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What is Business Process Discovery and what are common pain points?
9 min read

What is Business Process Discovery?

In this article, we will teach you the definition, benefits, and importance of process discovery, as well as the repercussions of undiscovered processes.


A business is a complex maze of processes that work in a symphony to create a valuable business outcome. These processes are the foundation of your business operations and include tasks, documents, tools, employees, teams, departments, and a lot more. 

When business processes work efficiently, your business performance meets all the prerequisites for growth and sustainability. However, when there are inefficiencies in your business processes, they manifest in the form of inadequate business performance, customer dissatisfaction, and employee frustration. 

The natural solution to fixing inefficient business processes is to improve them with Process Improvement techniques.

But you can't fix what you don't see.

Table of Content

What is Business Process Discovery?

Business Process Discovery is a method that businesses use to obtain information on their existing processes in order to enhance them. This method is a crucial aspect of the business process improvement process, as it allows companies to recognize processes that require improvement.

The discovery procedure begins by comprehending current processes through reviewing existing records and documentation. It helps identify any obstacles or inconsistencies in workflows, locate bottlenecks, and enhance overall performance.

Manual Vs. Automated Business Process Discovery

There are two ways to understand your business processes: manual and automated. Manual discovery requires a lot of time and attention, while automated discovery is quicker and more accurate. Regardless of the method, process discovery is important for success.

Process discovery is key to improving business processes and avoiding inconsistencies, lack of documentation, and employee frustration. It provides clarity, uniformity, and workflow documentation, which can be used to automate processes, improve employee satisfaction, and make informed decisions. The right approach to process discovery can greatly impact operational success in a rapidly evolving business environment.

Process Discovery Vs. Process Mapping Vs. Process Documentation

Oftentimes, there is confusion between the techniques of process discovery, process mapping, and process documentation. Below, we state the clear distinction between these three concepts.

Process Discovery

As we established, process discovery is a set of techniques used to identify the current structure and workflow of business processes in their as-is state using existing records and documentation of the processes. The techniques mainly focus on extracting information from current and historic process documentation to understand the current processes and their flow. 

Process Mapping

Process mapping is the technique used to visually represent a process workflow to understand, interpret, and improve the existing process. This technique uses the outcomes of the process discovery method to produce a visual workflow of any business process. Process mapping is the next step after process discovery.  Read this article for details on Business Process Mapping

Process Documentation

Business process documentation is the process of outlining a detailed description of how a process needs to be executed. It uses the insights derived from the process discovery technique and documents the step-by-step process to make them learnable, viewable, and improvable. It primarily focuses on answering the question - 'how is the process implemented?' Looking to document your processes? Check out our detailed guide on business process documentation.

Common Pain Points of Undiscovered Processes

While you may think that everything is going well in your business operations, there are times when you feel the need for improvement. Here are some of the common pain points of undiscovered processes that you can relate to:

  • There is a lack of uniformity in process execution

    A process is a set of repeated tasks and activities performed to obtain a specified outcome. Undiscovered processes lack the uniformity of steps and activities that are repeated every time the process is executed. This lack of uniformity can cause missing certain important steps, affecting the overall outcome of the process. 

  • There is little or no documentation

    When processes are not documented, the common reason is that there is not enough effort put in to understand the existing structure and workflow of the process. Process documentation can only happen when the processes are represented in their as-is state. 

  • Process output is inconsistent

    Undiscovered processes often lack uniformity and documentation. This leads to inconsistency in the output expected from the process. Inconsistent outcomes suggest clear gaps within your business processes that need your attention.

  • There is frustration due to process problems

    Undiscovered processes are the root cause of your process problems. From the lack of transparency and documentation to ownership and uniformity, undiscovered processes are bound to create problems in the overall operations of your business. This leads to employee frustration and burnout, even affecting personal lives.

Why Is Business Process Discovery Important?

Business process discovery is an important step in business process improvement. Let us understand the importance of process discovery.

  • It helps you identify your processes in their as-is state

    Process discovery identifies the small details in a process, ensuring that every step is scrutinized to understand the process in its current state. This allows for the identification of gaps, leaks, and improvement opportunities.

  • It helps you identify gaps and leaks in your process system

    Process discovery breaks down the intricate details of your processes, uncovering any gaps or leaks in their performance. These gaps and leaks serve as valuable opportunities for your business to enhance and refine your processes, ultimately leading to improvements in overall efficiency and effectiveness.

    When your processes are discovered, you learn about the:
    • Gaps that can be fixed

    • Opportunities for process improvements

    • Learnings from well-performing process elements

  • It removes uncertainties from existing processes

    Process discovery delves deep into your processes, leaving no room for uncertainty when it comes to executing each step. By eliminating uncertainties, you establish a consistent and uniform process execution throughout your business operations. This not only ensures the performance and quality of your operations but also maintains a high level of efficiency.

  • It helps you map and document your processes

    You can only document and map your processes when you uncover the detailed steps, employees, teams, etc., involved in the process. This is why process discovery plays a critical role in process mapping and process documentation.

When Should You Consider Discovering Your Processes?

While there are a lot of reasons for you to start discovering your processes, we identified some major red flags that notify you to start thinking about process discovery. You should consider discovering your processes when:

  • You want to improve your business processes

    The most common reason why businesses invest in process discovery is to improve their existing business processes. Process discovery plays a critical role in business process improvement. It highlights detailed tasks, elements, people, gaps, and opportunities involved in a process. This clarity allows a business to take the necessary steps required to fix the process gaps and improve the process execution. Read our article on Business Process Improvement 101.

  • You want to automate your business processes

    Business process automation is a technology-enabled solution to automate complex business processes. Some business processes are very demanding of time and effort, which is why businesses today are looking at automating such complex processes with the help of technology. But before you can automate, you need to understand the existing process in its as-is state. Business process discovery is an ideal technique to help you understand an existing process with its minute details. 

  • You want to document your business processes

    Process documentation is the technique used by businesses to document the steps involved in executing a business process. Documentation is necessary for any business to maintain clarity and uniformity across their business processes. Process discovery is an important technique to enable documentation as it identifies process details using historic and current records to enlist specific steps involved in a process. 

  • You want to improve employee satisfaction

    Processes are an ongoing cycle of operations, and your employees are a critical part of these processes. To ensure your employees are happy and satisfied, you need to make sure that your processes are transparent and effective. Process discovery increases the visibility of a process and encourages ownership of tasks and steps involved in a process. It also increases the effectiveness of a process by identifying gaps and creating opportunities for improvement in the execution of a process. 

  • You want to reduce burnouts

    Tangled, ineffective processes cause frustration, burnouts, and a serious impact on employee experience. If you are facing challenges similar to these, you need to invest in the exercise of business process improvement. Process discovery is a primary step towards process improvement. The technique helps pinpoint the exact problem of a process by representing the process in a step-by-step guide. 

Benefits of Business Process Discovery

The benefits of business process discovery are closely aligned with the advantages of other business improvement techniques, such as process mapping, process documentation, and process mining. Let us take a look at some distinctive benefits of implementing process discovery.

  • Enables Process Visibility

    One of the key advantages of implementing process discovery is that it enables visibility of the tasks involved in a process. This encourages ownership of specific process steps, workflows, and structures. With a complete map of the processes, enterprises can easily identify new pathways and future automation opportunities.

  • Reduces Process Risks

    Process discovery identifies gaps and leaks from within the process, hence allowing an opportunity to fix such otherwise invisible gaps. This proves to be a preventive approach to process management that minimizes risks after severe scrutiny of process operations. 

  • Captures Processes from Employees’ Heads onto Paper

    Process discovery helps you capture the steps and procedures involved in your processes that are stored in your employees’ and partners' heads and document them so that they are accessible to everyone. If such a process is not discovered and the process is not documented, you run the risk of losing important process information when the employee or partner decides to move out. This makes it difficult to predict process outcomes since the process is not standardized and changes almost every time the process is executed.

  • Increases Cost efficiency

    Process discovery techniques lay process details on the table for everyone to map, understand, and analyze. When the gaps and leaks are identified, the opportunities to fix the gaps are approached with cost-effective solutions, thus saving costs and optimizing the performance of the process.

  • Maximises ROI

    Process discovery enables process optimization as well as cost savings by fixing broken and tangled processes. This contributes to maximizing the ROI of processes, teams, operations, and the business. Hence, process discovery is a stepping stone towards maximizing business ROI.

  • Improves Process Performance

    By enabling process task ownership, reducing risks, saving costs, and maximizing ROI, process discovery impacts the overall performance of business processes. It is a concrete step towards business process improvement. 


The insights derived from business process discovery are critical to managing, controlling, and improving business processes. With businesses looking to automate and simplify processes with the help of technology, process discovery continues to gain momentum amongst leading businesses.

Updated in August 2023