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Unveiling the Magic of Warehouse Process Mining

Hello everyone! Today we're going to talk about something really exciting: Microsoft's Power Automate process mining! 🚀


What is Process Mining?

Process Mining, or process mining, is a discipline that combines concepts of data mining, business processes and systems information with the aim of improving efficiency, reducing costs, improving quality and increasing the transparency of business processes. In other words, it's like taking an X-ray of your business processes to get a complete and accurate view of how they are developing and which ones need improvement.


What can we analyze with Process Mining?

Well, almost everything! Process mining can help identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in processes, allowing organizations to optimize their operations and improve productivity. Additionally, it can help organizations identify non-compliant processes and take corrective action to avoid legal and financial risks.

For example, a process is the granting of a loan by a bank. This process follows a logical sequence of interrelated tasks (client request, delivery of documentation, analysis of said documentation, loan approval, delivery of money, etc.). All these tasks or stages of the process are registered as events; What process mining does is analyze all this data and draw conclusions to improve the process.


Other examples applied in this case to Dinance and Operations would be:


  1. Order approval process: This process involves the review and approval of customer orders. With Process Mining, you can analyze the time it takes each order to be approved, identify where delays occur, and look for ways to speed up the process.

  2. Inventory management process: This process covers everything from the receipt of goods to their storage and eventual shipping. With Process Mining, you can identify inefficiencies, such as delays in receiving or shipping goods, and look for ways to optimize the process.

  3. Billing process: This process involves creating and sending invoices to clients. With Process Mining, you can analyze how long each invoice takes to be created and sent, identify where delays occur, and look for ways to speed up the process.

  4. Supplier management process: This process involves the selection and management of suppliers. With Process Mining, you can analyze the efficiency of your interactions with suppliers and look for ways to improve your relationship with them.


License required for use

Process Mining is licensed as part of Microsoft Power Automate. There are three Power Automate licenses that are related to Process Mining:

  • Power Automate Trial License: Offers task and process mining capabilities for a limited time of 90 days, with a mining capacity of 100 MB processes per process.

  • Power Automate Premium License: This is a per-user license that offers task and process mining capabilities, with a process mining capability of 50 MB per user up to a total of 100 GB per tenant. It also offers additional Dataverse capacity.

  • Power Automate Process Mining Add-on: This is a per-tenant license that offers additional 100 GB process mining and Dataverse capacity. It is needed when the 100 GB limit of the Premium license is reached.



Warehouse Material Movement Analysis (D365FO)

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management offers a warehouse material movement analysis template for Power Automate Process Mining. This template can be used to create processes that help warehouse and operations managers get a clear view of material flow in the warehouse. 📦🏭

Best of all, this template uses storage, product, and transactional data that is already stored in your system. It allows you to view and analyze material movements on the warehouse floor, based on closed warehouse work records. 📊

In terms of process mining, each warehouse work record corresponds to a case, and each pick or put work line corresponds to an event. Depending on your configuration, an activity can be any of the following: warehouse location, warehouse location profile, warehouse zone. 📍

So, if you are looking for a way to find inefficiencies that can be eliminated to improve the performance of your warehouse, this could be the solution you have been looking for! 🎯


Prerequisites


Here is a summary of the prerequisites to use this functionality:

  1. Supply Chain Management version: To start, you need to have version 10.0.35 or later of Supply Chain Management. So make sure you have your software updated. 💻

  2. Dataverse Linkage: The Supply Chain Management environment must be linked to a Dataverse environment. If you aren't, it's time to make that connection. 🔗

  3. User Roles: The user who implements the process in Power Automate Process Mining must have one of the following roles: Warehouse Administrator, Warehouse Planner and/or System Administrator. So you need to have the appropriate permissions. 🔑

  4. User in Dataverse: The Supply Chain Manager user who deploys the process to Power Automate Process Mining must also be configured as a user in the linked Dataverse environment . And to implement the process, a user must have the Environment Creator and/or System Administrator role. Once the process is implemented, it can be shared with other users. Those users will automatically obtain the necessary permissions to use the process. 🔄


Now you are ready to dive into process mining in Power Automate.


Functionality configuration


First, go to Warehouse Management > Settings > Process Mining > Configuration of the warehouse materials movement process. Then, in the Action Pane, select Deploy Process to open the deployment wizard. 🧐


You will be asked to provide the following information:

  • Process name: Enter a name for the process. We recommend that you include the legal entity (company) and other filter information in the name, so that you can easily identify the process later. 📝

  • Company: Select the legal entity you want to use this process to analyze. Only warehouse work records in the selected legal entity will be included in the Power Automate Process Mining process. 🏢

  • Number of months to load: Specify the number of months to load at a time. This filter helps prevent excessive or irrelevant data from being loaded into Power Automate Process Mining. Only warehouse work records that were closed after the specified time threshold will be included in the Power Automate Process Extraction process. 📅

  • Activity: Specify which Power Automate Process Mining column should be treated as an activity. For more information on process mining terminology, see the Glossary in Power Automate Process Mining. 📊



And that's it! Now you are ready to dive into process mining in Power Automate.


Analysis of results


To access the analysis from Supply Chain Management, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Warehouse Management > Queries and reports > Warehouse performance analysis > Analysis of the movement of warehouse materials.

  2. In the Process name field, select the name of the process you want to see. The list includes only processes that are ready for analysis and accessible to you.

  3. The Power BI report for the selected process will open. You can interact with the report to see the process and analyze it in various ways.

  4. To view the selected process in Power Automate Process Mining, select View Process Report in the Action Pane. The Power Automate Process Mining user interface will open in a new tab of your browser.

  5. To perform advanced process analysis, evaluate process behavior with business rules, detect rework, create your own business metrics, select Open Power Automate Process Mining to open the process in the Power Automate Process Mining desktop application.


Example practical case


To shed some light and show examples of these analyzes I have used a Contoso database with some extra movements made by colleagues in their daily lives.


To analyze the results you have 3 ways to do it. Not all of them offer the same views:

  1. Power Automate Process Mining Portal: This portal allows you to create process reports and read data visualization graphs. You can also read a process map, the genealogy of the variants and the KPIs of the process. Additionally, you can filter a report to focus on the specific aspects of your processes that interest you.

  2. Dynamics 365 FnO Menu Items: Dynamics 365 FnO offers unified, real-time visibility into financial and business operations to make better decisions and Faster. You can use the Dynamics 365 FnO menu items to access and analyze process reports.

  3. Process Mining desktop application: The Power Automate Process Mining desktop application allows you to edit and analyze your processes created in the mining capacity of processes. You can use this application to perform advanced process analysis, evaluate process behavior with business rules, detect rework, create your own business metrics.


In my opinion the Desktop application allows more functionality and also offers greater performance and usability.


It must be taken into account that since this is a demonstration environment, there are works that have been left half done during the tests. These jobs do not reflect the reality of a business where warehouse movements always have a beginning and an end.

You can see this case in the following image:


As you see, there is a job that took half a year to close. That distorts this particular data but we can filter to skew the results using the bar on the right.


In this other visualization we see the route of the work through the different locations and it allows us to detect which are the busiest areas of our warehouse as well as from there relocate the items to reduce movement time:


We can also obtain the list of the combinations of locations that require a longer processing time for the worker. In this way, we can determine if this elevated time is given by the spatial organization of the locations or by the process itself within Dynamics (for example, the menu item in the Warehouse App):


If we want something a little more animated, we even have the flow of those works in animation format to see the hot areas at all times. This visualization is very interesting to detect time slots or seasons where the flow is much more intense and try to find solutions to it.


And finally, one of the most interesting is being able to search for the root cause of these time differences:


By selecting one or more possible causes, the application will break down its data in tree mode and allow you to go down levels until you find a conclusion that is useful to you:


In this example we see how the warehouse is a factor that greatly affects the process time.

And if that were not enough, it has Copilot incorporated!!!!! We can ask him whatever we want: analysis of what he considers most significant, make filters, obtain metrics...


And that's it, friends! 🎉 Together we have unraveled the fascinating world of process mining in warehouses. We hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did. Remember, the digital world never sleeps, so keep your eyes open for upcoming updates. See you next time! 😊👋

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