
- The analyses deep-dive into every process detail.
PwC’s Process Intelligence
Our approach and tools empower us to analyse any process in any industry, as long as the system bookkeeps a “history” of steps carried out during the process execution.
Our approach to discover and analyse processes starts with a workshop to jointly analyse the extent of process automation and the expected level of standardisation within your business processes. This facilitates the identification of key focus areas, which will be further examined during the next phase. In an audit context, in general, we focus on areas where a high level of standardisation is assumed, as these could provide most audit efficiencies going forward.
In the next phase we analyse the selected processes in detail. This phase includes one or more iterations to be able to achieve the right level of process detail thus enabling us to distinguish between planned and unplanned process deviations. We utilise process mining techniques such as those described here:
- Process discovery establishes how business processes are actually executed by your staff in your system. It enables you to evaluate the level of process standardisation, looking at frequent as well as exceptional activities in the process.
- Process compliance and benchmarking techniques allow us to measure conformance to organisational rules or regulations and process blueprints, to compare how different entities execute the process, and identify factors causing deviations from the process blueprint.
- Good practice identification searches for effective paths of process execution, identifies key people and potential training needs as well as success factors. By measuring performance characteristics, such as execution and lead times, and by spotting duplicate or unplanned activities, areas for improvement can be identified.
- Organisational analyses show how people and teams collaborate, how they comply with segregation of duties, and assigned roles and responsibilities.
How does this work?
Based on the selected processes and the underlying system, we provide you with a set of tables and fields that you need to download for a specific time period. This includes master data, transactional data as well as change tables. If you use SAP, we have a proprietary, open-source download tool that will be made available to you to ensure smooth and efficient extraction of data.
We analyse your data with our Process Intelligence tool, which is paired with our proprietary SAP process and data dictionary knowledge to translate your data into actual business process flows. The output of this analysis is then discussed with the process owners and specialists and refined accordingly. This ensures that we adequately consider all business specifics.
After we arrive at a detailed understanding of your processes, we will share the results with you in a workshop and discuss the real process flows, any potential deviations and related implications for the audit as well as for your business.
For widely-used ERP systems, such as SAP ECC, Microsoft AX and Oracle, we have off-the-shelf scripts to analyse your main processes, e.g., procurement, sales and master data management processes. Further scripts can be developed depending on your needs.
What you get out of it?
The results of our analysis will be made available to you. Our Process Intelligence reports include:
- Process transparency depicting the processes from various relevant angles.
- A process health-check dashboard consisting of the top-ten most common or seldom used process paths, the value they generate, the most or least active users, and the most “expensive” paths, for example.
- Transactional-level process indicators, such as “retrospective purchase orders”, “journals parked over 30 days”, “inventory movements” and “three-way-match configuration”.