Business Process Definition, Benefits, and Examples

ligia loterio

What is a business process?

A business process is a series of tasks, activities, and workflows that enable a company to meet its strategic goals. There are five types of business processes: core, support, management, strategy, and long-tail.

Why business processes are important?

Now that you know what is a business process, let’s understand its importance. Business Processes help a business achieve its goals by organizing activities into a repeatable series of steps. Processes have clearly defined inputs and outputs, which make it possible to monitor performance and predict results. Processes include a standardized sequence of events that help businesses understand how and when certain types of work get done.

Most importantly, business processes provide a structure that allows certain activities to be scaled.

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Business process examples

In areas like finance, HR, development, and support, examples of common business processes include:

  • Purchase process: Keeps track of each procurement and gets necessary approvals hassle-free and on time.
  • Hiring and onboarding process: These two interconnected processes streamline your company’s hiring process, from drafting and gathering all the necessary documentation and signing contracts, to formalizing the hiring and onboarding of new team members.
  • Strategic planning process: Reevaluates company principles, plans, and goals by creating tasks that will have to be followed in a standardized way by your team to keep on top of progress and milestones.
  • Customer support process: Establishes a smart workflow to set deadlines and alerts for help tickets to build a positive relationship with customers.

While some business processes seem straightforward, one thing to keep in mind is that sometimes what is referred to as a single business process is actually a family of related processes or subprocesses.

For example, the procurement process may include approving vendors, generating purchase orders, receiving goods, paying invoices, and other subprocesses. Below is a visual breakdown of the procurement process:

Example of a complex procurement process (click here to enlarge image)

How to build a business process in 6 steps

Establishing a business process begins with establishing company goals. Once a goal is set, follow these six steps to creating a business process:

1 Collect important information, like team members, roles, and timelines. 
2Establish process boundaries to set process start/end tasks and triggers. 
3Identify suppliers, vendors, and customers to determine how a process starts and its outcomes.
4List and order actions to map the steps in between the process start and endpoints.
5Connect business strategy and process with business rules to make decisions easier and handoffs to represent a change of responsibilities between teams. 
6Review and gradually optimize the process workflow and execution.  

Best practice: Clearly defining the boundaries of a process will make it easier to manage and organize. Well-defined processes can also help you avoid scope creep. 

Whether you’re new to business process management or are a seasoned expert wanting a quick business process refresher, keep these seven terms in your back pocket for your next process planning meeting:

  1. Business Process Management (BPM): A formal approach to analyzing and improving the processes that enable a company’s operations. The first step to implement this approach is to identify the critical processes within an organization. Furthermore, they need to be analyzed to understand how they can be improved, implement these changes, and measure the outcome.
  2. Business process mapping: The act of creating a workflow diagram with the goal of gaining a clearer understanding of how a process and its parallel processes work. 
  3. Business process modeling: The practice of representing business processes in visual form. 
  4. Business process automation: A way to use technology and automation to perform complex business tasks with reduced human intervention and effort. Business process automation is also known as workflow automation or process automation. 
  5. Business process standardization: A uniform way to complete an important business process and allows the process to be performed the same way every time. Business process standardization maximizes the efficiency and effectiveness of processes. 
  6. Business process design (BPD): The creation of new, easily scalable workflows from scratch. Takes place at the start of product/service production or delivery. 
  7. Business process reengineering (BPR): A strategy used to analyze and improve workflows and business processes within an organization. It can minimize errors and costs, streamline operations, increase efficiency, improve services or products, and increase profitability.

Check out Pipefy’s workflow glossary for all things related to workflows, including key terms and information on processes, tasks, and other related concepts.

Automating business processes

Building an efficient process is essential for driving business growth. Organizing tasks and workflows into a structured process is the first step to achieving efficiency, but the greatest gains typically come from business process automation.

Most businesses depend on a combination of technologies to automate their processes. Those processes that are near the core of the business — such as sales, marketing, and customer service — are usually managed with an ERP or point solution. Other types of business processes are typically managed with low-code automation software. Low-code BPA gives business technologists and citizen developers an easy-to-use tool to optimize and automate processes. Low-code helps keep business teams agile, but also keeps IT in control.

See why more businesses trust Pipefy to automate and optimize every type of business processPipefy BPA
Written by
ligia loterio

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