A business process is a series of connected activities or tasks that all serve to produce a product or goods or indeed a service that is produced and offered to customers and clients. Often a business process can be illustrated by a flow chart, that has all the various tasks and activities broken down and listed in chronological order.

All and every aspect of a business, no matter how big or small is subject to business processes, so everything that is done, from marketing to sending out invoices can be listed as a business process.

Different Types Of Business Process

There are 3 broad categories of business processes, but it is important to consider each as being important; they all help to deliver the ultimate aims of the business, so no one business process should be viewed as THE most important. They are all interlinked and connected to serve the same function; delivering the goal of an organisation.

The first types are Management Processes. These can include the type of tasks that are associated with the strategic management of the organisation, the overall leadership and the responsibility for ensuring that the company is managed effectively and that it is sustainable.

The second category of processes are the Operational Processes. These are less strategic and less involved with issues such as ‘corporate governance’ than the management processes, but they relate to the core activities of an organisation. They produce the basic value stream for a company. Tasks that may be considered operational processes are those such as procurement (purchasing) as well as marketing and sales and of course manufacturing or production. Whilst production may be seen as the most important of these, it is possible that without good procurement systems, marketing and sales etc there would be no need to produce anything, because there would be no customers and no market for any produced goods.

The third type of processes are the supportive processes. These may include Human Resources, as well as accounting and finance or even technical and IT support.

Sub Groups Within Business Processes

Within any business process it is possible to break down the process into several sub-groups, since each task may involve several ‘smaller’ tasks that all contribute to the overall aim of the business process.

Breaking down each business process into several smaller sub-groups helps provide a very clear picture of how every single aspect of the business is carried out. In turn this enables analysis of all processes to be undertaken, so that each business process can be made more efficient and more cost effective for the producer or provider and thus provide more value for the customer.

The Business Process Philosophy

When looking at any business process, there is a clear philosophy behind it. Each process has to serve the purpose of the business. It is not an end in itself but a means of ensuring that the needs of the business are met. This concept of the processes serving the ultimate goal of the business is crucial to ensure a thorough and objective analysis of the business.

The overall aim of the business has to be clearly defined before any business process can be identified, listed or analysed. Without the overall aim being clear, no business process can be shown to be effective or conversely wasteful and inefficient.

Businesses therefore must get right back to basics before any business processes are looked at. Through defining their overall aim and objective the foundations are set in place and only then can the different ways of serving and fulfilling that aim (i.e. the business processes) be examined.

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