Process Mining for everyone

PAFnow Process-Mining-Tool for companies

Please introduce yourself and the Startup Process Analytics Factory (PAF) to our readers!

In one sentence: With our Process Mining Tool PAFnow we help companies to really understand their processes and to directly improve them. Process Mining is a tool-based method for the automatic diagnosis of operative business processes. In addition to showing companies what their actual processes look like, PAFnow also shows them where they deviate from the standard or where bottlenecks occur. At the same time, PAFnow enables the immediate optimization of these processes, directly by the user and with the help of automation functions.

This is possible because PAFnow is fully integrated into the leading business intelligence platform Microsoft Power BI and Office 365. This means that employees can become process optimizers at their digital workplace even without in-depth data science knowledge. With this approach, PAF was founded in Darmstadt in 2014 and has developed rapidly: currently we are on our way to America.

Why did you decide to start a business?

I have been working with process analyses for quite some time. But there was a real eureka moment at a completely different place: at the orthopedist. When I was there because of knee pain, the doctor was able to tell me exactly what was going on in my knee within minutes using an MRI. So I thought to myself: Why can’t this be done just as quickly and precisely for the inner workings of a company? That was the spark, so to speak, and with the founding of PAF we have proven that it works.

What is the vision behind the Process Analytics Factory?

The PAF democratizes Process Mining. We believe that every company benefits each and every day from discovering process problems where they arise in order to eliminate them directly. With PAFnow we help companies to reuse existing process data or to visualize them in such a way that employees – who know their processes best – benefit from this knowledge for a recurring process optimization. The idea behind this democratization strategy is to make Process Mining easily accessible to everyone. We do this by making PAFnow Process Mining available to every user as an introductory version free of charge and with no installation required via the Microsoft marketplace AppSource.

We have also integrated PAFnow into the digital workplace Microsoft Office 365 for everyone. The analysis is very intuitive due to the visualization of the processes as a “process tree” and due to the integration into the Power-BI environment the visualization and optimization possibilities are practically unlimited: There are hundreds of data and action connectors to directly, continuously and sustainably improve business processes via machine learning, bots or workflow automation.

From the idea to the launch, what have been the biggest challenges so far and how have you financed yourself?

PAF has been self-financed, cash flow positive and profitable since it was founded. As we are recognized as Process Mining experts in the market, companies have brought us in as a sparring partner for their Process Mining projects. At the same time we have built our next generation Process Mining Tool, PAFnow. Thanks to the innovation support of the state of Hesse (LOEWE support line 3) and the federal government (BMBF support initiative KMU-innovative) we were able to think about how a next generation Process Mining application should look like.

It was a great challenge to fight against a widespread perception, namely that Process Mining is expensive, complicated and only something for experts. We are still doing educational work in this area. The leap overseas was also a great challenge. However, the German-Accelerator support program of the BMWi, for which a jury selected us, is currently helping us with this expansion.

Who is the target group of the Process Analytics Factory?

PAFnow is used wherever transparent and efficient processes are important. That is why we are represented in practically all industries and have both medium-sized companies and global corporations as customers. In Germany, for example, these include Daimler, Viessmann or Heidelberg Druck, in Canada Air Canada and the energy supplier Fortis as well as the global packaging company Amcor in the USA. 

How does PAFnow work? What are the advantages? What distinguishes you from other providers?

The only thing companies need is a free desktop license for Microsoft Power BI and our installation-free PAFnow plugin, which is also available as a free entry-level version in the AppSource Store of Power BI. Companies can then import any process data from previous systems into PAFnow and visualize, analyze and optimize the processes behind them. This includes workflow applications, ERP applications such as SAP or CRM applications such as Salesforce. The only prerequisite is that the process data has a time stamp, a case ID and an activity name, because these characteristics can be used to visualize and analyze the process in a meaningful way.

Regarding the USP: Process Mining applications are most effective for the customer if they are embedded in a powerful BI or analytics environment. That is why we decided several years ago to integrate Process Mining into Microsoft Power BI, the world’s leading analytics and business intelligence solution. PAFnow Process Mining users can thus use the almost unlimited analysis and automation functions of Power BI as well as Power Automate to analyze and optimize their processes.

No other Process Mining provider makes it as easy as PAF to successfully implement Process Mining projects in their own Microsoft Office 365 infrastructure, with their own data and their own process experts as their most important resources. In addition, we are more involved than anyone else in innovation research and combine Process Mining techniques with Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain or Robotic Process Automation in PAFnow. In innovation research, PAF holds a leading position internationally, as a look at our research projects shows.  

Process Analytics Factory, where are you headed? Where do you see yourself in five years?

The PAF will likely be one of the top three Process Mining vendors much sooner than in five years. There are three reasons for this: 1. the entry into Process Mining is very easy for every company due to the usability of Power BI. 2. the customer can carry out proof-of-concepts himself. The accompaniment by an appropriate PAFnow certification training takes only one day. 3. it often takes less than a week from proof of concept to successful optimization.

Finally: Which 3 tips would you like to give to aspiring founders?

One: Think disruptively. Question the status quo and see where there is real potential for change that can turn an industry upside down. Second: Do things differently. Go your own way and focus more on the needs of the users than on the competition. This point, however, cannot be made without the third: Don’t just do everything differently, but do it much better. In other words: Use existing and proven infrastructures and then do exactly what no one else can do better than you.

You can find further information here

We thank Tobias Rother for the interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial staff and the publisher)

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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